27 April 2008

In These Hills

A couple days ago Billy commented that my blog had an interesting title. So I decided to explain it a little. The phrase is actually inspired by Vance Randolph. The actual line that inspired my blog title is a pretty dark one, in reference to the bad blood that once upon a time would erupt involving accusations of witchcraft. It runs: "Things happen in these hills which are never mentioned in the newspapers, never reported to the sheriff at the county seat." After reading through his "Ozark Magic and Folklore" and "Pissing in the Snow and other Ozark Folktales", which include all kinds of interesting and sometimes bawdy tales, the phrase "things happen in these hills" made more sense as "magic in these hills". For those of you who aren't into Ozarks folklore, which I imagine is just about everyone but me, Vance Randolph single-handedly managed to preserve much of the folklore, superstitions, folk songs and magic of the Ozarks. And while he sometimes looked down on what he recorded in his books the information is priceless as much, but not all, of those old ideas are gone. Randolph's book are an invaluable source of lore for someone like me, someone trying to recapture the magic of the hills of my homeland. As Randolph says: "Wherever railroads and highways penetrate, wherever newspapers and movies and radios are introduced, the people gradually lose their distinctive local traits and assume the drab color which characterizes conventional Americans elsewhere...A great body of folk belief dies very slowly, and I suspect that some vestiges of backwoods superstition will be with us for a long time to come." And he was right. Most of the old ways are gone but I, and hopefully a few others, are trying to breathe life into the old traditions and practices.


Marion said...

Way to go, Livia...the old ways made us who we are today. And I thank you for continuing to bring those ways to the forefront, for all of us to remember.

Livia Indica said...

I'm trying but it's hard to dig up these old ways sometimes. Thanks goodness for Vance Randolph. Thanks for commenting, I didn't know anyone else felt the way I do about it.

genexs said...

Good on you, Livia. If I wanted to get started reading some of Randolph's works, which is the best one to start with?

When I was growing up and first getting interested in nature, I remember being shown the "Fire Fox" books. They were sort of a 'how to' for those interested in (what use to be called) the 'getting back to nature' movement. Have you ever heard of those books, or know anyone who uses them?

Livia Indica said...

Randolph wrote over a dozen books on the Ozarks so you've got a lot to choose from. I would probably recommend "Ozarks Magic and Folklore" as the most fascinating, especially the section on Ozarks witchcraft: it's interesting how the old tales from Europe survived here.

"Fire Fox" isn't ringing a bell for me but I'm sure you could search it and find some information somewhere.

Thanks for your interest!

genexs said...

Thanx for the info.

And it's "Fox Fire", not "Fire Fox", heh, my bad! I found the wiki entry, which is informative. The books centered on the southern Appalachians. The title "Fox Fire" referred to the folk name for bioluminescent fungi living on wood.