Witches Incognito: The Spindle, the Shuttle, and the Needle

  “Once upon a time there was a girl whose father and mother died when she was still a little child. Her godmother lived all alone at the end of the village in a little house, and earned her living with spinning, weaving, and sewing.” So begins the Grimm Brothers’ tale “The Spindle, the Shuttle,…

Bells as a Magical Tool

The boughs do shake And the bells do ring, So merrily comes our harvest in, Our harvest in, our harvest in, So merrily comes our harvest in. “Harvesting” Nursery Rhyme Bells, like drums, are very old instruments that have played important roles in many aspects of human life. For centuries, they have been part of…

Mirror, Mirror: Glass as a Magical Tool in Fairy Tales

Thus, her mirror represents the ability to see through the ‘veil’ that mystics say separates the visible and spirit worlds. – Skye Alexander, Mermaids (200). When I spirit journey, more times than not I enter the Otherworld through glass of some sort — a mirror or a window — a technique that has a long history in…

To Ride Through the Air on a Very Fine Gandr: The Staff as a Magical Tool in Fairy Tales

I’ve been reading Claude Lecouteux’s Witches, Werewolves and Fairies: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages, which I was lucky enough to find at my local library. It’s a fantastic examination of the Double (also variously called the fylgja, familiar, fetch, etc., depending on where you’re looking) and the role it played in medieval and…