African American Folk Healing by Stephanie Mitchem

By Stephanie Mitchem

Cure a nosebleed via retaining a silver sector at the again of the neck. deal with an earache with candy oil drops. put on plant roots to maintain from catching colds. inside many African American households, these kind of practices proceed this present day, woven into the material of black tradition, usually communicated via girls. Such folks practices form the suggestions approximately therapeutic which are subtle all through African American groups and are expressed in myriad methods, from religion therapeutic to creating a mojo.

Stephanie Y. Mitchem offers a desirable learn of African American therapeutic. She sheds gentle on a number of people practices and lines their improvement from the time of slavery during the nice Migrations. She explores how they've got endured into the current and their dating with replacement drugs. via conversations with black americans, she demonstrates how herbs, charms, and rituals proceed folks therapeutic performances. Mitchem indicates that those practices should not easily approximately therapeutic; they're associated with expressions of religion, delineating features of a holistic epistemology and pointing to disjunctures among African American perspectives of well being and ailment and people of the tradition of institutional medicine.

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The nutmeg and bird’s foot are forms of charms. “Hands” (called thusly because they work) or mojos (a name of African origin) were the names of the charm bags worn by the person to effect magic. The conjurer uses the power drawn from these natural elements, often through ritual action. Common matters for which petitioners approach the conjurer include health, money, luck, and love. These could be to improve or block situations for oneself or others. For instance, the person who has been unable to get work or hold on to money may come to believe that he or she has been jinxed or fixed.

The religious culture of the working poor, when visible at all, appears as an anomaly or false consciousness. The blues and church are thus counterposed as cultural icons of class division. Perhaps this representation of working-class religion stems from the belief that African-American Christianity is white-derived, middleclass in orientation, and thus less authentically black. 46 Higginbotham’s insights are important for this study of African American folk healing because folk healing is often valorized as authentically black, especially when or only when it appears related to a lower social class and when the language used is some black dialect.

31 In black communities, conjuring and faith healing often make similar use of herbs and their applications for cures. The broad epistemological framework views nature, human, and the Divine as intimately related. Black community members generally do not see these forms of healing as discrete areas or different specializations. Instead, there is recognition of the gift of healing expressed in different ways. Despite this common ground, there are many in black communities who disparage and distance themselves from forms of folk or faith healing, as we saw in the excerpt concerning the Hampton students.

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