The Grave of the Tullahoma Witch

I went down to Tullahoma today to look for the grave of a supposed witch. Even knowing right where I was going and even having my phone yell at me when to make turns, it was still nearly impossible to find. And there were a ton of crows and it was really creepy. I parked, walked in, and even though it was totally empty and my view of the empty cemetery was completely unobstructed, I felt like someone was right behind me a couple of times. I took pictures of what I hope will turn out to be complete emptiness when I felt the most like someone had to be right there.

I found the “witch”‘s grave easily enough and I saw right away that this was a grave where people are still working magic. Someone had left flowers; people had left coins; there’s the kind of minor vandalism you expect from people when there’s something “magic” that they might take with them.

I was thrilled. I have been wanting to see a working grave in Tennessee since I got here. Everything that indicates that we could still have them is here–a long tradition of African American root workers/folk magicians, a long tradition of white granny medicine, the African-American hoodoo obsession with graveyards and graveyard dirt, the white folk tradition of using skulls and bones for medicine, and a tradition of fearsome witches (and fearsome witches never rest easy in the grave). So, it sure seemed like somewhere, someone must be going to the cemetery, calling on some dead person to help work the kind of magic that needs a magic worker on both sides of the veil, and leaving an offering either during or afterwards. Someone’s got to be doing the old school folk magic.

I looked and I looked, but I never did, before today, see it in Tennessee (I saw it in New Orleans at Marie Laveau’s grave, of course).

Just as an aside, it occurs to me that one reason they may be so hard to find is that we don’t have a lot of old time witches and our most famous one–the Bell Witch–well, there’s a huge taboo on revealing where her grave is. How huge a taboo? No one in Adams will tell you where it is–in my experience anyway. And even though the location is now on the internet, no pictures of the grave have surfaced as far as I can tell.

Anyway, here’s what I saw (or didn’t, as the case may be)

4 thoughts on “The Grave of the Tullahoma Witch

  1. The “magic circle” language intrigued me because it sounded very fraternal. And yep, it was. She appears to have been a member of an Arkansas fraternal and insurance organization for African-Americans that provided an interment benefit. Here is another photo set that contains some genealogical research on Rhodon and the organization to which she belonged. https://www.flickr.com/photos/caving/2986285185

  2. Anyhow, that is not to rule her out as a granny woman (and clearly someone thinks she can do them some good on the other side), but I am guessing that grave lookers have read “magic circle” and got the wrong idea.

  3. Oh, no, I completely agree with your analysis. I think people have utterly misunderstood her grave and have decided she’s a witch. But they’re definitely using her grave as if she is. The thing I find most curious and I’m not sure how to figure it out is that she certainly wasn’t the only person in her “lodge”/circle. Where are the other members and their graves?

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