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. 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.  

white candles on black surface

 

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assorted-color figurine collection bokeh photography

 

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At my house, we've put away the harvest decor that has been up since late September and set up the house for Yule. Earlier in the fall, my mom gave me a straw cornucopia that she's had for years, and as I put it away with the autumn-hued table runner and wreath, I thought of how far back the cornucopia reaches into the past, and what it means.

Nourishment and Wildness

These days, cornucopias often take the form of vaguely horn-shaped baskets of faux fruit and flowers, like the one my mom gave me. But it was originally a real goat horn holding fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and grains. Literally meaning "horn of plenty" in Latin, the cornucopia originated in ancient Greece. In one origin myth, the infant Zeus was nourished with milk from the goat Amalthea on the island of Crete. Because He was extremely strong even as an infant, He broke off one of her horns, and the hollow horn gave forth unending nourishment.

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Ever since I can remember, when I've had to do something difficult -- having a hard but necessary conversation, atoning for a wrong, going through a process of change, or persisting through a hardship or trauma -- this phrase would come to me: Walk through the fire. Even as a kid, I knew it meant that I could get through whatever it was in one piece if I held myself together, kept my eyes and feet facing forward, and accepted whatever happened as it came. If I kept going at a steady pace, the “fire” wouldn't consume me; I'd make it to the other side. I didn't know where that phrase came from, but it always gave me strength. It still does. And it’s true -- I’ve always come out on the other side, more or less in one piece.

Hares and Fire

Fast-forward to me in my 20s, reading Terry Pratchett's I Shall Wear Midnight for the first time, and I come to this poem:

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Several years ago, I bought a small wormwood plant at a local nursery. I loved its soft, silvery leaves, clean scent, and knew of its use in absinthe, so I had to have it. I potted it for a year or so, and it didn’t do very well (to be fair, I’m not great with potted plants). But I knew that we would be moving eventually, and I didn’t want to leave it behind when we did. Two and a half years ago, we made our move to the Blue Ridge mountains and I brought my sad little wormwood with me. Not long after I planted it in the ground -- a claiming act -- beside our front porch, it sprang back to life. It’s full and vital now, and its clean scent, feathery texture, silvery green color, and powerful magic have preserved its status as one of my favorites (my mints share that status).

 

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Fierce Threads: Fiber Arts and Battle Magic

 

 

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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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