The Untold Story Of West Virginia's Granny Witches May Surprise You
When, exactly, did witches get such a bad reputation? In as early as the 15th century, Europe was deep in the throes of witch trials, the likes of which followed to America in the mid 17th century when New England was awash with witch phobia. Fortunately, witch phobia never really took hold in what was to become the Mountain State, even though West Virginia has for centuries been populated with witches throughout. Our state is filled with many tales of folklore, and even though the following natural healers in the Mountain State are labeled “Granny Witches,” they have nothing to do with the traditional practice of witchcraft.
The "witches" here aren't like those found elsewhere — and definitely don't dress like witches seen in movies. The witches found in Appalachia are a rare gem and although they brought their craft from Europe with them to the New World, the "craft" soon evolved into a necessary part of Appalachian culture.
The witches of West Virginia, and elsewhere in the Appalachian Mountains, were magical healers and became known as Granny Witches.
And because so many places in the Mountain State were extremely isolated, the Granny Witch in town became an honored person. The knowledge possessed by Granny Witches has been passed down through generations and is still relied upon by some old-school families who believe in the magical healing powers of the Granny Witch.
Some Granny Witches use nothing but faith as their source for healing. It's not unusual for a witch healer to simply rub an ailment (such as a wart), say a few words, and walk away. In the case of a wart, it will be completely gone by the next morning! In the days of old, small towns in West Virginia had no doctor to rely upon. Granny Witches were sought out for all kinds of ailments and for solutions to other kinds of problems as well.
"Water Witches" were consulted when someone in the community needed to add a well to their property. With the use of special divining rods, these Granny Witches could pinpoint water on the spot (and still can!).
Over time, and with easily accessible modern conveniences, West Virginians rely much less on Granny Witches for day-to-day activities and for ailments. But they still exist as natural healers throughout the Appalachian Mountains.
Have you, or someone you know, had an experience with a Granny Witch? We’d love to know about the experience!
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