Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Hexe Claire, author of the new Magical Healing.
In my work as a witchcraft author, doing research in old sources is a major task. And somehow we tend to become a little irrational when dealing with old magical knowledge. Let me explain this a little (you might know it from your own observances, as well).
When we hear about old knowledge, there is a part of us that puts it on a pedestal. This is the true thing, the real deal, the original way it should be. Of course it is important to honour the ancestors and—since our magical tradition has long been suppressed—to learn whatever we can grasp from the old times.
On the other hand, though, this tendency to idealize the past has a catch. It was simply not the way our ancestors thought. Often poor, people would improvise and work with whatever was at hand. Whereas for us today it might be difficult, for example, to obtain the egg of a black chicken for a spell, for them it was easy, because many people were farmers.
If we stick too closely to old recipes and spells, we might think it’s impossible for us today to follow the old ways. But, if we open up to the mindset of our ancestors, we will find many inspirations and approaches we can use instead.
The old knowledge was not always old; it was received and invented in the past, just as new things are coming up today. There where no esoteric shops (and most people would not have had enough money to afford those things anyway), so inventing, experimenting, and relying on what had proven in past to work were the keys.
Ironically, our ancestors often were less dogmatic than we are today, since their reference point simply was: Does it work? If we think about it, our most precious heritage from the past might not lie in passed down recipes, spells, and brews, but in thinking in ways that are flexible, ingenious, and, at the same time, traditional (defining tradition as what had proven to be helpful). If we let ourselves be inspired from this attitude, we follow the true quintessence of the old ways.
Our thanks to Hexe Claire for her guest post! For more from Hexe Claire, read her article, “How to Use Folk Magic.”