Spells from the Wise
Woman’s Cottage

An Introduction to the West Country
Cunning Tradition

Deep within the winding corridors of Boscastle’s Museum of  Witchcraft and Magic,  a low humble door and two small windows allow visitors a glimpse into another world. Here, a  kindly old woman sits at her table within the whitewashed rough stone walls of her cottage. A small fire glows in the large open hearth, strange substances, herbs and magical charms adorn the shelves and hang from the low wooden  beams,  whilst in the shadows,  various creatures lurk and keep her company: for this is the cottage of a wise woman of yesteryear.

The  wise woman, or Old Joan as she is known,  speaks to her visitors of the ways of her trade, reciting many traditional 19th century charms and spells along the way that were once a feature of life in the small villages of Devon and Cornwall.

In Spells from the Wise Woman’s Cottage, folklorist Steve Patterson gives us these very charms and spells, and guides us through their history and meaning.

The cottage tableaux itself, the history of its construction, artefacts, and the fascinating stories behind the genuine familiar spirits who reside there are all revealed within the pages of this book.

The trade and character of the working witch through the Ages is thoroughly explored, as is the role of the museum in the world of witchcraft and its revival, along with the ‘wayside witches’ whose artefacts, magic and wisdom were so central to the museum’s foundation.

Available in the following editions:

Paperback Edition; gloss laminate cover.

Standard Hardback Edition; an ‘Oatmeal’ case binding with black foil blocking to the front and spine, 90gsm white paper stock, black endpapers, with burgundy head and tail bands.

Special Edition; a limited edition of 250 hand-numbered examples, bound in Sage Green cloth, with copper foil blocking to the front and spine, burgundy end papers, with black head and tail bands. 80gsm white paper stock.

Black Edition: a limited edition of 125 hand-numbered examples, bound in black and beautifully grained recycled leather fibres material, with black foil blocking to the front and spine, 90gsm white paper stock, black endpapers, with red head and tail bands.

All editions 187 x 114mm. 152 pages with 4 pages of black and white photos.

Pagination: 152 pages, illustrated with 19th century line drawings, plus 4 pages of black and white photographic plates


PART 1 – Old Joan’s Book of Spells
Magical Water Charms
Love Spells
Healing Spells
Protection Spells
A Word to the Would-be Wayside Witch
Notes and Commentary on the Charms
Sources of the Charms

PART 2 – A Guide to the ‘Wise Woman’s Cottage’
Welcome to Old Joan’s Cottage
Divination and Scrying
The Witch’s Familiars
Charms, Amulets and Tools of the Trade
Magical Herbs
Two of the Original Texts Describing the ‘Wise Woman’s Cottage’ Display

PART 3 – Witchcraft, the ‘Wise Woman’s Cottage’ & the West Country Cunning Tradition
The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic
The ‘Wise Woman’s Cottage’
The Tableau at the Museum – a ‘Geek’ into the Otherworld
The ‘Wise Woman’s Cottage’ – Past and Present
Strange Tales!
The Spells of the ‘Wise Woman’s Cottage’
What is a Witch?
The Modern Witch
Wicca and the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic
The Medieval Witch
Witches in the 18th, 19th, and 20th Centuries
Sketches of Four West Country Witches

APPENDIX A – The Old Charms from the ‘Wise Woman’s Cottage’ – 1998-2015
APPENDIX B – A List of the Donations from Wayside Witches in the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic
APPENDIX C – Suggested Further Reading

Paperback Edition

£12.50 plus shipping

For shipping information click here

Standard Hardback Edition

£16.50 plus shipping

For shipping information click here

Black Edition

£26.50 plus shipping

For shipping information click here

Special Edition

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