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 a writer, wife, mother, and seid-wife. 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 also performs various forms of divination as well as crafting magical and mundane items. She believes that there is magic in the mundane, just waiting to be remembered.  

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The Healing Hearth

Continuing with my first post’s examination of the significance of the hearth in a home, we’ll look at the lore regarding the healing and protective powers of the hearth, its fire, and an important hearth implement, the chimney hook. Unless cited otherwise, the information below comes from Claude Lecouteux’s excellent book on household lore, The Tradition of Household Spirits.

Before we can appreciate ancient and medieval European traditions of healing, it’s important to understand what ancient and medieval Europeans believed about the nature of illness. In Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: the Middle Ages, it’s stated that:

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The Lighted Hearth

The hearth. The center of the home, the center of domestic life. For our ancestors, it was where food was made, stories were shared, textiles were crafted and mended. Eminent scholar of medieval traditions and folklore Claude Lecouteux writes: "Hearth is a generic term for designating the place where fire burns. The hearth can mean different things depending on the era and the region; it ranges from the simple fire pit of primitive dwellings to the more modern earthenware and cast-iron stove, and includes the open chimney, the fireplace, the oven, or the furnace" (The Tradition of Household Spirits, 69). So when I refer to the hearth, I mean the place where the fire dwells and provides warmth and sustenance.

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