Brandon Weston 2021


LECTURE: Cleanin’ the Blood: Ritual Emetics and Purgatives in Ozark Folk Medicine and Magic
“Strong medicine forces sickness down and out. If you ain’t throwin’ up, it ain’t workin’.” An Ozark healer once told me. This lecture covers the often taboo topic of vomit, piss, and poop. We will be looking in depth at the use of emetics and purgatives within the medical and magical tradition of the Ozark Mountain region. This includes medicinal plants like sassafras, mayapple, and blackgum, all used as spring tonics to “clean the blood,” a euphemism for a strong laxative. We will also look at the ritual use of purgative plants in Ozark folk magic to clean out evil spirits, hexes, and other malign work from out of a patient’s physical and spiritual body that might be causing them serious illness or harm. Emetic plants from the talk include: sassafras, dandelion root, burdock, Solomon’s seal, pokeweed, mayapple, tobacco, and more.

Brandon Weston is a healer, writer, and folklorist living in the Arkansas Ozarks. He is author of Ozark Folk Magic: Plants, Prayers, and Healing and owner of Ozark Healing Traditions, a collective of articles, lectures, and workshops focusing on traditions of medicine, magic, and folklore from the Ozark Mountain region. As an active healer, his work with clients includes everything from spiritual cleanses to house blessings and all the weird and wonderful ailments in between. He comes from a long line of Ozark hillfolk and works hard to keep the traditions that he’s collected alive and true for generations to come.

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~Video Recordings from the 2021 online VGS are accessible for 30 days from purchase date~