Special Episode – Folk Magician’s Notebook – November 2022

Surly cards, fabulous fables, & bewitching bones!

Summary:
We dive into a new month by looking at some surly (and pointy) cards, turning to proverbs for divination, hear some fabulous fables, and play with a few magical bones. Plus our lunar astrology and more!
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, Cheryl, Christopher, Colby, ConjuredCardea, Daniel, Dave, Don, Donna, Elizabeth, Eveline, Erin, Fergus, Griffin, Heather, Jamie, Jen Rue of Rue & Hyssop, Jess, Jenna, Jennifer, Jodi, John, Jonathan at the ModernSouthernPolytheist, Kat, Kee, Kristopher, Liz, Mark, Marisa, Matthew Venus of Spiritus Arcanum, Milo, Minimiel, Montine of Book of My Shadows, , Nikki, Payton, Sara, Scarlet Pirate, Sherry, Staci, Stephanie, Ralph from the Holle’s Haven Podcast, Vee, Victoria & Keifel of 1000 Volt Press, 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 highly recommend that you find an almanac or lunar-oriented datebook to help you with planning out your own magical year. Some we can recommend:

We share a series of Aesop’s fables this month, all available from the Library of Congress website. The tales are “The Astrologer,” “The Crow & the Pitcher,” and “The Miller, His Son, and the Ass”

Want to know more about oseteoliths? Or bones in magic more generally?

If you are interested in playing card divination, you can check out our Cartomancy post or pick up Cory’s book, 54 Devils.

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

Image via Pixabay (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 “Runaround (AM Radio),” by Aaron Solomon, and is licensed from Audio Socket. Additional music Kevin Macleod, from Free Music Arcive and used under a CC 2.0 license.

Sound effects from Freesound.org and in the Public Domain.

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! You can also check out Cory’s folklore show, Chasing Foxfire, where he explores the intersection of folklore and topics like history, medicine, science, nature, literature, pop culture, and more!

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

Special Episode – Folk Magician’s Notebook – October 2022

Folk tales of talking cats, diabolical cards, enchanted apples, and more!

Summary:
Time for another round of full moons, cards, and so much more! We look at the Blood Moon, talk about a pair of tempting-but-misunderstood cards, talk about the secret magic in the average apple, and hear a story of some very chatty cats.
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, Cheryl, Christopher, Colby, ConjuredCardea, Daniel, Dave, Don, Donna, Elizabeth, Eveline, Erin, Fergus, Griffin, Heather, Jamie, Jen Rue of Rue & Hyssop, Jess, Jenna, Jennifer, Jodi, John, Jonathan at the ModernSouthernPolytheist, Kat, Kee, Kristopher, Liz, Mark, Marisa, Matthew Venus of Spiritus Arcanum, Milo, Minimiel, Montine of Book of My Shadows, , Nikki, Payton, Sara, Scarlet Pirate, Sherry, Staci, Stephanie, Ralph from the Holle’s Haven Podcast, Vee, Victoria & Keifel of 1000 Volt Press, 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 highly recommend that you find an almanac or lunar-oriented datebook to help you with planning out your own magical year. Some we can recommend:

The story this month is a Texas folktale called “The Black Cat’s Message,” as retold by S.E. Schlosser.

You may be interested in our article on the folk magic of apples or the video we posted about it as well.

If you are interested in playing card divination, you can check out our Cartomancy post or pick up Cory’s book, 54 Devils.

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

Image via Pixabay (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 “Runaround (AM Radio),” by Aaron Solomon, and is licensed from Audio Socket. Additional music Kevin Macleod, from Free Music Arcive and used under a CC 2.0 license.

Sound effects from Freesound.org and in the Public Domain.

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! You can also check out Cory’s folklore show, Chasing Foxfire, where he explores the intersection of folklore and topics like history, medicine, science, nature, literature, pop culture, and more!

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 214 – Live from Mystic South

We share our experiences at the recent Mystic South Conference

Summary: Laine and Cory share a brief recap of their experiences at the recent Mystic South Conference in Atlanta. We talk about workshops, playing sleepover games, singing some Michelle Branch songs, and more! Plus we try out some readings with some new decks of cards and thank our listeners for being awesome!

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: This episode we didn’t add a producer tag (mostly because it’s a short ep) but we do want to thank everyone who has been giving us encouragement and love as we work through a pretty rollercoaster-y sort of month. Thank you for your support of this episode and for your ongoing support of New World Witchery.

Play: Episode 214 – Live from Mystic South

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We were thrilled to be a part of the Mystic South Conference! We hope that if you are able you’ll consider coming to it in the future (as we very well might, too)!

Cory also has a YouTube video of his academic paper on “Wicked Games: Occult Play & Folklore” from the PCA/ACA Conference in Spring 2022 (but it’s mostly the same information as the one from Mystic South).

We also did some readings with The Doodle Tarot by Em Kay Holloway, and got our readings done by Laura Tempest Zakroff with her new Anatomy of a Witch Oracle (we mislabel it the Weave the Liminal oracle, which is the name of another of her fabulous books, so sorry about that!)

Cory also got to meet one of his favorite podcasters, Carmanda from the What the Folklore podcast (and even buy some of her art!)

We hung out with awesome folks like Thorn Mooney, Kelden, David Salisbury, Ivo Dominguez Jr, Laura Tempest Zakroff, and Heron Michelle, so if you don’t know those folks you should check them out!

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

Please note that clicking on links may provide some monetary compensation to New World Witchery.

Image via Pixabay (Used under CC 2.0 License, modified by New World Witchery)

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. All music is licensed from Audio Socket. Additional Music is “Devil’s Son,” by Widow’s Bane, 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 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 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

Episode 173 – Magical Animals Revisited

Summary:
We take a second look (after eight years) at the role of animals in folk magic. We talk about the use of animals as personal representations, issues of animal sacrifice, working with deceased pets, and animals in tarot and astrology.
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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We reference our previous episode on animals, which was Episode 20 – Magical Animals. You may also be interested in some of our other posts on animals and magic, too:
We talk a bit about the book The Little Book of Magical Creatures, by Barbara Stacy and Elizabeth Pepper (which Cory shamelessly stole from Laine). Laine also mentions the “First Birthday” SNL skit about “mom animals.”
If you want to look more at astrology, both Chinese and Western, I cannot recommend Benebell Wen’s work highly enough. She also talks a lot about tarot, which is another point we hit when talking about magical animals this time.
If animal loss in movies and television concern you, you should know about DoesTheDogDie.com.
We talk about one of our friends and supporters who runs the Hot Taffy glassworks shop and who also does work incorporating deceased pets into glass work. Laine also talks about the Cuddle Clones company as well, and how much she loves hers.
We’re also working with the Wylde Faun candle company to offer a special discount to our supporters! You can buy anything from their catalog and get 20% off by using the code “NewWorldWitch” at checkout!
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.
Please consider supporting us by purchasing our promotional items in the New World Witchery Threadless shop or by joining our Patreon list.
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 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

Blog Post 225 – Button Button

Picking up a button you find as you leave your home allows you to make a wish…One variation from North Carolina also says throwing a found button over your left shoulder will offer you a wish. (image by Cory Thomas Hutcheson)

Or, Notions of Magic.

We often mention that magic–folk magic, especially–is an everyday sort of affair. It lives in places like loose change and decks of playing cards, and we find spells using eggs or walnuts tucked into the corners of North American witchery.

Recently, I received a gift from a friend in the form of the Five Cent Tarot (thank you Heather!). It has fast become one of my absolute favorite decks to read with, as it has a number of symbols to draw from (and keywords pointing to meanings woven into the images, which helps with those of us who don’t do tarot quite as often as we do other systems). In this deck, the minor arcana are essentially the objects you might find in a junk drawer: sewing needles for swords, matches for clubs, buttons for discs, and teacups for, well, cups. We have already put up a post on the use of pins and needles, and matches are really more suited to their own post or one dealing with other aspects of fire magic. I’m so enamored of this deck, however, that I had to take some inspiration from it, and so the remaining suits put the idea in my head that I should look at some of the folk magic around buttons, thimbles, and other sewing notions. Given the burst of sewing going on as people make masks and other vital items during the COVID-19 pandemic, it also seemed like at least a semi-relevant topic. So let’s take the lid off grandma’s old butter cookie tin and see what sorts of lore and spells we find!

We start with buttons, which have a great deal of luck folklore associated with them. Widespread folk belief says that finding a button brings good luck to follow, somewhat similar to finding a lucky penny or other coin. In fact, one variant of this belief from North Carolina indicates that any button found and carried for luck should be smaller than a penny (or other lucky coin) (Brown). The kind of button found can also have magical significance. A button with two eyes is good luck, while a button with five eyes is bad (ibid.). A button from a coat might indicate that a letter is forthcoming soon, while a white button foretells a lawsuit (so maybe leave those where they are) (Daniels & Stevans). In the Ozarks, finding a black button indicates misfortune to follow (Steele).

A number of other notions like thimbles and ribbons have similar lore associated with them:

  • To find  a collar signifies that you will make an enemy…
  • To find a piece of lace, signifies that you will be ill…
  • To find a darning needle, signifies a disappointment in love…
  • To find a hat-pin signifies a quarrel…
  • To find a ribbon, a string, piece of silk or anything with color, especially if it be new and fresh will portend, signifies if red, good fortune, prosperity, successful love
  • To find scissors or knives, signifies that you should beware of enemies (ibid.)

Buttons are also the focus of a number of folk spells and rituals, such as these found in Henry Middleton Hyatt’s collection Folklore from Adams County, Illinois:

  • Buttons strung on a thread can be put around a baby’s neck to aid in teething. Some say the buttons should be cut from a man’s shirt for this purpose (NOTE: DO NOT PUT ANYTHING LIKE THIS AROUND A BABY’S NECK!). 
  • You can “sell” your wart to someone for a button, and as long as you keep the button the wart will go away
  • Picking up a button you find as you leave your home allows you to make a wish. Other sources also indicate that you can do this ritual with any button you find so long as you pick up the button and place it in your shoe (which would be most comfortable if you were wearing penny loafers, I imagine). One variation from North Carolina also says throwing a found button over your left shoulder will offer you a wish (Brown).

Horn 'hunting' buttons with shanks
Buttons made of animal horn (photo by Tyranny Sue / CC BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons)

One particularly neat divination found in Hyatt’s collection is similar to the “calling circle” sometimes performed to discern a baby’s future on its first birthday. This time, however, the button is one of a set of objects that can be used to determine your future at any age:

“Into a pan of water on the table drop a button, coin, nut, ring and stone; then blindfold yourself and with a spoon attempt to scoop out one of the articles from the pan — three trials being allowed: if you lift out the button, you will live in single blessedness; if the coin, you will acquire wealth; if the nut, you will toil for a living; if the ring, you will marry; and if the stone, you will travel a rocky road. Halloween is the usual time for this divination.”

This sort of divination game is similar to other party games, and the Halloween setting of this ties it to similar occult play such as the use of “nutcrack night” fire rituals or even the slightly more spin-the-bottle-esque game of snap apple (or, in a similar vein, bobbing for apples).

Thread is another good source of folklore and folk magic. Most people reading this likely know about the general idea of “knot magic,” (something we’ll be covering through our Cunnigham Book Club in the show as well). Using threads for magical work is something both old and incredibly contemporary, as even children are frequently doing magic like this. Just think of the many friendship bracelets young kids make for one another, and the way those are designed to “bind” them together in the bonds of friendship forever. One of my favorite presentations of this is in the Hayao Miyazaki film Spirited Away, where Chihiro/Sen’s friends make her a little friendship bracelet-like hair tie, the only physical object she gets to keep when she exits the spirit world later.

One long-standing superstition that I personally hold to is trying to save all my trimmed thread ends. I keep them in a jar in the top-most room of my house (which also happens to be my library room where I’m writing this at the moment. The tangles in the jar are thought to help prevent harm from coming to a household, much in the way that “counting objects” like beans or salt scattered by a door might. Since my wife is a knitter and I do a good bit of sewing and darning there are few weeks in a year I don’t add to the jar, yet somehow it never quite gets full. Almost like magic.

Jar full of thread and yarn ends to protect family and house from harm. Photo by Cory Thomas Hutcheson. Image in background by Rima Staines.

Knotting thread, especially red thread, around someone’s wrist with a certain number of knots–usually seven–was used as a magical ward against headaches and other ills (Hand) (Randolph). Cunning folk traditions from England also suggest using bits of rope from a hangman’s noose can alleviate these sorts of aches and pains (Baker). We also see the use of knots and threads in the form of a “witch’s measure,” a concept adopted in a number of occult systems like Wicca (where it is often called a cingulum and can be used to “bind” an initiate to their coven). In Hoodoo, a similar use of a measure involves taking red thread or yarn and measuring a partner’s genitals, then wetting them with sexual fluids and knotting them to prevent a partner from straying (Hurston). A similar principle was used when taking two pieces of clothing, one from each partner (preferably worn and unwashed), then knotting them together to ensure fidelity.

Untying knots also has occult power in several bits of folklore. For example, in the Appalachians and Ozarks, women were sometimes advised to unbind their hair as a way to ease birthing pains (during birth, not necessarily all the time) (Illes). Sailors heading out to sea might acquire a cord made by a local witch with a series of knots in it. If their ship were becalmed and unable to move, they could untie each knot to raise a different degree of wind. One knot could bring about a light breeze, while all the knots might summon a hurricane. This is somewhat similar to the concept of “buying the wind” using coins thrown overboard (Dorson). 

The Witch’s Ladder is a charm made from rope or thread knotted around objects, usually including feathers, as a way to create a long-term curse or spell on a person (Illustration by Cory Thomas Hutcheson, 2020)

And, of course, how could we talk about threads and strings and witchcraft without mentioning the popular (and often nefarious) witch’s ladder? This is a magical talisman made by braiding three cords together and knotting them nine times while placing an object into each knot. Usually, these objects were bones or feathers from birds, often geese, which may connect the charm mythologically to figures like Frau Holle. While each knot was tied, the witch would curse the intended target, then hang the ladder secretly in the home of their victim with the intent of causing them to suffer and eventually die unless the knots are unbound or the ladder is destroyed somehow. Late twentieth-century Wiccan author Scott Cunningham (mentioned above as part of our book club) revised the witch’s ladder a bit for more positive purposes, turning it into the “wishing ladder,” which uses similar magical structures to create charms that get a witch what she wants out of life.

There are so many other magical crafts and lore associated with things like strings, buttons, thimbles, and ribbons, too. Crafts like the ojo de dios or the oft-appropriated Ojibwe dreamcatcher use the concepts of threads and knots to create talismanic spells, for example. I’ve also been delighted to see the enthusiasm for needlecraft among contemporary feminist witchcraft practitioners, who cross-stitch their intentions into spell-like wall hangings with phrases like “hex the patriarchy” on them. As someone who frequently darns my own clothes and does a good bit of sewing on the side to repair the damage done to clothes by growing children (and frankly, we adults are not terribly careful either), the eager embrace of sewing and knot magic and a jar full of magical buttons makes me quite happy (you can tell I’m the life of every party, can’t you?). There’s even a new book recently released that I’m hoping to check out at some point all about contemporary needlework-and-button-bound magic called Sew Witchy, by Raechel Henderson (if you’ve read it or tried out any of the crafts in it, I’d love to hear about those below in the comments, along with any other notion-based magical work you do!). 

That’s only a small bit of a much bigger line of magical work. Weaving has its own spell associations, and I’m not even touching prayer shawls at the moment, which can have an intense magical protective connection. Still, in this time when we see people making dozens or hundreds of cloth masks for public health and safety or needing to stretch their clothing’s lifespan a bit longer due to newly-tightened economic belts, it’s good to know we can still find magic and witchcraft in the very stitches, thimbles, measures, and buttons we’ve been hiding in butter cookie tins the whole time.

Thanks for reading!

-Cory

References:

  1. Baker, Jim. The Cunning Man’s Handbook (Avalonia, 2018)
  2. Brown, Frank C. The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore, Newman I. White, ed. Vol. 6 (Duke Univ. Press, 1961)
  3. Daniels, Cora L., and C.M. Stevans. The Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, & Occult Sciences of the World (J.H. Yewdale & Sons, 1903)
  4. Hand, Wayland D. Popular Superstitions from North Carolina (Duke Univ. Press. 1961)
  5. Hurston, Zora Neale. “Hoodoo in America,” Journal of American Folklore, v. 44, no. 174, 1931, p. 361-62.
  6. Hyatt, Harry M. Folklore from Adams County, Illinois (Forgotten Books, 2018).
  7. Illes, Judika. Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells (HarperOne, 2009).
  8. Randolph, Vance. Ozark Magic & Folklore (Dover, 1964).
  9. Steele, Phillip W. Ozark Tales & Superstitions (Pelican Publishing, 1983).

Blog Post 221 – Magic Seen a Second Time

I know that many people come here for articles on folk magic with historical footnotes and sources, and don’t worry–more of those are in the works. But today I wanted to share a more personal post about my own family life and the magic we share. If that’s not your cuppa mugwort tea, though, I completely understand, and I will not be hurt if you wait for the next post reviewing books of magic or sharing a bit of lore from North America. If you are interested in the personal stuff, though, please read on.
* * *
Over the past few years, one of the aspects of parenthood that I’ve enjoyed most is seeing both how my children reflect their parents and how they are different. We’ve done a few episodes on the idea of magical families and raising children within a magic-inflected world, but largely I have only been able to offer a bit of the magic I experience in abstract ways–nature walks and discussions of the spirits of plants or rivers we pass, small charms to help ward off nightmares, or a steady diet of Studio Ghibli films, for example. As they have come into their personalities and selves more and more, though, I’ve started to see them take up bits of magic on their own, or to seek it out from me in new ways that transcend the “kiss on a boo-boo” level of enchantment (not that a boo-boo kiss isn’t magical; I’d hate to be pitted against that level of magic unprepared, frankly!).

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Picking mulberries by our little creek

Some of this has coincided with an increasing awareness of the world around them, and some subtle and wonderful influences that have led them to magic. Today, I want to pause for a moment of personal reflection and look at the influences at play in my kids’ lives. I know this probably seems self-indulgent (“hey look at these pictures of my kiiiiiiids!!!”) but I also think that there’s a lot of pressure on parents with magical inclinations to somehow “raise” their kids in specific ways. I’m hoping that by illustrating the meandering magical path my children have followed–both with and without my direct involvement–it might help ease some of that strain. It’s also helpful to remember that as children grow, the nature of how we all relate to magic in our household has changed as well.
We have often said on the show that we believe in everyday magic, and that includes magic that exists apart from and outside of ourselves. Children are really good at tracking that magic back in the house with them (along with occasional muddy shoes). Those who know me know I’m a big fan of folklore (obviously), and my kids have certainly been marinated in a vast variety of folk tales and other lore from a very young age. Up until very recently, I read to my children every night, ranging from collections of fairy tales and folklore like Perrault’s eighteenth century assemblage to Jane Yolen’s masterful world lore tome and even individual retellings like Zora Neale Hurston’s The Six Fools. And, of course, all of Harry Potter and a great deal of Roald Dahl (both of which have some lovely embedded folk materials). They have listened to some of our All Hallows Read shows, too, during car trips, along with podcasts like Two Girls One Ghost and Spooked!. They have a great fondness for Neil Gaiman’s retelling of the Norse myths (and several of his other books, too). Lately, though, the flow has been slowly reversing. They bring me tales of strange creatures and legends they hear from other kids, and keep an eye out for all things sasquatch related (because he reminds them of me, for reasons both flattering and unflattering). They share digital legend lore, too, telling me stories of the mythic Herobrine of Minecraft’s lands, and helping to expand my “landscape” of magic into spaces I hadn’t considered. I’ve also been making an effort to read the books that they select for me, too, as a way to understand their inner worlds, and in doing that they’ve given me Tracey Baptiste’s The Jumbies and Raina Telgemeier’s Ghosts, both of which are rich in lore.
We can’t deny the importance of other media as well. The Harry Potter movies (and one of my personal favorites, Willow) have certainly been in our world for a while now, and while the unrealistic flash-bang magic of Hollywood films isn’t an accurate presentation of how magic works, those are also not the ones they are most drawn to for magic. Instead, my daughter is deeply enamored of the film Song of the Sea, which retells Irish mythology and folklore of selkies in gorgeous ways (she often thinks of herself as a selkie, too). I mentioned the Ghibli films above, and many of their understandings of spirit-world interactions are shaped by films like Spirited Away. They see a little whirlwind carrying leaves down the street and make space for that spirit to go through, for example. YouTube has also provided surprising connection points to magic for them. Two of our family favorite channels, Illymation and Rebecca Parham’s Let Me Explain Studios, have recently done videos on magic-adjacent topics like using tarot as a form of therapy and seeing how slumber parties are like witch gatherings. It helps to normalize their own experiences of magic, and gets them interested in exploring on their own, too.

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My daughter turning tarot cards as a therapeutic practice (this deck is the Majors-only Steven Universe deck)

Some of those explorations are directions different than my own. My daughter’s fascination with selkies has also led her to take an interest in other creatures like mermaids and unicorns, to the point where she is learning worldwide folklore about both that are beyond my own scope (which is more focused on North America, of course). My son is getting fascinated by hypnotism (thanks in part to the amazing Uncle Pedro character in the Big Nate book series, who uses hypnosis to help the titular Nate with one of his problems). The Illymation video on tarot sparked an interest for both of them in reading cards. My daughter–who has anxiety and emotional control conditions–uses tarot as a way to talk about her inner life with me and for herself (the therapeutic nature of the cards is one reason that my wife–an Evangelical Christian–has been open to them, in fact). My son’s interest has been more on the “fortune-telling” side, but he still sees some value in thinking of them as patterns he can detect and put together, too. I couldn’t resist, of course, and got them each their own decks (with their input, of course)–the Kawaii Tarot for my daughter and the Happy Tarot for my son (both great and very easy to read).
Additionally, I see the way that magic is infusing their lives in exterior ways as well. I mentioned making way for wind spirits earlier, and an extension of that is the reverence my kids feel for our local spring-fed creek. We make a point as a family to go pick the mulberries on its banks in early summer, thanking the trees for their generosity. The kids love to make sure the birds along the creek trails are fed, and so we bring homemade bird cakes of seeds and nuts out to leave for them (although I think we’re just as likely feeding the squirrels as the birds). They have befriended the gang of local ducks, too, who follow them around and eat from their hands. They recognize that the creek and its denizens are connected and alive, and we do things like trash pick-ups along its banks to show our appreciation. To them, the world is very animistically alive. My son has developed a deeply animistic relationship with a whole bevy of succulents and cacti on his own, too, spending his allowance on new ones or better pots for them. He names and labels each one, talking to them, calling them his “children,” and has even gotten a reputation as the “plant dad” at one of our local shops.

Seeing them find these tendrils of magic in their world, especially on their own, has been its own sort of enchantment. There’s a line in a Brandi Carlile song called “The Mother,” in which she notes that all her friends are out doing things they want to do, but that her daughter allows her the chance to experience magic, twice, saying “All the wonders I have seen, I will see a second time, inside of the ages through your eyes.” That has been my own experience as well. New World Witchery–folk magic–lives because we pass it on, but we also pass it up, and around, and between. I learn new magic through my children, and offer them the magic I have to give as well. That magic changes over time, and it may not always be this way, but for the moment I am deeply grateful to share wonder with them.
Thanks for reading,
-Cory

Episode 141 – New Years Divininations Revisited

Summary:
We return to our divination workings from back at the beginning of 2018 to see how everything came together (or in some cases, didn’t). Then we throw some cards to see what the year ahead will bring.
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Producers for this show: Heather, WisdomQueen, Regina, Jen Rue of Rue & Hyssop, Little Wren, Khristopher, Tanner, Fergus from Queer as Folk Magic, Achija of Spellbound Bookbinding,  Johnathan at the ModernSouthernPolytheist, Catherine, Patrick, Carole, Payton, Staci, Debra, Montine, Cynara at The Auburn Skye, WickedScense, Moma Sarah at ConjuredCardea, Jody, Josette, Amy, Victoria, Sherry, Tarsha, Jennifer, Donald, Jenni Love of Broom Book & Candle, & AthenaBeth. (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 base a lot of this episode on the readings we did in Episode 122 – Divining the New Year. Some of the divination tools we used in that episode were:
This year we use some of the following tools:
Big thanks to listener Rorie for reminding us to do this episode!
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