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The Friday Five - Myths From The Ozarks

You can thank Melissa Limoges for inspiring this post. She got me thinking about Yokum silver the other day. Long story, but you can read about it in this interview. I was thinking about legends to put into a post, but then I got the bright idea to tell you one Ozarkian ghost story every Friday until Halloween (which is on a Wednesday). So no TFF, yes 'pook haint story.

I'm a huge fan of Vance Randolph and he's sort of the inspiration behind the hero of The Turncoat's Temptress, Basil Tinwhistle. Mr. Randolph was a folklorist who spent a great deal of time studying Ozarkian myth and legends. This story is in one of his books.

Raw Head and Bloody Bones

Raw Head and Bloody Bones is one story that always stuck out to me as holy crap, what kind of moonshine inebriated psycho thought this up?! It's about an old woman who was a witch that had an Arkansas razorback as a pet. Her house was full of magical herbs and folks believed that the razorback she called Raw Head was always nosing around for scraps and roots and ingested a bunch of her magical potion leftovers.

He could also walk upright like a human. People claimed to see him walking around her house on two legs all the time. One day a hunter came through the woods and either he was just a jackass or he asked her for food and she turned him away (depending on which version you get), but he knew Raw Head was her pet. When she went to town one day, Raw Head wasn't with her and she expressed concern to the storekeeper about not knowing where he was.

When she got home she mixed up a potion that showed her visions. In them the hunter had found Raw Head and rounded him up with other pigs for slaughter. Of course, she was really angry about it and got out her spell book of black magic.

She chanted "Raw Head and bloody bones". The head rolled over to the bones. When she said, "Bloody bones get up and dance", the bones assembled into an upright hog. The head zoomed up to the top. Raw Head slipped through the woods to find a weapon to use against the hunter (like a freakin' talking, upright, tusked pig isn't enough? If you know anything about pigs you know first and foremost that most of them, especially razorbacks are very dangerous). He found the skeleton of a bear and took the claws from it, the teeth from a dying panther and the tail of a dead raccoon. Then he cut in front of the path where the hunter was walking. The hunter saw a pair of eyes looking out of the darkness and said, "What have you go those big eyes for?"

Raw Head replied, "To see your grave."

The hunter thought it was just some kids messing with him. He kept walking, but then he saw Raw Head's eyes were brighter and he saw bear claws.

"Why have you got those big claws?" the hunter asked.

"To dig your grave." He made a noise in his throat that scared the hunter, who didn't know how a kid could make that sound.

The hunter tried to run, but he tripped and Raw Head came closer, displaying his coon tail. The hunter said, "Why have you got that crazy tail?"

Raw Head replied, "To sweep your grave."

His panther teeth glistened as he leaped out to kill the hunter.

The hunter tried to scramble away, stuttering, "What have you got those big teeth for?"

"To eat you like you wanted to eat me!" And the Raw Head proceeded to eat him.

Sometimes folks would still see Raw Head around the old woman's cabin. Once a month on the full moon he could be seen riding through the hills in the hunter's overalls with a hole cut out of the back for his tail and his head held high in his clawed hand as he raced through the moonlight.

It's kind of a Sleepy Hollow, Little Red Riding Hood type story. Very spooky considering some of the sounds you hear at night around here. Wahahahaha! There's also an English legend of the same name, but their fey got nothin' on our razorback.

Happy Friday, kids!


  1. WOW, I love this! Raw Head is a cool character! Not that I would like to tun into a creature like that, but RH would be a great character in a book!

  2. Ha, that's awesome. I've always loved reading old scary tales and legends. I'm not going to lie though. I did chuckle a bit at the picture of Raw Head. :)


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