The Long-Lost Friend Lived-In

I’ve been thinking about what I’ve seen in my research on The Long-Lost Friend so far, and I’m struck with how much of a living tradition this book really is.  If you’ve read Owen Davies’ Popular Magic (or Cunning Folk for the earlier printing), the books of European wizards and cunning folk seem to be window dressing in most cases – part of the paraphernalia that is used in some cases, especially in tales of treasure hunting, but more often collected for its aesthetic or reputation-enhancing properties.

Hohman’s book is something different.  In my research into the ethnography and folklore, the book is rarely possessed by anyone who doesn’t actively use it and believe in its power.  Further, the copies I’ve seen so far each bear the unmistakable marks of use – dog-eared pages, annotations, items circled, little notes here and there, etc.

Frankly, I think this sort of attitude died down over the years, especially after the book was adopted in hoodoo, and it’s nearly gone today, but it’s something to consider about the book.

Published in: on March 7, 2010 at 9:00 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. I agree, Dan. I think its lack of use in recent years is mostly because many of the spells and treatments are mostly irrelivant in today’s world. After all, when was the last time you heard of someone who had a case of “liver-grown” or who had the “take-off”? Sure people still get warts, but they’d rather buy an over-the-counter treatment. Not only that, but many of the cures are geared towards farm animals, something most people have no connection to today.

    Perhaps we need a new Long Lost Friend that treats things like computer viruses, includes ways of hexing telemarketers, or increases the fuel efficiency in our cars. 🙂

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