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 182 – Intersections in Magic with Chaweon Koo

Summary:
If you’re looking for a wide-ranging conversation on the topic of magic, Chaweon Koo is the person to go to! In this episode, we discuss atheist occultism, Korean shamanism, spiritual bypassing, Eminem, Dolly Parton, the “invisible hand” of esoteric power, keeping a skeptical outlook, ancestors, glamour, and just for fun, Tinder matches gone wrong.
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: Heather, WisdomQueen, Donna, 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, Stephanie, Kat, Breanna, Staci, Montine, Vic from the Distelfink Sippschaft of Urglaawe, Moma Sarah at ConjuredCardea, Jody, AthenaBeth, Bo, Scarlet Pirate, Tim, Bill, Leslie, Sherry, Jenna, Jess, John T., Laura, Abbi, Nicole, AromaG’s Botanica, & 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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We highly recommend checking out Chaweon’s excellent YouTube channel, “Witches & Wine.” She’s also very active on TikTok as well.

We bring up books by Jason Miller, Phil Hine, and Mallorie Vaudoise in this episode, too.

We’ll be doing Ann Moura’s Green Witchcraft II for this year’s book club. You can get an exclusive discount at Llewellyn’s site on that or any of her Green Witchcraft books by using the code “GREENWITCH20” at checkout.

We answer a listener email from “A” this time, so thank you A for writing in!

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

Image via Chaweon Koo (2020).

If you have feedback you’d like to share, email us or leave a comment. 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 also now have a page on Pinterest you might like, called “The Olde Broom.” You can follow us on Instagram 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 by HexQ, licensed from artist.

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 181 – Plans and Prognostications

Summary:
We open our new year with a look back at 2020’s impact on our magical practices, some final thoughts on last year’s book club (as well as a bit about this year’s club), a discussion of planning for witchery, and some new bits involving cartomancy and listener feedback.
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: Heather, WisdomQueen, 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, Stephanie, Kat, Breanna, Staci, Montine, Vic from the Distelfink Sippschaft of Urglaawe, Moma Sarah at ConjuredCardea, Jody, AthenaBeth, Bo, Scarlet Pirate, Tim, Bill, Leslie, Sherry, Jenna, Jess, Laura, Abbi, Nicole, AromaG’s Botanica, & 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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We take a final look back at the book club, which you can trace by starting with the post introducing it.

Then if you want you can also catch up with some of these posts:

You can also buy the books we discuss: Earth Power and Earth, Air, Fire, & Water.

We’ll be doing Ann Moura’s Green Witchcraft II for this year’s club. You can get an exclusive discount at Llewellyn’s site on that or any of her Green Witchcraft books by using the code “GREENWITCH20” at checkout.

We answer a listener email from “A” this time, so thank you A for writing in!

We also do some card readings as a part of our show, including using the Five Cent Tarot, the classic Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, and The Wicked Kingdom card deck.

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

Image via New World Witchery (CCL 2.0)

If you have feedback you’d like to share, email us or leave a comment. 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 also now have a page on Pinterest you might like, called “The Olde Broom.” You can follow us on Instagram 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

Blog Post 228 – Book Club Discussion #4

Book Cover for Earth Power by Scott Cunningham
The madness continues (both the madness of the world in general and our own strange little plot to keep revisiting Scott Cunningham’s two “Natural Magic” books, Earth Power and Earth, Air, Fire, & Water). We’ve fallen a teensy bit behind on discussing the books on the show (just by a month or so), but we’re also a bit behind on catching up with the blog posts that let everyone participate in the discussion. Back in Book Club Discussion #3, we combined our questions and comments on two sections: Air and Earth. This time we’re doing the same for questions on the sections for Fire and Water (which balances quite nicely).
Some of the questions we wound up asking of ourselves and our Patreon supporters are below, and we’d highly welcome any feedback or responses (civil, please please please!) in the comments.
Book Cover for Earth Air Fire and Water by Scott Cunningham
Fire
  1. What form of fire magic do you practice most often? Is it candle magic? Do you use fire as a “cleansing” force in ritual, or does it serve more of an “animating” role in your spellwork?
  2. Where do you think incense falls in the big picture of spells? Is it just Air? Is it also Fire? Do all spell elements inherently draw upon multiple elemental energies?
  3. Have you ever done a purification spell like the one Cunningham mentions (the ritual burning)? Did it work for you? (Feel free to share juicy details of burning an ex-boyfriend’s stuff if you like!)
  4. Do you ever do any fire-based divination practices (like scrying)? Have you tried his “fire writing” method with bark or paper?
  5. Cunningham warns about the potential destructive forces of Air and Fire, but is less concerned with that problem in the Earth/Water chapters. Why do you think that is? Do you work with “both sides” (or “many sides” if you prefer to be nondualistic about it) of the elements?
  6. So many myths have fire stolen from the sky, and Cunningham also connects fire magic with solar magic. Do you do this as well? Why or why not?
 
Water
  1. Cunningham warns that we should “beware the tricks of the conscious mind” when doing things like water scrying. Do you treat the conscious mind as something that works against magic, or something that has a place in the magical process?
  2. What forms of water magic do you do most often? Spiritual baths? Wishing well magic? Water gazing/scrying?
  3. Do you consider any weather magic to be within the realm of water magic? Why or why not?
  4. Have you ever heard of/used the “crossing water” folklore that supposedly puts a barrier between you and evil/ghosts?
  5. When making offerings to elemental spirits, is it more appropriate to bring something of your own or use what you find in the area? (Thinking here of Cunningham’s use of the coin to pay the tree for leaves to use in a ritual).
  6. Should you always “pay” for the natural materials you use in magic? Can you ever simply use something and assume it’s okay/a gift/expected to be used for magic?
  7. Have you ever taken a “water vow” as Cunningham describes it? What was it for/about, and did it feel like it was more potent because of water’s role in the vow?
 
We obviously get into a good bit more detail in both of our discussions (and we even have a few questions here we didn’t really cover). We would really love to hear/read your answers on some of these, though, if you’re interested in responding!
 
We’ll be back talking about things like Stone magic in the next book club discussion, and moving into the more detailed, “smaller” elements of magic. We hope you’re enjoying the chance to read along with us and that you’ll share your thoughts!
 
Thanks for reading,
-Cory

Episode 169 – How I Hexed My Summer Pandemic

Summary:
This time we ramble a bit about how we have used our time during the past few months of pandemic life, both to keep ourselves safe and sane and also to try a few new things. We talk tarot, baking, knitting, and art. Plus we discuss the elemental magic of Water in our Cunningham book club. (Also, apologies for the occasional sound glitch this time–mostly we were able to work around it but there are a few little hiccups here and there).
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: 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, Stephanie, Kat, Breanna, Staci, Montine, WickedScense, Vic from the Distelfink Sippschaft of Urglaawe, Moma Sarah at ConjuredCardea, Jody, AthenaBeth, Bo, Scarlet Pirate, Tim, Leslie, Sherry, Jenna, Jess, Laura, Abbi, Nicole, & 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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A lot of what we discuss comes down to our personal experiences, but we do mention a few magical notes as well. Cory says he’s been taking up the tarot a bit more, primarily using the Five Cent Tarot and Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom, by Rachel Pollack. He’s also been learning a good bit from watching a few folks like Benebell Wen on her YouTube channel.
He also mentions working on a lot of witchy art, much of which you can find on our promotional items in the New World Witchery Threadless shop. (There are also several examples all around our main webpage, too).
Laine discusses several of her favorite fiber arts, and also the power of the Tetris Effect.
We also have our discussion of Water Magic in the Cunningham books Earth Power and Earth, Air, Fire, & Water.  If you’re interested in participating in the book club, check out the post introducing it.
Image via Pixabay (public domain).
If you have feedback you’d like to share, email us or leave a comment. 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 also now have a page on Pinterest you might like, called “The Olde Broom.” You can follow us on Instagram 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 & Music
Title and closing music are “Woman Blues,” by Paul Avgerinos, and is licensed from Audio Socket.
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 167 – Writing Witchcraft with Victoria Raschke

Summary:
We open the pages of literary witchcraft one more time, but this time we look at magic and literature from the author’s point of view. We talk with urban supernatural mystery writer Victoria Raschke about how she weaves magic into her words, and how her magical experiences in real life influence what winds up on the page.
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: 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, Stephanie, Staci, Montine, WickedScense, Vic from the Distelfink Sippschaft of Urglaawe, Moma Sarah at ConjuredCardea, Jody, AthenaBeth, Bo, Scarlet Pirate, Tim, Leslie, Sherry, Jenna, Jess, Laura, Abbi, Nicole, & 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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We are discussing Victoria Raschke’s books in this episode, particularly her Voices of the Dead series. She reads an excerpt from Our Lady of Various Sorrows. You can also visit her publication company, 1000 Volt Press, for more information.
Image courtesy Victoria Raschke/1000 Volt Press (used with permission).
If you have feedback you’d like to share, email us or leave a comment. 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 also now have a page on Pinterest you might like, called “The Olde Broom.” You can follow us on Instagram 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 & Music
Title and closing music are “Woman Blues,” by Paul Avgerinos, and is licensed from Audio Socket. Incidental music is “NYC” from Wolfram Gruss and “In Memoriam Soproni Tendal Pal,” by Meta & Kalman Balog, licensed from Audio Socket.
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 226 – Black Magic Matters

A short list of Black-owned bookstores from which to buy some of these suggestions

Black Lives Matter. I say that first, because it is the most important component of what I write today. To all those standing up for Black lives right now, thank you. 

In our recent Patreon newsletter, which we made public, we issued our position about valuing Black lives and Black contributions to our world. One of the points we made was this:

“To us, Black Lives Matter. Frankly, we wouldn’t exist without the numerous contributions and creations of myriad Black and Brown minds throughout our history, and we have sought to highlight those figures on the show and on our site when possible, and we know we can do even better in the future, too. We must. We will. American folk magic does not exist, does not thrive and grow, without People of Color. So again we say, Black Lives Matter.”

Today, I’m going to highlight a small number of the figures from Black magical history (particularly in the U.S.) that prove that statement true. American folk magic does not exist without the contributions made by these individuals, and in many cases it has thrived and grown only because of the efforts made by People of Color. I’ll be mentioning only a small handful of what could easily be a MASSIVE list, and I’ll be sharing resources and information where you can learn more about them (as often as possible in their own voices or from non-white sources). I also showcase several contemporary Black magical figures because it is important not only to see the foundations of American folk magic as rooted in African American soil, but to see what continues to grow and thrive here. I recommend listening to them, hearing their perspectives, buying their books, or supporting them in any way you can. (Note: Where possible, all books are linked to a Bookshop.org page, and I encourage you to order these books from one of the many excellent Black-owned bookshops throughout the U.S.; Amazon links are used ONLY when the book is not available through Bookshop).

So let’s get started.

Zora Neale Hurston. Illustration by Cory Thomas Hutcheson (2020)

Zora Neale Hurston

To me, Zora Neale Hurston is the grande-dame of North American folk magic in so many ways. I know that’s a controversial opinion, but Hurston herself was no stranger to controversy. She was a key piece of the Harlem Renaissance, working on plays with the likes of Langston Hughes, while also doing advanced anthropological work at Columbia University. Hurston was prompted by her mentor, Franz Boas, to go out and document her own culture, to see it as equally valid and important, and through that she produced both fiction and non-fiction texts that are absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in folk magic. She documented Vodun and Obeah in Haiti and Jamaica, and produced a quintessential collection of stories and material on hoodoo by researching in her hometown of Eatonville, Florida, as well as other parts of the Gulf Coastal South. She was sometimes accused of being accommodating to white folks (like one of her patrons, the paternalistically racist Charlotte Osgood Mason) or of embellishing her work, but it rings with poetry and life and as Hurston herself might say, “the boiled down juice” of living. She died in relative obscurity until her literary reputation was resurrected by Black scholar Alice Walker a decade-and-a-half later.

To read: Dust Tracks on a Road (autobiography); Tell My Horse (Vodun/Obeah); Mules and Men (Hoodoo); “Hoodoo in America” (extensive folklore article); Their Eyes Were Watching God (gorgeous literature); Moses Man of the Mountain (fiction with strong magical elements).

Also see: Zora Neale Hurston official website; Zora Neale Hurston field recordings at the Library of Congress

 

Aunt Caroline Dye

She was known as the seer of Newport, Arkansas, and received visitors from hundreds of miles away. She was the subject of several blues songs, and was reputed to be able to find any lost or stolen object with her powers. When she died, it was said she had literally thousands of dollars hidden away on her property, making her one of the wealthiest women around. During the peak of her popularity and power, it was said that more Black folks knew her name than President Woodrow Wilson’s. 

To read: Statesmen, Scoundrels, & Eccentrics: A Gallery of Amazing Arkansans, by Tom Dillard (biography section); “The Hoo Doo Woman of Arkansas” (AR State Parks Dept.)

Also see: “St. Louis Blues” (blues song considered by some to be about Dye); “Hoodoo Women” (blues song about Dye)

Black Herman / Public domain photograph (via Wikimedia Commons)

Black Herman

Black Herman was both a stage magician and a practitioner of mystical and magical arts when the spotlights were off. He was born Benjamin Rucker in the late nineteenth century, but he took the name “Black Herman” to honor his teacher and partner, a stage magician named “Prince Herman,” when the latter died. Black Herman took over the show and toured it with incredible success from the time he was seventeen until his untimely death nearly thirty years later. He was best known for his legerdemain and escapist tricks in his act, including a stunt that saw him buried alive then miraculously resurrected days later (when he’d continue with his show). Herman also folded in a number of African American folk magical elements, too, including the curing of patients with “live things” in them like snakes or the expulsion of evil spirits. 

To read: Secrets of Magic, Mystery, & Legerdemain (the book he sold at his shows under his name, although it may have been ghost-written); “Black Herman” Rucker (bio article)

 

Dr. Buzzard

Stephany Robinson, known to most around St. Helena Island, South Carolina, often gets painted as a sort of villain or foil in the stories about him. He was well-known as a rootworker and conjurer in an area connected with the Gullah culture, specializing in “chewing the root,” which involved visiting a courthouse where a client was expecting a trial, sitting in the audience, and slowly chewing a “Little John” root (galangal) while spitting the juices on the floor. He would fix a judge with his gaze and in many cases get his clients off from their accusations just by showing up. He also provided medications to young Black men who were being drafted into military service that would make them fail qualifying draft tests. Eventually, his success ran him afoul of local law enforcement, particularly Jim E. McTeer, a sheriff who decided to start using rootwork on his own to combat Dr. Buzzard. The conjure war between them escalated for a few years until Buzzard’s son was killed in a car crash, devastating him. He soon after called a truce with the sheriff. I’ll admit that I often think of this more from McTeer’s perspective than Buzzard’s, but in truth Buzzard’s clients likely faced incredibly unfair circumstances and his roots and magic were invaluable to his community, while McTeer’s use of conjure was almost play-acting at times as he engaged in a form of psychological combat with the respected local root doctor.

To read: Conjure in African American Society, by Jeffrey Anderson (contains biographical info on Buzzard); Blue Roots, by Roger Pinckney (also contains biographical info on him)

See also: The Gullah Geechee Heritage Corridor (for more on the region)

 

Frank Schneider, based on a (now lost?) painting by George Catlin. / Public domain (via Wikimedia Commons)

Marie Laveau

So much is written about Marie Laveau it’s hard to separate fact and fiction, but we do know that she existed and that she was one of the most powerful Black women of her day. She’s mostly associated with New Orleans Voodoo, although she likely also incorporated elements of hoodoo at times while maintaining a strongly Catholic public presence. I won’t belabor her story here, because of all the people on this list you’re probably going to be able to find the most information about Laveau, but she’s absolutely one of the core figures in North American magical history.

To read: Voodoo Queen, by Martha Ward (bio); The Magic of Marie Laveau, by Denise Alvarado (bio); A New Orleans Voudou Priestess, by Carolyn Morrow Long (bio).

 

Mama Lola

Less well-known than Laveau, but deeply influential in the Brooklyn community where she lived (and beyond), Mama Lola was a Haitian mambo overseeing a number of rituals for the immigrant community around her and acting as a social pillar for her neighborhood. One biographer gives her full name as Marie Therese Alourdes Macena Margaux Kowalski, but everyone knew her as Mama Lola or Alourdes. While New Orleans Voodoo may have captured the imagination of many, in Brooklyn Alourdes/Lola kept the living spirit (and spirits) of her tradition going. She acted as a spiritual and social counselor for those around her, as well as providing childcare for her daughter and helping to financially support members of her community. She would meet with clients almost daily, stage elaborate birthday parties for the lwa spirits she honored, and offer initiation and teaching to talented students. 

To read: Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn, by Karen McCarthy Brown (bio)

 

Katrina Hazzard-Donald 

For some, Katrina Hazzard-Donald is controversial, because she insists that Hoodoo is its own traditional spiritual system, a religion that was essentially quashed during the late nineteenth century and which has only been revived as a commercial enterprise in the intervening years. Hazard-Donald’s scholarship on the subject, built on her years as a professor of sociology, anthropology, and criminal justice at Rutgers University, is frequently compelling and points out that the specific rituals of Hoodoo as a religious phenomenon include things that derived from or mirrored existing African spirituality. She points to things like ritual dancing, water immersion, and divination as reflective of the African roots of the tradition. Her work shows that once the religion left its home soil in particular regional zones, it became nationalized and easily coopted and marketed by outsiders, including white and Jewish merchants in big cities. While I don’t always agree with every point she makes, her analysis of Hoodoo is absolutely mind-expanding and thought-provoking. Additionally, she also practices African Traditional Religion as an Ogun Olorisha in the Lukumi tradition. I had the absolute pleasure of getting to hear her speak at an academic conference a few years ago, and she is fiery, eloquent, and moving when she talks about African and African American spirituality.

To read: Mojo Workin’ (her seminal work on “Old Black Belt” Hoodoo)

 

Luisah Teish

The author of the deeply influential book Jambalaya: The Natural Women’s Book, Luisah Teish has been working with African and African American spiritual traditions for decades and connecting her knowledge of spirituality with healing for issues of both race and gender. She makes feminism a crucial part of her spiritual practice, and was advocating for self-care as a radical form of spiritual action back in 1985. She continues to act as a guide and teacher to people, particularly women, who know her as Yeye Teish. She’s an initiate (Iyanifa) and chief in the Yoruban spiritual tradition, and hosts workshops and international trips to places like Jamaica to connect with living African-derived spiritual and magical traditions.

To read: Jambalaya (her quintessential book); Carnival of the Spirit (a book of seasonal and personal rituals)

See also: Yeye Teish’s YouTube channel and her Official Website

 

Lilith Dorsey

If you haven’t heard of Lilith Dorsey, you’re doing yourself a disservice. She’s an incredibly cogent writer on the subject of a number of diasporic practices, especially Vodun, witchcraft, and Afro-Caribbean spirituality. She recently put out a magnificent-looking book on Orishas, and has written books looking at love magic and African American cooking as a form of spellcraft, too. Her blog over at Patheos is always thoughtful and points toward new sources and new ideas while also bringing in her anthropological background and rooting what she discusses in that field.To pile talent upon talent (which she has in abundance), she’s also a filmmaker, who made the documentary Bodies of Water: Voodoo Identity and Tranceformation

To read: Orishas, Goddesses, & Voodoo Queens (her most recent book); The African-American Ritual Cookbook (about food and ritual magic intersecting)

See also: Her website and her Patheos blog; Our interview with her

 

Lisa Jade

Lisa Jade is a Canadian witch with a keen eye for issues of environmentalism, social justice, and–of course–witchcraft. She’s also a Patheos blogger (like Lilith Dorsey above) who shares her insights into issues like locavore lifestyle witchcraft and the deep problems with capitalism for those who walk a crooked path. She also produced an EXCELLENT reading list of Black witchy authors a few years back including Black writers and magical workers that aren’t on this list (including people like the brilliant Khi Armand). 

To read: Her reading list, 100% for sure, because it will offer you a lot of new options to discover

See also: Her website (which also produces material for Patheos)

 

Juju Bae

The A Little Juju podcast is something I’ve only recently found, but it’s been going strong for a while now. It also has one of the best and catchiest theme songs I’ve heard on a magical podcast, and Juju Bae covers a wide range of topics that intersect with Black magical spirituality. She’s talked astrology, money magic (which she takes VERY seriously), reiki, and even why masturbation is a healthy expression of spiritual self. She offers a line of hoodoo-related oils and products as well as divinatory readings (including ancestral readings), and she teaches online courses as well.

To listen: Check out her A Little Juju podcast

See also: Her YouTube channel and her website

 

Stephanie Rose Bird

She’s a prolific author who shares her knowledge of hoodoo readily in her books, but who also writes about health and wellness as a Woman of Color and even has a debut novel in the works! She’s generous and supportive while also providing rigorous and careful instructions in her books, and she looks at places where magical practices and spiritualities overlap with a thoughtful eye. The ecological side of her writing runs deep, and she situates the hoodoo she knows and does within the framework of natural cycles and seasons, while also making it contemporary and accessible for anyone. 

To read: 365 Days of Hoodoo (a hoodoo-based daily practice book); Sticks, Stones, Roots, & Bones (her landmark work on her hoodoo-rooted practice); The Big Book of Soul (African American culture and spirituality)

See also: Her website

Via Hedera

My final member of the thirteen-person coven assembled here is someone that I think everyone should know. Via Hedera is one of my favorite writers on North American folk spirituality. She looks to the folklore and scours collections and practices to better understand and share a deeply-rooted, deeply-felt sense of folk magic here. She comes at the topic as someone who lives intersectionality, bringing a multi-ethnic perspective and elevating practices from a wide range of sources, connecting sources such as Indigenous and African American magical practices through her work. She’s a delight to read, and her forthcoming book is one that I’ve been lucky enough to preview and I will say it should be at the top of any New World Witchery fan’s reading list. Plus, she’s a crazy talented artist who makes gorgeous plant-spirit sculptures that will melt your brain with their beauty.

To read: Folkloric American Witchcraft and the Mulitcultural Experience (forthcoming, and you should definitely get it)

See also: Her amazing (and beautiful) site; Our interview with her; Her sculptures

* * *

This is truly just a sampling of the hundreds (of thousands) of Black/POC figures that have informed, shaped, guided, and continue to influence the magic of North America. There are no shortage of people I skipped or missed here, ones that I think deserve just as much praise and recognition as the ones I’ve highlighted. To that end, if you have figures that you think should be on this list, please feel free to share them in the comments (along with any links to relevant information). 

A note: any racist, misogynistic, or otherwise heinous comments will not be approved and may be reported as harassment. Please use the comments to lift up and elevate Black magic.

Black Lives Matter. Black Magic Matters. Rise together.

Thank you for reading,

-Cory

Episode 165 – Literary Witchcraft

Summary:
We’re diving into the pages of some of our favorite (non-witchy) fiction today to discuss how we draw inspiration from literature and popular culture in magical practices.
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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, Stephanie, Staci, Montine, WickedScense, Vic from the Distelfink Sippschaft of Urglaawe, Moma Sarah at ConjuredCardea, Jody, AthenaBeth, Bo, Scarlet Pirate, Tim, Leslie, Sherry, Jenna, Jess, Laura, Abbi, Nicole, & 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!
Play:
-Sources-
We’re mostly discussing some favorite books today, including:
If you’re interested in participating in the book club, check out the post introducing it. We didn’t get to it in this episode but will have another mini-episode soon about the book club!
Image via Pixabay (Public Domain/CC 2.0 License).
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Title and closing music are “Woman Blues,” by Paul Avgerinos, and is licensed from Audio Socket.
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Blog Post 222 – Book Club Discussion #2


Time to open the dusty and ancient tomes once more! We continue with our Book Club, featuring the work of Scott Cunningham.

We’ve had a busy couple of weeks so our apologies that we haven’t gotten this up sooner, but we thought it would be better late than never to get some of the questions we had in our book club discussion onto the website.

This time around we were talking about Earth, Air, Fire, & Water – Preface and Part I (Ch. 1-5), which pretty much covers the background and introduction of the book. Cory brought up a few points, noting for example, the very strong distinction Cunningham makes between a purely internal, “personal power” type magic and something that is channeled through these outside elements/objects/actions. This sort of ties into the recent interview with Mat Auryn, who works largely with what he calls Psychic Witchcraft. In EAFW we see something different, something gritty and earthed and a good bit messier and lived in than trying to operate solely in that “inner space” of the psyche (not that there’s a problem with that–just not Cory’s style). We’d love to know if you see that distinction, or if we are maybe missing some of the ways that Cunningham blends these two sides of witchery?

Laine let a friend borrow her copy, and got a really interesting note on the role of the moon in witchcraft versus that of the sun. The note says “perhaps the night holds a power/feeling because the sun is not present and we aren’t saturated by its power. We at night can feel our own power because the embodiment of the sun is reduced.” What do you think? Is the moon carrying the sun’s power in a different way, or do you feel it as something totally separate?

We also threw some questions out to our Patreon supporters and have had some good discussions circulating there, too. We thought we’d put a few of those questions here for you to ponder (and respond to in the comments if you want), too!

I wanted to throw out some questions for this second round of the book club, too, before I post up anything on the website. I’d love to hear about any of the following from anyone interested in discussing (as well as any topics you might want to bring up, too):
1. How do you feel about the “Akasha” thing? Does that enter into your practice at all? Does the idea of “cosmicness” play into your magical work somehow?
2. Do objects (esp. natural ones) help you to do magic, or is most of your magic internally driven? Are you more attuned to what Cunningham describes as “Natural Magic(k)” or more to what Mat Auryn describes as “Psychic Witchcraft” or both or neither or some other alternative?
3. How do you feel about his admonitions about evil and doing negative workings? Do you think those are a product of the time? How do you handle the idea of curses/hexes or similar magic?

Would love to hear what you have to say! Join in and discuss below!

And, as always, thanks for reading!
-Cory