“Bidden or unbidden, God is always present.”
ergi Farms and Apothecary was born out of a desire to preserve, maintain, and protect, Appalachian Folk Medicine. Having grown up with my great-grandmother, Margaret, on the Tennessee/North Carolina state lines in an area called “Wolf Creek” I was fortunate to catch a glimpse of a way of life that has been dying out. For the most part my generation had already been modernized, and the same was true for me. My parents really had no use for the old ways as they had saw the convenience of fast food, gas stations, and those incredibly large car phones! However, during the summers my grandmothers watched myself, my brother, and the rest of our cousins. We grew up learning how to make grasshopper houses, how to garden, hearing if the coming winter was to be a hard one or light, and trying to understand why Granny was so dedicated to doing all of her work by the signs.
I always heard stories of different miraculous events that had been executed at my grandmothers hand, or other women like her. She didn’t call herself anything specific. Now, looking back, having begun my study of our little pocket of Appalachian Healing I believe they would have called her “Granny Woman” and if she had any ill will with anyone they might have called her a “Granny Witch”. She would have never embraced either of those terms as what she was doing was simply the way life was. I heard her tell a story about how she had stopped a mans deadly bleeding by reciting a bible verse over him. She, of course, gave credit to the Heavens for the healing. She was simply the messenger.
I heard stories of men who could cure the thrash, women who could blow the burn out, men who could pray warts off, and find necessary water sources. All of these, as a child, were fantasy to me. I was part of a modern world. I will say there was always a touch of mystery around her home, and now that she’s crossed over Jordan I know she was the source of that mystery. A woman of Irish-scottish descent, humble, quick to laugh, quicker to plan for the coming seasons, and full of old knowledge. She would take us into the woods, or maybe we followed her in, and tell us folk plant names and their uses. I wish that I could remember a small percentage of what she taught, alas most of my herbal knowledge has come from interacting with the folk who are still dwelling in my part of Appalachia. Those who still remember.
I realized after her passing that I had lost a resource of invaluable information, lore, practice, and a way of living. I realized that a section of my tap root had gone bad, and if I was to make peace with my future I would have to dig up the past. So I began the task of collection bits of information from various sources: the old folks, books, the internet, my family, families like ours, and learning to rely on my inner voice. I can almost hear Granny saying that that inner voice is the Holy Spirit and to trust it.
A few house rules:
To be sure I am far from what some would consider a practicing Christian (my Granny might argue that point with me for a while). I practice traditional Appalachian Folk Healing as best as I have learned in. That means that I call on the Father of Lights, the saints (sometimes that means those who have crossed over Jordan recently) Jesus, the Holy Ghost, etc. However, having studied various other traditions with Native American teachers, and gathered various teachings from other indigenous cultures, I am also heavily influenced by those in my practice. It is not abnormal for me to use the name “Great Mystery” during prayer. I also am a queer identified person who sees sexuality and gender as mostly fluid, and that I have a hard time labeling myself. Some criticize this as confusion, I call it freedom.
Essentially I am interested in folk practices regardless of geography as there are always many similarities. I come home to my tradition because it is my root system, a guiding serpent when things have become dark, or I have lost myself in adventure. I also make it a specific intention to “queer” my tradition. What I mean by that is that I become very specific about my role as a queer person in my tradition, that usually means that I build community, I am able to see both sides of the fence, and that I have an intimate relationships with discrimination, injustice, and certain loss of privileges.
ergi Farms and Apothecary is a working. In Appalachian Folk Healing a “working” is specific set of prayers, actions, thoughts, or tasks, that are meant to bring about a desired outcome. ergi is a living working. A working that weaves together my root traditions, my queer life, and others sources of wisdom, in an effort to make my small part of Appalachia more whole. It is a healing working, starting with me and then working out into the land. It will most likely be seen as something strange by the folk here, but all Granny Women were. They will come to be sure, and seek out the old ways, and the benefits of them. They may not understand the working, but the working is always for them, for the others.