Episode 196 – Letters Lore and More

Summary:
We open a handful of our listener emails from the past few months and answer questions about connecting with spirits, using salt in crossroads workings, finding Irish folklore, and even vampires! Plus we look back at the year so far, talk about our recent Patreon updates, and then do our cards and question of the episode.
Please check out our Patreon page! You can help support the show for as little as a dollar a month, and get some awesome rewards at the same time. Even if you can’t give, spread the word and let others know, and maybe we can make New World Witchery even better than it is now.
Image of episode cover featuring a quill and parchment with the words Episode 196 Letters Lore and More
Producer for this show:
Our Patreon supporter for this episode is the lovely Jen Rue of Rue & Hyssop. Rue & Hyssop is a blog about living an enchanted life—one full of everyday magic, the adventures of a roving witch, and of course lots and lots of books. Jen also offers a variety of wonderful witchy products at her shop Three Cats & a Broom, including some truly enchanting sprays like Rue Water and Florida Water. Our immense appreciation goes out to Jen, and to all of our listeners and supporters!

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The questions we answered this episode came from our listeners! Thank you so much for writing in and sharing your thoughts and ideas with us, and we hope we answered your queries without too much rambling! Please do write in to us if you want to hear from us!

Cory mentions a bunch of resources on learning about Hoodoo in this episode, including podcasts like JujuBae’s A Little Juju and the Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Rootwork Hour. There’s a great article called “Hoodoo in America” published by Zora Neale Hurston in the Journal of American Folklore back in the 1930s, too.

Some additional resources for doing research for no or low-cost:

Cory also mentions checking out Morgan Daimler’s work and our interview with them a few months back regarding Irish folklore. For Welsh folklore, Mhara Starling is excellent, and Troy Books is a great source for a number of British Isles-inflected folk witchcraft.

We also bring up our previous episodes on Sex and Magic, Fairies, and our sister podcast Myth-Taken: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Podcast

Cory uses the Portable Fortitude deck this month, by Corina Dross.

You can now buy Cory’s book, New World Witchery: A Trove of North American Folk Magic! (also available from Amazon)

Image via Canva (Used under Distribution License)

If you have feedback you’d like to share, email us at compassandkey@gmail.com or newworldwitcherypodcast@gmail.com or leave a comment at the website: www.newworldwitchery.com . We’d love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to follow us at Twitter! And check out our Facebook page! For those who are interested, we are also on TikTok now. You can follow us on Instagram (main account, or you can follow Laine as well) or check out our new YouTube channel with back episodes of the podcast and new “Everyday Magic” videos, too (as well as most of our contest announcements)! Have something you want to say? Leave us a voice mail on our official NWW hotline: (442) 999-4824 (that’s 442-99-WITCH, if it helps).

Promos and Music:

Title and incidental music is “Woman Blues,” by Paul Avgerinos, and is licensed from Audio Socket.

Please consider supporting us by purchasing our promotional items in the New World Witchery Threadless shop or by joining our Patreon supporters.

If you like us AND you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you will love our new show: Myth Taken: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Podcast, now available through all the podcatchers!

Please think about checking out our Audible Trial program. Visit Audibletrial.com/newworldwitchery to get your free trial of Audible, where you can download over 180,000 titles (including some narrated by Cory). Your purchases help support this show, and there’s no obligation to continue after the free trial

Blog Post 235 – New World Witchery Cartulary No. 7

Photo collage of person writing and text saying Cartulary Number Seven: Readings, Writings, and Passing Fancies

It’s been a loooooong time since I did one of these (like seven years!). Partly that’s because a lot of our social media now fills the purpose that these cartulary posts used to, and partly it’s because I usually wind up trying to write more in-depth examinations of folk magic for the website that are finished and complete, so these peek-behind-the-curtain posts slip my mind. Oops, my bad, and sorry in that order!

For those who haven’t run into these before, a cartulary is essentially a scroll of information where new material gets added by attaching it to the bottom of existing scrolls, functioning as a sort of hodgepodge of ideas that get rolled up together because they don’t belong anywhere else. Given that the dominant reading mode for the internet is scrolling, I use these posts as a sort glimpse into my working notes on current witchcraft research, as well as showing you some things that may be of interest to you as well (since you’re here, you probably like at least some of the same witchy things I do, right?).

A lot of what’s here is piecemeal and incomplete, or at least a bit rough and unfinished, and some of it may not have to deal with witchery directly but will give you a sense of what’s going on behind the scenes between episodes/posts/books/etc. And you may discover something new that you love, too!

Cover image for The Book of Briars by CJ Bernstein

Let’s start with what I’m reading, which is always “everything,” I suppose. More specifically, though, I’ve got a slew of witchy books in my “just-read,” “now-reading,” and “soon-my-preciouses” piles. I was gifted a book from the Ackerly Green publishing house called The Book of Briars by my friend Heather, and I’ve been exploring the tangled world created by author C.J. Bernstein (essentially the engine behind the press) through the book The Monarch Papers: Flora & Fauna as well. This whole press and the world it’s creating are INSANE and delightful. It’s a fusion of fairy tales, lost magic, Mandela effect, murder mystery, and more. There are elements of Neil Gaiman, John Bellairs, Margaret Atwood, Charles de Lindt, and Diana Wynne Jones in these pages, and what’s even more wild is that you, the reader, can directly interact with the world as it is being written, helping to shape the story that already exists and the books yet to come.

Cover of graphic novel The Night Marchers from the Cautionary Fairy Tales & Fables series

I’ve also been working through some folklore collections that I’ve loved a lot lately. I picked up a really interesting collection called Myths of Magical Native American Women by Teresa Pijoan, who worked with tribes like the Lakota, Hopi, Cheyenne, and Creek to retain some of the tales that were potentially about to be lost with the passing of elders. Most notable are the “Salt Woman” stories, which can be very hard to find and which tell of the tragic-but-generous figure of the Salt Woman in several tribal mythologies who brought the gift of salt to the people. I also received a wonderful signed copy of the Tel que Dit stories done by podcast guest Erik Lacharity, which recounts a number of magical tales and legends from French Canadian history and lore. Many read like fairy tales, and there’s a wonderful series of stories about the folk hero/clever trickster Ti-Jean as well. For my birthday in June, I was incredibly happy to finally receive a copy of the Greenwood Handbook on The Pied Piper, which is one of my all-time favorite fairy tales/legends (it has some very strange elements of historical fact within it). It was edited by my folklore colleague Wolfgang Mieder, and goes through dozens of variants, sequels, artistic representations, and the historical context of the story as well. Finally, my kids turned me onto a whole series of graphic novels that are collections of world folklore, called the Cautionary Fables & Fairy Tales books. They feature collections like The Night Marchers (Oceanian lore), The Nixie of the Mill-pond (European lore), The Girl Who Married a Skull (African lore), and The Tamamo Fox Maiden (Asian lore). They are SO GOOD, and each volume features a variety of storytellers and artists to keep things varied and interesting. Great for both adults and kids ages 8+ (some stories are a little spicy or scary).

Cover for Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake

I also should mention that I’ve been on a bit of a mushroom kick lately, too. I’m enthusiastically listening to the audiobook for Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangled Life, which explores in depth how fungi are inextricably interwoven with every aspect of life on earth. It’s a science book, but it reads like a travelogue, a meditation, and an adventure tale at times, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I…I think I might be bordering on obsessed with mushrooms and fungi, and actively looking to join a lichen cult if possible. In that same vein, I recently watched the Netflix documentary called Fantastic Fungi, which does a nice job giving a mile-high overview of some of the same things Sheldrake explores in much more depth.

Cover of The Dabbler’s Guide to Witchcraft by Fire Lyte

On to the world of witchy books, of which there are so many in my life right now, I have to say I’m delighted at how many people I consider friends or colleagues are putting out good work at the moment. I’ve read and recommended Fire Lyte’s forthcoming book, The Dabbler’s Guide to Witchcraft, which essentially takes his skeptical, critical eye and looks at witchcraft in a way that can help a newcomer to separate the useful bits from the bunkum claims and absolute dreck that sometimes winds up in intro-to-the-craft type books. In a similarly scientific vein, I am absolutely in love with J.D. Walker’s book A Witch’s Guide to Wildcraft, which walks the reader through exploring their local flora both as a witch and a gardener (she’s a Master Gardener and spent thirty years running her own landscaping business, so she knows what she’s talking about).

Cover of Anatomy of a Witch by Laura Tempest Zakroff

On the more esoteric side of things, I also really loved Star Child, by Bri Saussy, which demystifies some of the complicated elements of astrology by also looking at what a parent might be able to glean from looking at the astrological placements of their child. There’s also Anatomy of a Witch, by Laura Tempest Zakroff, which dives into the sort of visceral experience of witchcraft by looking at it through the lens of a person’s body, breath, and movement (Zakroff is also a long-time professional dancer, so those elements are very important to her and it shows!). 

I have to say that I wish I’d discovered Moon Dust Press long ago when my own kids were little. They didn’t exist then, but if they had my kids would have been getting lots of witchy, magical kids’ books like Sunday the Sea Witch and Brina: A Pagan Picture Book.

Cover of City Witchery by Lisa Marie Basile

In terms of books in my “I shall devour you soon” pile, I’m really excited about a couple of new releases I hope to get my hands on in the next month or so. Thorn Mooney has just released her latest book, The Witch’s Path, and it aims for an audience that is a little different than most witchy books: advanced practitioners. Mooney looks at everything from group leadership to burnout, and apparently provides guidance based on individual learning styles, which I’m very excited about! I’m also hungrily eyeing Lisa Marie Basile’s latest book, City Witchery. I loved her Light Magic for Dark Times so much, and this one is tackling urban witchcraft, which I don’t see done nearly enough. I’ve got them both on pre-order so….soooooooon.

Our latest live cartomancy session!

I’ll close up with a couple of other witchy bobbins that I think are worth spinning. Firstly, for those who haven’t been watching our live cartomancy sessions, you’re missing out! They’re a load of fun! And we’ve discovered the wickedly honest power of the Mildred Payne’s Oracle of Black Enchantment from Deviant Moon. These cards are designed to look like woodcuts taken from a nightmarish and gleeful history of witchcraft, and they do NOT play around (well, they DO play around, but in the same way a cat plays with a bird it’s just caught)! We’ve gotten some of our most honest readings from them!

I also have been falling back in love with witchy podcasts, because there have been a whole spate of amazing new ones to come out this year. I can’t get enough of Invoking Witchcraft, featuring Britton and J. Allen, who remind me a lot of Laine and me because they are exploring folk magic through ongoing conversations and interviews. I was a guest on there a while back, but I’ve been totally hooked on them for months as they cover things like shoe magic, magical bathing, and whether or not to join a coven. I also ADORE the Southern Bramble podcast, which brings traditional folk witchcraft out through a queer perspective while also digging deep into its southern roots (and getting dirty and dangerous in the process). Austin and Marshall are just so engaging, funny, and also wicked that I can’t help but be drawn in! And finally, I’ve fallen for the Jewitches podcast, exploring Jewish folk magic and witchcraft with host Zo. This is a podcast that is built upon research and cultural investigation, and it deals with topics both delightful and very, very heart-breaking. Zo explores the overlap between Jewish persecutions and the early witch trials in Europe, the myth of the dybbuk box, and the horrific Blood Libel legend (which is still in circulation today). It’s really thought-provoking and also highly informative!

So those are the things that are currently getting free rent in my brain, and that are likely to influence some of the research and show-planning I do over the next few months. You’ll probably see some of these authors show up as guests on the show, or hear me talk about topics involving new veins of folk magic or curiosity that these little rabbit trails open up (who knows, maybe I’ll even have something to tell you about fungi and folk magic someday!).

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Be well,

-Cory

Episode 195 – Local Flora in Our Witchcraft

We wander out into our respective yards to look at a number of the local plants that influence (and end up in) our magical practices!

Summary:
We wander out into our respective yards to look at a number of the local plants that influence (and end up in) our magical practices!
Please check out our Patreon page! You can help support the show for as little as a dollar a month, and get some awesome rewards at the same time. Even if you can’t give, spread the word and let others know, and maybe we can make New World Witchery even better than it is now.
Producer for this show:
 AthenaBeth, who makes delightfully witchy YouTube videos on topics ranging from practicing as a witchy parent to making witchy shopping trips to the craft store. Big thanks to everyone supporting us!
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We both turn to a few different books that are incredibly useful to us when digging into folk magic and plants:

You may also be interested in a few of our botanical posts as well:

You can now buy Cory’s book, New World Witchery: A Trove of North American Folk Magic! (also available from Amazon)

Image via Canva (Used under Distribution License)

If you have feedback you’d like to share, email us at compassandkey@gmail.com or newworldwitcherypodcast@gmail.com or leave a comment at the website: www.newworldwitchery.com . We’d love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to follow us at Twitter! And check out our Facebook page! For those who are interested, we are also on TikTok now. You can follow us on Instagram (main account, or you can follow Laine as well) or check out our new YouTube channel with back episodes of the podcast and new “Everyday Magic” videos, too (as well as most of our contest announcements)! Have something you want to say? Leave us a voice mail on our official NWW hotline: (442) 999-4824 (that’s 442-99-WITCH, if it helps).

Promos and Music:

Title music is “Woman Blues,” by Paul Avgerinos, and is licensed from Audio Socket.

Please consider supporting us by purchasing our promotional items in the New World Witchery Threadless shop or by joining our Patreon supporters.

If you like us AND you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you will love our new show: Myth Taken: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Podcast, now available through all the podcatchers!

Please think about checking out our Audible Trial program. Visit Audibletrial.com/newworldwitchery to get your free trial of Audible, where you can download over 180,000 titles (including some narrated by Cory). Your purchases help support this show, and there’s no obligation to continue after the free trial

Episode 194 – Hechiceria with Daphne la Hechicera

Summary:
We sit down with Daphne la Hechicera to talk about the many pathways of Mexican and Mexican American folk magic, the multiplicity of influences that have shaped those paths, and what they look like today (especially in the online era).
Please check out our Patreon page! You can help support the show for as little as a dollar a month, and get some awesome rewards at the same time. Even if you can’t give, spread the word and let others know, and maybe we can make New World Witchery even better than it is now.
Producers for this show:
Abby, Achija Branvin Sionach, AromaG’s Botanica, AthenaBeth, Andrea, Bagga Marsh, Benjamin, Breanna, Carol, Carole, Catherine, Christopher, ConjuredCardea, Daniel, Dave, Don, Donna, Erin, Eveline, Griffin, Heather, Jen Rue of Rue & Hyssop, Jess, Jodi, John, Jonathan at the ModernSouthernPolytheist, Kristopher, Matthew Venus, Minimiel, Montine of Book of My Shadows, , Nikki, Payton, Sara, Scarlet Pirate, Staci, Stephanie, Ralph from the Holle’s Haven Podcast, Vee, Violet, and WisdomQueen (if we missed you this episode, we’ll make sure you’re in the next one!). Big thanks to everyone supporting us!
Image of cover art for Episode 194 - Hechiceria with Daphne La Hechicera
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The best place to find Daphne is on her Instagram page, where she shares all sorts of amazing information on her practice.

If you’re interested in learning more about Mexican American folk magic, check out our interviews with Cheo Torres, David Bowles, and J. Allen Cross. You may also be interested in reading some of these books, too:

You can now buy Cory’s book, New World Witchery: A Trove of North American Folk Magic! (also available from Amazon)

Image via Daphne la Hechicera (copyright belongs to author)

If you have feedback you’d like to share, email us at compassandkey@gmail.com or newworldwitcherypodcast@gmail.com or leave a comment at the website: www.newworldwitchery.com . We’d love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to follow us at Twitter! And check out our Facebook page! For those who are interested, we are also on TikTok now. You can follow us on Instagram (main account, or you can follow Laine as well) or check out our new YouTube channel with back episodes of the podcast and new “Everyday Magic” videos, too (as well as most of our contest announcements)! Have something you want to say? Leave us a voice mail on our official NWW hotline: (442) 999-4824 (that’s 442-99-WITCH, if it helps).

Promos and Music:

Title music is “Woman Blues,” by Paul Avgerinos, and is licensed from Audio Socket. Additional music is “Ostiones,” by Michelle and the Beards (also Audio Socket).

Please consider supporting us by purchasing our promotional items in the New World Witchery Threadless shop or by joining our Patreon supporters.

If you like us AND you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you will love our new show: Myth Taken: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Podcast, now available through all the podcatchers!

Please think about checking out our Audible Trial program. Visit Audibletrial.com/newworldwitchery to get your free trial of Audible, where you can download over 180,000 titles (including some narrated by Cory). Your purchases help support this show, and there’s no obligation to continue after the free trial

Blog Post 234 – Folk Magic on the Job

Occupational folklore and magic from jobs including athletes, merchants, sailors, sex workers, actors, and more

Or, “Occupational Folk Magic”

Recently a friend of mine (Kathleen Borealis of Borealis Meditations) shared this image on Twitter:

Screen capture saying “This is 100% @newworldwitchery Is there a study of these?” Further screen capture features two posts:
1. Sometimes people try to tell me that scientists are paragons of rationality and I have to break it to them that I have yet to work in a lab that didn’t have at least one secret shrine in it.”
2. “New guy: why is all of the equipment in this room covered in toys?
me: don’t touch those
New guy: says nothing
Me: they need the toys to function. If they don’t all have toys they get jealous.”


Even the most supposedly rational among us—scientists—are, in the end, human. That means that we are prone to seeing the world through the lens of our own beliefs and folklore even when we don’t rationally believe something. We hedge our bets, because it can’t hurt to treat the electron microscope like a finicky child or say “good morning” to the Petri dishes or explain our problems to the rubber coding duck on our workstation. We might not sincerely believe any of that has a real effect, but we do at least *do* those actions, because they mean something to us at some level.

I also recently wrote a mini piece on Instagram about the importance of recognizing who the “folk” were in the folk communities from which you dip the bucket of your magic. I talked about the communities of “kinship,” which are the ones we most often think of because they relate to family, ethnicity, and even geography to some extent. But it’s important to remember that when we share an occupation with others, that makes us a part of a folk group as well. Those folk ties are called communities of “practice,” because we all share actions and behaviors. Think here of being in school—you very likely had a LOT of folklore you shared with classmates about school legends (what was in that lunch meat, anyway?), games (such as fortune-telling folded paper “cootie catchers”), and even nicknames (whether you wanted them or not). You weren’t likely related by blood to most of your classmates, although you may have had a cousin or two, perhaps. You did share geography, so there’s a bit of kinship, but what bonded you was your status as a “student,” which also separated you from other folk groups in the school like “teachers” or even “parents.” Likewise, the “students” might subdivide into groups like “athletes” or “theatre kids” (my group). And even then, there might be “swim team” versus “cheerleaders” or “actors” versus “tech crew.”

So what do these divisions have to do with magic? Well, each folk group generally comes up with its own folk beliefs, and those folk beliefs are often the root of the practices that become magic in the group. When you have an occupation that takes up a good quarter to a third of your waking hours, those groups become incredibly important and the magic you share with those groups can be some of the most relevant magic you do.

Today, I wanted to look at a couple of occupations and their folk magic, so we can see how membership in these folk groups shapes the way the magic works.

Illustration of a baseball mitt next to a cheese sandwich

Athletes
Since I mentioned school athletes already (and we happen to be in the midst of an Olympic season), let’s begin there. One of the best academic explorations of folk magic in occupations is George Gmelch’s essay “Baseball Magic,” in which the anthropologist looks at the superstitions and rituals of various baseball players. For example, one infielder maintained a ritual of keeping a cheese sandwich in his back pocket in order to ensure his performance would remain consistent throughout a game. This might seem strange, but usually these rituals are borne from observing when a particularly remarkable streak of luck strikes and asking “what was different this time?” So when Wade Boggs noticed that he got multiple hits in his rookie season on the days he ate chicken before a game, he adopted that as a magical practice and ate chicken as often as possible before games. Objects in baseball and other sports can also be seen as animate and empowered. Honus Wagner believed, for example, that every bat only had one hundred hits (he admittedly played when wooden bats were the norm). If batting was going poorly, managers might rattle the bats in the dugout in an effort to “wake them up.” Even the hats players wear can become magical, as seen in the “rally cap” ritual where players off the field will turn their hats upside down and inside out (or “bill up”) to reverse bad luck during a game. Hats are also a central concern of rodeo riders, who won’t wear a new hat for a competition for fear of bad luck. Many also have a preferred “lucky hat” they wear only when riding competitively. Racing drivers have rules about not turning wheels in a parked car (similar to rules about not rocking an empty cradle) and not thing a picture right before a race, as either could lead to a dangerous or deadly crash. There are some sexist practices about racers’ wives not being allowed in the pit or being forbidden to wear green to a race to stave off bad luck, too, but then they also generally avoid eating peanuts in the pit for the same reason (Penrod). Some other magical beliefs in the world of athletics:

  • Most athletes won’t shave right before a game, for fear it will remove their luck
  • Batters (in baseball) and boxers will both spit in their hands to increase their strength during a game or match
  • Some athletes will wear a snakeskin around their waist to add strength or agility to their performance during a game (this is easier in the era of wearing snakeskin belts)
  • Seeing white horses or white cars before a ball game is usually good luck
  • Taking crossed game gear (such as bats or golf clubs lying crossed on the ground) leads to bad luckWearing lucky clothes is fairly common in a lot of sports, but many athletes have a pair of socks or an article of clothing that is lucky and washing it is forbidden (for fear of washing away the luck) (Brown, vol 6)
Illustration of sailor’s compass next to a gold coin

Sailors and Fishers
I’ve covered a lot of maritime beliefs and superstitions, as well as some of the magical rituals associated with life on the sea, in other posts and podcast episodes. But there is never a shortage of folk magic in this field, largely because being out on the open ocean is a very risky occupation, and as both Gmelch and his predecessor anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski have noted, superstition and magic are often proportional to the risk associated with any particular task. Some of the lore associated with working the sea:

  • It’s bad luck for a new ship or a freshly painted one to scratch its paint along the dock
  • Many people know the phrase “rats leave a sinking ship,” so sailors would often pay attention to the behavior of rodents on board for signs and omens of what was coming
  • Whistling on a ship was bad luck, especially because a sailor could accidentally whistle up a gale-force wind
  • The albatross is a well-known omen on boats and should be treated with respect (think only of the woes that befall the titular character in Coolridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”), but it’s also considered very bad luck to kill a dolphin or porpoise, because they were thought to be hosts to the souls of lost sailors.
  • If a bird lands on your boat while you’re on a fishing run, you should return to shore and try again another day (Mullen)
  • Fishing trips should never start on a Friday or they will come to a bad end (either a poor catch or worse)
  • Both Catholic and Protestant fishers may carry a medal or token of St. Andrew to ensure a good catch
  • It is thought that fishing between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. is unlucky, because that is the ‘fishes’ time’ (Shearer)
  • Coins are often installed at various spots throughout the boat to bring good luck. For example, a silver dollar or fifty-cent piece is frequently placed under the main mast for this purpose
  • Two rather strange taboos are found among Texas fishers: carrying a black suitcase onboard and saying the word “alligator,” both of which are thought to bring extraordinary bad luck (I bet Captain Hook at least would agree with the latter custom)
Illustration of a Resurrection Plant (Rose of Jericho)

Merchants & Retail Workers
While retail and merchandise sales is a fairly broad category, it’s also one that has a good bit of superstition, folk magic, and ritual associated with it. Many people have gone into a business to find a framed piece of currency somewhere behind the cash register or along the entry wall, the “first dollar” made by the business. It is honored and never spent, so as to prevent the business from going under at some point in the future. There are lots of other folk beliefs and workings that have to do with increasing business and staving off bad luck (or bad customers):

  • Anything done to grow a business during the waxing moon is more likely to come to fruition, according to Ozark belief (Weston)
  • Making the first sale of the day was vital. Jewish merchants held the belief that the first customer of the day must be sold, even if at a loss or something insignificant, so as to provide good sales the rest of the day.
  • Business deals should not be done on Friday or they will come to a bad end, and working on Sunday is also bad luck (if you’ve worked retail or service industry, you already know this is true given how many people seem to come straight from church to undertip or demand special treatment from cashiers)
  • Sweeping dirt out the back door of a business is sweeping away all of its luck (Penrod). Similarly sweeping after dark was considered unlucky for business (Brown vol. 6)
  • Money stolen from a business could carry a curse, especially if the business owner was honest. One story from Zora Neale Hurston’s fieldwork reports of a woman who ran a little cigar shop so honestly she usually just left the money out on the counter. A sailor came in and stole the money, then returned to his ship. She rowed out in a dinghy to warn the captain and the sailor that if the money wasn’t returned it would do the thief great harm. They couldn’t find where he’d stashed it so they sent her away, but the sailor failed to show up for his next watch. They found him dead in his cabin, the money clenched in his hand. The captain, of course, immediately sent the money back to the woman as quickly as possible
  • If a man’s beard is of a different color than his hair, the shopkeep should expect shady dealing
  • If someone rattles money in their pocket while shopping or haggling, they aren’t to be trusted either (both of these last two are Ozark beliefs)
  • Sprinkling alfalfa and Irish moss in the corners of the shop is thought to bring in business. Similarly, keeping a Rose of Jericho behind the cash register counter and sprinkling the water over the doorstep of the business is thought to spur more customers to come in and spend
  • Zora Neale Hurston notes that a mixture of water, honey, and Japanese Fast Luck powder could be sprinkled at the entrance to the business in the morning or at midnight to draw large crowds of customers
  • Putting a golden coin (like a golden dollar) somewhere where the sun can shine on it is thought to bring more money your way; silver money shown to the moon will do the same
Illustration of a lipstick tube and a wrapped condom

Sex Workers
If risk and reward breed magic, it’s not surprising that sex work has a number of enchantment rituals within it. Those can range from ways to attract customers and clients to ways to protect oneself in dangerous situations or retain the money earned. Some things, like wearing red clothes or keeping red lights or lanterns on a front porch, are fairly well-known because they are thought to inspire lustful feelings and also to identify potential sex workers to interested clients. Other magical lore associated with sex work:

  • A sex worker should tear the corners of any cash money received, both to avoid any unwanted bad luck and as a way to magically stave off pregancy (NOTE: this is NOT scientifically sound birth control, but a folkloric tidbit…please listen to medical advice about preventing pregnancy and STIs first and foremost)
  • One recipe found in Hurston’s notes says a mixture of lavender, geranium, and Van Van (a spicy sweet blend involving lemongrass and ginger or galangal) could be sprinkled in the house or bed where sex work was to take place to help generate more clients
  • The evergreen boldo leaf can be sprinkled around the space where sex work is performed in order to prevent harm coming to those within; similarly carrying a buckeye was thought to stave off STIs as well (but again, this is NOT medical advice)
  • Carrying a Jezebel Root (a variety of iris), especially one dressed with sexual fluids, allows a sex worker to draw in the type of clients they like best and keep them docile and satisfied
  • Burning a shoe sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar would help draw customers to a house of sex workers (yronwode)
Illustration for drama and comedy masks

Actors
Perhaps one of the most superstitious professions is the world of the stage and screen. Plenty of people know about various taboos behind the footlights, such as avoiding the name of a certain Shakespearean “Scottish play” while in the actual theatre or avoiding the phrase “good luck!” in favor of the more dismal “break a leg!” Plenty of other acting-based folk practices might fall under the heading of “magic” as well:

  • Not only the “Scottish play” brings misfortune. Unless you’re actually performing Shakespeare, even quoting the Bard can bring bad luck in a theatre!
  • Like race car drivers, actors shouldn’t eat peanuts backstage (although there are probably sanitary reasons for this, plus if you’ve ever had a salty peanut stuck in your throat you can probably imagine how difficult a soliloquy might be)
  • There are lots of clothing-based taboos: ostrich feathers on a costume are bad luck, as are leaving your shoes or hat on a bed or dressing table
  • Spitting on your makeup brushes before using them ensures good performances and audiences
  • There’s a ritual of lighting a candle in the dressing rooms just before going onstage and leaving it burning during the opening night performance (obviously dangerous, but if you’ve got an awesome stage manager who can spare a tech to keep things safe, it might work out)
  • Those who are so inclined might carry a medal or card for St. Genesius for luck and blessing during the run of a play

There are no shortage of job-related spells, beliefs, charms, and lore, of course. Some additional occupational magical beliefs:

  • Electricians will carry marjoram and feverfew as a way to deflect potential electrocution (yronwode p. 132).
  • Nurses and public safety service workers often swear that full moons bring out the wildest, strangest, and most intense cases (or at least the largest quantity of ER or imperiled people each month)
  • Coal miners will burn the hat of someone who has recently become a new parent to provide protection and blessing to their family; there are also sexist beliefs similar to those found at race tracks about keeping women away from the mines/workplace
  • Pilots—like racers—won’t take photos right before a flight, and they usually avoid allowing their spouse or significant other watch them take off to prevent any accidents or crashes
  • Seamstresses and tailors won’t do repairs on their own clothes, especially not while they are wearing them, for fear of bringing bad luck (even death)
  • Cooks and chefs won’t keep parsley growing indoors because it can invite death into the kitchen or restaurant
Illustraon of a bag of popcorni

There are probably hundreds of bits of folk magic applicable to every job or occupation you could imagine. I recall working at a movie theater and having beliefs about playing movies to empty theaters inviting spirits to be there, for example (so we’d often let someone clock out and watch at least part of a movie if they wanted to so we could avoid that situation). There are also things like “cursed films” that inevitably bring disaster when screened (The Exorcist and The Omen both have reputations like this, although the curses associated with them tend to focus more on the curses on those involved with making the film).

And all of this isn’t even tapping into the numerous magically-oriented occupations from fairy tales: bakers, spinners, soldiers (who we cover in one of our earlier posts), and so forth. We’ve tackled a number of those occupations in a couple of podcasts previously, but even then we could easily fill another several episodes discussing the topic.

What about your occupation? Do you have any magical lore associated with your profession or job? We’d love to hear it if you do! Feel free to share in the comments or send us an email if you’d like to share!

Whatever work you do, we hope you make it magical! Thanks so much for reading!
-Cory

REFERENCES

Brown, Frank C. Frank C. Brown Collection of the Folklore of North Carolina, Wayland Hand, ed. Vol. 6 (1961).

Gmelch, George. “Baseball Magic,” in Elysian Fields Quarterly, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 25-36 (1992).

Hurston, Zora Neale. “Hoodoo in America,” in The Journal of American Folklore, vol. 44, no. 174, pp. 317-417 (1931).

Malinowski, Bronislaw. Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922).

Mullen, Patrick B. “The Function of Magic Folk Belief among Texas Coastal Fishermen,” in The Journal of American Folklore, vol. 82, no. 325, pp. 214-25 (1969). 

Penrod, James H. “Folk Beliefs about Work, Trades, & Professions from New Mexico,” in Western Folklore, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 180-83 (1968).

Randolph, Vance. Ozark Magic & Folklore (1947).

Shearer, P. “Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore,” from Center for Penn. Studies Archives (4 June 1981).

Weston, Brandon. Ozark Folk Magic (2021).
yronwode, catherine. Hoodoo Herb & Root Magic (2002).

Episode 193 – Summer Camp Cryptids with Bones

Cory interviews Bones from the Cursed and Hex Files podcasts about working with witchcraft and the paranormal and how those pieces fit together with cryptids and other fearsome critters as well.

Summary:
Sing the songs of summer (or scream the screams of summer camp spooky stories) as you gather around the campfire for this one. Cory interviews Bones from the Cursed and Hex Files podcasts about working with witchcraft and the paranormal and how those pieces fit together with cryptids and other fearsome critters as well.
Please check out our Patreon page! You can help support the show for as little as a dollar a month, and get some awesome rewards at the same time. Even if you can’t give, spread the word and let others know, and maybe we can make New World Witchery even better than it is now.
Producers for this show:
Abby, Achija Branvin Sionach, AromaG’s Botanica, AthenaBeth, Bagga Marsh, Benjamin, Breanna, Carol, Carole, Catherine, Christopher, ConjuredCardea, Daniel, Dave, Don, Donna, Erin, Griffin, Heather, Jen Rue of Rue & Hyssop, Jess, Jodi, John, Jonathan at the ModernSouthernPolytheist, Kristopher, Matthew Venus, Minimiel, Montine of Book of My Shadows, , Nikki, Payton, Sara, Scarlet Pirate, Staci, Stephanie, Ralph from the Holle’s Haven Podcast, Violet, and WisdomQueen (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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Our guest Bones is the host of both the Hex Files and Cursed podcasts. Check them out for more spooky, supernatural fun mixed with a little witchery for good measure!

If you’re looking for some good campfire stories, Cory recommends the “Spooky” series collected by S.E. Schlosser (as well as the classic Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark  by Alvin Schwartz). He’d also recommend checking out Chasing American Monsters, by Jason Offutt, if you’re interested in cryptids, too.

You can now buy Cory’s book, New World Witchery: A Trove of North American Folk Magic! (also available from Amazon)

Image via author (CC 2.0)

If you have feedback you’d like to share, email us at compassandkey@gmail.com or newworldwitcherypodcast@gmail.com or leave a comment at the website: www.newworldwitchery.com . We’d love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to follow us at Twitter! And check out our Facebook page! For those who are interested, we are also on TikTok now. You can follow us on Instagram (main account, or you can follow Laine as well) or check out our new YouTube channel with back episodes of the podcast and new “Everyday Magic” videos, too (as well as most of our contest announcements)! Have something you want to say? Leave us a voice mail on our official NWW hotline: (442) 999-4824 (that’s 442-99-WITCH, if it helps).

Promos and Music:

Title and closing music are “Woman Blues,” by Paul Avgerinos, and is licensed from Audio Socket. Incidental music is “Brushed Bells Leaving Home,” by Daniel Birch (Free Music Archive).

Please consider supporting us by purchasing our promotional items in the New World Witchery Threadless shop or by joining our Patreon supporters.

If you like us AND you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you will love our new show: Myth Taken: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Podcast, now available through all the podcatchers!

Please think about checking out our Audible Trial program. Visit Audibletrial.com/newworldwitchery to get your free trial of Audible, where you can download over 180,000 titles (including some narrated by Cory). Your purchases help support this show, and there’s no obligation to continue after the free trial

Episode 192 – Witches Crafting with Katrina Ray-Saulis

Cory and Laine have a chat with Katrina Ray-Saulis, host of the Stitch and Witch Podcast. Various and sundry topics of conversation include the role of creativity in all forms of craft, how adversity and tenacity impact that creativity, and favorite tools for crafting both mundane and magical

Summary:
To wit, Cory and Laine have a chat with Katrina Ray-Saulis, host of the Stitch and Witch Podcast. Various and sundry topics of conversation include the role of creativity in all forms of craft, how adversity and tenacity impact that creativity, and favorite tools for crafting both mundane and magical.
Please check out our Patreon page! You can help support the show for as little as a dollar a month, and get some awesome rewards at the same time. Even if you can’t give, spread the word and let others know, and maybe we can make New World Witchery even better than it is now.
Producers for this show:
Abby, Achija Branvin Sionach, AromaG’s Botanica, AthenaBeth, Bagga Marsh, Benjamin, Breanna, Carol, Carole, Catherine, Christopher, ConjuredCardea, Daniel, Dave, Don, Donna, Erin, Griffin, Heather, Jen Rue of Rue & Hyssop, Jess, Jodi, John, Jonathan at the ModernSouthernPolytheist, Kristopher, Matthew Venus, Minimiel, Montine of Book of My Shadows, , Nikki, Payton, Sara, Scarlet Pirate, Staci, Stephanie, Ralph from the Holle’s Haven Podcast, Violet, and WisdomQueen (if we missed you this episode, we’ll make sure you’re in the next one!). Big thanks to everyone supporting us!
Photo of yarn with title of episode: Episode 192 Witches Crafting with Katrina Ray-Saulis
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Our guest Katrina Ray-Saulis is the host of the Stitch and Witch Podcast, and you can find out about that show and much more of her work through her website.

Some of the resources mentioned in this episode include the book Sew Witchy by Raechel Henderson and The Artist’s Way by  Julia Cameron. Katrina also mentions the Ted Talk “Master Procrastinator,” by Tim Urban.

You can now buy Cory’s book, New World Witchery: A Trove of North American Folk Magic! (also available from Amazon)

Image via Author (CC 2.0)

If you have feedback you’d like to share, email us at compassandkey@gmail.com or newworldwitcherypodcast@gmail.com or leave a comment at the website: www.newworldwitchery.com . We’d love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to follow us at Twitter! And check out our Facebook page! For those who are interested, we are also on TikTok now. You can follow us on Instagram (main account, or you can follow Laine as well) or check out our new YouTube channel with back episodes of the podcast and new “Everyday Magic” videos, too (as well as most of our contest announcements)! Have something you want to say? Leave us a voice mail on our official NWW hotline: (442) 999-4824 (that’s 442-99-WITCH, if it helps).

Promos and Music:

Title and closing music are “Woman Blues,” by Paul Avgerinos, and is licensed from Audio Socket. Incidental music is “Brushed Bells Leaving Home,” by Daniel Birch (Free Music Archive).

Please consider supporting us by purchasing our promotional items in the New World Witchery Threadless shop or by joining our Patreon supporters.

If you like us AND you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you will love our new show: Myth Taken: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Podcast, now available through all the podcatchers!

Please think about checking out our Audible Trial program. Visit Audibletrial.com/newworldwitchery to get your free trial of Audible, where you can download over 180,000 titles (including some narrated by Cory). Your purchases help support this show, and there’s no obligation to continue after the free trial

Blog Post 233 – Getting into Folk Magic (Videos)

The videos I’ll be sharing here are focused on getting started with folklore and folk magic research. I’m actually going to present them slightly out of order from how I posted them over on YouTube because I think they’ll make more sense in this order. The main idea here is that these videos will let you start pursuing your own line of research into folk magic and finding all sorts of great books like Hubert Davis’s The Silver Bullet and Aaron Oberon’s Southern Cunning, among so many others!

Greetings all!

A number of you probably know this already, but we’ve got a YouTube channel for New World Witchery. I had intended to make sure I was posting here every time I released a new video there, but I’ve actually been so active with the videos I have sort of let them slide here.

But fear not! Because most of the more recent videos have been themed on the same topic, and so I can share them with you here in sort of a cartulary fashion (for those who don’t remember us doing the cartulary posts, they are essentially collections of interesting ephemera and notes from my readings and research…we really need to bring those back!).

The videos I’ll be sharing here are focused on getting started with folklore and folk magic research. I’m actually going to present them slightly out of order from how I posted them over on YouTube because I think they’ll make more sense in this order. The main idea here is that these videos will let you start pursuing your own line of research into folk magic and finding all sorts of great books like Hubert Davis’s The Silver Bullet and Aaron Oberon’s Southern Cunning, among so many others!

The first video I’m sharing is a general orientation into folklore studies. It will give you a high-level overview of what the field is, some guiding principles and definitions, and then go into what magic is as related to folklore a bit as well:

Next, I’m going to point you away from the theory and heady stuff a bit and let you see some of the books I’d consider “101” or beginner books for those interested in both studying and practicing folk magic (and please note, these are all just my opinions):

And next I’m going to point you to the latest video, which looks at some books that cover folk magic in North America from a historical and regional perspective (note: these do look primarily at the post-Colonial history of folk magic here, as Indigenous Peoples’ magic is a much bigger subject that I’m not qualified to write extensively on).

And finally, since we’re talking about books and all that, I’ll throw in a video promo I did for my own book, New World Witchery (because shameless self promotion is really sexy, right?).

There are going to be a lot more videos coming in the future, including more on books and folk magic research, as well as practical topics such as those from our “Everyday Magic” series. If you’re interested in this sort of stuff, please feel free to subscribe to the channel! And if you really enjoy it, comments and shares are definitely welcome!

Thank you so much for reading (and watching)!
Be well!
-Cory

Episode 191 – So Much Divination

Laine and Cory sit down to chat about ogham, familiars, and tarot for the Green Witchcraft bookclub, then discuss divination methods they have known and loved.

Summary:
Wherein Laine and Cory sit down to chat about ogham, familiars, and tarot for the Green Witchcraft bookclub, then discuss divination methods they have known and loved. They pull some cards for the month, and answer a listener email about indicator cards, as well.
Please check out our Patreon page! You can help support the show for as little as a dollar a month, and get some awesome rewards at the same time. Even if you can’t give, spread the word and let others know, and maybe we can make New World Witchery even better than it is now.
Producers for this show:
Abby, Achija Branvin Sionach, AromaG’s Botanica, AthenaBeth, Bagga Marsh, Benjamin, Breanna, Carol, Carole, Catherine, Christopher, ConjuredCardea, Daniel, Dave, Don, Donna, Erin, Griffin, Heather, Jen Rue of Rue & Hyssop, Jess, Jodi, John, Jonathan at the ModernSouthernPolytheist, Kristopher, Matthew Venus, Minimiel, Montine of Book of My Shadows, , Nikki, Payton, Sara, Scarlet Pirate, Staci, Stephanie, Ralph from the Holle’s Haven Podcast, Violet, and WisdomQueen (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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We have covered divination in a few previous posts that might be worth revisiting:

Cory also has a book on playing card divination called 54 Devils that you might be interested in if you’re thinking about working with that system. He also mentions the book It’s All in the Cards, by Chita St. Lawrence (out of print but still available second-hand).

If you want to know more about geomancy, there’s a great video featuring Dr. Al Cummins that discusses geomancy as a divination system and its connection to magical ecology on YouTube.

You can now also buy Cory’s book, New World Witchery: A Trove of North American Folk Magic! (also available from Amazon)

Image via Author (CC 2.0)

If you have feedback you’d like to share, email us at compassandkey@gmail.com or newworldwitcherypodcast@gmail.com or leave a comment at the website: www.newworldwitchery.com . We’d love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to follow us at Twitter! And check out our Facebook page! For those who are interested, we are also on TikTok now. You can follow us on Instagram (main account, or you can follow Laine as well) or check out our new YouTube channel with back episodes of the podcast and new “Everyday Magic” videos, too (as well as most of our contest announcements)! Have something you want to say? Leave us a voice mail on our official NWW hotline: (442) 999-4824 (that’s 442-99-WITCH, if it helps).

Promos and Music:

Title and closing music are “Woman Blues,” by Paul Avgerinos, and is licensed from Audio Socket.

Please consider supporting us by purchasing our promotional items in the New World Witchery Threadless shop or by joining our Patreon supporters.

If you like us AND you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you will love our new show: Myth Taken: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Podcast, now available through all the podcatchers!

Please think about checking out our Audible Trial program. Visit Audibletrial.com/newworldwitchery to get your free trial of Audible, where you can download over 180,000 titles (including some narrated by Cory). Your purchases help support this show, and there’s no obligation to continue after the free trial

Episode 190 – American Brujeria with J Allen Cross

We sit down to chat with J. Allen Cross, author of the new book American Brujeria. We discuss the evolution of Mexican American magical practices, his own background in folk magic, and the issues of working with traditions outside of your own.

Summary:
In this episode we sit down to chat with J. Allen Cross, author of the new book American Brujeria. We discuss the evolution of Mexican American magical practices, his own background in folk magic, and the issues of working with traditions outside of your own.
Please check out our Patreon page! You can help support the show for as little as a dollar a month, and get some awesome rewards at the same time. Even if you can’t give, spread the word and let others know, and maybe we can make New World Witchery even better than it is now.
Producers for this show:
Abby, Achija Branvin Sionach, AromaG’s Botanica, AthenaBeth, Bagga Marsh, Benjamin, Breanna, Carol, Carole, Catherine, Christopher, ConjuredCardea, Daniel, Dave, Don, Donna, Erin, Griffin, Heather, Jen Rue of Rue & Hyssop, Jess, Jodi, John, Jonathan at the ModernSouthernPolytheist, Kristopher, Matthew Venus, Minimiel, Montine of Book of My Shadows, , Nikki, Payton, Sara, Scarlet Pirate, Staci, Stephanie, Ralph from the Holle’s Haven Podcast, Violet, and WisdomQueen (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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We of course recommend J. Allen Cross’s book, American Brujeria. You can also find him on Instagram and listen to his new podcast with Britton Boyd called Invoking Witchcraft.

Another book worth mentioning on the topic of brujeria is Magia Magia by Alexis Arredondo and Eric Labrado.

You can now also buy Cory’s book, New World Witchery: A Trove of North American Folk Magic! (also available from Amazon)

Image via Weiser Books (promotional). (Edited by site author)

If you have feedback you’d like to share, email us at compassandkey@gmail.com or newworldwitcherypodcast@gmail.com or leave a comment at the website: www.newworldwitchery.com . We’d love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to follow us at Twitter! And check out our Facebook page! For those who are interested, we are also on TikTok now. You can follow us on Instagram (main account, or you can follow Laine as well) or check out our new YouTube channel with back episodes of the podcast and new “Everyday Magic” videos, too (as well as most of our contest announcements)! Have something you want to say? Leave us a voice mail on our official NWW hotline: (442) 999-4824 (that’s 442-99-WITCH, if it helps).

Promos and Music:

Title and closing music are “Woman Blues,” by Paul Avgerinos, and is licensed from Audio Socket.

Please consider supporting us by purchasing our promotional items in the New World Witchery Threadless shop or by joining our Patreon supporters.

If you like us AND you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you will love our new show: Myth Taken: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Podcast, now available through all the podcatchers!

Please think about checking out our Audible Trial program. Visit Audibletrial.com/newworldwitchery to get your free trial of Audible, where you can download over 180,000 titles (including some narrated by Cory). Your purchases help support this show, and there’s no obligation to continue after the free trial