Appalachian Granny Magic

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Practiced in the Appalachians, granny magic is a term that refers to a broad variety of folk magic. Also sometimes called "pow-wow," Appalachian granny magic combines two older legacies: mystic Christianity and the Native American spiritualities of the areas. Many Appalachian granny-women (or hex doctors, as the men were sometimes called) also practiced Hoodoo as well.

Much of the Appalachian lore was collected into a single book called Pow-Wows; or, a Long Lost Friend. As with many magical writings, most of the true usefulness of these techniques could only be utilized in conjunction with the oral tradition of such practices, though the publishing of the book spurred an increased awareness of and interest in pow-wow, which continues to ride the wave to this day. In the back hills all over the Appalachians of the United States can be found granny women and hex doctors, all ready and willing to lend a hand in return for a little token payment - often of food or other goods, rather than in money.

The book Pow-Wows is itself considered a talisman or magical tool, inscribed as it is with the promise: "Whoever carries this book with him, is safe from all his enemies, visible or invisible; and whoever has this book with him cannot die without the holy corpse of Jesus Christ, nor drowned in any water, nor burn up in any fire, nor can any unjust sentence be passed upon him. So help me."

Two other books, written in the eighteenth century in Germany, are considered original sources for the tradition, as well. These books, called the Sixth Book of Moses and the Seventh Book of Moses are actually Hermetic in their origins, though their use has evolved into a distinctly folkloric methodology.

  • Pow-Wows; or, A Long Lost Friend: [1]
  • Sixth Book of Moses [2]
  • Seventh Book of Moses [3]


[edit] Prerequisites

Holistic Awareness Merit, Animal Ken 2, Crafts 2, Occult 2, Specialty: Appalachian Lore in Occult

[edit] Tradition Skills

  • Animal Ken: The power of animals is a solid part of pow-wow, and more than a few of its rotes involve the petting of animals, or some other interaction with them. Animals can be used to take away bad luck, or to grant their abilities to those who know them well.
  • Crafts: Perhaps one of the most-used Skills of the hex doctor, Craft is used to paint hex designs, put together mojo bags, potions and wire-wrapped stones to provide their benefits to others.
  • Medicine: Knowledge of healing herbs and the treatment of sickness is an implicit part of granny magic, and many of its rotes - even non-Life rotes - are tied to the treatment of the client as a patient in some fashion.
  • Occult: The use of the seals in the Books of Moses, as well as the various correspondences is covered in this Skill.
  • Survival: A hex doctor must be knowledgeable in many aspects of the outdoors, from hunting and fishing, to weather patterns and the movement of animals in one's surroundings. Many Tradition rotes for pow-wow involve discerning or altering the world through the tools provided in the wild.

[edit] Praxis

  • Sympathy: Like other mages, the hex doctor believes that all things are intrinsically linked, on some level. Pow-wow uses four methods for strengthening those links or otherwise taking advantage of them.
    • Cutting: The concept of "cutting" and "banishing" are closely tied together in granny magic - a thing that is cut away is assumed to be discarded and separated. Knives, axes and other sharp implements become tools by which things are "cut" away: a sharp object placed beneath the pillow of a sick child cuts away the illness, or cuts away the pain of a birthing woman.
    • Measuring: Accurate measurements taken of a person can be used to represent that person for magical workings: string or thread used to outline a person, or take a set of measurements (heart-to-head, heart-to-arm and heart-to-foot- being the most common) from the person can actually be used to represent that person in ritual work.
    • Passing: Physical movement in the spell's target - generally passing a threshold of some sort - is used to denote metaphysical passage, moving from one state to another. A child passed back and forth between its parents three times (who wash their hands in water steeped in St. John's root after giving the child away) to heal it, a bride carried across a threshold for fertility, someone stepping through the split trunk of a lightning-struck tree to leave bad luck behind or moving from a darkened room to a lighted one to alleviate melancholy or illness are all examples of this sort of magic.
    • Transference: The concept that something - often bad luck, illness or beneficial traits - can be passed from one thing to another. Diseases are passed into eggs, good luck is passed into a target with the touch of a found penny and fertility is passed from a cow's milk into the woman who bathes her breasts and loins in it are all examples of this type of magic.
  • The Rule of Three: The power of the trinity, whether rooted in pagan beliefs or Christianity (or most importantly, in the Supernal) acts as a charm for use in pow-wow. Many chants or prayers are spoken three times, or ritual actions (such as passing) are taken three times.
  • Charms, Talismans and Hexes: The creation of small tokens to serve as a focus for magic is quite common in granny magic. Most people who come to a hex doctor are simple folk, and need something more than murmured blessings and laying on of hands, preferring something to look at, hold, wear or rub. Hex signs also aid in this regard. These items generally use colors, stones and herbs appropriate to the purpose sought.

[edit] Correspondences

  • Religious Iconography: The use of crosses, holy candles, scripture inscribed onto things, holy water, communion wafers, communion wine and the similar paraphernalia of generally-Christian religious practice are thought to carry great power in granny magic. The Bible is a potent book, not because of what is written in it, but because it came from God, and carries His Word. Invocations of healing and protection are often accompanied by these items.
  • Herbs: Herbs and roots possess tremendous power, not merely through ingesting, but by their very presence or touch. The magical properties of herbs, as used in other traditions, carry through into granny magic, but it's body of symbolism covers European, Native American and African lores and herbal properties, as well as such interesting sources as the Language of Flowers (so that a young woman who wanted to find love might keep red roses, and a spell to convince a beloved to give up her maidenhead might involve the staining of white flowers denoting purity with red ink made from red rose petals, which are symbolic of passionate love).
  • Wands and Dowsing Rods: Above and beyond their herbal symbolism, wands and dowsing rods of a variety of different woods serve granny magic practitioners in different purposes. Most commonly, wands and dowsing rods find use in divination purposes, using woods that are appropriately "tuned" for the item or substance in question: apple wood might be used to find water because of the feminine attributions of both water and apples, as might weeping willow wood because of the "weeping" aspect of the wood. Oak attracts lightning, and so it might be used to find gold or copper, which are the color of lightning.
  • Prayers and Rhyme: Prayers and rhymes are understood to hold power, particularly when repeated a certain number of times in a given circumstance (usually while performing some other action).
  • Books: Books themselves represent great power, often because of the rarity of education in the areas where granny magic took root. Those who could read were privy to the mighty secrets to be found in books such as the Bible and Pow-Wows. From that assumption, the power found in books wasn't limited to those who could read, though, for simply using or carrying a book might grant power. Even the book "Pow-Wows" is, by its own admission, a charm against harm.
  • Animals: Animals are understood to possess certain characteristics and strengths, that might be taken advantage of through the use of passing or transference. An illness might be passed into an animal, as might bad luck. A particularly fertile animal might encourage fertility in a woman, as a virile male animal can transfer virility to a man.

[edit] Higher Mysteries

  • Client's Magic (•••): Pow-wow has a long-established tradition of receiving payment for its magic; indeed, most people who come to a conjure woman expect to help perform the magic themselves, even if its just to carry around the charm afterwards. If a Sleeper comes to the conjure woman and gives her a payment of some kind - whether actual money or simply a basket of eggs and some bread - that Sleeper is considered a Sleepwalker for the purpose of the single enchantment he has just paid for. Others are not exempt from this, and so many hex doctors ask non-paying clients to leave the room and warn their client not to speak of the magic to anyone, lest its power be worn away (by Disbelief, generally).
  • Hexen-Craft (••••): Hex doctors often use elaborately crafted hex patterns to solidify and lengthen spells, weaving the threads of the spell into the ever-recursive patterns of the design. By taking an additional interval at the end of an Extended spellcasting with Tradition Rotes or spontaneous magic, the hex doctor can create a hex pattern for the spell cast. His successes on the Wits + Craft roll may be used to purchase additional Duration Factors and Potency Factors on the spell. Awakened hex doctors work Atlantean rune patterns into these hexes, so this spell may not benefit from Atlantean Runes to increase its Duration further, and the increases in Potency serve only to resist being dispelled or unravelled by Disbelief - they do not actually add to the power of the spell itself. This is still considered using Atlantean Runes for a spell, with the normal limitations for marring the pattern.
  • Charm-Making (•••••): Granny magic often includes the making of potions and charms for others; as a result, the target of a conjure woman's work is frequently not there. Rather than relying on Spaced-based sympathetic magic or the creation of actual imbued items or alchemical Gross Material, many hex doctors simply place the spell into a symbolically appropriate bag or stone. This ability allows the hex doctor to cast a spell as though it benefited from Prepared Spell and Conditional Trigger Factors, even without knowledge of the Time and Fate Arcana. This spell must be cast into a stone, mojo bag or potion, and the hex doctor must spend the normal additional point of Mana to use Conditional Trigger Factors. This may only be performed on Tradition Rotes, however. Alternately, the conjure woman may work with a measure of the person and perform sympathetic magic as though she possessed Space 2, even if she doesn't. She will still need to know her target's true name, though the measure counts as a sympathetic link, depending on how recently it was taken (it is generally considered an Intimate link within one week, Known for up to a month later, Acquainted if it was made within the same year, and Encountered for any time up to a decade afterwards).

[edit] Typical Appalachian Granny Magic Rotes

The following are some of the most commonly-taught granny magic rotes.

[edit] To Win Every Game One Engages In (Fate •••)

  • Spell: Exceptional Luck
  • Dice Pool: Manipulation + Occult + Fate
  • Factor Bonuses: Tying a red string to the right arm +1, Tying a red string to the right arm with the heart of a bat attached +2
  • Tradition Rote: To be considered an Appalachian Granny Magic Tradition rote, the string or bat’s heart must remain for as long as the granny woman wishes to benefit from the magic (Conditional Duration).

[edit] Pillar of Salt (Life •••• + Space •)

  • Spell: Bind the Wayward Body
  • Dice Pool: Manipulation + Survival + Life
  • Factor Bonuses: Bible is used +1
  • Tradition Rote: Magician must be following the target, who must be a fugitive and wanted. The magician must say "Peter, Paul and all the Apostles, be my witness to God's power which binds all rogues, thieves, murderers and fugitives who seek to hide from justice. In particular, let Thy power find [NAME] and bind him with fetters of guilt. Let him not step forward. Let him not step backward. Let him breathe but not speak until such time as he is released by me." This rote is generally held in abeyance by the effects of Tradition magic until the magician comes into view of the fugitive, though he may use Space •• to affect him from afar.

[edit] Hunting Talisman (Matter ••)

  • Spell: Alter Accuracy
  • Dice Pool: Intelligence + Occult + Matter
  • Factor Bonuses: Possession of the Hunting Talisman, a written incantation +1
  • Tradition Rote: A conjure-man must rub grease made from an ounce of bear’s fat, half an ounce of badger’s grease, half an ounce of snake’s fat, one ounce of almondoil and a quarter of an ounce of powdered indigo into the weapon to be affected.

[edit] Willow Wand (Prime •)

  • Spell: Supernal Vision
  • Dice Pool: Wits + Occult + Prime
  • Factor Bonuses: Prayer spoken to reveal witcheries and sorceries +1, Using a forked wand of willow, yew or apple +1
  • Tradition Rote: The conjure-man must use the wand to cast this spell and he must speak the prayer three times.

[edit] Find Crossroads (Prime ••)

  • Spell: Locate Node
  • Dice Pool: Wits + Occult + Prime
  • Factor Bonuses: Uses a dowsing wand +1, Spoken prayer to crossroads deity or saint one turn before +1
  • Tradition Rote: To be considered a Tradition Rote, the dowsing wand must be from a tree made by the natural joining of two saplings of differing types, and it must have been placed beneath the full moon (all three nights) for three consecutive months, and never used for anything but performing this rote.
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