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About Jake Richards
Jake Richards holds his Appalachian heritage close in his blood and bones. His family legacy in Appalachia goes back generations. Jake has practiced Appalachian folk magic for over a decade now. Jake has written three books (Backwoods Witchcraft: Conjure & Folk Magic from Appalachia, Doctoring the Devil: Notebooks of an Appalachian Conjure Man, and Ossman and Steel’s Classic Household Guide to Appalachian Folk Healing), a deck of cards (Conjure Cards) as well as contributions to Mat Auryn’s Mastering Magick, Llewellyn's Complete Book of North American Folk Magic: A Landscape of Magic, Mystery, and Tradition by Cory Hutcheson; article in Witchology Magazine, Samhain issue 2022.
It is his hope that this work resurrects these traditions as they were, not as history as recorded them in broken pieces of “superstition”, but as a cohesive system by which mountain folk have lived for centuries. If your folks are from Appalachia, this is apart of your heritage, life, and culture, regardless of your gender, race, or sexual orientation.
We are all heirs to the Mountain.
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Books By Jake Richards
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.
In Backwoods Witchcraft, Jake Richards offers up a folksy stew of family stories, lore, omens, rituals, and conjure crafts that he learned from his great-grandmother, his grandmother, and his grandfather, a Baptist minister who Jake remembers could "rid someone of a fever with an egg or stop up the blood in a wound." The witchcraft practiced in Appalachia is very much a folk magic of place, a tradition that honors the seen and unseen beings that inhabit the land as well as the soil, roots, and plant life.
The materials and tools used in Appalachia witchcraft are readily available from the land. This "grounded approach" will be of keen interest to witches and conjure folk regardless of where they live. Readers will be guided in how to build relationships with the spirits and other beings that dwell around them and how to use the materials and tools that are readily available on the land where one lives.
This book also provides instructions on how to create a working space and altar and make conjure oils and powders. A wide array of tried-and-true formulas are also offered for creating wealth, protecting one from gossip, spiritual cleansing, and more.
Ossman & Steel’s Guide to Health or Household Instructor (its original title) is a collection of spells, remedies, and charms. The book draws from the old Pennsylvania Dutch and German powwow healing practices that in turn helped shape Appalachian folk healing, conjure, rootwork, and many folk healing traditions in America. Jake Richards, author of Backwoods Witchcraft and Doctoring the Devil, puts these remedies in context, with practical advice for modern-day “backwoods” healers interested to use them today.
The first part contains spells and charms for healing wounds, styes, broken bones, maladies, and illnesses of all sorts. The second part includes other folk remedies using ingredients based on sympathetic reasoning, including sulfuric acid, gunpowder, or other substances for swelling, toothache, headache, and so on. These remedies are presented here for historic interest, to help better understand how folk medicine evolved in America.
It is Jake Richard’s hope that reintroducing this work will reestablish its position as a useful household helper in the library of every witch or country healer.