Monday, October 29, 2012

Old Time Apple Butter Boiling--Beth Trissel



An Excerpt from my nonfiction book about gardening and country life, Shenandoah Watercolors:
"I love fall, always have.  It brings with it an excitement, a sort of energy, that recharges the land and a people grown weary of the stifling summer heat and drought that often accompanies it.  Change in and of itself is not necessarily good, but it can be.  I am resolved to make this a good fall, brilliant in worth, glowing with love and filled with promise. (Image of the Shenandoah Valley taken by my mom)
In the Shenandoah Valley, autumn also means apple butter boiling.  My most outstanding memory of fruit butter making occurred years ago when my son was small and the girls not yet born.  My husband’s mother decided her daughters-in-law should have the rich experience of stirring apple butter and we gathered with her in what is now the basement of our garage apartment.
Before that it was a woodworking shop and even further back is where my parents-in-law ‘went to housekeeping’ as Mom Trissel calls it, in the days when they were first married.  They lived there for a number of months.  At the time of the boiling, it was a dimly lit room with a small wood stove and a brick kettle cooker behind it built against the chimney.
Apple butter boiling in an open kettleWe ladies spent the morning peeling and slicing up bushels of tart, red apples, then stoked up the fire.  Mom first sprinkled a handful of pennies over the bottom of the enormous old copper kettle to help keep the apples from sticking before we set the pot in a wide hole in the cooker.  She added spices and gallons of cider to the apples and we commenced to stirring.
Hours passed as each of us took turns at manning the long-handled wooden ladle.  The little room grew charged with the spicy fragrance of the aromatic brew.  We were sorely tired by the time it was pronounced done, but it was wonderful stuff.  Two saplings now grow at the back of our garage from the mountain of peels and seeds we tossed outside that day.  The trees are entwined together like lovers and have espaliéd themselves up along the wall to the roof.  Their abundant fruit is runty from lack of care but has an excellent tangy sweetness."
*Pic of apple butter boiling in a copper kettle, such as we used, over an open fire. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Historical Romance with A Native American Flavor--Beth Trissel


The Rugged Alleghenies, A White Warrior, Beautiful Scots-Irish Healer, Unrequited Love—Requited, Charges of Witchcraft, Vindictive Ghost, Lost Treasure, Murderous Thieves, Deadly Pursuit, Hangman’s Noose Waiting…Kira, Daughter of the Moon

NEW RELEASE! Out in print at Amazon and The Wild Rose Press now, available in various eBook formats on its official release day, Nov. 2nd, (in Kindle soon) historical romance novel, Kira, Daughter of the Moon!  Following 11/2, the story will also be available in Nookbook and from other online booksellers. If you don't see it, ask. Libraries and your local bookstores can order it.

'A beautiful Scots-Irish healer in the rugged Alleghenies finds herself accused of witchcraft. With the terror of the French and Indian War fresh in her mind, can Kira love a white warrior?'

Set among the superstitious Scots in the rugged Alleghenies, the story is an adventurous romance with a blend of Celtic and Native American flavors. Although written to stand alone, Kira, Daughter of the Moon is the long-awaited sequel to my award-winning historical romance novel, Through the Fire.



Blurb: Logan McCutcheon returns to colonial Virginia after seven years in the hands of Shawnee Indians. But was he really a captive, as everybody thinks? He looks and fights like a warrior, and seems eager to return to those he calls friends and family. 
Kira McClure has waited for Logan all those years, passing herself off as odd to keep suitors at bay--and anyone else from getting too close. Now that he's back, he seems to be the only person capable of protecting her from the advances of Josiah Campbell and accusations of witchcraft. And to defend the settlers against a well-organized band of murderous thieves.~
(Logan, the 'white  warrior' from Kira, Daughter of the MoonOne of my all time favorite heroes.)
Amazon Reader Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Another splendid historical!October 25, 2012
This review is from: Kira, Daughter of the Moon (Paperback)
Beth Trissel has written another thoughtful recreation of colonial times in this sequel to 'Through The Fire'. Kira lives with relatives deep in the mountains of Virginia at a time when the English, French, and Native Americans are embroiled in constant skirmishes and out and out war. Logan was captured by the Indians seven years earlier and returns, now more Indian that white man, to retrieve a cache of gold left behind by others. Once he meets up with Kira, his childhood friend, sparks fly and he will have her for his own.

While following Kira and Logan's personal battles we meet the best and worst of mankind. Evil and criminal forces threaten to keep them apart, and even kill them. Kira must learn to curb her tongue, hide her strange abilities and develop a strength she never dreamed she would be able to show. But is Logan worth the cost? Will he be true to her and give her a life she will be able to embrace? Can they ferret out the true villains and find peace and safety?

Miss Trissel's lush descriptions of the rugged mountains, the harsh living conditions, and the uncertain times give life to what our forefathers endured to build a land we now call America. The characters, rugged Scot-Irish men and women, soldiers, Indians, and engaging children, come alive in this romantic adventure of life and love on the frontier.


THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR, A SHAWNEE WARRIOR, AN ENGLISH LADY, BLOOD VENGEANCE, DEADLY PURSUIT, PRIMAL, POWERFUL, PASSIONATE…THROUGH THE FIRE
“The storyline of Through the Fire is well-written and uncommonly descriptive. Ms. Trissel took great time and effort to research Indian beliefs and their way of life. Anyone who buys this book will take great pleasure in it.” ~You Gotta Read by Laura
“Through the Fire is full of interesting characters, beautifully described scenery, and vivid action sequences. It is a must read for any fan of historical romance.” ~Long and Short Reviews by Poinsettia
2008 Golden Heart® Finalist

Blurb for Through the Fire:
At the height of the French and Indian War, a young English widow ventures into the colonial frontier in search of a fresh start. She never expects to find it in the arms of the half-Shawnee, half-French warrior who makes her his prisoner in the raging battle to possess a continent––or to be aided by a mysterious white wolf and a holy man.~

***Available in print, also Kindle and Nookbook, and various eBook formats from other online booksellers.


Blurb for The Bearwalker's Daughter:
Timid by nature—or so she thinks—Karin McNeal hasn’t grasped who she really is or her fierce birthright. A tragic secret from the past haunts the young Scots-Irish woman longing to learn more of her mother's death and the mysterious father no one will name. The elusive voices she hears in the wind hint at the dramatic changes soon to unfold in the mist-shrouded Alleghenies in Autumn, 1784.
Jack McCray, the wounded stranger who staggers through the door on the eve of her twentieth birthday and anniversary of her mother's death, holds the key to unlock the past. Will Karin let this handsome frontiersman lead her to the truth and into his arms, or seek the shelter of her fiercely possessive kinsmen? Is it only her imagination or does someone, or something, wait beyond the brooding ridges—for her?
(A revised version of Daughter of the Wind)
"Ms. Trissel's alluring style of writing invites the reader into a world of fantasy and makes it so believable it is spellbinding." -Long and Short Reviews
"I loved the plot of this story, oh, and the setting was wonderful."
-Mistress Bella Reviews
"I found this book fascinating." -Bitten By Books
***Available at Amazon in Kindle for .99
Blurb for The Lady and the Warrior:
An abused young wife stranded in the Alleghenies in 1783 is rescued from drowning by a rugged frontiersman who shows her kindness and passion. But is he more than he seems? And can they ever be together?
About The Lady and the Warrior:  A short historical romance story with a The Last of the Mohican's flavor to give readers a taste of my full-length American historical romance novels.  If you like The Lady and the Warrior, chances are you will enjoy Red Bird's Song and Through the Fire, and Kira, Daughter of the Moon.  All have a strong Native American theme interwoven with the plot.
***Available at Amazon Kindle for .99
Amazon Reader Review: 
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good romanceMarch 24, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Lady and the Warrior (Kindle Edition)
I've read a few other books written by Beth Trissel so decided to give this one a shot. Really glad I did. I'm in love with this story. It was incredibly touching. A true romance. This author has a way of pulling on your heartstrings. Yep, I got a little emotional. If you're looking to read something memorable, this tale is for you!
RED BIRD'S SONG
Taken captive by a Shawnee war party wasn't how Charity Edmondson hoped to escape an unwanted marriage. Nor did Shawnee warrior Wicomechee expect to find the treasure promised by his grandfather's vision in the unpredictable red-headed girl.
George III's English Red-Coats, unprincipled colonial militia, prejudice and jealousy are not the only enemies Charity and Wicomechee will face before they can hope for a peaceful life. The greatest obstacle to happiness is in their own hearts.

As they struggle through bleak mountains and cold weather, facing wild nature and wilder men, Wicomechee and Charity must learn to trust each other. ~

2012 EPIC Ebook Award Finalist


"This is a beautifully written story filled with adventure and suspense...This book touched my soul even as it provided a thrilling fictional escape into a period of history I have always found fascinating." --Night Owl Book Review by Laurie-J

"I loved the descriptions...I felt I was there...Many mystical episodes are intermingled with the events...The ending is a real surprise, but I will let you have the pleasure of reading it for yourself."  --Seriously Reviewed

With Red Bird's Song, Beth Trissel has painted an unforgettable portrait of a daring and defiant love brought to life in the wild and vivid era of Colonial America. Highly recommended for lovers of American history and romance lovers alike!~Virginia Campbell

"I liked this book so much. The author has done a magnificent job of creating both characters and setting. The descriptions of the area are wonderful and put the reader right in there with the characters...I will most certainly read other books by this author." Overall rating 5 out of 5 hearts Reviewer: Jaye Leyel for The Romance Studio

***Available in print and kindle at Amazon, in NookBook, and from other online booksellers

Author Awards:

2008 Golden Heart® Finalist
2008 Winner Preditor's & Editor's Readers Poll
Publisher's Weekly BHB Reader's Choice Best Books of 2009 
2010 Best Romance Novel List at Buzzle
Five Time Book of the Week Winner at LASR
2012 Double Epic eBook Award Final
2012 Reader's Favorite Finalist

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Glorious Autumn in the Shenandoah Valley--Beth Trissel



An excerpt from my nonfiction book about gardening and country life,  Shenandoah Watercolors, a 2012 EPIC eBook Award Finalist:
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.” ~ Anne Frank
(Image by my mother, Pat Churchman. If you look closely you can see my daughter Elise as a child and her little friend, James, peeking our from behind the trees.)
Excerpt from my chapter on October:
“A cold autumn wind blew as my younger daughter, Elise, and I scurried about the garden in the last of the light to gather in our treasures. She heaped great orange Cinderella pumpkins into the wheelbarrow and picked the rest of her pink and blue Indian corn. Beams of sun touched the crimson cockscomb flowers just coming into full bloom, an antiquated variety that I seeded late and coaxed through our wet summer. (Cinderella Pumpkins, image by Elise taken this fall--2012)
The vibrant color of the plumes stood out against the grayish black clouds like a king’s velvet robes. This wealth will quickly dwindle if the temperatures dip too low tonight. The weather is quite cool here today. Forecasters are calling for the chance of frost tonight, but only if the gray blanket covering the sky clears and bright cold stars come out. Then maybe Jack Frost’s chill breath will silver the hoary earth.
I must get myself to the garden and pick the last of the orange persimmon tomatoes–truly the most luscious variety in the world–and the heirloom lima beans, called Christmas limas. These beans are mottled a lovely wine color and very tasty. Perhaps I can get our dog, Mia, to help me. But I doubt it. She takes no interest in vacuuming or dusting either, just wants to know when its time to eat.
I have this wild hope in the back of my mind that maybe I will wake up one day and find the house ordered and gleaming, all put to rights while I slept. I suspect this delusion comes from my having read The Elves and the Shoemaker too often, and other fairy tales. I have also seen too many Disney movies.”
(Colorful maple tree near green rye field on our farm in the Shenandoah Valley, image by Elise)
***Shenandoah Watercolors is available from Amazon in kindle and now paperback with lovely photographs taken by my family.
***For a seed link to the Christmas Pole Lima Beans click HERE.
***For a seed link to Cinderella Pumpkins click HERE
***For a seed link to my favorite Orange Persimmon tomatoes click HERE.
After your initial purchase you can save the seed.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Peek Into Scottish Time Travel Romance Somewhere My Lass--Beth Trissel


AN ANCIENT RELIC, A MEDIEVAL CRYPT, A MAD HIGHLANDER AT THEIR THROATS AND TIME FAST RUNNING OUT.  MYSTERY, SUSPENSE, ROMANCE…SOMEWHERE MY LASS
Excerpt from Chapter One:
How in the name of
Stunned beyond oaths, Neil gaped down at the slender young woman dressed in an outlandish Scottish costume. Hair the color of a flaming sunset spilled down over the red and blue tartan plaid draped around her like a shawl. A circular brass brooch heavily engraved by some skilled craftsman held the edges together. A full green skirt covered the rest of her, a hint of petticoats beneath.  
Good God. She looked straight out of the Old Country. In profound disbelief, he knelt beside her and laid his hand on her shoulder. He wasn’t hallucinating. She was real enough, warm against his hand. Stranger still, the peaty scent of turf smoke emanated from her. And some perfume he couldn’t place, but inherently knew.
Moss rose, maybe? The rich meld of fragrances carried him back, but to where? Baffled, he shook her gently. “Miss?”
She gave a soft moan.
“Are you hurt?” he asked.
She turned toward him, fluttering a dark fringe of auburn lashes. Another moan issued from between what surely were petal soft lips. He frowned at the ugly bruise marring her forehead. Had that maniac done this to her? The rest of her smooth skin was pale except for the sprinkle of freckles on her nose—not too long with a pert tilt, Neil noted, along with an absence of any other immediate injuries.
Thank God he hadn’t been too late to help this young woman. Perhaps he’d frightened off her attacker, the coward. Although he had no idea where the killer had gone.Neil remained on his guard. He mustn’t take anything for granted. The only certainty—a violent criminal was on the loose. Difficult to keep watching over his shoulder, though, with the inexplicable stranger commanding his attention.
Intrigued, despite the gruesome circumstances of their meeting, Neil locked his gaze on her once again. Vivid blue eyes, cast with a purplish hue, opened wide. Unusual color and deeply stirring. She blinked and stared up at him as if he’d materialized out of the mist. But it was she who’d mysteriously come upon him with such wonder and beauty.
His already pounding heart skipped a beat for an entirely different reason now. He looked long into her eyes…for a moment he forgot the grisly murder, forgot everything. There was a timeless quality in those violet depths; the term “window to the soul” took on a whole new meaning. And it seemed to him that he’d seen these eyes before… Impossible. 
He came back to himself. Mastering the tremor threatening his speech, he said, “You were knocked out, but you’ll be all right.”
She shook her head, wincing. “None of us will. The MacDonald comes,” she warned in a Scottish brogue.
The hair on the back of Neil’s neck bristled. And so it begins, a voice inside him said.~
Recent Amazon Reader Review:
5.0 out of 5 stars terrific time travel, October 10, 2012
“What a great story! This book has it all Historic, and modern all with highlanders. I love the way the author has taken all the usual “rules” of time travel stories and thrown them away. We get old things in modern day and very modern in the past. Even the secondary character is a hero. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil it. I was stunned at the ending I want MORE. A great fun read!”

Friday, October 19, 2012

Who Loves A Good Time Travel Romance? -- Beth Trissel


I do! I do! *Beth has her hand up.

After incorporating a time travel element in the form of flashbacks to early nineteenth century Virginia into my first such story, ghostly romance novel Somewhere My Love, my ultimate challenge was setting a time travel romance novel in Scotland. I’ve never physically been there, though many in my family have and told me all about its grandeur and charm. I’ve certainly read, heard, and seen many descriptions of Scotland.  Being a history buff I’ve read up on and watched numerous programs set in the British Isles. I’m a British junkie, an anglophile, while equally preoccupied with early America. But then America and Great Britain are both tied together, and were especially linked in the colonial time period.  The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where I live and my family has lived for several hundred years resembles the hills, mountains, and valleys of Scotland and Ireland that drew so many Scots/Irish to settle here. So that gave me an ‘in.’


Up until SOMEWHERE MY LASS I’d set all my stories in America, past and present. This departure to Scotland was, as I said, indeed a challenge, but I drew deeply on my English Scots-Irish roots, which I’ve been doing all along. Apart from the prominent Native American heroes and characters in my work (Through the Fire, Red Bird’s Song, The Bearwalker's Daughter, The Lady and the WarriorKira, Daughter of the Moon) the others are all of English/Scots-Irish backgrounds, with a smidgen of French. My ancestors, too, have a smidgen of French in the meld, a Norman knight who sailed with William the Conqueror.

A little more about the inspiration behind SOMEWHERE MY LASS:

As is often the case, the opening of this book was inspired by a dream, one that grabbed my attention and made me wonder where in the world do I go from here? Inquiring minds like mine want to know the rest of the story and so I delved & plotted, lay awake nights trying to recapture that dream. Ultimately, this suspenseful time travel evolved from years of research into my distant Scottish roots and a long-held fascination with the idea of actually being transported to the past, with a proviso that I can return to the present whenever the thrill wears off. Say, by tea time. My characters are far more adventurous than I.

Certainly, I was influenced by my beloved C S Lewis in his Chronicles of Narnia that I grew up reading. I’m still looking for Narnia. Isn’t everyone? Not to mention, movies like Back to the Future and Timeline –I don’t care what the critics say I’d loved it–but I like to think, and my editor assures me, that I’ve achieved an original take on the oft visited time travel theme. And no, I’ve not read author Diane Gabledon or other Scottish time travels so cannot be accused of those influences.  One of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read with exquisite imagery and intriguing time travel is Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce, and Susan Einzig. A book written for older children but really for anyone. Me, for instance. It’s an absolute delight.

Back to Somewhere My Lass…of course, my love for old castles and the Scottish highlands also lent inspiration. The concept behind my SOMEWHERE series is that the story opens in modern-day, so far my home state of Virginia and I don’t see that changing, and then transports the reader SOMEWHERE else–either back to an earlier time in the same house, as in SOMEWHERE MY LOVE, or another place altogether, as in SOMEWHERE MY LASS. Sounds simple enough, right? But writing these stories isn’t. There were times when I thought I’d never make it through ‘Lass’ but am thrilled that I did.
 
Did I get the setting right?  Only those of you who dwell in that beautiful land or have visited Scotland can say.  I loved writing SOMEWHERE MY LASS and am doing a sequel.

****
Blurb: Neil MacKenzie’s well ordered life turns to chaos when Mora Campbell shows up claiming he’s her fiancé from 1602 Scotland. Her avowal that she was chased to the future by clan chieftain, Red MacDonald, is utter nonsense, and Neil must convince her that she is just addled from a blow to her head–or so he believes until the MacDonald himself shows up wanting blood. Mora knows the Neil of the future is truly her beloved Niall who disappeared from the past. Although her kinsmen believe he’s dead, and she is now destined to marry Niall’s brother, she’s convinced that if she and Neil return to the past, all will be right. The only problem is how to get back to 1602 before it’s too late. The balance of the present and future are in peril if she marries another, and the Neil of the present will cease to exist. An ancient relic and a few good friends in the future help pave the way back to the past, but will Mora and Neil be too late to save a love that began centuries before?
****
First Excerpt:

“You are a beauty.” His words were a hoarse whisper.

The rise and fall of her chest betrayed a deep inhalation of breath. A flicker of reproach lit her eyes. “I dinna think ye took heed of me at all.”

He winced at the well-deserved jab. “About before, I’m sorry I left you so suddenly. But there’s no earthly way I could fail to notice you. I’d have to be deaf, dumb, and blind and even then…”

The tension in her face eased and then the hurt returned. “Oh, aye? How could ye forget all ye knew?”

He remained as he was, threading that wealth of hair through his fingers. Again, the rational part of him argued, “Is it possible you’re imagining you knew me before?”


She balked, a mutinous glint in her eyes. “Nae.”


He slid his hand to the finely crafted silver chain at her throat and coaxed the coverlets further down. A slight gasp escaped her lips. He muted any outward response to the thrill running through him. The scooped neckline of her nightgown revealed the tops of white breasts sprinkled with freckles. Above this heart-hammering sight hung the crucifix. 
“I gave this to you?” he managed to ask without betraying the swell of emotion surging inside him.

“At our betrothal.”

Second Excerpt:
How in the name of— Stunned beyond oaths, Neil gaped down at the slender young woman dressed in an outlandish Scottish costume. Hair the color of a flaming sunset spilled down over the red and blue tartan plaid draped around her like a shawl. A circular brass brooch heavily engraved by some skilled craftsman held the edges together. A full green skirt covered the rest of her, a hint of petticoats beneath.  

Good God. She looked straight out of the Old Country. In profound disbelief, he knelt beside her and laid his hand on her shoulder. He wasn’t hallucinating. She was real enough, warm against his hand. Stranger still, the peaty scent of turf smoke emanated from her. And some perfume he couldn’t place, but inherently knew.

Moss rose, maybe? The rich meld of fragrances carried him back, but to where? Baffled, he shook her gently. “Miss?”
She gave a soft moan.


“Are you hurt?” he asked.

She turned toward him, fluttering a dark fringe of auburn lashes. Another moan issued from between what surely were petal soft lips. He frowned at the ugly bruise marring her forehead. Had that maniac done this to her? The rest of her smooth skin was pale except for the sprinkle of freckles on her nose—not too long with a pert tilt, Neil noted, along with an absence of any other immediate injuries. Thank God he hadn’t been too late to help this young woman. Perhaps he’d frightened off her attacker, the coward. Although he had no idea where the killer had gone.
Neil remained on his guard. He mustn’t take anything for granted. The only certainty—a violent criminal was on the loose. Difficult to keep watching over his shoulder, though, with the inexplicable stranger commanding his attention.

Intrigued, despite the gruesome circumstances of their meeting, Neil locked his gaze on her once again. Vivid blue eyes, cast with a purplish hue, opened wide. Unusual color and deeply stirring. She blinked and stared up at him as if he’d materialized out of the mist. But it was she who’d mysteriously come upon him with such wonder and beauty.

His already pounding heart skipped a beat for an entirely different reason now. He looked long into her eyes…for a moment he forgot the grisly murder, forgot everything. There was a timeless quality in those violet depths; the term “window to the soul” took on a whole new meaning. And it seemed to him that he’d seen these eyes before… Impossible. 

He came back to himself. Mastering the tremor threatening his speech, he said, “You were knocked out, but you’ll be all right.”


She shook her head, wincing. “None of us will. The MacDonald comes,” she warned in a Scottish brogue.

The hair on the back of Neil’s neck bristled. And so it begins, a voice inside him said.

****
*Above Pic of The Door to Nowhere, or so Neil thinks.

SOMEWHERE MY LASS is available in digital download at:
The Wild Rose Press, Amazon as a Kindle, Barnes & Noble in Nookbook and from other online booksellers.

Most Recent Amazon Reader Review: 
5.0 out of 5 stars terrific time travelOctober 10, 2012


"What a great story! This book has it all Historic, and modern all with highlanders. I love the way the author has taken all the usual "rules" of time travel stories and thrown them away. We get old things in modern day and very modern in the past. Even the secondary character is a hero. I don't want to say too much because I don't want to spoil it. I was stunned at the ending I want MORE. A great fun read!"

***Amazon has all of my books long or short, kindle and print.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Scots-Irish Healer in the Alleghenies Finds Herself Accused of Witchcraft--Beth Trissel



My fascination with the supernatural, whether real or imagined, played an important role in my new historical romance novel, Kira, Daughter of the Moon. Murmurings against the unusual, young Scots-Irishwoman, Kira McClure, grow into accusations of witchcraft. Never a good thing, but especially not in the colonial Virginia frontier. Acceptance in a close-knit community could mean the difference between life and death. The highly superstitious Scots settled in the rugged Alleghenies on the heels of The French and Indian War were already wary. The dangers these dark woods held heightened their fear of the supernatural. Sick livestock, children struck down with illness, and other misfortunes might be blamed on witchcraft. Settlers were alert to anyone in their midst they could point to as the culprit. The farther people ventured from more civilized society, the deeper their superstitions ran. And taking the law, such as it was, into their own hands was often how they dealt with miscreants in the frontier .
Late Shenandoah Valley historian, John Heatwole, much respected and a family friend, put together a wonderful collection of accounts from valley and mountain people regarding their experiences with and feelings toward so-called witches. His book deals with beliefs lingering into the 20th century, but they’re still present among some rural Virginians today. Fear best sums up their sentiments. In his book, Shenandoah Voices, Mr. Heatwole says, “Witches have not been tried, jailed or executed in America since the early 18th century, but tales of their activities persist. During that period in our history, superstitious practices invoked for self-protection were considered prudent dabbling in the occult and virtually harmless. Powers or practices called upon for mean-spirited or evil purposes were attributed to malevolent people in the community who wielded demonic powers. Despite the perception of evil, people suspected of being witches, who were mostly women, were often tolerated in society because of their family ties or from fear of retribution—no one wanted to get on the wrong side of a witch.”
True. However, ‘often tolerated,’ doesn’t mean those perceived as witches were popular. He shares accounts and I’ve read others, of outspoken or in some way unique females, perhaps even deformed, thought to be in league with the devil who were ostracized. Not being accepted and possibly even tormented by your neighbors was harsh, particularly for the poor and elderly. On the one hand, a woman might gain power over others, even men, in a historically male dominated society, through the fear she intentionally or unintentionally provoked, but the danger that people would shun her was always present–unless she was well-to-do. The rich were always better tolerated.
Spells and hexes were countered by witch doctors, usually men, although ‘Granny women’ were also known for battling the dark arts with magical incantations. I have friends who grew up ‘back in the holler’ and remember bringing in the Granny woman when home remedies failed. One common protection prudent mothers undertook for children was to sew little ‘acifidity’ bags filled with pungent herbs, garlic and asafetida,  to hang around their necks. “Oh my, did these kids stink,’ one friend told me. The stench was to drive away illness and evil. These stinky bags may be out of favor now, but the fear that lay behind them is still quite real among some folk.
You may ask if any of the women, and occasionally men, thought to be witches actually were? Yes. And some of them sound pretty darn scary.
For my recent post on that visit:
***Royalty free images