Writing about witchcraft is easy. Finding the right theme isn’t. Any fool can pass themselves off as a witch but finding an informative and entertaining approach for a new book is a whole different cauldron of knowledge. Personally, I feel there should be a magical purpose behind any book on Craft – otherwise it’s all been said before – and usually better …
Traditional Witchcraft for Fields & Hedgerows had to come since the series needed a month-by-month witch’s calendar and it was difficult to find material that hadn’t been regurgitated in countless other titles about the witches’ year. For this book I settled for a ‘treasury’ format – a monthly potpourri of country-lore, superstitions, hearth magic, recipes, weather-lore, tree-lore, Circle-working and spell-casting – all part of the witch’s or the countryman’s craft. Being a born and bred countrywoman much of what I write has its roots in rural living and is part of that rapidly disappearing world that has kept the practice of rural witchcraft alive long after its application vanished from daily living. Hopefully the book acts as a guide to some of the traditional parts of our witch culture including some of the lesser known customs.
The problem we encounter with this kind of writing, of course, is that the modern pagan community is often at odds with the ‘hunting, shooting, fishing’ – not to mention the ‘red in tooth and claw’ – aspects of country living. I was once accused of advocating ‘black magic’ in quoting from the English Huswife of 1615 that advised those infected with the plague to try applying hot bricks to the feet and, if this didn’t work, ‘a live pidgeon cut in two parts’. This was a cure tried on Catherine of Braganza and recorded by Samuel Pepys in his diary on the 19th October 1667 that ‘pigeons were put to her feet’. Actually, pigeons were a surprisingly common ‘ingredient’ in the medicine of the time and were even recommended for various conditions in the official pharmacopoeia (catalogue) of sanctioned remedies. Again, it was a case of a misreading of the text but it still makes me wonder how a common 17th-century folk-medicine practice can be misinterpreted as a 21st-century ‘black magic’ rite – unless it’s deliberately misunderstood!
The first in the series to reach best-selling status was Traditional Witchcraft for Woods & Forests: A Witch’s Guide to the woodland with guided meditations and pathworking … This book needed a different approach and so Hunter’s Wood came into being. Hunter’s Wood does not exist in the ‘real’ world — or rather, different parts of it exist in different locations. Neither is the practice of Wood-Craft restricted to any particular witchcraft or pagan tradition since a wooded landscape is pertinent to every creed and culture since ancient times.
For the purpose of visualisation, meditation and pathworking, however, I decided to use natural broad-leafed woodland, since the fauna and flora of the forest have always played an important role in traditional witchcraft. Many of the ingredients for a witch’s spells and charms come from woodland plants and trees, while the fauna offers unique opportunities for divination and augury. Hunter’s Wood can be recreated on the inner planes by using magical techniques, so that even those witches living in urban surroundings can take to the woodland paths whenever they choose … and perhaps come to understand more about traditional wood-Craft and country ways.
Tradition Witchcraft for Fields & Hedgerows and Traditional Witchcraft for Woods & Forests by Melusine Draco are published by Moon Books in paperback and e-book format. http://www.moon-books.net