After years of pondering, Byron Ballard has finally written a primer for the kind of magic she practices. Driven to it by colleagues, friends, and students, writing this little book is an act of stubborn devotion to a fading culture. This deceptively simple system of folk magic has come down to modern Southern culture through the immigrants and natives who called these blue hills home. Written in an easily accessible style and filled with insights and stories, Staubs and Ditchwater is part memoir, part workbook - and an important contribution to the study of Appalachian folklore.
"Fresh, exciting, and brilliantly written, Byron Ballard's Staubs and Ditchwater is the perfect remedy to get your Mojo going again!"
- Dorothy Morrison - Author of Utterly Wicked
Like an Appalachian Brigit, Ballard tends an eternal fire. Its a flame that warms the hearth, but its also a blaze that fuels a devotion to social justice. Her authority doesnt come from her degrees and her training (though she has them indeed), but from deep within her bones and within the earth of her home hills. If you want to experience an authentic traditional practice, turn these pages and find your reward.
K. A. Laity, author of Pelzmantel and Other Tales of Medieval Magic
It's been a very long time since a new book on any aspect of contemporary paganism came along that has not only seemed worthwhile but impressive. Byron Ballard's fascinating, engaging new book on Appalachian hoodoo beliefs and practices is not only a sparkling treasure chest of folklore and magical tidbits. It is full of pragmatic and wise advice on how to think, live and thrive in a changing world. Not for the faint of heart, this book will teach you how to hex, and also how to heal. It'll explain to you things you know (growing your own food is a good idea and fun) and things you don't (did you know you can expose a liar in public with very little effort?) and things you never thought you'd think about (I'll let you find out for yourself). Ballard is a charming writer, and this book brings her sly wit, native intelligence and sense of community compassion to any reader lucky enough to procure a copy. I can't imagine not having this book in my library, or not wanting to gift it to many friends.
Media Coordinator, The Witches' Voice; creator of "The Witching Hour" blog; media scholar; film critic; author