Spells Wise Woman Cottage by Steve Patterson standard hardback

Spells Wise Woman Cottage by Steve Patterson standard hardback

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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 artifacts, magic and wisdom were so central to the museum’s foundation.


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’ – 19978?-2015
APPENDIX B – A List of the Donations from Wayside Witches in the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic
APPENDIX C – Suggested Further Reading

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