Hob & Broom: Household Lore & Traditions

An exploration of the old spirits, symbols, customs, and crafts of the home.

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The Cunning Wife

The Cunning Wife

The Cunning Wife is an animist, writer, diviner, spirit worker and traveler, and folk magic practitioner guided by both philosophical Taoism and Germanic folk traditions. Her written work has been published in a number of online and print magazines, including Witches & Pagans. She gets excited about scholarly essays and books on folklore, magical tales, and ancient spiritual practices, and is passionate about sharing that information in ways that are accessible and relevant. She is also an avid crafter of magical and mundane items. She believes that there is magic in the mundane, just waiting to be remembered.  
Beer, the Sacred Drink of the Hearth

Bonfires, drinking, music, raucous celebration: Walpurgisnacht is a wild night that celebrates the coming summer – longer days, sometimes brilliant heat, and bursting fruitfulness. Since the medieval period, the bonfires were believed to ward off witches, but it may have been witches themselves who first lit the fires on hill-tops and mountains. Last year, I discussed the broom lore associated with this holiday. This year, I’d like to take a look at another favorite aspect: the alcohol, or more specifically, beer.

Homecrafted and Wholesome

Beer is one of the most-consumed drinks in the world, and an entire subculture has built up around craft beers, ales, and ciders over the past decade. Where I live, there are at least four or five craft breweries in a 30-mile radius. I love it. Beer is sacred to me (as it has been to many peoples since time immemorial), and the smaller and more artisanal a brewery is, all the better in my opinion.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I remember reading an article in either Natural History or Discover magazine about fruit beers in the Amazon. One of the local In
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    Thanks so much for sharing that info! Love the story about the Amazon beers. It''s no wonder that beer was/is so revered -- clean,
Rites of Spring: German Easter Traditions

Osterfeuer in Rugen, Wikimedia Commons

While the word Easter has long been used to denote the Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Christ, I see no problem also using it to refer to the pagan holiday celebrating the return of spring. Aside from the secular aspects of contemporary Easter traditions that are less focused on resurrection and salvation and more on fertility – eggs, rabbits, chicks, etc. – the very word Easter is pre-Christian in origin (the original Christian holiday name is the Hebrew Paschal).

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Witches’ Marks and Galdrastafir: Protection Symbols for the Home

Most of the time, I believe that bad things just happen. Not every misfortune is a product of the evil eye or a malefic spirit but part of the natural flux of life that keeps a necessary, healthy, wavering sort of balance. Rarely, however, I do find that something else seems to be at work. This can happen when a shift or transformation happens -- a birth, a death, moving house -- creating liminal times and spaces that make everything within its sphere more vulnerable (and desirable) to misery-making things. Scarlet Magdalene recently published a helpful guide on Patheos Pagan for deciding whether or not someone has been cursed or hexed; I recommend checking it out and giving it a good think if this sounds like your situation.

As I mentioned in my last post, my husband and I recently bought an old house in the mountains. Two months later, we still haven’t been able to really move in. January was a series of large and small disasters, expenses, inconveniences, and illnesses. It's almost comical, except that we’re so tired and overwhelmed and almost broke from it all.

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Taking Possession: Home-Buying and Moving-In Traditions

The Jesse Pickens Pugh House via Wikimedia Commons

My husband and I recently bought a home in the Blue Ridge mountains – a dream we’ve held since we married eight years ago. It’s an old house with history, an acre and a half of land, and beautiful views of the mountains. I fell in love with the house and surrounding land almost immediately. As we look forward to moving in, I’ve been thinking about traditions to perform as we get established there – traditions that will familiarize and unite us with the spirit(s) of the house and ensure a long-lasting, productive relationship for years to come.

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Yuletide Household Lore & Traditions

art by Arthur Rackham

The winter solstice is approaching.

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The Magic of Childbirth: Rites of Protection

Violet Moore Higgins, "Three days agone - I found a tiny fair-haired infant"

This year has been a year of changes for me, some of which have yet to occur and others that have already occurred. The biggest, of course, was the birth of my second child in August. With her came the upset of routine, family dynamic, sleep, and all those other disorienting but completely natural shifts inherent in bringing a new life – a new spirit (or spirits, depending on your conception of the Self) – into this brilliant, dynamic world of the living. Of course, thanks to modern medicine, childbirth for me was a much less daunting experience than it was for my ancestors (and, sadly, for those today who live without access to adequate medical care).

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Soul Cakes: An Old Tradition and a New Recipe

Image via Lavender and Lovage 

God bless the master of this house,
The misteress also,
And all the little children
That round your table grow.
Likewise young men and maidens,
Your cattle and your store;
And all that dwells within your gates,
We wish you ten times more.

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