Posted tagged ‘Salem’

Blog Post 202 – What is New World Witchery?, Part I (Irrational Pragmatism)

March 8, 2017

“Tituba and Giles Corey,” by John W. Ehninger. Public Domain. (via Wikimedia Commons)

It has taken nearly seven years, two hundred articles, over one hundred podcast episodes, and the formation of an interactive community of people all interested in the systems and traditions of various magic-practicing people in North America (and beyond), but now here we are. Based on the title of this post, you may be imagining that I’m about to lay out a complete definition of “New World Witchery.” One that locks down all these various strands we’ve been chasing. Or you may be thinking nothing of the sort, and instead be stumbling upon this article first and trying to decide if the rest of the material here would ever be of interest to you. I think, then, that I am bound to disappoint, because attempting to cage “New World Witchery” in one place, form, or time will never work—it seems that so long as there is still a “New World” with practicing witches in it, that definition is going to have to remain somewhat flexible and fluid.

In one of my last posts, I attempted to answer the question of whether or not I am a witch, and in doing so I covered several key points: practical (although not entirely logical), wondrous (in the sense that the world is full of strange, marvelous, and sometimes terrifying things), and traditional (in the most literal sense of the word). I realize in attempting to create some sort of categorical definition of “New World Witchery,” I’m going to at best satisfy but a very few, but hopefully if you’ve been along for the ride thusfar, you’ll at least come on the journey with me and see what makes sense to you, or what you might change or improve. I will also note that while I am drawing on sources from history and folklore, I will not only be turning to the past. Witchcraft seems to be alive and well today, so I’m inclined to pull from contemporary sources, too. Your mileage with those sources may vary.

This article will be divided into multiple posts, mostly due to length. I’m going to link to material within each part, but the full references will be added retroactively to the posts when they have all been completed, for the sake of practicality. Speaking of which, that takes us to our first major point, and the subject of this initial post.

Hamsa Hand (via Wikimedia Commons)

Irrational Pragmatism: Witchcraft Gets the Job Done (Even if No One Knows How)

I mentioned in the previous article that in many cases, witchcraft seemed to be less about formal religion than “muttering under one’s breath in a time of need, or knowing not to burn sassafras wood.” What I see repeated over and over again in witch tales is a deeply pragmatic approach to problems. A person is marginalized by their community, or denied a favor, or needs to get some milk to keep from going hungry. The only unusual aspect of the problem-solving is that it involves magic, which operates in highly irrational ways. Dorcas Hoar and Bridget Bishop in Salem both existed at the fringes of their town’s social structure, women who needed to survive without adherence to rigid Congregational conformance and who did not have the typical family structure of the community to support them. Dorcas Hoar’s husband had died the year before the trials began, but she had been engaged in acts of divination during the decade before the trials as well, and was reputed to own magical texts. Bishop was known to be strongly opinionated and ran an unofficial tavern out of her home. Hoar managed to escape the trials with a conviction but lived to tell the tale for nearly twenty more years, but Bishop was not so lucky.

Within folkloric cases of witchcraft, those who perform magic may be accomplishing their own ends, but they are also serving a bigger social function, too. I’ve mentioned Betty Booker here previously, and her case shows that a witch can stand in for a judge and jury against those who behave shamefully in a community, as Booker does by “riding” the old skipper after his miserly behavior. In a more contemporary setting, the application of folk magic might be a way to bridge the gap of personal connection (especially in an age where we tend to communicate from behind a screen). One person communicated a bit of lore to me regarding infants and the evil eye that illustrates this point: “My mom said that if someone wants to touch/hold your baby and you don’t let them then there is a chance that person will leave casting ‘mal de ojo’ (evil eye) on your baby causing them a lifetime of bad luck, conversely, she said that letting others hold your baby is good luck.” While it is always a good idea to wash one’s hands before handling a newborn, it’s also important to integrate the new child into a community, which seems to be one of the underlying themes of this lore of baby-passing. Whatever the case, New World witchcraft meets needs, and it meets them where they are without hesitation.

 

Next time: Witchcraft as an Amoral (not Immoral) Act

 

Thanks for reading,

-Cory

Special Episode – Witches When and Where Roundtable

September 1, 2016

NWWPatreonLogo

Summary:

This episode is a special condensed version of one of our bi-monthly Patreon group discussions. The conversation was just so good, and we wanted to share some highlights of it with you. We talk about the times and places we most dream about visiting as magical folk. Enjoy!

 

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 (like the full version of this conversation, for example).  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: Corvus, Diana Garino, Renee Odders, Ye Olde Magic Shoppe, Raven Dark Moon, Ivory, The Witches View Podcast,  Sarah, Molly, Corvus, Catherine, AthenaBeth, Jen Rue of Rue & Hyssop, Shannon, Little Wren, Michael M., and Jessica (if we missed you this episode, we’ll make sure you’re in the next one!). Big thanks to everyone supporting us!

 

Play:

Download: Special Episode – Witches When and Where Roundtable

 

 -Sources-

This show is really the result of our supporters, some of whom you can find with magical businesses, podcasts, or blogs of their own:

 

We should be launching our newest podcast effort, Chasing Foxfire, this month! If you like folklore, this show will be connecting the dots between folk tales, science, nature, pop culture, literature, and more.

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.” 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 is “Dill Pickle Rag,” by The Joy Drops, and is used under a Creative Commons License (available at Soundcloud.com). Additional music is Dvorak’s “Two Waltzes,” from Op. 54, by the Musicians from Marlboro, and is used under the Creative Commons License through the Free Music Archive.

Podcast 77 – What Do Witches Do

May 25, 2015

Summary:

We make a concerted effort to mine history and folklore while attempting to discover where witches come from, and more importantly, just what they do.

Play:

Download: New World Witchery – Episode 77

-Sources-

We draw a good bit upon Aradia, by C.G. Leland, for questions about witch mythology and abilities.

For a nice rundown of different witchcraft traditions (as touched upon in this episode) I heartily recommend the post “Introduction to Traditional Witchcraft,” by Sarah Anne Lawless, and her series of posts on various witchcraft traditiosn found in that article.

The Element Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft, by Judika Illes, has lots of lovely background on the history and folklore of witches. It’s out of print, but you can usually find it secondhand. You can also check her Weiser Field Guide to Witches, which covers some of the same sort of ground. I’d also recommend The Silver Bullet, by Hubert J. Davis, for some other examples of American folklore about witches.

I mention Harold Roth, a brilliant herbal alchemist and proprieter of Alchemy Works.

Since we discuss Salem and its witchcraft at a bit of length, I would definitely recommend the following books about that period of American history:

We announce the winners of our Spring Lore 2015 contest, so listen in to see if you won one of our prizes!

Upcoming Appearances
Cory will be at two upcoming events, and will likely be holding talks/discussions at both of them, which you might find interesting:

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.”

Promos & Music
Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.

Promos:

  1. Lakefront Pagan Voice
  2. Betwixt & Between

Podcast 35 – Salem Wrap Up and Why Witchcraft?

September 26, 2011

-SHOWNOTES FOR EPISODE 35

Summary
We spend time talking (and gushing) about the recent Pagan Podkin Super-Moot in Salem, Mass. We also look at one of the questions that became a focal point of discussion while we were there: Why Witchcraft?

Play:

Download: New World Witchery – Episode 35

-Sources-
Really, these are more links than sources this time.
1)      Big thanks to Velma Nightshade of Witches’ Brewhaha for putting the event together!
2)      Thanks to the wonderful vendors who hosted us and contributed to our ‘swag bags’: Hex of Salem, Omen, Iron Powaqa, Mrs. Oddly, Lakefront Pagan Voice, Fire Lyte, Pendraig Publishing, Angelica of the Angels, and the Salem Witch Museum.
3)      Look at some of the pictures of Salem’s Old Burying Point Cemetery here. They’re quite beautiful!
4)      You can hear part of the workshop taught by Peter Paddon of the Crooked Path/Pendraig Publishing through his podcast: Episode 24. It was on “Invocation and the Art of Ritual Possession,” and it was marvelous!

We’ve got a contest going on! Check out the details of our Share-A-Spell contest on our blog, and contribute today!

Also, be on the lookout for a poll on the site fairly soon about a possible new episode type.

Don’t forget to follow us at Twitter!

Promos & Music
Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.
Promo 1 – Witches’ Brewhaha
Promo 2 – Lakefront Pagan Voice
Promo 3 – Pennies in the Well

Blog Post 129 – Upcoming Events

May 31, 2011

Good news everyone!

Today I have some very fun events to share with y’all about events coming up later in the year.  These will be opportunities to meet with one or both of your New World Witchery hosts, as well as to meet and greet other great people as well.

The Second Annual Pagan Podkin Supermoot
We mentioned this in our last episode, but both Laine and Cory will be attending the Second Annual Pagan Podkin Supermoot in Salem, MA, on the weekend of Sept. 17th, 2011.  This is a gathering of Pagan and witchy podcasters from across the continent (we even have Canadians coming!), and there will be a big meet-and-greet on Saturday, Sept. 17th, at the Omen store. Fans are encouraged to come out and meet us, ask questions, be horribly disappointed in how boring we really are, etc. Some of the other podcasters who will be there include:

Other podcasters may come, too, though they haven’t been able to confirm yet. There may be workshops and classes as well, though details are still being worked out at this point. We will probably also have a group lunch that day which fans will be able to attend, too.  If you want to stay up to date on happenings with this event, check out the PPSM2 Website, and watch for tags like #ppsm2 on Twitter and Facebook.

A note on this event: While we both want to meet our fans and get to know you all, we do please ask that you not take any photos of Laine—she is still in the broom closet and can’t risk exposure. We’ll try to come up with something clever to allow you to still get a photo (maybe Cory in a wig or a sock puppet of some kind), but we hope you’ll understand about this issue.

West KY Hoodoo Rootworker Heritage Festival
This event will be taking place the weekend following PPSM2, from Sept. 23-25, 2011. It’s going to be focused on Southern Conjure practices, with an emphasis on hoodoo, rootwork, Pow-wow, granny magic, Vodoun, and Santeria/Lukumi. Some of the guest presenters will be:

  • Jack Montgomery, author of American Shamans, NWW friend & interviewee
  • Stephanie Palm, owner of Music City Mojo and Cory’s conjure teacher
  • Temperance, owner of Temperance Alchemy and magician, healer, & interfaith minister extraordinaire
  • Cory, from New World Witchery (hey, that’s me!…still not sure what I’m going to teach, but I’ll post that as soon as I figure it out)
  • Telling Point, a musical act featuring a deep tribal rock sound

This festival is still in its early planning stages, but it will likely be growing and adding new guests, performers, and workshops between now and the end of summer.

The Heritage Festival is put on by the Spirit of the Earth Church and will take place near Hopkinsville, KY. It’s a multi-day camp-out type of festival, so be aware that you’ll need to bring your own tent or find a hotel nearby.  Cory will definitely be attending at least part of the weekend.  For more information, check out the event website. Updates will likely be made frequently, and we’ll try to mention it again as time gets closer for it.

There may be other events we mention or post as time goes on, but for now these are the two places you will be able to find at least one of us in person.

Hope to see you all soon!  As always, thanks for reading!

-Cory

Podcast 3 – Hot & Cold Spells, A Story, and A Contest

February 8, 2010

-SHOWNOTES FOR EPISODE 3-

Summary

In this episode, we talk about periods of waxing and waning interest in witchcraft, and how to get out of non-practicing rut.  Then we have a reading of “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  We also announce our first ever contest (make sure to listen all the way to the end of the show).

Play:

Download:  New World Witchery – Episode 3

-Sources-

Young Goodman Brown,” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

We also mention A Pagan in the Threshold in this podcast, which is another excellent Pagan podcast.

Promos & Music

Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.

Promo 1- A Pagan in the Threshold

Promo 2- Forest Grove Botanica

Promo 3- The Celtic Myth Podshow

Contest

Our first ever contest!  We’re looking for weather lore, so please submit yours for a chance to win our prize, a copy of Cat Yronwode’s Hoodoo Root & Herb Magic. Please see Blog Post 11 – A Contest! for more details.


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