Posted tagged ‘fifty-four devils’

Quick Update – A New Year, A(nother) New Giveaway!

January 1, 2014

Divination Prize Pack

There’s a bit of folk superstition about New Year’s Day that says whatever you want to be doing for the next twelve months, make sure you’re doing it on January 1st. You’re also not supposed to start anything you can’t finish, which brings me to this quick-n-dirty little blog post. I intend (dare I say hope?) that I will be doing a tremendous amount of writing over the coming year, including finishing several writing projects I’ve been working on for a while, so I wanted to make sure I wrote something for New World Witchery before midnight tonight. But I also have been using the day to accomplish a dozen other New Year’s magical traditions (cleaning, black-eyed peas, collard greens, etc.) so I thought a short and simple giveaway post might just kill the proverbial twin birds.

For this giveaway, we’ll be handing out a doozy of a divination prize pack. It includes:

  • A copy of my cartomancy book, Fifty-four Devils
  • A mini-altar kit and pair of mini-dowsing rods from Franchesca at The Texan Heretics
  • A bottle of Psychic Boost Oil from the lovely Magnusons of Candlesmoke Chapel
  • A stunning javamancy board from Chas Bogan of Carnivalia
  • A five-card email card reading from me, complete with card report

Pretty stellar, huh?

So what do you have to do to get an entry into this contest? It’s incredibly simple! Just answer one or more of the following questions:

  1. What are your magical/witchy/Pagan New Year’s resolutions? What magical projects do you hope to get off the ground? Are there areas you want to learn more about? Are you going to get more involved in the community? Just give us a brief snapshot of what you hope to accomplish from a magical standpoint in the coming year.
  2. What is your favorite magical/witchy/Pagan holiday and why? What do you do for it? Has it always been your favorite? What will you be doing to make it special this year?
  3. What (if any) practices, spells, etc. has New World Witchery been able to add to your cauldron? Are there specific regions of folk magic you’ve begun to explore more (like Conjure or Powwow)? Do you find the info here useful on a practical level or is it more of a general information site for you?

That’s it! All you have to do is write to us at compassandkey@gmail.com and answer a question or two or three. You get one entry per question answered, so you have a chance to get up to three entries just by writing to us (you can combine all answers into a single email, as long as you make it clear you’re answering multiple questions somehow). Make sure to use the subject line “Three Questions Contest” so I know what you’re writing us about.

The deadline for this contest will be Friday, January 31st, so get your answers to us by then!

Also, please check out and/or enter our other current contest for one of three NOLA swag bags, which will be ending January 17th!

Thanks everyone for a great 2013, and here’s looking forward to a very enchanted new year!

-Cory

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Blog Post 179 – Book Release: Fifty-Four Devils

August 9, 2013

Folks, I’m really and truly happy to announce I’ve finished the expansion of the old cartomancy guide and it is officially released for your purchase and perusal!

The book is called Fifty-Four Devils: The Art & Folklore of Fortune-telling with Playing Cards. It contains all of the basics found in the old PDF booklet, plus some significant expansions. From the back cover:

Ye are twenty-five cards.
Become twenty-five devils
Enter into the body, into the blood, into the soul .”

So begins a nineteenth century Italian charm making use of a small deck of playing cards. This brief-but-richly drawn book explores the practice of divination by playing cards—known as cartomancy. It reveals the “secrets in plain sight” which hide within the pips, kings, queens, and jokers of a standard deck. Explore one method of divination in-depth as you meet the “fifty-four devils”—the symbolic spirits of each card—and learn about invoking ancestral blessings for card readings, the folklore of playing cards, and how to relate fairy tales to a spread along the way.

How is it different from its previous incarnation? For starters, it’s longer, coming in around 108 printed pages. It also has loads of new sections and subjects to cover, including:

  1. Preparing your cards for divination
  2. The use and inclusion of the Jokers in readings
  3. An easy-to-use table which puts keywords related to each card on a single page
  4. A widely expanded set of sample readings
  5. An entirely new type of spread, the Grand Tableau or Full Deck Spread, which uses all 54 devi…er, cards

Two of my favorite new elements—and I am obviously a bit biased—are the section about how to relate fairy and folk tales to card readings to enhance divination and the 20-page appendix which contains a wide variety of folklore on card reading (including short commentaries and even a little historical fiction by yours truly). I also really love the cover, which was designed by my lovely wife!

If you’re a fan of cartomancy or divination, I think you’ll like this book. And if you’re a fan of this show/site, I think the same will be true for you. This also gives you an opportunity to support the show as well, and at $6 or less a pop, you can’t go wrong, right?

I’ve made it available in print and e-book format, and you can get a copy at any of the sites below:

Available from:
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
CreateSpace Storefront
Smashwords (for all e-readers)
Kindle

On a related note, the sidebar of the blog/website now contains a button showing the cover of Fifty-Four Devils which will take you to our digital Book Shop, where you can currently find all the purchase information on this book. Over time I’ll be adding other books there as well. Hopefully some will be more of my own books, but I’ll also link to works I cite frequently and to books by authors who have appeared on the show or contributed to the blog. Any purchase you make helps us out just a little bit, so it’s a great way to support us while getting great books!

I’m very happy to be able to share this book with you all! Please let me know what you think of it, and happy reading!

With gratitude and blessings,

-Cory

Blog Post 178 – Book Reviews

August 7, 2013

This seems to be a great time to work with American folk magic. Not only have a number of people begun working with the systems that have evolved here (like hoodoo, pow-wow, and all the other flavors of North American magic you probably come to this site to investigate), but the vast amount of information on the various branches has become legion. Thanks very much to author-teachers like Cat Yronwode, Conjureman Ali, and Denise Alvarado, the opportunity to learn folk magic has expanded beyond a few internet sites and hard-to-find instructors to entire shelves of books and even folk magic festivals where students can gather together and learn from a bevy of the brightest minds in practical magic today.

Keeping up with the tremendous reading list available to someone interested in folk magic is no easy task. My current pace is roughly a book a week to a book every two weeks, and that includes the books I review for the Journal of American Folklore, texts on folk magic, books on literature and criticism, science writing, etc. Occasionally I manage to squeeze one in for fun, too!

That’s not to say that my ‘required’ reading list can’t be fun, too, of course. Two recent entries into the pile of texts on folk magic that have been absolute pleasures to read are The Black Folder, compiled by Cat Yronwode and The Conjure Workbook, v. 1: Working the Root, by Starr Casas.

The Black Folder is the assembly of a number of workshop handouts from a variety of events and educational opportunities presented by Yronwode’s Lucky Mojo Curio Company and Missionary Independent Spiritual Church over the past decade or so. Many of the entries, particularly the early ones, are by Yronwode herself. Her section on working hoodoo based on items you can pick up at the grocery store or pull from your pantry is first-rate, and doesn’t simply focus on the spice rack but includes work with onions and other produce as well. Other top-notch contributors include Conjureman Ali, Sindy Todo, Robin York, Dr. E, Starr Casas, and many others. Topics range from the oft-covered bottle spells and honey jars to very detailed and unique pieces on foot-washing, the use of skulls in magic, and even some Swedish troll-magic courtesy of Dr. Johannes Gardback. The design of the book really looks like a collection of newsletters that have been bound up in a black cover (it is, however, a trade paperback version of the original Black Folder, which Yronwode used to keep up with all the informational pamphlets used by teachers in Lucky Mojo’s courses). Reading through this book provides a bit of a biography of Lucky Mojo as well, as the evolution of the company and its teaching role can be seen in the more-or-less chronological progression of the pamphlets.  The work provided varies in quality according to the author, with some authors giving standout spells and methods, and some which focus more on theory than technique. I found a few entries that seemed more conjectural and less based on inherited practices or research, but for the most part the book is an absolute treasure-trove of information. While it does not replace the opportunity to learn from these folks in person, it certainly does a phenomenal job of feeling like field notes from working magicians. It is published by Lucky Mojo, so you can buy it directly from them or through Amazon and other booksellers.  Because of the difficult layout work that must be required to piece together all those pamphlets, it seems like the kind of text that will not likely ever appear in eBook format, so a physical copy is the only way to go, but highly worth the purchase price.

In The Conjure Workbook, Casas—who contributed to The Black Folder as well, noted above—also does a tremendous amount of assembly, piecing together essentially an entire lifetime of conjure knowledge in a little under 300 pages. Casas has been teaching and writing for several years, and has formerly produced texts on doll baby work, money magic, basic Southern conjure, and Blackhawk independently. For this endeavor, however, she has joined up with Pendraig Publishing (Peter Paddon’s company). At the very outset, I will say the biggest problem with the book has nothing to do with the work presented, but rather the frequent typos, spelling errors, and odd edits that plague the text. Hopefully future volumes and editions will corret those issues, though, because this book is highly valuable and informative. Starr’s workbook reads like a master class with a highly skilled and practiced conjure worker. She makes no bones about the type of work she does, which she labels as specifically Southern conjure and ties to working with the Bible (please note, she does not say one must be a Christian to do this work, but that one must be comfortable with the Bible as a source of spellwork and power—this point frequently gets misunderstood in her writing). She has been practicing within a Catholic strain of the work for many years, so the Saints make a strong entry into this book. She doesn’t shy away from the darker side of saints like St. Lucy and St. Ramon, and includes work with Mary and several of the prophets, too—which are spirits that receive relatively little attention in other works on Biblically-framed folk magic despite their powerful natures. Casas puts the work first in this book, and if you’re looking for actual spells to do, this is certainly the kind of text to keep handy. She also does not regurgitate anyone else’s spellwork (at least as far as I can see) and gives the reader a piece of her own history and philosophy in between the spells. More than anything, this book reads like a conversation with her, and provides loads of new conjure projects to an aspiring worker, including doll babies made with shrunken apple heads, medicine bottle spells, and even a good reason to invest in getting a box of chalk from the dollar store to keep handy. Starr has put together a book that, despite its proofreading issues, manages to be absolutely invaluable to anyone who likes to get their hands a little dirty in folk magic.

Both of these books are born from years of practical experience, and they both have more of a classroom feel than most titles on folk magic do, which may make them more accessible than other texts on similar subjects. It is highly likely both books will be the initial entries into multi-volume series as well, which hopefully means that classes will continue, so to speak, for a long time to come.

Yronwode and Lucky Mojo have also begun producing a number of smaller books, like The Art of Hoodoo Candle Magic in Rootwork (by Ms. Cat) and Hoodoo Honey & Sugar Spells (by Deacon Millet), but I’ve yet to read most of those. Casas also has released a small book on reading “conjure cards,” and she’s put out a deck and a special deluxe set that includes the cards, book, and blessing oil through Pendraig. They look absolutely stellar, though I’ve not laid hands on a set yet, only seen the online previews. I mention these because both Pendraig and Lucky Mojo seem to be strong contenders in terms of putting out useful texts on folk magic now, and I’m very happy to see them expanding their offerings. Hopefully that means an ever-growing source of knowledge and spellwork for all of us.

There are plenty of other texts I’d love to explore (including one that I’ll try to get to with a bit of fanfare soon, called Fifty-Four Devils, by Cory Thomas Hutcheson, who seems a rather promising fellow, if a bit silly at times), but for now I hope you’ll check out The Black Folder and Working the Root and let me know what you think.

Wishing you all the best, and happy reading!

-Cory


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