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All of these people may be regarded as "carriers," but not until someone actually uses the deadly formula does a genuine witch appear.
And thus, while a knowledge of witchcraft is admitted to exist in certain families and clans, it sometimes lies dormant for a long time.
Most of the genuine old-timers are agreed that to become a witch is a rather complicated matter.
Anybody is free to discuss the general principles of witchcraft, but the conjure words and old sayin's must be learned from a member of the opposite sex.
The Ozark hillfolk will talk about crop failures and weather signs with any tourist who happens along, but let him mention witches and they all shut up like clams.
If they say anything at all on the subject, it will be that they do not believe any such foolishness.
Her daughter - a college graduate, very citified and sophisticated, who has not visited Missouri for a long time.
They may be clairvoyants, fortunetellers, seers, mystics, purveyors of medical advice, seekers of lost property but they are certainly not witches. Breedon, of Manhattan, Kansas, who was reared near Galena, Missouri, in the nineties, tells that his neighbors thought that a woman had only to fire a silver bullet at the moon and mutter two or three obscene old sayin's.
Some hillfolk believe that a woman may become a witch by some comparatively simple hocus-pocus. A lady in Barry county, Missouri, says that any woman who repeats the Lord's Prayer backward and fires seven silver bullets at the moon is transformed into a witch instanter.
Another thing to be remembered is that the secret doctrines must pass only between blood relatives, or between persons who have been united in sexual intercourse.
Thus it is that every witch obtains her unholy wisdom either from a lover or from a male relative."It's plumb risky, an' there ought to be a law ag'in it," growled the old woman.