Love and courtship have been around for as long as mankind. But it isn't always easy, is it?

Love and courtship have been around for as long as mankind. But it isn't always easy, is it?
Folks in the Ozarks used to believe in a number of ways to cut corners and help stack the deck in their favor a little bit when it came to the sordid game of affection. Folklorist Vance Randolph recorded a lot of those love tricks for posterity in the first half of the 20th century.
For instance, you can hide the dried tongue of a turtle dove in a woman's house to “make her fall madly in love” with you. Conversely, women may hide dried turkey bones in a man's house, or on her person, to force the man into feeling especially romantic. Or you can grind up a wild gander's foot and put a pinch of the powder into a person's coffee to not only make them fall in love with you but also keep them faithful.
Other love potions, sneaked into a person's drink, can be made from the flowering yarrow plant, the dodder vine, the roots of the lady's slipper orchid, and, of course, the leaves and stems of mistletoe.
Now isn't that much easier than dating?
On the more macabre side, a needle stuck into a corpse, buried in grave dirt, and wrapped in cloth cut from a grave sheet makes a powerful love charm. I'd have to really be crazy about someone to actually ever try that, however. Wasp nests pinned to one's underwear also make good love charms. Just make double sure the nests are empty.
Ladies can steal the band off a man's hat and make a garter of it to spark affection in the owner of the hat. This was when men still wore hats, not counting ballcaps. I suppose it would still work with a western hat, though. Men do still wear those.
Speaking of garters, yellow works best to attract a mate (the garters remain hidden from view. It isn't the actual visual but the magic of the color itself that does the trick). That's for those women who don't go around snatching hat bands.
You can also soak your fingernail trimmings in a person's whiskey before they drink it to make the person fall in love with you. Ewww. Imagine the conversation if the truth ever came out later. “You did what?!”
If you weren't blessed with a handsome or pretty face, eating raw chicken hearts will improve your attractiveness to the opposite sex, especially if you swallow the hearts whole. I can't say that I've ever tried that, though I have eaten a pig heart before. Maybe that's why I'm not such a devilishly handsome fellow.
To immediately test if any of these tricks actually worked, or to test faithfulness, light a match and name it for your would-be or present mate. If the match burns to the end without breaking, you're in luck and they love you. You can also light a match and hold it straight up. If the blackened head turns in the direction of the object of your affection's home, it's a good sign. If it points in another direction, however, it's a sign that your special someone is after someone else.
There are lots of clues as to the identify of your future mate. If you stare very hard at the brightest star in the sky and wink three times you'll dream of your future lover that same night. If you find a pod with exactly nine peas, hang it over your door. The first eligible bachelor or bachelorette to walk through the door is “the one.” A woman can write the names of six single men on six slips of paper and put them under her pillow. If she wakes in the night, she takes out one of those slips and, not looking at it, crumples it up and tosses it on the floor. In the morning light, but never before, she reads the slip. That's her future husband. You can also put a live snail in a glass jar and leave it overnight. In the morning the initials of your future mate will be visible in the snail's slimy track.
For a sign of your marital future take three bowls: Fill one with clean water, one with dirty water, and the third leave empty. Blindfolded, have someone lead you to the bowls. If you pick the bowl with clean water you will be happily married. If you pick the bowl of dirty water, you might find a mate but they will soon die (I might include divorce in this too). If you pick the empty bowl you will remain single.
There are many more little handicaps you can use to tilt the odds in your favor, or at least use to get a glimpse into your romantic future, and I might include them at a later time. For now, I'll leave you with this: Happy hunting!

Wes Franklin writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.