Episode 137 – Yuletide Cheer! 2018


In our annual holiday episode, we turn to the natural world for carols and lessons on the plants and animals of the Yuletide season.


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Producers for this show: Heather, WisdomQueen, Regina, Jen Rue of Rue & Hyssop, Little Wren, Khristopher, Tanner, Achija of Spellbound Bookbinding,  Johnathan at the ModernSouthernPolytheist, Catherine, Carole, Debra, Montine, Cynara at The Auburn Skye, Moma Sarah at ConjuredCardea, Jody, Josette, Amy, Victoria, Sherry, 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!


Download: Episode 137 – Yuletide Cheer! 2018




Much of the lore featured in this episode comes from the following books and websites:


If you have feedback you’d like to share, email us or leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you!

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 Promos & Music

Music from this episode is licensed from Magnatune unless otherwise noted. “CC License” indicates a Creative Commons 2.0 Share-and-share-alike license.


Song List:

  • The Holly & the Ivy – Quire Cleveland
  • Ceremonies for Christmas Eve – Passsamezzo
  • The Holly Witches’ Dance – Harper’s Hamper
  • Ivy is Good – English Ayres
  • Green Grows the Holly – Shira Kammen
  • The Blood-red Rose at Yule – Music for a Winter’s Night
  • Christmas Tree – Emma Wallace
  • Kentucky (Ohio) Wassail – Quire Cleveland
  • Apple Tree Wassail – Shira Kammen
  • Here we Come a-Wassailing – Harper’s Hamper
  • Wassail Song (1913 – Vaughn Williams) – Quire Cleveland
  • While Shepherds Watched their Flocks – Alabama Sacred Harp Singers (Wikimedia – CC License)
  • Shepherd’s Carol to be Sung on New Year’s Day – Passamezzo
  • On Christmas Day – Jean Ritchie (Library of Congress – Public Domain)
  • The Boar’s Head Carol – Harper’s Hamper
  • The Wren in the Furze – Shira Kammen
  • Fowles in the Frith/Bird on a Briar – English Ayres
  • Little Skylark – J. Tucker (used with permission of artist)
  • Da Day Dawn – Samantha Gillogly (used with permission of artist)


Incidental Music for this episode includes “O Christmas Tree,” by Jeff Wahl (Magnatune); “Snow Drop,” by Kevin Macleod (Free Music Archive – CC License); and “The Sighful Branches,” by Axletree (Free Music Archive – CC License).


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Podcast 47 – Yultide Greetings! 2012



This is our annual holiday special, featuring music, poetry, stories, and recipes! Here’s wishing you all the best for your holiday season and a happy new year to come!


Download: Episode 47 – Yuletide Greetings 2012


Stories & Poetry:

Susie’s Letter from Santa Claus,” by Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)
The Goblins Who Stole a Sexton,” by Charles Dickens
The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus,” by Ogden Nash
A history of the Christmas candle in the window, from Fantasy-Ireland.com

Recipes (All cocktails this year):
After Five – Cory
Amber Dream/Winterbeer – Cory
Egg Nog, extra fancy – Laine

Don’t forget to follow us at Twitter!

Promos & Music

All songs used with permission/license, from Magnatune and MusicAlley, except as noted.


  1. “All Hayle to the Days, To Drive the Cold Winter Away,” Harper’s Hamper
  2. “Dancing Day I – A Virgin Most Pure,” Steven Potvin & Con Brio Choir
  3. “O Come Emmanuel,” Mary Ellen Kirk
  4.  “A v Jerusalime,” Kitka
  5. “Rise Up Bright Sun,” Leslie Fish*
  6. “The Huron Carol,” Tracy Helen
  7. “Green Grow’th the Holly,” Pagan Carolers
  8. “The Holly Bears a Berry,” Shira Kamen
  9. “The Holly/Witches Dance,” Harper’s Hamper
  10.  “I Saw Three Ships,” Dusty Hughes
  11. “Tapster Drynker,” Shira Kamen
  12. “Wassail,” In Nova Cantica
  13. “Tsarko Momche…,” Kitka
  14. “Chestnut, Daphne, Scotch Cap,” Music for a Winter’s Eve
  15.  “The Blood-red Rose at Yule,” Music for a Winter’s Eve
  16. “Nu zit Wellekome,” Ralph Rousseau Muelenbroeks
  17. “We Three Kings,” Jennifer Avalon
  18. “The Wheel of the Year,” Shira Kamen
  19.  “Patapan,” Fugli
  20. “Twelfth Eve, Christmas Cheer, Chestnut Vagary,” Harper’s Hamper
  21. “Le Brandevin,” Shira Kamen
  22. “Da Day Dawn,” Samantha Gillogly*

Underscoring music is “We Three Kings,” by Two Harps, and “Ding Dong Merrily on High,” by Tracy Helen, both from MusicAlley.

*Used by permission of the artist.

Podcast 38 – Yuletide Cheer! 2011


This is our annual holiday special, featuring music, poetry, stories, and recipes! Here’s wishing you all the best for your holiday season and a happy new year to come!

Download: New World Witchery – Episode 38

Stories & Poetry:
A Baker’s Dozen,” by Charles M. Skinner
Minstrels,” by William Wordsworth
Mistletoe,” by Walter de la Mare
When the Snow is on the Ground,” by Mother Goose
Old Santeclaus,” by Clement Clark Moore
A Florida Christmas Folktale,” by S.E. Schlosser
Ceremonies for Christmas,” by Robert Herrick
Noel,” by Anne Porter

Wassail, from Laine
Jode Kayer (Jewish Cookies), from Cory’s family cookbook
Danish Vanilla Rings, from Cory’s family cookbook

Don’t forget to follow us at Twitter!

Promos & Music
All songs used with permission/license, from Magnatune and MusicAlley, except as noted.

1. Down in Yon Forest – Lydia McCauley
2. In the Bleak Midwinter – Fugli
3. O Holy Night – The New Autonomous Folksingers
4. O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Cat Jonkhe (sp?)
5. Round About our Coal Fire – Shira Kammen
6. Ma Navu – Kitka
7. Schedrick (Ukranian Bell Carol) – Kitka
8. We Three Kings – Jennifer Avalon
9. The Wassail Song (Yorkshire Wassail) – Jim Goodrich
10. Somerset Wassail – Pagan Carolers
11. Apple Tree Wassail – Shira Kammen
12. Bring Us in Good Ale – Lydia McCauley
13. Hark the Herald Angels Sing – Mano Reza
14. Jolly Old St. Nicholas – Selena Matthews
15. The Friendly Beasts – Gary
16. Patapan – Fugli
17. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Chances End
18. Fum Fum Fum – Fugli
19. Cutty Wren – Shira Kammen
20. Silent Night/Stille Nacht – Karmyn Tyler
21. Da Day Dawn – Samantha Gillogly*

Underscoring music is “We Three Kings,” by Two Harps, from MusicAlley.
*Used by permission of the artist.

Blog Post 111 – The Meaning of Christmas?

Hi everyone,

This is just a short post today looking at a recent discussion from the BBC:


In this broadcast (which I heard via Oraia Sphinx, many thanks to her), the origins and meaning of Christmas are discussed by Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association (aka. The AFA—an evangelical group which leads many initiatives to instill religiously conservative values into Americans) and Professor of Pagan History/well-respected author Ronald Hutton of Bristol University.  While it’s not really fair to pit a scholar and historian against a spokesperson, the overall conversation is interesting, if a bit charged at times.  I’m not posting it to stir up controversy (though I suspect it may do so), but more because I thought it was interesting, and because I always enjoy hearing Hutton speak on history and theology.  Also, Fischer makes an interesting point for those of us who are American witches—can we celebrate “Christmas” without making it (at least primarily) a religious observance?  And do we need to?  Is our country so deeply tied to its Christian roots that we acknowledge Christianity by acts as mundane as writing a check with an “A.D.” date on it?  Or, as Hutton proposes, is America a collection of pocket communities each defining their own values based on their cultural, ethnic, and social histories?  Food for thought.

There’s a rather neat musical montage in the piece, too, which outlines the different angles from which Christmas (and the winter holidays in general) can be viewed.  Religious, Hopeful, Commercial, or Sad, there does seem to be a universal draw to set aside this time of year, whatever feelings it inspires.

So what about you?  Do you have a “reason for the season” that you’d like to share?  What does Christmas mean to you?

Thanks for reading!


Blog Post 107 – More Winter Lore

Greetings everyone!

I’m putting the rest of my series on Magic Books in the American Colonies on hold, temporarily.  Partly this is because I’ve decided to get working on the Resources page I have been planning to do for a while, which means that even if the posts themselves are weeks or months apart, they will be easy to read in succession because of their indexing on that page.  But mostly it’s because I’m in a holiday mood, and that means I really want to write about winter lore.

Let me start by sharing some of the links and information I missed in our show notes from the contest entries our listeners submitted.  For example, Kathleen of Borealis Meditation sent me a lovely batch of pictures featuring the fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) from her lore submission:

In case you haven’t heard the related yuletide tale on the show, the folk wisdom goes that these shrubs, which grow after a wildfire has spread through a landscape, bloom from the bottom up.  They also go to seed from the bottom up, turning into “fluff” as they go.  When the fluff hits the top of the stalks, the first snow will fall, so the story says.

I also failed to put a link to listener and blogger Nathalie’s “24 Posts to Christmas.”  If you remember, Nathalie shared the lore about the Kuppelchen, a type of house-spirit responsible for taking care of a household and which often appears in families where magical folk are present.  In addition to this great bit of lore, Nathalie gives lots of holiday tidbits, tales, and recipes, including one for Grog—a very warming and bracing adult beverage for those cold winter days.  She also talks about things like Christmas Markets, St. Nicholas, and lead casting (which we also mentioned on the show, I think).

December is full of magical holidays, not just the mid-to-late month festivities that everyone knows about.  I’d like to throw two Catholic holidays out there (don’t worry, there won’t be any dogma, just a few of the more magical traditions associated with them).

First, there’s St. Nicholas’s Day, which is December 6th.   The night beforehand, children leave out their shoes near the door or fireplace, and in the morning, find them full of toys, candy, nuts, and fruit.  This custom, which seems to be Northern European in origin, is one I grew up with in my house.  St. Nicholas is also usually accompanied by a darker traveling companion, too, such as Ruprecht, Belsnickel, or Krampus.  This “anti-Santa” leaves punishments for naughty children, but can also be fairly benign and simply serve to balance out the whole “jolly old elf” side of the season.  I remember seeing lots of people dressed as either an angel or a devil on St. Nicholas’s Day while living in Prague, so the tradition of masking also ties into this holiday.  There is also an Appalachian tradition called “Belsnicking” which involves making masked visits to one’s neighbors during the holiday season (you can find a lot about that in Gerald Milne’s Signs, Cures, & Witchery).

One thing I really wanted to mention, but for some reason didn’t, was St. Lucy (or Santa Lucia).  Lucy (whose name is deeply connected to the Latin “luce” or “light”) was a saint who tore out her own eyes as a demonstration of fidelity to her faith.  It’s a pretty gruesome thought, and much Christian art depicts this saint as carrying her own eyes on a silver platter.  Not exactly the type of story we think of while baking gingerbread men, right?  But St. Lucy’s Day, which falls on December 13th, is incredibly popular in Scandinavian countries.  Rather than focusing on the awful self-blinding, instead little girls wear crowns of candles and evergreens on their heads as they perform holiday parades dressed in all white gowns.  The girls then hand out sweets like gingerbread (pepparkakor) and chocolate to the people they pass, all the while, singing carols.  There’s a special type of pastry, the St. Lucia Bun, which is also made on this holiday.  In Italy, children leave out coffee or chocolate for Lucia, as well as bread and grain for her donkey.

There are still so many wonderful holiday traditions, customs, and magics out there to mention, but I’ll pause here for today.  I hope you’re enjoying the spirit of the season!

Thanks for reading!


Podcast 21 – Winter Lore



In this episode, we share some of the winter lore we received in our recent contest.  We look at the various wonderful traditions from around the continent (and the world), and share some of our own holiday practices.  Plus, we have a special guest!  We also discuss reclaiming the holiday season, and we have the winners of our contest!  Thank you to all who contributed!


Download:  New World Witchery – Episode 21
Most of our lore comes from either us or our listeners this time around. But if you’re looking for some good books on holiday customs and traditions, I can recommend:
All Around the Year, by Jack Santino
The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas, by Caitlin & John Matthews
The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice, by Carolyn M. Edwards
Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain, by Ronald Hutton
Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide, by Christian Ratsch
Promos & Music
Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.
Promo 1 – Borealis Meditations
Promo 2 – Forest Grove Botanica
Promo 3 – Appalachian Witch Doctor Tales

Quick Update – Holiday Lore Contest Reminder

Hello everybody!

This is just a quick reminder that we’ve got our Winter Lore Contest on right now, but time is running out to get your entry in.  We’re looking for information centered around the winter holidays, specifically local or family:

  • Practices
  • Customs
  • Traditions
  • Songs
  • Recipes
  • Stories
  • Crafts

Please make sure you tell us what area you are from (generally), and if you would like us to use your name on the blog/podcast.

You have until midnight (Central Time) on Monday, December 6th to submit your lore via blog comment or email, so don’t delay!  You can still get an additional entry if you tweet, blog, or otherwise spread the word about the contest and send us the link.

The prizes are:
Two Runner-up Prizes – Signed copy of Judika Illes’ latest book, The Weiser Field Guide to Witches

One Grand Prize – A Compass & Key Hoodoo Starter Kit, with a selection of oils, botanicals, curios, and other products for budding rootworkers.

We’ve gotten a number of excellent entries, but we still would love to get some more, so please submit before time runs out!

Thanks for reading (and sharing)!


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