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Spooky Mountain Story Time ~ Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Livers

It's that spooky time of year, so I went looking for a regional ghost story to share. I was poking around some haunting stories from the heart of Blue Ridge, but ended up landing on some terrifying folklore from just a bit north in The Smokies. We're not talking ghostly ladies haunting the halls of creaky, old buildings or confused soldier apparitions pacing the graveyard, this is something straight from folklore Hell. Follow me just over the state line into East Tennessee - it's like a twenty-minute drive, so you don't even have to pack snacks.

This tale comes from the Cherokee, who inhabited the Blue Ridge Mountains for thousands of years prior to American Colonialism, the North Georgia gold rush, and the Trail of Tears. The legend is about a shape-shifting mountain witch called Utlun'ta, also known as, "Spear-Finger."

Utlun'ta's favorite food was human livers, especially those of tender children. She appeared to them as a sweet, old lady - possibly even mimicking the appearance of someone the children knew in order to gain their trust. She lured them away and then sliced into them with her razor-sharp, obsidian finger and removed their livers to snack on. She then might mimic the child she had killed in order to sneak into their village and steal MORE livers/lives. She even had a creepy little song she'd sing about livers. Oh, and when she wasn't taking on a more pleasing form, her skin was stone-like and impenetrable. Save your pointy and explosive weapons because they don't impress her much. She also had the ability to easily manipulate heavy stone - breaking it apart and fusing it together when it suited her. A nifty skill to have in the mountains. To recap, she was a resourceful, bloodthirsty witch who could disguise herself perfectly and couldn't be killed. Almost. The legend goes that the Cherokee called a great council to deal with the Utlun'ta problem and resolved to set a trap for her. Even though the trap did nothing but dump her in a hole, it did reveal her one weakness (after some weird bird stuff happens) - she kept her spear-finger hand clenched (minus the one cuttin' blade) all the time because her heart was actually in her palm/wrist area. Once they realized her vulnerable spot, it was curtains for Utlun'ta and all the livers breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Makes you want to take a little hike in the woods at dusk with the kiddos, right? Her murder finger is reportedly so sharp that you don't feel her slice you open and take your liver until it's already gone. Get your shoes on, kids!

For more details about Utlun'ta and the weird bird stuff, check out this site and feel free to burn up an entire afternoon reading about other Native legends and shopping for authentic art and jewelry:

There's also this quick and goofy video from the Travel Channel's facebook that is just for fun:

While I was reading up on Utlun'ta, I asked myself...why isn't there a film about this? We're on, what, Paranormal Activity #27: Electric Boo-galoo but we can't get a Spear-Finger flick? As it turns out, there were plans to begin filming one in 2020, which I'm sure were derailed by our old pal Covid. I have no idea where it now stands, but I sure hope it gets resurrected. The Blair Witch has nothing on Utlun'ta. She just seems silly now, with her stick art and little tooth collection.

Y'all have a spooky and fun October. If you're going to be in the mountains, sleep tight and hold onto your livers.

Image by Syaibatul Hamdi

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