My Grandmother was a Maroon born in Trelawney Jamaica who later settled in the parish of St. Thomas where she raised 4 children with her husband. Over the years she would become a local healer, diviner, and washerwoman whom people affectionately called “Mother Marks”. Neighbors would visit her in the hopes of curing weakened limbs, rashes, and sick spirits; they were rarely disappointed.
Grandma’s remedy for pain was a tincture created by soaking scorpions in Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum. The venom extracted from the scorpion would act as a numbing agent which would bring relief to her arthritic joints after it was rubbed on. Although it seems an unusual cure, my friend Lamar who lives in Jamaica says “Yea, dem still use it. De real country Granny yuh find with dat.”
In Patricia-Kaye Aaron’s commentary Belief Kill and Belief Cure she recalls some of the Jamaican home remedies she’s heard , ” Soak a scorpion in white rum and use the mixture to cure menstrual cramps ( I’m not sure if you’re supposed to drink it or sop it )”.
It wouldn’t be farfetched to say that the scorpion remedy may have originated in Africa. In Madagascar: The Eighth Continent: Life, Death and Discovery in a Lost World by Peter Tyson 2011, “He’d been bitten by a fat tailed scorpion; in rare cases, people have died from the sting of a thin tailed variety. The Malagasy in camp told him there were three things he could do to staunch the pain. He could put the scorpion in alcohol, then apply the brew of dissolved scorpion juices to the wound. He could mix the local Malagasy rum with local tobacco and rub that in, or he could take his live scorpion, boil it for 20 minutes , and guzzle the juice. Dean settled for a beer. ”
To each his own.