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,…

Witches Incognito: Aschenputtel

One thing I’ve begun to notice as I look more closely at fairy tales is that there are many more “witches” in them than previously believed, and that many of the beloved characters that are portrayed as helpless damsels in distress actually employ quite a bit of agency. Quick note: I put the word “witches”…

Magical Animals in European Folk Tales and Lore: Chickens

Chickens are humble animals. They’re heavy, mostly earthbound birds, spending their days pecking at the ground, clucking or crowing (not exactly musical), bobbing their heads as they strut around the farmyard. In media, they’re often depicted as fussy and silly — think Foghorn Leghorn and Prissy in Looney Tunes cartoons, or Lady Cluck in Robin…

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…

Taoism and Magic

The biggest philosophical and spiritual influence in my life is Taoism, and it has been for around seven or eight years now. I was introduced to it in an undergraduate humanities class, and it resonated with me immediately. The texts (primarily the Tao Te Ching and the Chuang Tzu) express a lot of the things…