Folk magic is the magic of the people, and, traditionally, healing magic is a bigger part of it. As we know, healing has many facets, and our ancestors were aware of this, too. So it's no surprise to find remedies against a broken heart or the evil eye among spells and herbs to cure colds or rashes.
In this sense folk magical healing has a holistic approach, grown and developed further over the centuries, with many tried-and-true remedies but especially with a main focus on people as whole beings. This also extends into the cosmic dimension—for example, by taking into account the phases of the moon or planetary correspondences of bodily systems and organs. Many traditions preserved well even over centuries, like the old knowledge about the planetary forces ruling the days of the week, a knowledge dating back into the ancient world and still in use today (at least in rural regions).
Basically one could say: healing folk magic is something that gives (back) order to body, mind, and spirit. A person in need of healing is seen as a person in need of balance and re-rooting into its proper place. Being healthy was seen as the natural consequence of being "in order."
This is what makes the old traditions so interesting for us today. In a fast-paced world with shrinking securities, we need to explore ways to gain balance and a bond with the helpful forces of nature. Healing folk magic is a way that gives (back) order to body, mind, and spirit, reuniting us with the elemental rhythms of nature.
It's also a healing tradition with a good sense for personal responsibility. In the old days when a person went to a traditional healer, she or he was often asked, "Do you believe?" If the anwer was a hesitant, "Maybe" or, "I'm not sure," some healers turned the person away. This was not because they where cold-hearted, but because they knew that the person in need of healing has to play an active part (even if it's just mentally).
For many of us today personal responsibility is an expansion of possibilities. For example, we have the choice to combine modern medicine with folk magic. This is especially helpful since modern medicine is without a doubt a great "repairing medicine," but prevention and the balance of body and soul often need some extra input from accompanying healing traditions.
Human beings are whole beings that have the cosmos inside themselves (as stated before with the example of the correspondences of organs and the influence of the planets), and we are also linked to the whole universe as such. The old European healing magic always followed the axiom "As above, so below." We are related. And our relationships to nature, to herbs, healing stones, trees, and also to the power of words can help us to find our place of balance (again, if need be).
Since all theory is grey, as we say in German (meaning, "it's just pure theory"), let's have a look at some simple remedies against everyday ailments to lift up the Lebensgeister (vital spirits).
Lavender Tea for Headaches, Anxiety, and Evening Relaxation
Lavender is a wonderful healing plant for the nervous system. Our ancestors linked it to the quick-witted planet Mercury. It's used to balance his energy of swiftness and steady communication. Therefore, all plants of Mercury fit perfectly in our modern, fast-moving world.
The tea is made very easily: take a teaspoon of lavender per cup, pour boiling water over it, quickly put a lid on the cup (to prevent the aromas to diffuse in the air; you want them in your cup, and a saucer works well for this) and let it steep for ten minutes.
Drink it as warm as possible, and in small sips. It's usual to drink up to three cups per day (this is the traditional recommendation for most healing teas: one in the morning, one at noon, and one in the evening). Take it with you in a Thermos if you are busy during the day.
This tea is wonderful for stressful days, and even helps if the stress already damaged your balance (resulting in headaches). Lavender is also a good helper for the evening when you have the need to calm down but still feel a lot of tension.
A Simple Banishing Spell
Magical spells have a long history, and often they are surprisingly short or concise. Many spells also invole action of some kind, like a movement of the hand in a brushing manner (to brush away evil from a person) or a gentle push with the thumb (to get an illness under the proverbial thumb).
The following old spell is an all-purpose spell against ailments of any kind. It is as simple as this:
What I grab at gives way.
In the moment of speaking out this spell, grab the place of ailment. If you'd like, you can also use the original spell, with its rhyme, in German:
Was ich greif, das weich. (In international phonetic alphabet: Vas ?ç ??a??f, das va??ç.)
It's best to repeat this spell three times. You can say it aloud or murmur it, but traditionally it has to be said in some way (as opposed to repeating it just in your mind). Afterwards, make three crosses with your thumb in the air above the place, to seal the spell.
Binding Bad Energy
In folk magic, trees are not simply big plants. They are spiritual allies and strong spiritual antenna, connecting us with the realm of earth, the here and now, and heaven above. Even today, in some regions, it is still customary to tie wishes to a tree.
In my hometown of Leipzig, this tradition is being revived. Leipzig is a big town; one chestnut tree in a park where many people pass during the day was assigned by some people as wishing tree, and today many colourful slips of paper are hanging in its branches, stating the wishes of people who turn for thee tree to help them.
They are hanging freely, so everyone can read them, and it's touching to see that most wishes are about family and living a happy live. I've never seen a slip of paper asking for money or greedy things. When turning to a tree, people seem to feel instinctively that this is about life itself.
This magic also works the other way around. If you have a problem, you can tie it to a tree to resolve the bad energy and turn it into something good. For this take a small piece of white cloth (just natural materials, nothing with synthethic fibers) and touch the problem with it. (This could be a physical body part, for example, or a symbolic gesture such as touching your heart or head to remove heartache or sorrows.) You can even go a step further and for example touch a letter, an e-mail on the screen, or just anything that is a reasonable representation for the thing you wish to fix with the cloth.
Then go straight to the tree and tie it to one of its branches, pleading the tree to help you with that matter. Leave a little present for the tree as well, such as a small crystal or an apple. The best trees for this kind of magic are strong and healthy ones, and since it's a banishing action, one usually does not use fruit-bearing trees, but rather ones like oak, willow, or linden. Most importantly when choosing a tree is that it's a strong tree. Listen to your gut feeling. If it feels that a particular tree is the right one, stick to your perception and use it.
Using the Pisces Moon to Let Go
As previously noted, our ancestors were embedded in the natural tides and knew how to use them for positive effects. One especially auspicious time to get rid of negative energies, bad habits, and other unwanted things of all kinds is when the moon is in Pisces. It's the last sign of the zodiac, and therefore the perfect time to let things go.
In the past, the moon was seen as a kind of "little sun," traveling through the zodiac in one month, whereas the sun needs one year. Therefore, it was used to improve things quickly.
There can be so many things we want to let go, so the first task is to find a symbol for the matter at hand. The easiest way is to write down what something else. It's not important what this means to others, just what it means to you.
Go out into nature during Pisces moon and bury the symbol for your problem in the earth or let it fall into a flowing river or stream. (This can be done at any time of the day.)
Folk magic is easy, isn't it? But, don't underestimate it, simply because it is easy. The easy things are often the ones to be performed in the most proper way. It's like—to give it a culinary comparison—cooking a really good tomato sauce. Everyone can tell the difference between a real good tomato sauce and junkfood. So, don't consider easy spells to be spiritual "junkfood." Perform them with love and care and wonderful results are waiting for you.
This was just a little introduction into folk magic. If you want to know more, have a look into my book Magical Healing.