Byron Ballard is a self-proclaimed village witch who specializes in Southern Appalachian folk magic. Like many local healers, she relies on the traditions passed down from generations before her – traditions with roots in Paganism, Protestantism, and pragmatism. According to Ballard, it’s a mixture of “medicine and midwifery, omen-reading and weather-working”. The Cherokee and Choctaw were the first to really understand the natural healing properties of the Appalachian resources. This knowledge fused with understandings of medicine and religion that came with the arrival of Europeans. Appalachian folk medicine recognizes an interconnectedness of the mind, body, and spirit; it is, at its core, a presumption of the highest goodness of nature. Since families in Appalachia often live far from urban centers and hospitals, these healers continue to be an important part of communities from West Virginia to Mississippi. Photo credit: Anjo Kan/Alamy