Sunday, September 05, 2010

"Wart, wart, go away . . ."

Aunt Pauline at 83

Aunt Pauline is about a quarter Cherokee, I reckon, and knows a lot about Ozark home remedies, but much of her 'medicine' is probably of Scotch-Irish derivation. One thing she taught my brothers and me was how to rid ourselves of warts. Here's what she told us:
"Take a string and tie it around the wart, rub the wart 'round and 'round and say 'Wart, wart, go away,' then take the string off and put it under a rock in a field. Walk away and don't look back, and don't tell nobody. In a few days, that wart will be gone."
I make no claims, but I will report that the occasional warts of my childhood are gone, all of them. But what I really wanted to note was a short passage on an Irish-Catholic remedy for warts that I read yesterday afternoon in David Mitchell's first novel, Ghostwritten, published in 1999. In this passage, Mowleen Muntervary, an Irish physicist who has taken refuge with her husband, John, on Clear Island -- an island off the coast of Ireland -- is given the 'medicine' for the wart remedy by a couple of islander friends who pull up to her cottage on a motorbike:
Red Kildare's mighty motorbike pulled up, spitting stones and smoke. Maisie was in the sidecar. "John! Mo!" she had to yell over the engine. "Mo! Here's a piece of bacon for your wart!"

Maisie put a thumb-sized thing wrapped into aluminum foil into my hand. "Rub it on your wart before nightfall and bury it, but don't let anyone see it or it won't work . . . ." (Mitchell, Ghostwritten, page 353)
Though not identical superstitions, this latter one being somewhat less 'supernatural', both Pauline's and Maisie's cures are recognizably similar folk remedies that rely a bit on magic (or perhaps psychosomatic conviction). I'd be curious to know other, similar traditional ways of ridding a body of warts, not that I have any warts and all.

Therefore . . . comment!

Labels: , ,


At 6:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Duct-tape. Chainsaw.


At 6:41 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I'd heard that might work too well . . .

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 7:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I should've been specific.



At 7:04 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Given that choice, I prefer the ducked ape . . .

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


Post a Comment

<< Home