Blog Post 189 – New World Witchery Cartulary No. 6


Greetings everyone,

It’s been almost five months since my last cartulary post, so I thought I’d touch base a bit on the various magical, folkloric, and otherwise quirky corners of the world that have caught my attention (and my be of interest to my readers).

I’ll start with a little shameless self-promotion and note that the upcoming Three Hands Press anthology, Hands of Apostasy, will have my essay on witchcraft initiation rituals of the Southern mountains in it. It’s edited by Daniel A. Schulke (Magister of the Cultus Sabbati) and Mike Howard (editor of The Cauldron), and contains eighteen essays on historical and traditional witchcraft, both from a practical and scholarly perspective. Some of the phenomenal authors contributing to this tome include David Rankine, Cecil Williamson, and even a posthumous essay by Andrew Chumbley. There will likely be more information on the Three Hands Press website as the release date approaches (sometime in the next few months).

As a side-note, I’ve been placing essays with The Cauldron for some time now, covering a variety of topics in North American folk magic, and frequently alongside art and articles by some top-notch folks (the aforementioned Howard, Chris Bilardi, Sarah Lawless, and Emma Wilby, for example). If you have any interest in folklore, magic, and little-or-big-P paganism, it’s worth subscribing.

Moving on from shameless self-promotion to the fine work of others, I’ve recently been getting very into botany and horticulture (I can’t have a garden this year since we’re moving, so that might explain it). I completed a really lovely little book called The Drunken Botanist, which looks at the plant kingdom through a shot glass, providing history, growing tips, and drink recipes along the way. I’ve also been reading The Founding Gardeners, a book which places Washington, Adams, Madison, Jefferson, and other notable American patriarchs in the context of their horticultural interests, which were plentiful and various. It turns out Washington was an excellent farmer (in no small part due to slave labor, it should be noted), and Jefferson was more theoretical (and also extensively used slave labor). I also read Bill Bryson’s At Home, a microhistory of Anglo-American culture as seen through a series of rooms in his house, which featured a nice chapter on the garden—it put me on the scent of Wulf’s Founding Gardeners, in fact. And if you can’t get enough botany, I’m going to very highly recommend a favorite book entitled Botany in a Day, which is a wonderful introduction to plant taxonomy and identification that teaches you how to build an understanding of plants intuitively based on stem and leaf shape, color, size, petal count, etc. If you are at all interested in identifying wild plants, this is a great foundational text.

Since we’re already in the garden, I’m also going to recommend you stop and smell the roses with my dear friend Jen Rue on the latest episode of Lamplighter Blues, where Hob, Dean, and Jen talk about working with what’s around and growing your own supplies. Sarah Lawless also recently (well, as recently as possible considering she did just have a baby and all) looked at the idea of what’s immediately available to magical and shamanic practitioner in an extensive article on ‘Bioregional Animism’ which I highly recommend.

In the world of gratuitous pop-culture witch-fluff, the Season of Witch continues. A recent, if unnecessary, television remake of Rosemary’s Baby aired over a few weeks recently, which I’ve not seen but which is on my watch list. I won’t say I’m particularly excited about it, as I love the original Polanski film, but if this one turns out all right, I may change my tune. A decadently dark and occult series called Salem has been airing on WGN, and while I cannot recommend it for historical accuracy (of which there’s none), its tone and deep-and-dark witchy atmosphere is just very hard to turn away from. It will do absolutely nothing to improve the image of witches, folk magicians, or really anyone, but if you want to get a little jolt of wickedness it is a lot of fun. The second season of Witches of East End will also be airing starting in July on Lifetime—the first season was another fun and guilty pleasure like Salem, so I imagine I’ll give round two a try. Oh, and Maleficent is coming out, apparently (if I’m being honest, it’s one of the few magical enchantress stories I’m not interested in, but I’ll probably see it anyway).

Moving away from the inaccuracies of popular television and back to the realm of folklore, I had a listener recently write in to ask about why our Dark Mother tribute episode featured the somewhat more docile version of the fairy tale, “The Juniper Tree,” from the Brothers Grimm. In truth, I mostly chose that version because it was at hand and fit the time frame of the show nicely, but I am absolutely at fault for not pointing out that there is a much darker (and possibly more enjoyable because of it) version of the tale. You can read it at the Sur La Lune fairy tale site if you want to get a glimpse of a very Dark Mother. While you are there, you should also check out their versions of a few of the other tales I considered for that episode, but ultimately decided against due to time, including “Snow White & Rose Red,” and “Hansel & Gretel.”

Finally, I generally try to keep these cartularies more centered on things I’m reading, doing, and so forth, but I do want to take a moment to forward a request from a friend of our site and show, Mrs. Oddly, who is dealing with some difficult legal and financial situations centering on a custody battle. She’s set up a crowdfunding campaign which needs support, so if you have a few dollars you can spare, please consider helping her out. She’s brought some real magic to my world, and she is asking for whatever help we can give.

We’ve got a number of guests lined up for upcoming shows, and I’ve got a few one-off shows I’m hoping to do as well that might be fun, too, so stay tuned to the podcast! I’ll do my best to keep adding things to the website as well, for those that like reading the articles on folk magic here.

Thanks for Reading!

Blog Post 181 – The Little Witcheries Tour

I’m taking a cue today from a recent blog post by the excellent Jen at Rue & Hyssop entitled “Little Witcheries,” which focuses on the small, everyday enchantments in her life. She and several other bloggers have been sharing their daily practices, household charms, and domestic talismans so I thought I would offer a bit of the same. I know I don’t tend to make posts entirely personal here, but I do frequently talk about the “secrets in plain sight” that accompany practical witchcraft and folk magic, so it seems like now is a good time to do a quick tour of my home and see how I apply what I have learned in the course of my studies to my real life. I hope you won’t mind the diversion from the more general and academic examinations of folk magic. You’ll still likely get a good feel for folk magic, and I’ll reference any previous posts or sources that might explain further, so hopefully this won’t feel too indulgent.

I’ll mostly be cataloging what sorts of “little witcheries” I have around, rather than giving a lot of expository detail. Basically, I’m treating myself and my home as a folklorist’s test case, because nothing’s more fun than turning the microscope on yourself, right? And so, on with the tour! Come on in!


Garden friends
Garden friends

Plant guardians – I have a number of magical plants in my front garden, but my rosemary and rue plants act as my primary sentries. The rosemary started as a pair of six-inch cuttings, and now it’s easily a three-foot-tall shrub.  Theswallowtail caterpillar in the pictures is one that seems to particularly like our rue plant, but it doesn’t do any real harm to it, so we let it alone.

Witch bottle – Buried somewhere along your way to the front door (exactly where is my little secret).

Washes – The door is washed with protective mixture (which Laine has indicated she would rather not touch) and I use a protective foot-wash derived from Irish lore on the porch.


Entrance – Door has salt & red brick dust lines, plus several paper charms wedged in the lintel.

Cleaning – We have a mostly carpeted space, so instead of floor washes, I sometimes make floor sprinkles with powdered herbs & salts to affect the various rooms. I also use vinegar (including Four Thieves Vinegar) for cleaning & breaking up bad energy. Most of what I do to dress doors, windows, etc. can be found in our posts on magical house cleaning.


Mirrors – We keep a mirror behind the door to deflect anything spiritually harmful (currently decorated for Halloween with some bats).

St Paschal & a spirit bottle
Bundles drying in the kitchen window

Tincture of Rue, Four Thieves Vinegar, & Four Thieves Pickles

Kitchen – I’ve always got something brewing. Right now I’ve got some tinctures going (some magical, but most multipurpose, used in magic or cocktails equally), a few herbs drying in bags by the windows, and of course, my Four Thieves Vinegar in the pantry (plus a couple of jars of Four Thieves Pickles, which I put up each year). The kitchen is also home to a few of my spirit helpers, including St. Pascal and my resident house spirit (his bottle may look a bit strange, but he’s been with us almost since we moved in, so I don’t mind his scruffy appearance).

Bedroom Altar
Top of Main Altar
Interior of Main Altar

Altars – I’ve got altars throughout the house. I have a personal altar in the bedroom where I do daily devotionals, and then the main altar in my upstairs office for my weekly communion with my spirit friends and family.

Brooms – I keep brooms near our main entrance doors, bristles up to ward off unwanted visitors.

Cards – Are just everywhere in the house. I collect different decks that interest me, though I have a few favorites for divination.

Hamsa Hands, via Wikimedia Commons

Talismans – I keep a hamsa hand on one of my windows, iron railroad spikes throughout the house (some are visible in the picture of the library shelves), and I will sometimes place small talismans like evil eye beads or saint medallions near the office and the children’s room to ward off any harsh or unwelcome spirits. I’ve also got an Ojo de Dios my mother acquired in New Mexico which acts as a protective charm in the nursery.

Library Shelf

Library – Not a lot of folk magic, per se, but lots of information on it. I tend to collect chapbooks as well as full print editions. I also keep my herbal & gardening library in here (not visible from this angle), along with most of my dried herbs. I usually have something hanging to dry in here as well. A few small charms are floating around, as well as many of the spell ingredients I turn to frequently (oils, herbs, etc.). I keep most of my folklore and fairy tale library near this one, as well.

So that’s the tour for the day. I hope it wasn’t too distracting of a diversion from the typical examination of folk magic, but I was so enticed by the series of posts I saw emerging from Jen’s topic that I couldn’t resist.  I will likely be using my next post to do a similar “tour,” but of a non-personal space in the interest of showing how many folk magicians acquire ingredients without necessarily having a “witchy shop” nearby.

Until next time, thanks for visiting, er, reading!


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