1. Your new book is called Common Magick. What inspired you to write it?
My family and I attend a lot of Pagan festivals and gatherings, where it seemed like few attendees had ever heard of the folk magick of the British Isles. This was surprising to me, because Gerald Gardner studied a lot of English and Scots folklore, which he included in his practice of Wicca. For instance, the knot-tying spell, or Witches' Ladder, is an authentically older rite. I saw many similarities between the folk dances, ritual dramas, ceremonies, spells, and holiday celebrations that are still enjoyed in the British Isles, and the rites of modern Wicca and Witchcraft. Yet there are many rituals that people are unaware of, too. Since these folkways are part of my heritage, I wanted to share these delightful traditions with other magick-users. The rites are not only effective, they're fun.
For example, for each seasonal holiday, we create talismans, and "bespell" them to safeguard the home, workplace, or vehicle. This is an enjoyable group crafts activity. A dance or ritual dramatization raises power to "charm" the corn dolly or Brigid's cross or cloth flower. Then participants have a keepsake of the holiday, as well as a magickal object for psychic protection.
2. Common Magick focuses on the practices of British folk magick. What exactly is that? And how does it differ from traditional Paganism?
Folk magick was and is a practice of the working-class people. It uses common tools found in homesteads and barns—objects like a garden rake, or a hand mill for grinding grain—to raise and direct magickal power. Divination is done by natural methods, and spells mostly use ingredients found in the kitchen or in nature—often in your own backyard. This is the magick that our forebears used, right up until modern times.
Common Magick is about the folkloric traditions of the British Isles. However, you don't have to belong to any particular ethnicity or live in England, Ireland, or Scotland to practice this type of magick. My book contains folk wisdom, herbalism and other natural magick, information about spirits and unseen beings, some rites that might seem familiar, and many rituals that are unique. There are some shamanic aspects, such as "going out and about" or making a spiritual journey for knowledge and personal transformation. All of these practices originated in the British Isles, but they can be used by anyone, anywhere.
Common magick differs from modern Paganism and Wicca, which incorporate many practices from ceremonial magick and the western esoteric tradition, such as casting a circle, using the four elements, and creating a cone of power. Folk magick usually doesn't use these techniques. Instead, there are many different methods of shielding oneself, creating ritual space, summoning entities to help with workings, raising and controlling energy, and using magick to create positive change. It's very empowering.
There are some things that British folk magick has in common with modern Paganism, such as the principle of Sympathetic Magick, or "like attracts like." There are a few beliefs and practices that are very different, like the magickal principle of Priordination, using past events to create similar conditions in the future.
3. Can anyone use the practices in Common Magick? Or is previous magikcal knowledge or experience required?
Folk magick is accessible to everyone. Sometimes, our society imagines witchcraft and older folkways as spooky, difficult, and requiring a ton of expensive tools and weird ingredients, but none of this is really true. Some sources portray a Witch standing on one foot at the crossroads at the exact second of midnight on Halloween, harvesting a particular root while reciting a lengthy poem. It's really not that complicated. Most of the workings are pretty easy. People stuck pins in windowframes or sprinkled salt across the doorway to keep harmful energies out, and offered strawberries and beer to attract benevolent spirits. They carried an acorn in a pocket to summon wealth. Remember, our forebearers were usually not book-literate, and relied on oral tradition, experimentation, and folktales for guidance.
While it always helps to know a little about magick—the process of using energy to bring one's will into manifestation—my book walks you through basic magickal principles, techniques and methods, favorable times for magick, and some of the supplies that are helpful to perform spells and workings. Then, I go on to the more unusual rites, explaining how and why folk magick works. Yet none of it is at all difficult.
4. Can anyone connect to the deities, spirits, and fairies of the British Isles, even if we are not located there?
Sure! If a spirit wants to work with you, they will, regardless of your heritage, or where you live.
There were many different societies that occupied the British Isles over time: proto-Celts, the Celtic tribes, Romans, Scandinavians, the Teutonic tribes, and the Normans—and all of them had their own spiritual beings, legends, and folkways. These often merged in a melting-pot of magick. For instance, the Celtic people interacted with the Fair Folk, while the Romans believed in Genus Loci, the spirits of a place, while the Angles and Saxons gave offerings to their land Wights.
Fairies seem a lot more available than deities or legendary heroes. You can petition these entities for favors, give them some bread and butter, and offer a shiny penny or a pretty rock. Some of them can be pests, and need propitiation or some means to repel or banish them from a building. Others are quite helpful, and steward the land, defend the animals and plants, protect small children, and help around the house. Common Magick has many suggestions about communication with magickal beings.
5. What do you hope readers will take away from Common Magick?
Folk magick is still relevant in the present day. Symbols that were used in olden times to protect the home still work. Rituals that were used on horses and wagons can be done to ensure the safety of your vehicle. The holiday celebrations still connect us to Nature, and to each other. Using Common Magick can enhance your own spiritual practice. Folk magick is easy, empowering, and fun!