Archive for the ‘General Information’ category

Special Update – Philadelphia Meetup and Tours

May 12, 2017

Hello everyone!

We’re getting extremely excited about our upcoming trip to Philadelphia, where we’re going to be seeing YOU (hopefully)!. We’ve got most of the pieces in place at this point, so here’s what’s happening: We’ll have two events on June 3rd, 2017, where you can come meet with us and take some tours related to magic.

Sign from the Penn Museum’s “Magic in the Ancient World” Exhibit

Event 1: A Meetup at the Penn Museum to take a private guided tour of the Magic in the Ancient World exhibit.

  • Where: The Penn Museum (3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA at the Group Entrance (Kress)).
  • When: Saturday, June 3rd, 2017 at 10:30am. The tour and time in the museum will take around 2 hours
  • Cost: Admission as part of our group is $17 for entrance and the guided tour. You can pay via PayPal in advance OR you can pay with cash, check, or credit card the day of the event. However, as a special bonus treat, we are covering the guided tour part of the admission cost for the first twenty (20) listeners who sign up via our Museum Tour event planner page! So if you know for sure you want to come, sign up there and your entrance cost is only $12!

View of Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA. By Ross Abraham (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Event 2: A private “Spirits and Spiritualists” tour at the historic Laurel Hill Cemetery

  • Where: Laurel Hill Cemetery (3822 Ridge Ave., Philadelphia, PA)
  • When: Saturday, June 3rd, 2017 at 3:30pm. The tour will last about 1.5-2 hours, and does involve some walking around the cemetery
  • Cost: Admission as a part of our group is $15. You can pay via PayPal in advance OR you can pay with cash, check, or credit card the day of the event. Please sign up for the event in advance via our Cemetery Tour event planner page so we can be sure we have enough spots for everyone on the tour.

That means hanging out in Philly with us and other awesome New World Witchery fans, seeing really old magical stuff, and then wandering around a graveyard hearing about ghosts and spirit mediums. You can’t beat that! Well, you can, but I think trying to summon the ghost of Ben Franklin would be frowned upon by the city (but you can throw pennies onto his grave if that makes you feel better).

If you are going to attend, please do make sure you sign up so we can have a good head count, and we will look forward to seeing you there very soon!

With love and gratitude to you all,

-Cory & Laine

 

 

Quick Update – Live Broadcast on 10/30/16

October 24, 2016
By Dennis Hill from The OC, So. Cal. (via Wikimedia Commons)

By Dennis Hill from The OC, So. Cal. (via Wikimedia Commons)

 

Hello everyone!

We have another live broadcast coming up, and we’d love for YOU to be a part of it!

We’ll be doing our live broadcast on Sunday evening (October 30th), and we’ll be starting around 9pm or so Central Time. The theme this time around is “Ghost Stories.” Share your personal ghostly encounters and spooky goings-on with us via chat, email, or even call in! We will be talking to both Patreon supporters and all other listeners for this one, so don’t be shy!

Make sure you go to our Mixlr site page to listen and chat with us. You can download the Mixlr app on your phone or tablet, too, if that’s easier for you.

If the whole thing goes according to plan, we’ll also try to release the conversation and stories as a podcast, too.

Looking forward to talking to you all soon!

Best witches 😉

-Cory & Laine

Sneak Preview – Chasing Foxfire Episode 1 – Glow

September 26, 2016

foxfire-final-web

Hello everyone!

The episode enclosed is not a New World Witchery episode. Not exactly. It exists because our wonderful listeners have been supportive and kind and generous over the years, and provided me with a way to make something new and different. But the magic in the podcast herein is not quite the same magic you’ve grown used to hearing over the years on our show. Instead, the magic of this show is simple wonder.

What you’ve got here is a sneak preview of our first episode of the new show, “Chasing Foxfire,” which is a show about where folklore and life intersect. If you’ve been listening to us for much time, you’ll know that I’ve been working on this show for a few months, and that it is something separate from New World Witchery. It will be going up on its own site (www.chasingfoxfire.com) by next week, but I wanted to let our NWW listeners have a chance to hear it before it goes out to the general public. It may not be your cup of tea, especially if you come to this show for discussions of mojo bags, honey jars, and flying ointments. Those things may show up from time to time in Chasing Foxfire, but they aren’t its main subject matter.

However, if you’re a listener who likes folklore generally, and also perhaps likes things like stories about glowing Civil War soldiers, musically inclined bugs, overlaps in the poetry of Robert Frost and H.P. Lovecraft, and the films of Pixar, then this first episode will be right up your alley. You’ll find all of those stories and more in “Episode 1 – Glow.” Future episodes will have everything from Colonial American dessert recipes, barefoot preachers, and Bugs Bunny to cowboy hats, lumberjack-based viral marketing, and pirate treasure. It is a show that will see where folklore intersects with science, nature, popular culture, literature, art, medicine, history, and whatever else we find. Basically, we follow folklore wherever it goes.

I hope you enjoy this episode, and will join me once a month (for now) to hear new tales, and follow new lights into dark places.

A special thanks to our Patreon supporters, without whom this new show wouldn’t be possible.

And to all our listeners, thanks for all you’ve done for us and been to us over the years. (And don’t worry, New World Witchery isn’t going anywhere).

Thanks for listening,

-Cory

Abbreviated Shownotes and Episode Below

Episode 1 – Glow

Summary

In our first episode, we hear tales of glowing Civil War soldiers, a Pixar princess, and musical bugs.

Listen

Play:

Download: https://newworldwitchery.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/episode-1-glow.mp3

Sources:

  • Special thanks to my guests, Dr. Phyllis Martin of the USDA (retired) and Frank P. Lavarre.
  • I first heard about the Civil War “Angel’s Glow” phenomenon via an article in mental_floss by Matt Soniak.
  • Thanks to the Allegheny National Forest rangers and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers for information on the fireflies.
  • The Pixar Theory is the brainchild of Jon Negroni, of the Now Conspiring podcast.
  • The poems “The Ancient Track,” by H.P. Lovecraft and “The Wood-Pile,” by Robert Frost, are quoted and referenced under the auspices of Fair Use.

Music

All music for this episode is licensed through Magnatune. [Complete track listing to follow in official shownotes]

Quick Announcement – Live Broadcast of NWW on 6/26/16

June 19, 2016
By Dennis Hill from The OC, So. Cal. (via Wikimedia Commons)

By Dennis Hill from The OC, So. Cal. (via Wikimedia Commons)

Hello everyone!

I have an announcement or two that I thought you might need to know.

Firstly, we’ll be doing our live broadcast next Sunday evening (June 26th), and I believe we’ll be starting around 9pm or so Central Time (we’ll try to firm that up for you in the next couple of days via social media). We will be fielding live questions from our Patreon supporters over the phone, and we’ll also have a live chat running for all listeners as well.

We originally said we were doing this live chat via Periscope, but we’ve run into some issues with that platform and so we’re switching to a service called Mixlr. The upshot to that service is that you will be able to listen live via Facebook or Twitter instead of having a specific app on your phone or tablet. You can also use our Mixlr site page to listen and chat with us. Sorry for the change-up, but hopefully this just means listening and participating will be easier for you. We’ll also be using the recorded version of the live broadcast/chat as a Patreon-only podcast episode, which will be released after the actual live discussion.

Also, it’s worth noting that since we’ve passed our second milestone goal on Patreon (THANK YOU!), we needed to put up some new goals. We’ve done that now, and you’ll see two new milestone levels: The Devil’s Book ($1000/mo.) and The Witch’s Bridle ($3000/mo.). Each will allow us to do some new things for the show, and also will unlock some interesting rewards for you as well. Head on over to our Patreon page to check it out, and spread the word about us if you can and it will help us get there faster.

Looking forward to talking to you all soon!

Best witches 😉

-Cory & Laine

Blog Post 200 – Am I a Witch?

June 3, 2016
Statue of a Witch, by Gegenbach (Public Domain)

Statue of a Witch, Gegenbach (Public Domain)

I’ve always liked the word “witch.” It carries with it a lot of connotations, sure, but so few words can evoke strong reactions across the spectrum, ranging from fear to excitement to anger to joy. Witches in folklore occupy a strange space; in many stories, they seem to be dangerous and do harm (e.g. “Hansel and Gretel” or “The Witch in the Stone Boat”), but then in so many other tales they are helpers, or benign catalysts for action (as in “Frau Holle” or “Finist the Bright Falcon”). We have tackled the question of “What is a Witch?” from a lot of angles here already: answering the question generally and rhetorically, looking at aspects of a witch’s practice, seeing what it takes to become a witch, and so on. But this weekend brings my birthday, so I’m going to turn that lens inward a bit, and ask the question, “Am I a Witch?” That may seem like a bit of a ridiculous question, coming from someone who talks about using folk magic on a regular basis, but it’s a question worth asking. There are many people from various backgrounds who would likely say I’m not, based on their personal definitions of witchcraft, whether they believe it to be a religion or a practice, or both, or neither. So how do I see it? If you read the articles here, you probably want to know if my own definition of witchcraft jives with yours, right? Today, I thought it might be good to clarify just who I am and what I do that might make someone think of me as a witch of one kind or another. In an upcoming post, I will use this as a bit of a launching pad to take a look at a few ways the figure of the witch appears in North American history and folklore, and see if I can find anything that I can use to create a broad sketch of what a “New World Witchcraft” practice might look like. This is, and must be, my own interpretation, so of course your interpretation may be quite different. But my hope is that by going through this question with some thought, maybe it will open up some doorways (or hedgerows) along the way for myself and others. If you’re interested in traveling this particular crooked road with me, read on.

A section of my personal altar.

A section of my personal altar.

 

Firstly, let me talk a little about the things I do. My basic spiritual practice (and please note I’m setting this apart with fancy italics) involves a few basic rituals: weekly lighting of candles to a mix of saints, ancestors, deities, spirits, and other entities, along with offerings of incense and water and sometimes food and drink. I offer evening prayers directed at a pantheon of spiritual forces, mostly in gratitude and asking for safe passage through the night for myself and my family. Monthly, I light candles representing the new and full moons. When the dark candle is lit, I do divinations with my cards—although I should note this is not the only time I do that, and here we have a practice which may be only quasi-spiritual overlapping with the spiritual ritual of lunar reverence. It’s complicated, right? On the full moon, I offer libations and light other candles, and say prayers to specific spiritual forces I feel are connected with the moon. And that’s the big stuff. Despite recent discussions of sabbats and the Wheel of the Year, I tend to get into holidays in a more community-oriented way, attending parades or local celebrations and not really focusing on the spiritual observance of the days (although that does sometimes happen, especially during the winter months).

Reading my mother's cards.

Reading my mother’s cards.

My magical practice (again, fancy tilty-letters here) involves the aforementioned card divination, which I do more frequently in ways dissociated from a particular spiritual observance, but which does involve me calling upon some spiritual aid. I also frequently cast spells for various wants, needs, and wills. Most are incredibly simple spells, such as the creation of a petition paper and the lighting of a candle, perhaps with some anointing oil and the recitation of a psalm or charm. I might create a mojo bag to carry around and draw in a specific need or want (most often, these bags are in the “success” area, although I also do some protection bags and others as well). Periodically, I will brew up batches of condition oils to have on hand for dressing candles and bags, but if I run out of those for some reason I don’t worry, because I can usually substitute something from the kitchen in a pinch—coffee, whiskey, olive oil, etc. If someone gets a sharp bang on their shin or a cut on their finger, I’m usually right there with my little Pow-wow-style charms to ease the pain, along with an ice pack, kiss, or chocolate-chip cookie as appropriate. A few times a year I do house-cleansing and protection work, adding written charms to door lintels and washing down my front door with—well, traditional protective formulae.

 

Is any of this witchcraft, though? When we look at stories of witches in North America—whether derived from European, African/African American, Native, or other sources—we see witches doing some of these things in one way or another, perhaps. Fortune-telling by cards and other means seems to appear nearly universally. Zora Neale Hurston recorded tales of African American conjure women and men rifling playing cards and seeing the future. Some of the accounts of Salem’s tumultuous sorceries involved tales of divination by “Venus glass,” or through the use of a special cake baked from urine and fed to a dog, or even some evidence that accused persons like Dorcas Hoar owned divination manuals and had practiced fortune-telling for years before the trial outbreak. Other tools, like the dowsing rod or the use of geomantic shells or coins, appear in other areas, and every cultural group in American history has had some means of divination or augury. Even in contemporary times, the Ouija board has become a popular trope of adolescent divinatory rites, and remains a popular “game” among American youth.

Brewing condition oils

Brewing condition oils

Witches also made use of prayers and psalms, sometimes in holy and sometimes in profane ways. Tales of Appalachian witch initiation rites discuss the use of prayers which reverse one’s baptism. In many European-derived traditions, the recitation in reverse of whatever charm had been used to blight someone would remove that curse. In tales where witches work with spirits, they may make contact with faery-creatures (see Emma Wilby’s Cunning Folk & Familiar Spirits for a truly excellent rundown of that subject), or they may keep wee bug in a bottle to talk to (as in one Appalachian story). While we get a sense of their spiritual worldview—which is heavily populated and constantly interacting with the mundane world—we seldom get a sense that witches are denominational. They might act in non-Christian or even anti-Christian ways, up to and including signing pacts with the Devil, but just as often they make use of Christian prayers and charms, and may even be very religions—if a bit unorthodox. Having a rich spiritual life certainly seems to be found in most tales of folkloric witches, but there’s very little definition around that spiritual worldview. Instead, witchcraft seems to be—from the perspective of history and folklore—less about gods and goddesses and much more about muttering under one’s breath in a time of need, or knowing not to burn sassafras wood. It’s a practice and a way of acting which is shaped by spiritual understanding, but not completely defined by it. There’s much more to say on what witches do, based on folklore (and I should also note that I am increasingly aware of the fact folklore is not something from “back then,” but something alive and moving now, so perhaps we should spend some time on contemporary witchcraft from that angle, too). I will leave all of that for another day, however, and return to the question at hand.

witch-158095_960_720

Am I a witch? I suppose it depends on who is asking. I have a fairly unorthodox spiritual practice and worldview, especially for someone living after the Modern era of rationalism and scientific inquiry. I think that my spiritual life, however, does not inherently make me a witch. It makes me an animist, perhaps, or put in contemporary economic terms, someone with a diversified spiritual portfolio. That can be a good basis for witchcraft, but it can also be a good basis for a number of practices completely outside of witchcraft. Many Christians, Hindus, and even Buddhists see such a diversity in the spiritual landscape (although they may assign different values to non-deity spirits and might even avoid all but a very few of them). What I do, on the other hand…that is witchcraft. I am a witch in divination, in charming, in meeting my needs through my own actions, and in doing so by working outside of rational methods (and please note I did not say in spite of such methods or even without also using such methods—a proper My Little Pony bandage can be just as important as a magical healing charm and a kiss to a scraped knee). I am a witch in knowing some of the ways that the world around us is constantly in conversation—whether through the growth of certain plants or the movements of certain animals or the scent and taste of the air before a storm. I am a witch in holding in me a certainty that I can do something about my circumstances, and that I am responsible for my own fate—both finding it and bending it.

 

Yes. I am a witch.

 

I hope to go a bit further and expand upon some previous discussions of what a witchcraft practice in the New World might look like. I will be turning to folklore, history, and contemporary behaviors and actions to help define that, and in the end, I will probably satisfy no one, but perhaps get into a few good conversations with the points I raise. For now, though, I hope that this article—a little bit of me put out there for you to consider—will clarify my practices a bit. I am not a perfect witch, mind you, possibly not even a very good one. Nor are my practices solely definitive of all witches everywhere. But if this article speaks to you in some way, I’d love to know. I’d love to hear if you are a witch, too.

 

Thanks for reading,

-Cory

Update – Aidan Wachter’s Talismanic Jewelry

December 4, 2015

Talismanic Jewelry by Aidan Wachter (Photo from http://www.aidanwachter.com)

If you haven’t seen Aidan Wachter Talismanic Jeweler‘s magnificent Pagan- and magical-themed creations in silver (http://www.aidanwachter.com/), you should absolutely look at what he’s got to offer. The jewelry is hand-made in his workshop, and he’s constantly working on new designs from a variety of magical sources, including angelic work, grimoires, folk magic, and runestaves. He also does work to empower and enchant his creations, which is right up our alley.

He’s even offered a special sale (his first ever!!!) to our supporters and listeners. Simply use the code “Witchery” (without the quotation marks) when you check out at his site and get 10% off of your order. Do be aware that since this is work of a highly personalized nature he is currently turning orders around to ship in about 8 weeks.

A big Thank You to Aidan for making this available to our listeners!

Quick Update – Spring Lore 2015 Contest

March 22, 2015

March month of ‘many weathers’ wildly comes
In hail and snow and rain and threatning hums
And floods: while often at his cottage door
The shepherd stands to hear the distant roar…
The ploughman mawls along the doughy sloughs
And often stop their songs to clean their ploughs
From teazing twitch that in the spongy soil
Clings round the colter terryfying toil
The sower striding oer his dirty way
Sinks anckle deep in pudgy sloughs and clay
And oer his heavy hopper stoutly leans
Strewing wi swinging arms the pattering beans
Which soon as aprils milder weather gleams
Will shoot up green between the furroed seams
                ~John Clare, The Shepherd’s Calendar: “March”

 

Dear Listeners and Readers,

Here we are in the lovely springtime, knee-deep in the grime of new life, planting seeds to bear fruit under other moons than this one. In a few days, we will (hopefully) be releasing our March episode, which deals with that selfsame celestial sphere, and on that show we’ll be announcing our latest contest. Since you are a dedicated and devoted fan of our work, however, you get a little advance warning and some extra time to work on your entries.

So what do you have to do for this contest? We’re looking for family, regional, or local folklore on two topics. Send in your lore about:

  1. Anything related to the sun, moon, and stars. Did your family tell stories about specific stars or constellations? Did they hold moon-gazing parties or eat moon cakes? Were there special things you were supposed to do during an equinox? Share your heavenly lore with us and get an entry into the drawing!
  2. -OR –
  3. Share your lore about devils, demons, and “bad” spirits. Was there some spot supposed to be haunted by the devil near where you grew up? Were you forbidden to play Ouija boards because of demon possession? Share your most diabolical tales and enter that way as well.

You can even enter in each category! (Only one entry per category per person, please. You can share as much lore as you want, though). Simply email us with the subject line “Spring 2015 Contest” at compassandkey@gmail.com, and you’ll get your entry (or entries). Make sure to let us know where you’re from/family background, and what name (if any) you’d want us to use if we read your entry on the show.

Deadline: Midnight, April 30th (Walpurgisnacht), 2015.

Prizes:
So what is up for grabs if you decide to share a bit of your devilish or stellar side? We’ve got three potential prize packages we’re offering for this event:

  • Prize Package The FIrst – Grimoires Old: A copy of The Long Lost Friend (Hohman, Daniel Harms, ed.) & The Black Pullet (anonymous but very important grimoire in the New World)
  • Prize Package The Second – Grimoires New: A copy of Peter Paddon’s Grimoire for Modern Cunning Folk & Robert Chapman’s Pow-Wow Grimoire
  • Prize Package The Third – Get Lucky: A bottle of our Crown of Success oil, a lucky charm or two, and a copy of 54 Devils thrown in for fun (you know, lucky at cards…)

If those are appealing to you (or even if they’re not and you just want to participate), please send in your lore to compassandkey@gmail.com and know we’ll be absolutely thrilled to hear from you. Questions about the contest or lore are welcome at that address, too. Good luck!

All the best,

-Cory & Laine


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