How did the doctor “take care” of the witch?

Posted on October 8, 2010 by


Just thinking back to how the doctor “saw to it” that the witch that “cursed” my great-great grandmother would be “in hell by morning.” Frankly, we will probably never know his method, and will wonder about the wide range of possibilities.

Still, Samuel Kercheval did mention a couple of methods by which one could “cure… diseases inflicted by witchcraft.” In one such method,

…the picture of the supposed witch was drawn on a stump or piece of board, and shot at with a bullet containing a little bit of silver. This bullet transferred a painful and sometimes a mortal spell on that part of the witch corresponding with the part of the portrait struck by the bullet.

Yet another means of alleviating the impact of a spell was to use one’s water. Though Kercheval was focusing on how to rid a child of a spell, certainly, it seems just as applicable to an adult.

Another method of cure was that of getting some of the child’s water, which was closely corked up in a vial and hing up in a chimney. This complimented the witch with a stranguary, which lasted as long as the vial remained in the chimney. The witch had but one way of relieving herself from any spell inflicted on her in any way, which was that of borrowing something, no matter what, of the family to which the subject of the exercise of her witchcraft belonged.

There were even methods of countering a curse on livestock…

When cattle or dogs were supposed to be under the influence of witchcraft, they were burned in the forehead by a branding iron, or when dead, burned wholly to ashes. This inflicted a spell upon the witch which could only be removed by borrowing, as above stated.

Interesting. We’re back to this borrowing thing. Hmmm. Was the witch, by taking my great-great grandmother’s tobacco pouch, borrowing the pouch to counter a counter-spell?

Ahhh, well… like I said, we’re likely to never know the truth.

Before signing-off, I thought that you might enjoy a little something more restful… still having to do with Mssr. Kercheval, but, not along the lines of scary witch tales.

Go figure… I replace tales of witches with images of a cemetery…

*Samuel Kercheval is buried in the Bowman Family Cemetery, near Strasburg, Virginia. There are only three marked graves in the cemetery, but Kercheval’s is likely marked with little more than fieldstones for the headstone and footstone.

** Quotes from pp. 280-281 of Kercheval’s book.