Blog Post 224 – Book Club Discussion #3

Our books for the 2020 NWW Book Club

It’s strange, isn’t it, that at a time when so many of us are being asked to stay home that it feels like we have so little time to do things like read? At least, that is how it’s felt around our neck of the woods of late. But we have been managing to make headway in our ongoing  Book Club, featuring the work of Scott Cunningham and focusing on the concept of folk magic in connection to nature and elemental associations. 

In the past two regular episodes (on Safe Hex and Dreams) we covered the first few chapters of both Earth Power and  Earth, Air, Fire, & Water. Those chapters began unpacking two of the major elements: Earth and Air, as well as sharing a group of spells that Cunningham associated with each of them. We talked about the use of things like sand and dirt in jars as a common folk magical trope for keeping evil at bay, and we still see that in some forms of charm work today with people leaving bottles or jars of rice, beans, pins, or more by their front doors or windows. Sprinkling salt has a similar effect when done at a threshold and that fits well with Cunningham’s ideas. We also chatted about Cunningham’s point that getting out into spaces without urbanization can be very good at connecting us to our landscapes and our planet, but that we should also be mindful that having that access is a privilege and we shouldn’t make others feel bad if they are doing the same work in a big city by going to a park or keeping potted plants. 

On the Air side of things, we talked about how odd it was to see a warning in Earth Power specifically saying to be careful with air magic–why is that admonition so strong here, but not with something like earth magic? Does it have to do with the fast-changing nature of wind and storms? That also got us into the point that Cunningham makes about Air as a “twin of Fire,” which we’re still not strongly convinced about but makes for an interesting thought experiment. We noted that a lot of air-based spells have had their own evolution, with sailors likely using knot charms a lot less in an era of non-sailing ships and a recognition that spells involving tying things to trees need to be largely adapted so they don’t damage the tree (Laine and I both suggest the idea of using hair, which works well and biodegrades easily). 

In our Patreon Discord discussion, we also tackled a few more particular questions on these chapters and concepts:

  1. What do you think of the differences in style between the books? For example, we talked about how Earth Power is obviously pulling from a lot of very practical folk magic (such as potato/apple wart curing charms) while EAFW seems to be more focused on rituals (including more incantations and rhymes). Which style works better for you, and why do you think that is?
  2. What do you think the magical “theory” behind some of these spells would be? For example, why does throwing a handful of dirt after someone protect them (or in a similar folk magic tack, why would throwing a handful of salt after them keep them from coming back)? What about those counting spells? Why do witches/vampires/etc. have to do all that counting? (DON’T MAKE ME DO MATH!!!)
  3. What do you think about including knot-magic in “Earth”? Does that make sense to you, or would you put it somewhere else?
  4. Some of these are clearly very short-term spells, but a lot of earth spells are longer-term. Do you prefer to do spells with short, immediate bursts of activity and results, or longer and more sustained spellwork (or do you mix it up a lot)?
  5. Is there a distinct difference between “air” and “wind” as a magical element or force to you? Why or why not, and how do you use air if you’re not also using wind?
  6. Do we also see distinctions between “elements” and “transmission” or “medium” in other forms of magic? So for example I can see water as a medium with waves and tides as transmission methods. With earth, there are the seismic waves, but are there other forms of earth “transmission” that are fairly regular? I am sure mudslides, etc. would count but in terms of the way we can let a leaf go in air or water to carry a spell is burial the earth transmission method? Similarly with fire–is fire the medium and “burning” the method? Or are light and heat the transmission forms (so a spell using light is technically a fire spell then?). 
  7. And finally, why are birds so dang smug?

We would love to hear your thoughts on any or all of these points, so feel free to leave a comment below (or you can even shoot us an email if you’d prefer to share your ideas that way).

We’ll be tackling the powers of Fire and Water next, and then hopefully summoning Captain Planet to combat the avian smugness we will inevitably encounter. Or, at the very least, posting  more questions and ideas to discuss.

For now, we hope you’re getting by okay, and we wish you happy reading and magic every day!

-C&L

Video – Of Sea Witches and Merfolk

 

We’ve added something new over at our YouTube channel! We’re continuing the thread of our Disney Magic episode by starting a series of videos that explore the connections between popular culture, fairy tales, folklore, and folk magic. We’re calling it the Compass & Key Charm School. Our first installment is one of my favorite Disney witches, Ursula, and we look at the differences between Hans Christian Anderson’s classic literary fairy tale and the animated film version. We also discuss some of the ways that seaside witches use their magic (and how you might style your own magical cupboard after Ursula’s). Please feel free to comment, subscribe to the channel, and share the video around! Thanks for watching!

Quick Update! – Spring Lore Contest Reminder

Hi folks!

This is just a reminder that if you want to get into the drawing for our Spring Lore Contest, there’s never been a better time than now!  You’ve only got five days left—until March 21, 2012! We’re looking for Springtime Lore this time around: seed planting rituals & customs, fertility charms, spring cleaning spells, etc. Anything and everything related to Easter eggs, baby animals, April showers, and (shudder) bunnies. We’re trying to put together an episode featuring folklore, ritual, and practice from all over the country and the world relating to rebirth, green grass, renewal, etc. and we need your help to do it! So if you’ve been hanging on to a killer magical gardening tip, a clever and enchanted use for chocolate rabbits, or a story about dancing naked around a maypole, fire up your email and send it in!

So what’s in it for you if you send us lore? Prizes!

The Prizes

  • A copy of Etched Offerings: Voices from the Cauldron of Story from Misanthrope press (an anthology of pagan fiction featuring stories from several podcasters like Oraia Helene, Saturn Darkhope, & me!)
  • An email card reading from Cory, with a 1-2 page card report featuring a 2-card split and 7-card layout, plus interpretations and a fairy-tale recommendation to connect your reading to a story you can turn to for more inspiration.
  • A goody box from Compass & Key Apothecary featuring several of our oils, curios, and mojo bags. While actual contents of the box are subject to change, they will likely have at least 2 oils, 2 mojo bags, 1-2 curios (like rabbits’ feet, gator paws, or Mercury dimes), and 3-4 herbal samples.

How to Enter

Send your entries to compassandkey@gmail.com to enter, and be sure to put “Spring Lore” in your subject line.

We hope to hear from you soon! Remember, the deadline is midnight on March 21st, 2012, so get those entries in before then!

All the best, and thanks for everything you do!

-Cory

Quick Update – Spring Lore Contest!

Howdy everyone!

We’ve got a Spring Lore Contest going on until March 21, 2012! We’re looking for Springtime Lore this time around: seed planting rituals & customs, fertility charms, spring cleaning spells, etc. Anything and everything related to Easter eggs, baby animals, April showers, and (shudder) bunnies. We’re trying to put together an episode featuring folklore, ritual, and practice from all over the country and the world relating to rebirth, green grass, renewal, etc. and we need your help to do it! But because we like you an awful lot, we also want to give you the chance to win shiny and wonderful things from us when you send us your lore!

The Prizes

  • A copy of Etched Offerings: Voices from the Cauldron of Story from Misanthrope press (an anthology of pagan fiction featuring stories from several podcasters like Oraia Helene, Saturn Darkhope, & me!)
  • An email card reading from Cory, with a 1-2 page card report featuring a 2-card split and 7-card layout, plus interpretations and a fairy-tale recommendation to connect your reading to a story you can turn to for more inspiration.
  • A goody box from Compass & Key Apothecary featuring several of our oils, curios, and mojo bags. While actual contents of the box are subject to change, they will likely have at least 2 oils, 2 mojo bags, 1-2 curios (like rabbits’ feet, gator paws, or Mercury dimes), and 3-4 herbal samples.

How to Enter

Send your entries to compassandkey@gmail.com to enter, and be sure to put “Spring Lore” in your subject line.

We hope to hear from you soon! Remember, the deadline is midnight on March 21st, 2012, so get those entries in before then!

All the best, and thanks for everything you do!

-Cory

Podcast 12 – Spell Failures

-SHOWNOTES FOR EPISODE 12-

Summary
This episode is a follow-up to our recent special on spell successes.  We look at spells that have not ended successfully, and discuss how we reacted to these failures.  In WitchCraft, Laine looks at the magic of calligraphy, and in Spelled Out, Cory examines the Green Devil Pay Me Now Spell.

Play:

Download:  New World Witchery – Episode 12

-Sources-
Our own experiences, of course!

We also mentioned the book Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells by Judika Illes again.
Laine mentioned the book Learn Calligraphy, by Margaret Shepherd in the WitchCraft segment.
Cory referenced the Lucky Mojo site as a source for things like the green devil figural candles and Pay Me incense in the Spelled Out segment.
Other sites to find Pay Me-type products (many don’t have “Pay Me Now” oil, but various kinds of commanding and money-drawing incenses and oils, which can be used in a similar way):  Queen of Pentacles Conjure, Music City Mojo, Forest Grove Botanica, Toads Bone Apotheca, and The Conjure Doctor.

Promos & Music
Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.
Promo 1 – Inciting a Riot
Promo 2-  Pennies in the Well

Blog Post 49 – Snakes

I hope you’ve got your good boots on today, because we’re getting into the tall grass and looking for snakes!  Snakes have had a place in magical lore for a very long time.  In Ancient Greece, Artemis and Apollo were sometimes associated with snakes.  Apollo was famous for slaying the great serpent Python (see Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book I), and his priestesses were ever afterwards known as the Pythia.  Artemis, offended by King Admetus’s oversight of an offering due her, filled his bed with serpents.  In Vodoun tradition, the Creator figure is a great serpent, Damballah.  Stories of creation and snakes seem to go hand in hand across many cultures.

In the New World, snakes have a mixed significance.  On the one hand, the biblical story of Eden in Genesis lays a lot of the blame for humanity’s disobedience on the serpent in the garden.  At the same time, humanity would be without knowledge without the snake, so there’s more than one way to look at the story.  However, if you ask many Christians today who the snake was, they will answer “the Devil” or “Satan,” so for all intents and purposes, mainstream culture takes a fairly negative view of these slithering creatures.  That does not mean, however, that all snakes are viewed as little devils, and many folks actually like them.  Farmers like snakes because they keep rodent populations down in barns and fields, for example.

In magic, snakes are one of the most potent animals you can use.  There are several different magical traditions surrounding snakes or their various parts and pieces.  Catherine Yronwode notes that “the blood, eggs, heads, flesh, sheds, and skins of all species of snakes are used in jinxing and crossing” and the manufacture of various hoodoo mixtures, like Goofer Dust or Live Things In You poisons (HHRM p. 186).  She also mentions that the sheds can be used to calm one’s mind.  Other hoodoo-related uses of snake sheds and bones include situations where cunning might be needed, or for luck and power.  In this last case, rattlesnake bones and rattles are often used.  Musicians who wish to play well and win contests often keep a rattle with their instruments, according to Yronwode.

In the case of the Live Things In You curse, powdered snake parts—usually eggs or sheds—are mixed into a victim’s food.  The target then feels as though the creature is wriggling around in his body, causing him pain and distress, as well as the feeling that he might be going crazy.  You can read more about this kind of baleful working in Superstitions & Folklore of the South, by Charles W. Chestnutt, at the University of Virginia website.

Vance Randolph recorded several bits of magical lore concerning snakes in his Ozark Magic & Folklore:

  • To cause a rain, a snake could be hung belly-up on a fence (p. 30)
  • Burning shoes in the fireplace will drive away snakes (p. 68)
  • Snake-skin soaked in vinegar is applied to boils to reduce them (p. 101)
  • Snake-bites treated by doctors will always ache on the anniversary of the bite (p. 159)

Randolph also mentions the snake-handling “Holy Roller” churches sometimes found in rural areas of the South.  These churches base their practice on an admonition in Mark 16: 17-18:   “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (KJV).

A final tale from the Ozarks concerns a family that had a secret method of dealing with snakes:

“Miss Jewell Perriman, of Jenkins, Missouri, tells me that her Uncle Bill had a secret method of curing snake bite, and people came from miles around for treatment. Uncle Bill belonged to a family of which it was said ‘them folks don’t kill snakes.’ This is very unusual in the Ozarks, where most people do kill every snake they see. When a large copperhead was found in the Perriman house, Uncle Bill caught it with the tongs, carried it out into the orchard, and released it unharmed. His cure for snake bite was known in the family for at least a hundred years…The secret is lost now, for Uncle Bill is long dead, and his son died suddenly without issue. All that Miss Perriman knows of the snake-bite cure is that the snake must not be injured, and that Uncle Bill had a strip of ancient buckskin in which he tied certain knots as part of the treatment. She showed me the buckskin. It was about half an inch wide, perhaps twelve inches long, carefully rounded at the ends. Three knots had been tied in it, one in the middle and one at either end” (Randolph, Ozark Magic & Folklore, p. 159).

Wouldn’t you love to know what that secret was?  I sure would!

I suspect that snakes will always have a place in magical lore.  They have the ability to slide between upper and lower worlds easily.  Some can kill with a bite, but also provide useful services to us in many ways.  They seem to show up everywhere in the world (except Ireland…but that’s a completely different subject) and they always connect to something primal in us: fear, knowledge and gnosis, or even sexuality.  I’ll be keeping my good boots on when dealing with them, but I definitely have a particular love for these critters.

Thanks for reading!

-Cory

Podcast 7 – Weather Magic and Lore

-SHOWNOTES FOR EPISODE 7-

Summary
Today we’ll look at some weather folklore and magic.  Then, we’ll be introducing two new sections:  WitchCraft with Laine, and Magic Spelled Out with Cory.

Play:

Download:  New World Witchery – Episode 7

-Sources-
Main Topic
The Foxfire BookSpecifically the chapter on weather lore
Smoky Mountain Weather Lore – With some interesting weather folklore from the Appalachians
Buying the Wind by Richard Dorson
Grimoire for the Green Witch, by Ann Moura
Dog Predicting Earthquake – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MFzcl-kZHo&feature=related
And of course, weather lore provided by our wonderful listeners!

WitchCraft
“Knitting Witchcraft” by Olivia O’Meir, in Llewellyn’s 2007 Magical Almanac
The Knitter’s Book of Yarn, by Clara Parkes
knittingdaily.com
theanticraft.com
ravelry.com

Magic Spelled Out
Earth Power, by Scott Cunningham
Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells, by Judika Iles

Promos & Music
Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.
WitchCraft Intro: “Down on the Farm” by Chubby Parker
Magic Spelled Out Intro: “Evil Devil Woman Blues” by Joe McCoy
Promo 1 – Witchery of One (Hooray!  Jay’s back!)
Promo 2- Pennies in the Well