8 Old Cajun Wives’ Tales and Traiteur Practices from Southern Louisiana
We got to thinking the old Cajun ways, some long lost and some still practiced in parts of Louisiana.
I was treated by a Traiteur when I was young. He was from Kaplan, and his name was Mr. Aube. I had a case of impetigo (infantigo), and Mr. Aube passed him a butter knife over the affected area and said some words, him. A few days later, my mom brought me to the doctor to get some medicine.
What cured me? Well, we all LOVED Mr. Aube but, rest his soul, my money is on the medication.
Here are some common cajun wives' tales and practices of the traiteur.
ONIONS IN THE SOCKS TO CURE FEVER
Lisa posted about putting onions on your feet to help you heal.
To boost my own immunity, I decided to try this too. During the rest of the night, I started feeling good. I mean really good! I felt tingly, like my blood was being cleansed. It was so cool! - Lisa, Facebook
I searched for this online, and the Healthline website listed it as a "Folk Remedy" which, it says, may have originated as early as back in the 1500s.
One of my coworkers said that her grandfather would put onions in her socks at night to help fight fever.
What does Science say about the effectiveness of putting onions in your socks to cure fever (or anything else)? Poppycock.
TOBACCO WITH SPIT AND FILE' ON MOSQUITO BITES
Jolie Vanna's grandmother used to mix tobacco and file' (ground sassafrass) with spit and rub it on her mosquito bites. According to Jolie, it worked!
BUTTER KNIFE, THE LORD'S PRAYER, AND THE SIGN OF THE CROSS
This one hit me strangely: use a butter knife to make the Sign of the Cross while reciting the Lord's Prayer to prevent a bump from forming after you hit your head. According to Rowena Scott, her mother taught her this practice. (Maybe one too many shots to the head?)
The man who "traiteured" me also used a butter knife. I wonder if this is a common tool in the Faith Healer Bag of Tricks.
TREAT UNWANTED VISITORS WITH SALT
Caleb Bertrand had a way to treat for unwanted visitors. His family's remedy was to put salt by the door before they walk out. For some reason, according to this old wives' tale, the visitor would not return.
EAT BOILED CHICKEN FEET TO DREAM ABOUT YOUR FUTURE SPOUSE
Here's another Caleb Bertrand special: eat a boiled chicken foot before bedtime and you will dream of your future spouse. When asked if he had done it yet, Caleb replied, "nah, I'm good".
I wonder what would happen if you ate a boiled chicken foot before bed while you are married??
Here's another one that has me scratching my head: Shanell Bardwell says that her grandmother told her to look for loose screws on the property if you were getting sick a lot or were having a string of rotten luck. She said that her grandmother told her that having loose screws or nails strewn about your property means that someone was using Gris-Gris on you. The remedy? Put any loose screws or nails into a bag with black pepper and holy water, stir, and bring to a boi.... sorry, wrong blog. Put the fasteners in a bag with black pepper and holy water and bury the bag.
If I find loose screws or nails on my property, I'm not thinking that someone is using Gris-Gris; I'm thinking someone is trying to give me a flat!
CUT SKIN TAGS WITH A KNIFE AND NOTCH OUT A TREE
Darlene Hargett had a few skin tags on her neck when she was a kid that just wouldn't go away, so a Traiteur took care of them for her. Darlene explains that the Traiteur took a knife and cut across the skin tags, and then said some kind of chant. He also instructed her to cut a notch a tree when she got home and, when that notch filled in, her skin tags would fall off. Darlene claims it worked!
COVERING ALL MIRRORS JUST PRIOR TO A DEATH
And, finally, the old Cajun wives' tale that we discussed today at work: covering all of the mirrors in the house before someone died.
Laurie herself told me that her grandparents' home was well over 100 years old, so several people took their final breath there. One of the superstitions the old Cajuns had was that if a person died near a mirror, that person's soul would get stuck in the mirror and would never be able to realize the repose stage. To prevent the mirror(s) from capturing their soul, all of the mirrors would be covered with a cloth or similar item.
To me, many of these sound bonkers, with 0 basis in science. But many claim that, with faith, anything is possible.
What are some of the other wives' tales or old Cajun folk remedies you grew up with?