Podcast 2 – Broom Closets and an Interview with Sarah Lawless



On this, the second episode of New World Witchery, Laine and Cory discuss the ins and outs of broom closets.  In the second segment, we hear from the lovely Sarah Lawless, proprietress of the Forest Grove Botanica and keeper of many irons in many fires.  Then, we wrap up with a call for comments and emails from our listeners.


Download:  New World Witchery – Episode 02



From our guest, Sarah Lawless:

Forest Grove Botanica – a top-notch source for hand-crafted witchy and rootworking goods.

The Witch of Forest Grove – Sarah’s amazingly informative blog

Hedgefolk Tales – Sarah’s podcast on storytelling and lore with a witch-oriented slant

Lilith’s Lantern – A good overview of the Vicia branch of the Andersons’ Feri Tradition

Promos & Music

Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.

Promo 1-The Celtic Myth Podshow

Promo 2-Witchery of One

Promo 3- Pagan Parents on the Edge

12 thoughts on “Podcast 2 – Broom Closets and an Interview with Sarah Lawless”

  1. Wonderful podcast guys! I am thrilled to have a podcast like yours out there 🙂 I was also very happy to hear you guys interview Sarah.

    I also do not use Pagan and Witch to mean the same thing.
    In my mind a Pagan is a religionist, someone who practices a (modern) Pagan religion.
    A Witch is a Shamanic practitioner of (folk) Magick.

    I also believe that you need to be initiated to be a Witch, but I do not mean initiation in the Wiccan sense, being brought into a specific group or Tradition by other people who are higher-up in the structure than you. But meaning to be Called by the Gods, Ancestors and Spirits, and to answer that Call; an initiation by your Spirits, which may or may not be aided by a group or Coven.
    I have had an initiation as a Pagan and a very different one as a Witch.
    My own Initiation (as a Witch) was a self-initiation in the sense I was the only living human being present. And I came away from that a Shaman (Witch), a poet and a little bit of a madwoman.

    I am also originally from British Columbia, but have practiced in other parts of North America as well, including Texas. I understand Sarah’s assertion that one must be more careful about what they offer the Land Wights or Spirits in some parts of the world.

    Canada has a great deal of real wilderness, the kind that is less common in the USA and Europe. Wilderness that you can hike in for days and days and never see another human being, nor see sings of human habitation. Wilderness where there may not have been another human in that area for a very long time.
    The landscape here has also been tended by the First Nations in a more unbroken way than in the USA. The land is stronger, richer, deeper, and so are the Spirits.

    I have found it to be good practice to introduce myself to the Spirits/Wights and to ask them what sort of offerings and respects paid they prefer. “See here I have whiskey, tobacco, a smudge of sage, some red thread I have woven myself, coins, and cookies I baked myself. Which do you prefer?”
    Having recently moved to the Ottawa valley in Ontario I am learning all about the landscape and its Wights here. It is dangerous, a little arrogant and disrespectful to treat the landscape here the way I would in British Columbia or even how I treated the landscape in Texas, for examples.
    Just as I would never assume that a friend from France would have the same customs and follow the same social codes as I do.

    Oh and here is fun word for you guys, maybe you can find more information on it than I have been able to:

    Morthwyrtha – An Anglo-saxon based term for ancestor worshiper. Also called morth-wythra, morth-deed, morth-working, morthdaedes. During the witchcraze or burning times, morthwyrtha was one of the practices banned.

    Keep up the good work! Maybe I could interview you guys for my podcast and vice versa! Spread the good word and all that 🙂

    From Walking the Hedge
    Standing Stone and Garden Gate

  2. Thanks for having me on the show, I had a lot of fun! Sorry to have missed you Laine, but I hope to get to know you better by listening to future episodes ;). I really enjoyed listening to both of your personal journeys into witchcraft and the situations you deal with every day as witches!

    I think I should clarify a few things Cory and Laine brought up after the interview. First, I do not practice Native shamanism as I am not Native despite having lived on reservations and cultural appropriation really makes me twitch. I know that in North America the word “shamanism” immediately makes one think of Native American tribes, but to me, and also within anthropology, a shaman is a magical practitioner within the religion of Animism and Animism is found worldwide throughout different cultures and times including Europe. This has unfortunately been forgotten for many years, but modern scholars and authors like Brian Bates, Hilda Ellis Davidson, Ross Heaven, and Stuart A. Harris-Logan are reminding those of European ancestry that we have a rich history of shamanism as well.

    By saying I practice shamanism, I mean European shamanism; my own practice being a mixture of Celtic and Norse because in the folk religion of the Scots the two traditions were inextricably woven together. However, not living in Scotland but halfway across the world in a similar climate with similar plant life, I have adapted those traditions to a framework that includes respect for the genius loci as well as using local plants and resources instead of importing everything from Scotland which just seems silly and redundant to me. Since this “shamanistic” European heritage is quite ancient and little of it but small remnants remain today, I study the practices of the shamans of the local Native tribes which were documented by anthropologists and ethnologists as little as 50 years ago to help find out what my European ancestors might have done when they were at the same stone-age level of development. I do not appropriate their traditiosn, rituals, and chants into my practice, but instead work from the ideas and meaning behind them to create my own based on my cultural heritage.

    As for the initiation topic, I do believe there are many kinds, but all first come from being initiated by the spirits and by spirits I mean the genius loci, your ancestors, the gods, the fey, etc. I believe one can both seek out this initiation and also have it thrust upon them unbidden. I also believe within this different people are initiated into different types of ability and practice which I recently wrote about in my article Divisions of Witchcraft. So in short — not all witches are created equal, but anyone can be a witch/shaman even the laypagan who’s been too busy or too scared to advance further on their path 😉

    Slainte and keep up the great work!

    1. Wow! Thanks for the great reply, Sarah! I’m glad you took the time to clarify those points. I think any of the questions we had basically stemmed from differences in cultural context (like the interpretation of the word “shaman” for example). And I absolutely want to make sure you (and our wonderful readers and listeners) know that we DEFINITELY don’t think of you as a cultural appropriator. I tend to think of you as one faboo witch, myself 🙂

      Your Divisions of Witchcraft post was marvelous, by the way! I tend to think of myself as a Lore-keeper, Healer, and something of a Necromancer according to your set of definitions. We’ll probably be doing a podcast discussion at some point soon on what it means to be a “witch” vs. what it means to be a “pagan,” so if you don’t mind I’ll likely cite your excellent blog.

      Again, thank you so much for being on our show and for clarifying some of the questions we raised! You are an excellent guest, and we really appreciate all the guidance and support you’ve given us!

      All the very best to you!


    2. Yes, thanks so much for the clarification! I definitely apologize for not being there.

      I hope it doesn’t seem like we were implying that you were a Native American Shaman, or that is what you practice. 🙂 Like Cory said, I think most of the questions I had or the comments I made were based on clarifying different connotations the same words can have, based on our regional differences. The U.S. is such a large country with so many different cultures, add Canada into that, and it gets even crazier, haha. Anyway, thanks for coming back and helping us out with our questions.

      And thanks again for being such an awesome first guest!

      1. Aw, thank you! It was an honour to pop New World Witchery’s interview cherry! Can I say that? Too late, LOL

        No worries at all, it didn’t sound like anything was implied, but from your comments after the interview I knew I should clarify a few points just in case the listeners were confused too!


  3. Just wanted to drop you a line and tell you how much I love the podcast! It is great to see one based on my native soil. Although my eclectic path patheon includes Greek matrons and patrons, I am very drawn to my local land as I have some Native American blood in my line. I know you will not be covering the NA paths in your show, and understandably so, but I include some practice in my path such as prayer sticks at solstice, offerings to the Corn Maiden, etc. I of course do this with the utmost respect to all the tribes and my ancestors and I always ask the spirits if what I am doing pleases them. And they let me know…
    I agree with the comments about the separation between religion and practice. My religion (I really do not like to even use that word as it seems dogmatic) is my daily adoration of my patheon, the rising of the Sun, the glow of the full Moon, the God and Goddess. My actual practice rarely deals with the Gods, but is based on the spirits of the land, the spirits of the herbs, my garden, and the elements around me.
    Anyway, very much enjoyed the two episodes (and the blog), and am excited to hear the next one when it is uploaded (soon?). There is so many sources out there that are Euro based, and they are wonderful, but we have quite a bit of lore, myths and witch history here and it will be great to learn more about it, and hopefully be able to include some ideas into my practice. I recently started to research Dutch Witchcraft (I am part Dutch also) since that is also in my blood, and I am to not far from the PA dutch settlements. Maybe you guys can touch on some of that if you have some info and are inclined to touch on that. Just a thought :>)
    Peace and Cheers,
    Chet (White Hall, MD)

    1. Hi Chet,

      Thanks for reading and listening! I started off probably more Greek than anything else, and I definitely think there’s a case to be made for our national history having some strong ties to Classical Greece. But maybe we’ll get into that in a future post/podcast.

      We will DEFINITELY be doing at least one podcast and many posts on the PA Dutch witchcraft and magical systems, so stay tuned for those! It may be a couple of months away, but we certainly will have lots of info on that topic.

      Again, many thanks for your great words and for reading and listening to us!

      Wishing you all the best,


  4. Great second episode! I second (third?) all the great comments about the interview. Sarah, you were great, and I’ve just subscribed to your podcast, too. 🙂

    I also wanted to comment briefly on the pre-interview discussion about broom closets. I really liked that you discussed the pros and cons of being “in” and “out,” and that you got into the question of *why* one might want to stay in the closet with one’s family for reasons that go beyond personal fear of disapproval. I’m in the closet with my family but mostly out in my everyday life – I like to say I’m standing in the closet with the door wide open – so I could relate to a lot of what you two had to say.

    Anyway, I’m loving the show and looking forward to more!


    1. Aw, shucks, ma’am. T’wernt nuthin’ ::tips hat::

      Seriously though, I really appreciate your support and encouragement. I’m loving your podcast, too!

      As far as the in/out side of things, I think that most of us realize that it’s a more complicated issue than just “nobody knows/everybody knows” about our magical and spiritual side. But there are definitely reasons to be more in than out or more out than in, depending on the person. That’s just my opinion though, lol.

      Thanks again for listening!

  5. Hi all. I just started listening to your podcast which I’m enjoying so far. There was a mention of a child’s tv show or movie that had some references to nature spirits (when you were discussing parenting). Do you recall what that reference was?

    1. Thanks so much! I think what you might have heard a reference to was “My Neighbor Totoro” or “Spirited Away,” which are both films about children interacting with spirits and are both very good (Totoro is kid-friendly for almost all ages, and Spirited Away is probably more for ‘tweens and up). Enjoy them!


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