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Folk Magic Musings

If you’ve been on my email list for awhile or follow me on social media, you’ve likely seen me teasing a class series that I am piloting called Folk Magic Fundamentals. The nitty-gritty details will be shared next week, although there are some preliminary details at the end of this post. In the meantime, I feel like what I am planning requires some context.


Over the past few years, I have been frequently asked to teach magic and up until recently, I have declined. Many of you know me as a medium, tarot reader, or connected to the paranormal exploration world, but my magical and spiritual practice is the thread that weaves its way through all I do and how I live my life.


There is not a singular, universal system for what we call “magic.” I define magic as the ways we can work with spirits, the natural world, ritual, traditions, and our own internal power to create changes in the lives of ourselves and others. There are so many systems of magic out there and what works well for one person won’t work for another. Some people thrive working with ceremonial magic or perhaps with a coven.  I practice what falls under the huge umbrella of “folk magic.” I work in a particular lineage of Trolldom, which is a kind of Scandinavian folk magic. I have also been very blessed to have friends and colleagues who work in a variety of different traditions. As we share stories and sometimes collaborate or problem solve, it has given me vast appreciation for the importance of honoring the cultural roots of our magical practices, while also seeing the ways similar practices can be found across the globe.


Folk magic is rooted in the ways we, as everyday people, can improve our circumstances, defend ourselves, and strengthen our connection with the natural and spiritual worlds. It is the magic of the common folk. Historically, they are the practices used by those who were poor, often illiterate, and worked hard to survive. When these practices were documented, it was often by outsiders who would dub the old ways as superstitious and primitive. The folk practices of our ancestors, no matter where they hail from, were anything but. They worked with what they had to take care of the physical and spiritual health of their families and communities. Folk magic is resistance and resiliency.


The thing that has vexed me for years when it comes to teaching the magical practices that are important to me is that, once again, there isn’t one kind of “folk magic.” It is very much dependent on where you live, your ancestry and heritage, and the lineage you want to work with. Then I realized, that is exactly where one can start their learning.


Let’s start by talking about ancestry and heritage.


There is a huge push to “get back to the ways of our ancestors.” Connecting with traditional foods, songs, language, and agricultural practices can be incredibly beneficial and healing. However, the reality is that many of us, especially in the United States, have very mixed heritage and live far away from our cultures of origin. It’s easy to romanticize ancestral homelands when so many of us are just doing our best to survive and thrive in a country plagued by problems, old and new. However, our desire to connect with our cultures of origin must also take into consideration the circumstances of the modern-day members of those cultures. My desire to connect with the old ways of my Romanian, Greek, Danish, Italian, English, or Scottish ancestors can’t ignore what is going on for folks living in those countries right now. The good news is that connecting with our lineage and ancestry gives us the opportunity to pay attention to what is happening in our cultures of origin and to get involved as needed.


It is also worth noting that our ancestors don’t want us to live in the past. They want us to thrive in the present and set future generations up for success. While we are pining for the old ways, they might be amazed that we are living in a time with so much potential and convenience.  One story that never fails to make me laugh is how my Italian grandmother rejoiced once marinara could be purchased in a jar. She was a prolific gardener, but had zero interest in growing vegetables after living through World War II and the Great Depression. She had no problem dumping the inconvenience of being tied to her stove for a day while the marinara simmered. It goes totally against preconceived notions – i.e. stereotypes – of how an Italian women should want to spend her time.  If I want to honor my grandmother, I sure don’t spend time making Sunday sauce!


More seriously, modern life can often feel like a pressure cooker/dumpster fire and our natural world is changing and volatile…but danger has always existed and this is what it looks like for our generation. We can connect with the past, while also living well in the present. We want to be ancestors that our descendants will be proud of.


Now let’s talk about living in the present.


A fundamental part of folk magic is working with what you have and the bounty that exists around you. We use folk magic to take care of and improve circumstances for ourselves and our loved ones. This must also incorporate the well-being of the land we live on and our communities. At the end of the day, what good is it to sit with riches in a castle if the land around you burns and everyone else is starving and sick?


If you spend all your time learning about the old ways of your ancestors in a far away country, but don’t learn about – and listen to – the land you live on, you are missing an opportunity to weave these threads into a tapestry that is unique to your life, right now.


Here’s an example of how this can play out…


In researching your heritage, you may learn about spirits of the home and hearth, which are found across the world. Perhaps as you learn about the brownies, tomte, or domovoy in your cultures of origin, you may begin to notice that little oddities around your current home in small town America have striking similarities to the old stories. If you take the time to research the land you live on, you may find that there are stories from indigenous communities of the little people who live on this land. Or perhaps you find that there are no publicly available indigenous stories to be found, just one more consequence of this country’s bloody and genocidal history. But you may start learning to trust what you are experiencing and pairing that with the knowledge you glean from researching where your people come from.


As you take the time to listen and experiment with weaving old ways with what you learn and hear from the land you are on right now, you may find yourself discovering that the trees, weeds, flowers, dirt, rocks, and sky all around you is filled with power, spirits, and wonder. You may begin to realize the herbs you use in your cooking started as a plant with a strong spirit and that spirit can be reawakened and worked with as an ally, turning your cooking into spells for the benefit of all who consume them. You may begin to connect to the way you care for your home in a different way, realizing everyday actions like sweeping and mopping can be turned into dedicated magical actions. As you are inspired to take care of your home and family in a new way…you may begin to zoom out to what is needed in your neighborhood, the school down the street, and onwards.  Do you see how this can build on itself? Do you find this as exciting as I do?


If you don’t, what I will be offering through Folk Magic Fundamentals is definitely not for you. It will also not be for you if you are looking to be spoon fed rituals and recipes.


However, if you are interested in learning about everyday magic and willing to do the work to create connection to the land you live on and learn about your own heritage, Folk Magic Fundamentals may be for you.


As I said, the nitty-gritty details will come out next week, mainly because I need to double check my scheduling. Here is what I can tell you for now. Folk Magic Fundamentals will consist of several series of classes, all virtual via Zoom, that are spread across the year. They will correspond with different seasons or themes. This first round will consist of four classes over eight weeks, with suggestions for your practice during the break weeks. We will start in late May and wrap up in early July. The cost will be $222 and I will offer a few sliding scale registrations, starting at $111, for folks who need them. Those will be first come, first serve. Those of you who are paid members of my Patreon, the Curiosity Coven, or who are SMDA alumni will have a special rate and early access to the registration. Classes will be recorded, with access to the replays until sometime in the Fall.


That’s it for now. I’m looking forward to seeing some of you in class.




 

  

 

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