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, crafter, witch, and spirit worker and traveler, guided by both philosophical Taoism and European folk traditions. Her work has been published in a number of online and print magazines, including Witches & Pagans and Hagstone Publishing's Stone, Root, and Bone ezine. She gets excited about scholarly essays and books on folklore, magical tales, and ancient spiritual practices, and is passionate about sharing that information. 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.  
Burning the Bones: Bonfires at Midsummer

It’s Midsummer, a day of feasting, bonfires, and dance. It’s a celebration of solar powers at their greatest, of warmth and bursting fruits and the year’s longest light. Like other holidays, it has gone by different names throughout its long history, and various spirits and gods are honored and receive sacrifices at this time. In Southern Slavic countries like Bulgaria, Midsummer Rusalia is celebrated at this time to honor the rusalki, female spirits of water and fertility. According to the folklore, these spirits are the souls of dead young women of the community who never spent their fertile powers during their young lives and therefore have the power to confer that fertility to the earth and their living community in death. Feasting and dances entice them, invoke their powers, and channel those powers into the fields and the bodies of those who wish to have children (Barber 17).

 

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Folk Dance: Creative Power and Connecting to the Land

 

I'm learning how to flatfoot.

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Grains, Spirits, and the Spurtle

It started when I was having trouble buying grains -- rice, flour, oats, you name it -- due to the quarantine panic. I looked in the pantry and realized that we had somehow previously amassed 10 lbs of grits along with 5 lbs of cornmeal -- plenty to get us through a temporary grain shortage. I was relieved, and my gratitude made me think of my ancestors and their reliance on grains, and of the ancestors of peoples around the world who did the same. Grains are sacred everywhere, although the specific grains will differ according to location.

 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    It's my understanding that cherry wood is toxic containing cyanide. Your land spirits are looking after you to have left the mapl
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    Cherry wood does contain traces of cyanide -- definitely not good to eat (unlike the fruits)! Because the wood contains such a sma
Disease, Protection, and Animism: Folklore from the Past

Everyone is talking about COVID19. How could we not? My five-year-old's school has closed for two weeks, like all other schools in the state, and we're having to postpone his 6th birthday party. Like many other families, we've been spending most of our time at home, although we do plan on battling the cabin fever with some family hikes in the mountains here and there. My husband remarked today that we've never seen a situation quite like this in our lives.

 

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Cleanliness is Next to Godliness: Bathroom Spirits & Traditions

I have a few shrines around my house: an ancestor shrine on the hearth mantel; a "winter shrine" in the corner of the kitchen for my home's land spirit; and a shrine in the window of my bathroom. This last one might seem like a strange location for a sacred place, but peoples around the world have understood that the places where we clean and care for our bodies are hallowed places, housing certain powers.

 

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A Little Folklore of Light & Shadows

We often find ourselves yearning for light and warmth during these last winter months in the northern hemisphere. We grow tired of being bundled up, of shivering, of staying indoors. Yet, if we look carefully, we begin to notice that, little by little, the light is growing. Situated in the fading of winter, the holidays celebrated on February 2nd -- Groundhog Day, Imbolc, Candlemas -- feature an interplay of shadows and light as we approach revitalization in many forms.

 

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Perchta, Winter Goddess of the Alps

The Yuletide is a season of wonderment, with warm food and drink, songs of joy and peace, the soft lighting of hearth fires, candles, and strings of electric light, gifts and blessings. But there's a darker aspect: the nocturnal Wild Hunt, when the fierce spirits of the wilderness roam.

 

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