Podcast 58 – Yuletide Cheer! 2013

-SHOWNOTES FOR EPISODE 58

Summary

Our annual fruitcake of wintery music, poetry, & other holiday goodies!

 Play:

Download: New World Witchery – Episode 58

-Sources-

Stories & Poetry:

  1. Noel,” by Katherine Porter
  2. “Christmas,” (two versions) and “Winter,” from The Real Mother Goose
  3. Christmas Trees,” by Robert Frost
  4. A selection from “The Snow Queen,” by Hans Christian Andersen
  5. Santa’s Traveling Companions,” adapted from information at the Saint Nicholas Center

Don’t forget to follow us at Twitter! And at Facebook!

Also, please enter our current contest!

Promos & Music

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

Playlist:

  1. “Nou is Yole Comen,” Shira Kammen
  2. “Swete was the Song,” by Artsy Honker
  3. “Good King Wenceslas,” US Army Chorus
  4. “Candelight Carol,” Kathmandu Chorale
  5. “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming,” Annie Hiller
  6. “Carol of the Birds,” by Broceliande*
  7. “The Holly, Witches Dance,” Harper’s Hamper
  8. “Broome, Bonny Broome,” Harper’s Hamper
  9. “Patapan,” Fugli
  10. “Cherry Tree Carol,” Rose & Thistle Band (independent artist)
  11. “This Endris Night,” US Army Chorus
  12. “Cold Blows the Wind,” Music for a Winter’s Eve
  13. “Deck the Halls,” Harper’s Hamper
  14. “Green Grows the Holly,” Shira Kammen
  15. “O Christmas Tree,” Tubachick
  16. “O Tannenbaum,” Kellianna (f. Jenna Greene)*
  17.  “Winter’s Ritual,” SJ Tucker (from Ember Days soundtrack)*
  18. “Wassail Song,” Music for a Winter’s Eve
  19. “Come Landlord fill the Flowing Bowl,” The Limeybirds (independent artist)
  20. “Boar’s Head Carol,” The Pagan Carolers
  21. “O Come Emmanuel,” Mary Ellen Kirk
  22. “Ave Maria,” Kellianna*
  23. “Da Day Dawn,” Samantha Gillogly*

*Used with artist permission

Underscoring music is “Nu Zit Wellekome,” Ralph Rousseau Meulenbroeks, and “Courdian,” Music for a Winter’s Eve, both from Magnatune.

Podcast 38 – Yuletide Cheer! 2011

-SHOWNOTES FOR EPISODE 38

Summary
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!

Play:
Download: New World Witchery – Episode 38

-Sources-
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

Recipes:
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.

Playlist:
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 109 – Holidays in the Mountains

Hi there, everyone!

Today, I’m going to be sharing a little bit of holiday lore from the mountains, both the Ozarks and the Appalachians (to those readers wondering when I’ll start including the Rockies, I promise I’ll get there one day!  I’m just woefully ignorant of the traditions from that area).  There are a number of pieces of folklore associated with the winter holidays in the mountains.  Often, storytelling and family visits were the primary entertainment in the financially poor but folklore-and-culturally-rich mountains once the cold weather set in.  Christmas was not always celebrated, especially during the early years of settling, largely because many Protestants settling in the Appalachians viewed the holiday with suspicion and regarded it as a Catholic celebration.  One source records that the penalty for observing Christmas during the Puritan era was a “fine of five shillings” (WG&S, p.28).  Over time, however, as more people of mixed backgrounds settled the area, Christmas became a social holiday.  Patrick Gainer records that holidays in the mountains included:

  • Fireworks and noisemaking
  • Very little decorating prior to the widespread introduction of electricity (most homes didn’t have a Christmas tree)
  • School Christmas parties
  • Costumed visits to friends and neighbors (called “Belsnickling”—more on that in a minute)
  • Toys for children, though almost entirely homemade ones

Belsnickling

The tradition of Belsnickling is particularly interesting.  It seems to be a mumming tradition in the vein of similar British activities, but is really practiced by only the Germanic settlers in the Appalachians.  It relates to the Belsnickle (whose name may come from pelz Nicholas, or “furry Nick”), a devilish traveling companion to good St. Nick during his holiday visits who would punish the wicked children in the same way that the saint rewarded the good ones.  In some variations, it was not St. Nick who traveled with Belsnickle, but Kriss Kringle (likely a derivation from the Germanic kriskindl, or “Christ-child”).   Gerald Milnes describes the practice thusly:

“To people in the Potomac Highlands, belsnickling is the action of going from house to house in masquerade, with residents guessing the belsnicklers’ identities…Sometimes treats were offered to the belsnicklers, and sometimes belsnicklers offered treats to the household” (SC&W, p.186)

Milnes also offers a variety of pranks and tricks related to this practice:

  • Candy would be thrown on the floor, and when children dove for it, they would have their fingers switched by the belsnicklers
  • Bands of belsnicklers would wander through the countryside hooting and yelling all through the night
  • People in costume would tap on the windows of houses and scare the children inside
  • Firecrackers would be lit and thrown into people’s homes

He also relates this practice back to something deeply witchy—the Wild Hunt:

“Belsnickling and similar activities, as group practices, have obscure beginnings, but they may well go back to the old Teutonic concept of the wild hunt.  In Scandinavian and German versions of this myth, a huntsman with dogs, accompanied by spirits, hunts the wild woman.  In some versions, the huntsman, a lost soul, leads a band of wild spirits to overrun farms at Christmas time (the winter solstice)” (SC&W, p. 186).

Christmas Dinner in the Mountains

Of course, no Christmas would be complete without a feast in modern minds, but the table offerings were not quite the same for every family.  Often, up in the mountains in the early-to-midwinter, the meal would consist on the wild meat that was available rather than anything domestically raised.  In Foxfire 12, informant John Huron describes a most particular holiday meal:

“Groundhogs aren’t bad eatin’ either if you cook them right…baked and layered with onions and sweet potatoes.  That was what Charlie’s daughter, Margaret, would fix him for Christmas dinner every year.  They invited me and my wife, Sandy, and my son, Jay, over for Christmas dinner one time, and that’s what we had.  A groundhog is a lot cleaner animal than a chicken.  When you get right down to it, a chicken is a nasty critter” (FF12, p.248)

Signs and Omens on Christmas

There are a number of superstitions which have sprung up around the holiday season, too.  Often, weather and luck are intimately tied to Christmas, though sometimes the date shifts a little between December 25th (“New” Christmas) and January 6th (“Old” Christmas).  Some of the signs and omens from the Appalachians and Ozarks include:

  • It will be a fruitful year if the eaves of the house drip on Christmas (SC&W)
  • Children born on Christmas Day can understand the speech of animals (WG&S and OM&F)
  • Being the first to say “Christmas Gift” to another on Christmas Day yielded good luck (WG&S)
  • On Christmas Eve at midnight, all farm animals will bow down and speak to acknowledge Christ’s birth (SC&W and OM&F)
  • Those with the “second sight” make predictions most accurately on Christmas Eve (IaGaM)
  • “A green Christmas makes a fat graveyard” – warm weather at Christmas will lead to many deaths over the coming year (OM&F)
  • On Old Christmas, the sun actually rises twice instead of just once (OM&F)
  • Bees buzz so loudly on Old Christmas they can be heard for miles away (OM&F)
  • Elderberries always sprout on Old Christmas, no matter what the weather (OM&F)

Even with its rather slow, Puritanical start, Christmas in the mountains has become one of the most magically charged times of the year.  From eating groundhogs to playing rowdy pranks to witnessing the miraculous behavior of animals, this is certainly one of the most interesting times of the year.  And, in my humble opinion, one of the most magical.

Thanks for reading!

-Cory

Podcast 22 – Yuletide Cheer!

Summary

Happy Yule!  Today we have our favorite carols, poems, recipes, and even a little lore for the winter holidays.  Have a blessed and happy holiday season!

Play:


Download:  New World Witchery – Episode 22

-Sources-
A Visit from St. Nicholas,” attributed to Clement Clark Moore, but likely written by Henry Livingston, Jr.
The Oxen,” by Thomas Hardy.

Recipes for Tom & Jerrys, Reindeer Food, and Gingerbread cookies.

Holiday animal lore can be found here.

Promos & Music
Nearly every song can be found on CDBaby.com or iTunes.  Below I’ve attempted to link directly to the artist pages where possible.

  1. I Saw Three Ships – West of Eden
  2. Gods Rest Ye Merry Paganfolk – The Pagan Carolers
  3. Hark the Herald Angels Sing – Doug Smith
  4. Wren in the Furze – Shira Kammen
  5. Silver Bells – Steve Martin & Paul Simon (Live recording from SNL)
  6. A Soalin’/Soul Cake – Pagan Carolers
  7. Holly & The Ivy – Howl-O
  8. Good King Wenceslas – The Trail Band
  9. Cherry Tree Carol – Rose & Thistle Band
  10. Bring the Torch Jeanette Isabella – Trifolkal
  11. Boars Head Carol – Pagan Carolers
  12. Come Landlord Fill the Flowing Bowl – The Limeybirds
  13. Gloucester Wassail – Pagan Carolers
  14. Carol of the Bells – Ross Moore
  15. Stille Nacht/Silent Night – Katie McMahon
  16. Snowbird – Maidens Three
  17. Da Day Dawn – Samantha Gillogly
  18. O Tannenbaum – Antique Music Box Christmas Collection
  19. O Holy Night – Indigo Girls
  20. This Endris Night – Heather Dale
  21. Go Tell It On the Mountain – Easy Anthems
  22. Patapan – Bittersweet & Briers
  23. Welcome Yule – Renaissance Revelers
  24. Little Drummer Boy – Men of Worth
  25. Angels We Have Heard on High – Skye Pixton
  26. Auld Lang Syne – Marc Gunn

Holiday wishes from (in no particular order) Saturn Darkhope, Oraia Sphinx, Scarlet at LPV, Gillian the Iron Powaqa, Rianna Stone the Pagan Homesteader, & Kathleen at Borealis Meditation.

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!

-Cory

Podcast 21 – Winter Lore

-SHOWNOTES FOR EPISODE 21-

Summary

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!

Play:

Download:  New World Witchery – Episode 21
-Sources-
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)!

-Cory