Did you know that if you find water in a hollowed out tree stump there is an old Appalachian folk tale that says it will help your hair grow? This belief is said to be rooted in Cherokee tradition which believes the water has unique qualities because it has never touched the earth, leading to the name “flying water”. It is believed that by never reaching the ground this rainwater retains the virtues of the heavens it fell from within it.
The stump water goes by many other names in both Appalachia and the Ozarks where this folk legend circulates, such as witch water, wild soup, witch soup, or tree soup. Folk medicine says it’s best used to treat dermatological issues like hair loss, warts, or rashes but it’s also believed that keeping a small vial of it on you can protect one from witchcraft.
This isn’t the only type of “magical water” popular among witchcraft practitioners, as moon water has received a recent revival within the community. It is believed that water exposed to the light of the moon will absorb lunar properties consistent with the phase of the lunar cycle it “absorbed”. This water is then used in spells or potions to enhance the potency of the intent.
It probably can’t hurt to apply “flying water” externally to skin, but you might want to pop that water sample under a microscope to see what’s really in it before you get too comfortable with this old folk remedy.