2017 Key Note Lecture: The Witch’s Basket – Traditional Plant Ways of the Wise
Traditional magic and plant material were commonly threaded together throughout history, and in many cases inseparable in their applications. The healer of the olden time had a cache of charms, spells and receipts, written or remembered, many of which utilized plants in combination with animal parts and minerals, for the materia magica of the Working at hand.
Those receipts that were captured from the written or oral body of folk lore contain not only formulae and power, but serve to allow us into the methodology of the time and place when they were part of a living tradition, part of an enchanted world view. In modern herbalism, there are few, if any, examples in practice, in regards to the use of folk magic as an essential element of not only a healing cure or treatment, but also in regards to divination work, and protection magic. In the current world view of medicine and healing work in North America, the considerations of such things as the Evil Eye, or the Scandinavian troll-shot, are all but forgotten. In an age of instant media and information, the use of divinatory tools has become an entertaining party game, at best.
Plants are valued more often than not, for their physical and chemical components, rather than for the inherent powers that they have to assist in the unseen. However, it is my belief that the intersection, and inclusion of plant material within a historical magical framework calls for a closer inspection of its working parts, in some cases, in order to trace the influence of that enchanted world and find its numen.
In this lecture, a collection of traditional folk ways containing plants compiled from Northern and Western European sources will be explored, and patterns will be revealed. Time will be spent putting these obsolete magical methods into context. The framework will act to emphasis the presence of spirit power, when applicable. Examples will be chosen based on their obscurity, as well as by what they reveal about traditional plant magic use. Personal applications and suggestions for the integration and utilization of material will be given as well.
Corinne Boyer is a folk herbalist, teacher, and writer with a passion for traditions surrounding plants and folk magic. She has been studying and working with plants since 1998. Corinne has taught community herb classes since 2005 and teaches weekly classes out of her home with a focus on wild crafting, medicine making, plant lore, folk medicine and magic. She distributes an eight-page paper newsletter about plant lore to her local community, since 2012, called The Gathering Basket. She is most inspired by the ‘old ways’ of the village rustic, which included not only physical medicine but also magical medicine and a deep connection to the spirit world. She lives with her family in the forest of the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Visit her website for more information.