Episode 162 – Urban Witchery with Diana Rajchel

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Summary:
This episode features an interview with author Diana Rajchel about folk magic in the big city! We discuss the spirits of a city, ways to gather urban spell ingredients, and getting to know the difference between the land and the place of an urban witch’s environment.
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Producers for this show: Heather, WisdomQueen, Jenni Love of Broom Book & Candle, Jennifer, Jen Rue of Rue & Hyssop, Little Wren, Khristopher, Tanner, Fergus from Queer as Folk Magic, Achija of Spellbound Bookbinding, Johnathan at the ModernSouthernPolytheist, Catherine, Payton, Carole, Payton, Staci, Montine, WickedScense, Moma Sarah at ConjuredCardea, Jody, AthenaBeth, Bo, Scarlet Pirate, Tim, Leslie, Sherry, Jenna, Jess, Laura, & Clever Kim’s Curios (if we missed you this episode, we’ll make sure you’re in the next one!). Big thanks to everyone supporting us!
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Play:
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We are so glad to have Diana Rajchel on our show! You can check out her new book, Urban Magick, out now from Llewellyn, along with either of her Sabbat series entries, Mabon and Samhain. You can find her at her website, dianarajchel.com, or on her Facebook author page as well.
If you like Cory’s train metaphor, you may also want to check out his post Blog Post 64 – City Spirits.
Image sourced courtesy of Llewellyn Publications.
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Promos & Music
Title and closing music are “Woman Blues,” by Paul Avgerinos, and is licensed from Audio Socket. Incidental music is “Painting at the Train Station,” by Chris Welch, and is licensed from Audio Socket. Ambient effects are “Ambience, London Waterloo Train Station.wav” by InspectorJ (www.jshaw.co.uk)  of Freesound.org.
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Blog Post 64 – City Spirits

Today’s post is going to be a little different.  I’m not going to cite any outside sources (at least, I don’t think I will…I may not be able to fight the urge).  Instead, I’m going to present some thoughts I have had which were spurred on by discussions about modernization last week, and in particular a comment from Crystal on Podcast 10.  She mentioned that as a city witch, she often feels the pull to get back to nature, which got me thinking:  can cities, buildings, and skylines be a part of nature, too?

Now, I know this isn’t an original thought, and that there are deeper philosophical questions here about whether people are a part of nature and therefore whether their creations are also a part of nature, but that’s not really what I’m getting at.  When I talk about “nature” above, I really mean the whole of nature, encompassing the spiritual dimension as well.  I’m thinking more in terms of whether the Otherworld might well have city elements in it.

Do buildings have specific spirits?  Like spirits of the land do?  Can you tap into a building’s spirit and use it in magic?  These are the questions that are swirling about in my head.  For example, there are definite precedents in hoodoo for using things like dirt from a courthouse or a bank or a hospital, because it’s assumed that the land upon which those structures reside will have absorbed a particular type of energetic influence which the root worker can then use for his or her own ends.  Is using that energy akin to using a little bit of the spirit of those places, or is the conjurer simply using accumulated human energy?

Even more to the point, are there places in cities that echo the kind of spiritual resonance found in locations like the Rollright Stones or Stonehenge?  After all, those structures were, at least to some extent, man-made (though I won’t begin to deny that they may be sitting on top of very particularly powerful places that have nothing to do with people).  But why can’t the Empire State Building or Beacon Hill in Boston or the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville have their own resident spirit (or spirits)?  And moreover, why not use places like that to do magic—not just in terms of collecting dirt or knick-knacks for spells, but actually deploying spells there, or finding subtle ways to contact spirits and interact with them in those locations?

For me, train stations have always had this very powerful Otherworldly significance.  I imagine that after death, there’s this sort of “waiting” place which always seems like a train platform to me.  Trains come and go, taking each person off to different post-mortem existences, or sometimes allowing them to just ride and enjoy the scenery for a bit.  There are food cars, drinks, other passengers to play cards with if being dead gets boring…er, at least, that’s how I envision it.  But lately I’m thinking that going to a train station is a lot like going to the Crossroads in traditional hoodoo practice.  I think I may try out a few things at our city train station and see how it goes.  If I do, I’ll be sure to post on that and let y’all know about it.

This is, of course, not an extensive discussion of this idea.  And there are probably lots of better sources for reading and thinking about urban magical practice than our little blog.  In fact, Velma Nightshade over at Witches Brewhaha recently did an episode discussing city witchery that’s well worth checking out (I couldn’t resist the opportunity to link to something).  But I just had to let some of these thoughts out, as they were making a lot of noise in my head and the gerbil that lives there was getting upset.

What about your thoughts and opinions?  Any strong inclinations on city magic?  Does it depend upon specific places?  Is there some way to turn a city landscape of concrete and steel into the same kind of magical place an ancient grove might be?   Do you practice this kind of city magic yourself?  Inquiring minds want to know!

Thanks for reading!

-Cory

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Podcast 10 – Urban Conjure and an Interview with Rootworker Stephanie Palm

-SHOWNOTES FOR EPISODE 10-

Summary
In this episode, we share some thanks with our listeners and readers.  Then, we have an interview with urban rootworker Stephanie Palm.  We finish things up with our WitchCraft and Spelled Out segments

Play:

Download:  New World Witchery – Episode 10

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Interview
Music City Mojo – The online store for our guest, Stephanie.   It features products and services as well as contact information.

WitchCraft
Drag Me to Hell – We mention this comedy/horror movie as a source of button-lore.

Magic Spelled Out
Lucky Mojo Freezer Spells – This has a good, concise history of the “Shut Your Mouth” tongue/freezer spells.

Promos & Music
Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.
Promo 1 – Witchery of One
Promo 2- Standing Stone and Garden Gate Podshow
Promo 3 – Inciting a Riot (a custom-made promo from wunderkind and friend of NWW, Fire Lyte!)