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An Appalachian Witch Forager on the Magic of Plants

Rebecca Beyer forages through the lenses of folk magic and plant lore.By Jean Trinh October 19, 2020
On a cool summer morning a few years ago, I joined a group of strangers and followed Rebecca Beyer, a witch and forager, through a lush green forest in Asheville, North Carolina. As we traversed the woodland and crossed over creeks, we nibbled on tart wood sorrel leaves, learned to identify violets by their heart-shaped greens, and sliced red-lacquered reishi mushrooms off the sides of tree trunks. We were on a foraging tour in the Southern Appalachians organized by No Taste Like Home, and Beyer, who’s now 33, was our erudite guide. With ornate tattoos peeking out from under her earth-toned clothing, she explained what edible plants were endemic to the region, and the folklore and history behind them. She also sprinkled in stories about magic spells that have been used with the local flora over the last few centuries. “[Plant] lore has kind of been cut out of foraging because now we come …

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