For those who adore folklore and history comes a tradition of witchcraft that is inspired and fueled by the past. The folkloric traditional witch is one who studies and uses mythology, folk tales, folk magic, folk medicine, and more in his/her practice. If you’re curious about how to be a folkloric traditional witch, read about the basic beliefs and practices below.
1. Introduction Folkloric Witch
Folkloric witchcraft is a stream of traditional witchcraft that focuses on the stories surrounding witches to inform contemporary practice. What makes folkloric witchcraft distinct from traditional witchcraft is a shift in focus. Folkloric witchcraft focuses on the belief in what witches do rather than the reality of what witches do. This means that folkloric witchcraft is not a reconstruction, because folkloric witchcraft is not attempting to rebuild a practice that once existed.
2. Why folklore is used in Witchcraft?
Why use folklore as a basis for religion or magical practice? Folkloric traditional witches believe that folklore is a blueprint of traditions and beliefs that have been passed down for centuries. What we lack in “religious documents” of today, folklore fills in those gaps.
Folklore was originally passed down verbally but in more recent centuries, folklorists like Jacob Grimm, Claude Lecouteux, and Emma Wilby have studied and recorded folk tales into written works. While folklore isn’t necessarily fact or “history”, it gives us an idea as to the morals, fables, lessons, and traditions used by our ancestors.
3. How to become a Folkloric Witch
Study & record
Just like with everything else in life, when learning how to be a folkloric traditional witch, the first thing you must do is study. Study folklore of your local area, and study the folklore of your ancestors.
Study folk tales, fairy tales, urban legends, folk magick, folk medicine, myths, and even historical aspects of witchcraft based on the Witch Trial documents. Find a lot of this information online, but be mindful of the legitimacy of the sources used. Record your key findings in your grimoire.
Connect with the Genius Loci
Folkloric traditional witchcraft is a “book heavy” practice but also pushes the witch to connect with his or her natural landscape and the spirits that reside there. Many folkloric traditional witches work with the genius loci as their familiar spirits.
The folkloric traditional witch might also tend a garden or grow plants that are mentioned in certain folk tales. Plants can also be familiars to the folkloric traditional witch.
Folkloric traditional witches often practice or seek to reconstruct the practices of the witch of folklore, including shapeshifting, flying with flying ointments (trance-work and astral projection), working closely with local wildlife, working with ancestors and the dead, as well as working with the wee folk (sidhe/fairies/etc). Focus on each of these separately.
Folklore heroes & Gods
The gods, spirits, heroes, and characters in folklore become guides to the folkloric traditional witch. Some examples include Baba Yaga, Berchta, the Lady of the Lake, the Green Man, Widukind, Cu Chulainn, Paul Bunyan, Merlin, Leprechauns, etc. The folkloric traditional witch might set up an altar for this spirit and leave offerings for it based on the associated folklore. Example: coins for leprechauns, apples for the Lady of the Lake, foliage for the Green Man, etc.
Folk magic & medicine
The folkloric traditional witch bases his or her beliefs off local or ancestral folklore and is often inspired by a specific book or passage. In American Witch Stories, a “witch ball” is mentioned over and over again. The folkloric traditional witch might use the witch ball in his or her practice by recreating it and using it according to his or her favorite folk tales. By recreating folk magic and medicine of the past, the witch is bringing the old ways back to life…in a new way.
Building a folkloric practice isn't a complicated one. Listen to the stories your ancestors told. Listen to the stories your parents tell. Listen to the stories the land is telling. That is how you shape a folkloric practice.