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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in folk magic

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
March Begins the Travel Time

I'm home from Sacred Space Conference where I had the very best intentions of blogging it day-by-day. But here's what happened--I was so busy teaching and seeing old friends and having an excellent time, that I simply didn't do that. I'm going to try to encapsulate some of the juiciness of this good conference over the next few days, as I unpack and do laundry and prepare for some new workshops in the Asheville area and prepare to go out on the road again in about a month, when I visit the Gulf coast.

This was my third time at Sacred Space and I will say that the third time was the charm for this conference. I was a featured teacher the first two times I went up but this time I was a regular old teacher, doing two classes and participating in a panel discussion of Appalachian folk magic.

But I am tired now and looking forward to my own bed.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

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“The only magic we have is what we make in ourselves, the muscles we build up on the inside, the sense of belief we create from nothing.”
― Dorothy Allison
 
“Note to self: remember
What Emerson said
Of Thoreau-
That he loved the low
In nature:
          Muskrats
And crickets, suckers
And frogs.   
          Not stars.
 
Songs of the carnal,
Songs of what we are.”
― Greg Orr, River Inside the River

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Beautifully written - my father's people lived in the small mining/logging communities in the Trinity Mountains of CA, having migr

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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New Zealand is not really old enough to have magical folklore as such, we were settled about 150 years ago, wait let me rephrase that, Europeans did not really settle in any great numbers here until about 150 years ago, around the late 1800’s and early 1900s with larges amounts of immigration happening after World War I and World War II, well after, it can be said, the time when magic was something other than fairy tales that you told children. 

This means that Magical Folk Lore, from far of places like Europedidn't really make it here, and if they did it didn't really stick.  New Zealand was a pretty harsh and isolated place to live for those early settlers. 

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Tena rawa atu koe! (Apologies for some missing symbols...) Many thanks!
  • Mistress Polly
    Mistress Polly says #
    hh pronunciation, can be both an age thing, and a regional thing. so short answer to your question is yes and no.. let me expl
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Many thanks for sharing! New Zealand is a fascinating part of the Anglosphere. I have a question. When I was watching the extra

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

In the library of the University of South Carolina, you can peruse—with the help of a librarian and a pair of cotton gloves—a rare and marvelous text called Joshua Gordon’s Commonplace Book, which dates to 1784. Gordon’s little tome contains herbal remedies, recipes for treating livestock and human ailments, and a number of magical charms which call upon Christian concepts—the Trinity, the name of God, etc.—to do everything from revealing a thief to treating demonic torment to dealing with cuts, scrapes, and bruises. In 1820, John George Hohman produced a now (semi-)famous book called The Long Lost Friend, which outlined a number of cures from the Pennsylvania-Dutch tradition, as well as methods for magically gaining a dog’s loyalty, treating skin lesions with homemade salves, helping cherries maintain a longer shelf (or branch) life, and a method for guaranteeing a good catch while fishing which involves rose seed, mustard seed, and “the foot of a weasel.” Some houses in Berks, Lancaster, and York Counties, Pennsylvania would have had copies of Hohman’s book, and some would have manufactured their own collections of spells and recipes more in line with what Gordon did. In some places, the possession of a strange and mysterious publication known as The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses provided a person with magical powers by mere virtue of the book’s ownership—the spells within being an added bonus.

When I was training with a Gardenerian Outer Court (and I should emphasize that I never went beyond the dedicant phase, and so the inner workings of that tradition are not expressed here), I remember the concept of the Book of Shadows being explained to me as a sort of hand-copied and inherited text. Each new initiate would likely have copied down his or her own version of the High Priest and/or High Priestess’ book, and perhaps have added to it over time with new spells and rituals. Over time, the book could evolve and change, but the process would be slow and meticulous, growing with the tradition itself.

At the other end of the spectrum from the hand-copied books are the mass-marketed spellbooks available from publishers like Llewellyn or Weiser, which may cover only a set of thirty love spells or which may be encyclopedic in their scope. A few artisan publishers produce excellent and lovingly crafted grimoires which have their own life force from the moment you remove them from their slipcovers (Xoanon’s Cultus Sabbati books or the range of gorgeous texts from Scarlet Imprint are fine examples). In these cases, the spells come pret-a-porter, but may already have the essence of magic in them by dint of their ink, book boards, and binding.

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  • D. R. Bartlette
    D. R. Bartlette says #
    What a great post! I'm a bit of a journal junkie , and of course my grimoire is most special to me, so I've thought about it a lot
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Lovely, Cory. Thanks!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Turning to the East

I've been wearing a little necklace since sometime in October--a pendant that looks like the cover of the Chalice Well in Glastonbury. A charm really, and each time I caught my reflection in the mirror and saw it, I'd tap it with my forefinger in the same way as you'd set a glamour. "Pick me," I'd say to myself. "Pick me."

I got word today that they did indeed pick me and I'll be at the Glastonbury Goddess Conference in late July and will do a workshop of deep grounding techniques.  It's an honor, of course, but it also means I get to be in Glastonbury again, this time in the summer.

We first went there in September, I think, and the weather was wet and cold. We stayed in a b&b at the foot of the Tor where they fed badgers in the evening. I spent time at the Chalice Well and its gardens but fell in love with the Somerset Rural Life Museum, which has one of the most beautiful barns I've ever seen.

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As promised in last month’s post-this month I have set out to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about magic and spell work. Whether you are a professional magical worker, a talented amateur, a novice, adept, or someone who just wants to understand how magic actually works-once you start working with rituals and spells these are the questions that consistently come up. 

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I recently read an online post about Japanese food in which the author’s grandmother advised her to chew her first bite of rice eighty-eight times. The process of taking rice from seed to tongue apparently takes eight-eight steps, including the agricultural growing process, harvesting, processing, cooking, and so forth. Chewing eighty-eight times is a way, then, of showing respect to the rice, the farmers, the cooks, and so forth.

I have long been interested in what author Margaret Visser calls “the rituals of dinner” in the book of the same title. Visser has penned several tomes on the anthropological construction of mealtimes, including the aforementioned Rituals of Dinner and Much Depends on Dinner, and she dives into everything from good table manners (children pack their mouths with food because as infants they had taste sensors in their cheeks, for example) to utensil choice to throwing dinner parties  to deciding to prepare food oneself or to have it prepared (and take the chance that someone might intentionally poison it). Perhaps my favorite chapter in Rituals, however, is “Dinner is Served,” in which she looks at hand-washing, dinner bells, the role of “tasters” (to avoid those pesky poisons), and most importantly, noticing the food, the host or hostess, the other diners, and other atmospheric elements. Such notice, and the natural expressions of appreciation which accompany it, have become the traditions of saying “grace” or “thanks” for the meal before eating.

We have passed Thanksgiving, and are moving towards the winter holidays at rapid speed. I come from a culture where saying grace before a meal is simply “what’s done,” and while it usually comes with Christian overtones or contexts, the leader of the prayer is solely responsible for its content. Much gets made of the idea of saying grace even within Pagan communities, by way of offering thanks to the plants and animals who have given their lives that we might live, and that we might show appreciation to the gods for the blessing of another meal in the company of those we love. I love the quiet moment of grace before a meal, myself, and find that food is seldom foremost on my mind during such prayers. Instead, the consumption of bodily nourishment becomes secondary to the nourishment provided by gratitude and awareness.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Hearth Witchery

It has come as a surprise to me, considering my relationship with Odin (the  Wanderer and hedge-crosser extraordinaire), but I have been discovering lately that I am far more of a hearth witch than a hedge witch.  Don't get me wrong; I do love wandering through the dark woods at night, threading my way through cemeteries, or exploring the Eugene wetlands.  I love to explore these liminal places in a light trance state, letting the already-fragile boundaries between the worlds blur so that I can commune with the spirits there.  This is part of my practice, and it always will be.  (And in the case of the wetlands, I do this every morning on my walk to work, in the early hours when the human world is still barely stirring but the land wights--or land spirits--are awake and going about their day.) But at the heart of my practice, I am a Doorway for my gods and spirits, and to fulfill that function I must be anchored in this world, even as I work at blurring its edges.  

I just had an entire week off from my day job, for the first time in years, and found myself spending much of it at my spinning wheel, or gathering supplies to make prayer beads, or in my kitchen learning to make salted caramels, or planning what I will need to begin producing candles and other non-yarn goodies for my Etsy shop.   When given a choice between wandering outdoors and busying myself with activities at home, I nearly always choose the latter.  Perhaps my physical condition pays a part in this (I have moderate to severe fibromyalgia, and at this point I still work full time so that saps a lot of my energy), but most of the time I find that I would rather be at home, tending a hearth for my gods and for the spirits I honor, rather than out in the world.  My trips out in the world fortify and help to shape my hearth; they feed it and strengthen my center.  In this I am like Frigga, who puts Her apron aside and rides with Her Husband in the Hunt during the dark half of the year, but the rest of the time concentrates Her efforts on creating a welcoming home for Him to return to after His wanderings.

To get back to the topic of setting up a hearth in your own home if you do not already have one, despite my previous definition of the hearth as a place of fire, there is always the option of interpreting "fire" symbolically.  Along these lines, your hearth can be that place that anchors and nourishes your home, that feeds what you love most about it, the "flame" that makes your home a welcoming place.  For some people, it would clearly be the kitchen table where the family gathers for dinner to share stories of their day.  For some, it might be a place of literal fire, such as the woodburning stove (and do I ever wish I had one!) where herbal oils and brews are prepared.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

So you’ve got a crush on an acquaintance, and you’d like to try and stir up some passionate-lusty feelings between the two of you. Or you’re facing a real crisis and need to shake some sense into your nice-but-oblivious boss so they’ll grant the favor you’ve asked of them in time to meet your deadline.

There are plenty of situations where you may want to sweeten a person to you in a certain context, and where the circumstances can also stand for some well-intentioned agitation to get things moving and break through some inertia that is hampering your progress.

Honey jars are a staple of conjure, and with good reason – they’re extremely effective! But like honey itself, they take a gentle slow-build approach to things. Often this more subtle approach is exactly what a situation requires, and it also lends itself quite well to long-term ongoing work. If there’s been a great deal of friction between two people, a honey jar can go a long way to soothing and sweetening the energy between those parties, healing and calming things over the weeks and months for a very agreeable outcome. Also, if one is wanting to sweeten a new lover to them, to encourage the development of a sincere and well-grounded romantic relationship that will naturally flow into a long-term commitment, honey does the job marvelously well.

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