Appalachian conjure man Jake Richards takes us deeper into the backwoods, sharing root work practices and spells of traditional folk craft magic.


Who were the old conjurors and witches of Appalachia? What were their practices and beliefs? How can you learn the ways of conjuring for yourself? Appalachian folk magic and conjure are little known today, but forty or fifty years ago just about every person you might ask in Appalachia either knew something about it themselves or knew someone who did it. These practices and “superstitions” are at the core of Appalachian culture.


In Doctoring the Devil, Jake Richards speaks to those questions and more, offering the various ways of rooting out the “devil”—any unfriendly spirit bringing bad luck, poor health, and calamities of all sorts.


Like the blue smoky mists that glide up the Appalachians, Jake leads his readers up the hillsides too, introducing us to folks along the way—hunters, farmers, blacksmiths, faith healers, preachers, and root-diggers. We’ll also meet the local spirits and learn root ways. Further up the hill, we delve into Jake’s notebooks—a personal collection of tried-and-true Appalachian recipes and roots for conjuring love, money, justice, and success.

 

While Jake Richards doesn’t hold initiations, titles, or degrees, he clearly does hold his Appalachian heritage close to his blood and bones. He has practiced Appalachian folk magic for almost a decade and teaches classes on the subject in Jonesborough, Tennessee, where he owns Little Chicago Conjure, a supplier of Appalachian folk magic supplies and ingredients.

 

“In this keen handbook, Richards (Backwoods Witchcraft), an Appalachian native and practitioner of folk magic, elucidates his techniques of healing, conjuring, and herb (“yarb”) doctoring. Part anthropological survey and part manual, the book pays tribute to Richards’s own family line of healers, dowsers, and witches, as well as to lore of other healers and seers throughout the mountains of Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. The charms, spells, and healing recipes show the influence of different cultures, with Cherokee herbal practices blending seamlessly with Christian scripture. For instance, Richards recommends a Cherokee conjure bag of tobacco, powdered clay, mustard seed, and ginseng root for luck in hunting, and Christian verses to bless the spirit of the dispatched animal. Richards’s encyclopedic knowledge of the subject and deep commitment to it make this a great starting point for those hoping to practice Appalachian folk magic.”—Publishers Weekly

Doctoring the Devil: Notebooks of an Appalachian Conjure Man

$18.95Price
  • Weiser Books 2021

    New paperback

    288 pages