A traditional Ndebele linaga is embellished with beads of red, green, orange, blue, and pink. Made for a married woman to wear on ceremonial occasions. The curved shape of the cape is a result of the way that skins have been stitched together. Limpopo Province, South Africa, 1976-1982.

Early Modern Reconstructionist Witchcraft

Getting quite frustrated about a trend in what could be called Early Modern Reconstructionist Witchcraft: a trend of taking particular ideas about reported historical practises in early modern and often also medieval Europe (and especially England and Scotland) and attempting to codify them as The True Witchcraft - often partially or completely devoid of the actual cultural and religious context of these practices (and without critical analysis of whether they *were* actual practices, when they come via trial reports), and often along with an American fetishisation of Europe.  It’s giving me a thumping headache.

Look, being inspired by the imagery of witchcraft in early modern (& earlier & later) England, Scotland, Western Europe is great.  Flying ointments, diabolical Sabbats, wild hunts & furious hosts and faery rades, familiar spirits, Diana and Habondia and their spiritual sisters - it’s great stuff, it’s juicy, it’s a real current in historical thought that’s affected our present day ideas.  The image of the cunning wo/man (whether of the mystic-cottage-full-of-herbs variety or the canny sometimes-rip-off-merchant practising what Pratchett termed Headology one [and the two are not exclusive]) is fertile inspiration for  modern practice.  I draw on this stuff myself, obviously!

But please, please be wary of anyone trying to tell you that modern, developing practises derived from (often selective) historical reports and modern interpretations of them are What People Did And How People Thought/Believed Back Then!  Especially if the same people are deriding twentieth-century witchcrafts inspired by people like Murray - because those witchcrafts were *also* based on (often selective) historical and archaeological information of their day and the contemporary interpretations of them.  (And extra especially if those people have books or classes to sell!)

The reaching for ‘authenticity’ is an understandable urge, and can be a real spiritual and magical hunger for roots and meaning.  But claims of *historical* authenticity in contemporary, reconstructed practices should always be treated with wariness - because there’s always more evidence to come along, new ways of looking at the past to develop, and what seems like an obvious historical survival today is going to look like Murray’s witch cult and Frazer’s Golden Bough in ten, twenty, fifty years’ time.  (And hey, people can and do still draw valid personal inspiration from those, we just need to understand they’re not History Fact.)

Any practice that looks back to the past is necessarily a child of historiography as much as history.  And historiography is a constantly evolving thing. So…just be thoughtful, okay?  If stuff speaks to you, that’s great, work that current ‘til your arse falls off.  Just be wary of believing - or making - claims that what you’re doing is More Real, More Accurate, More Authentic, More Historical than what other people are doing.

Wonderful and essential new blog from Sarah Anne Lawless - The Witch and the Wild:
“Our witchcraft, nay, our very being must become more wild, more intuitive, and more accepting of nature’s amorality and our inevitable demise if we are to make any difference at all. If we are to preserve what we’ve left behind of the earth in our destructive wake, and if we are to survive in any number as a species, we must rewild ourselves and learn how to live outside of civilization. We must lose our faiths, our religions, our meaningless attachment to nitpicketity details only we as individuals and not a whole care about. We who are importers of foreign magics and alien gods. We must become a different kind of witch. Something that needs no definitions, no boundaries, and no expectations. Something more primal and raw than our current incarnation. Something small, something just outside your door…”

Cornish Witchcraft

Good free source material here from sacred texts for those looking into Cornish Witchcraft and Folklore:

For a contemporary view from Cornwall we highly recommend Steve Patterson’s Bucca and the Cornish Cult of Pellar in our Serpent Songs collection. The best writing on the Bucca you could hope to find.

Also a great piece by Gemma Gary in there too.

Steve Patterson is currently working on what looks like a very interesting book on Cecil Williamson (for another publisher).

We’d furthermore recommend visiting our good friends at The Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle if you ever get the opportunity to do so.

3.4 The Spouter-Inn

The opposite wall of this entry was hung all over with a heathenish array of monstrous clubs and spears. Some were thickly set with glittering teeth resembling ivory saws; others were tufted with knots of human hair; and one was sickle-shaped, with a vast handle sweeping round like the segment made in the new-mown grass by a long-armed mower. You shuddered as you gazed, and wondered what monstrous cannibal and savage could ever have gone a death-harvesting with such a hacking, horrifying implement. Mixed with these were rusty old whaling lances and harpoons all broken and deformed. Some were storied weapons. With this once long lance, now wildly elbowed, fifty years ago did Nathan Swain kill fifteen whales between a sunrise and a sunset. And that harpoon—so like a corkscrew now—was flung in Javan seas, and run away with by a whale, years afterwards slain off the Cape of Blanco. The original iron entered nigh the tail, and, like a restless needle sojourning in the body of a man, travelled full forty feet, and at last was found imbedded in the hump.


Nissan Jikoo Concept, 2011. A small, open-top two-seater which was inspired by the Datsun Roadster of 1935 (pictured). 

“In creating Jikoo Nissan participated in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s project to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Edo Shogunate and focused attention on the traditional industrial arts handed down over the years to the present. Jikoo design draws upon the techniques and materials passed on continuously from the traditional artisans of Edo (Tokyo’s former name).”