Folk magic was once a universal practice. The art of using herbs, stones, flowers, and incantations to shape energy, heal trauma and seek spiritual insight is as old as love. We are all descended from a tradition of magic.
Discovering which tradition you descend from is a rewarding way to enrich your practice.
But where to start? Here are some simple, actionable ways to learn about your witchy roots.
Interview Your Eldest Family Members
Even if you are in the broom closet or your family isn’t open to the idea of magic, there’s plenty of subtle, discreet ways to get clues about your family’s history with folk magic. Try some of these:
“Hey, grandma. What home remedies did your mother or grandmother use when you were sick? How did she help the women in our family manage the pain of childbirth?”
“Do you have any ghost stories about the land where you grew up?”
“What “superstitions” do you remember in your community?”
“Did your family bring over any spiritual ideas from their homeland that were different from the ones they learned in church?”
Ask about anyone in your family that served as a “medicine woman/man,” midwife, or undertaker. In many societies, these roles tended to incorporate what we would describe as folk magic today into their professional duties.
Check your DNA.
I know, I know. A lot of people are wary of DNA testing now.
But if you’ve already submitted your DNA to a site like Ancestry, or you feel the benefits outweigh the cons, then getting your DNA tested is tremendously useful in discovering clues about your magical history.
Once you get an idea of where you come from (and the answer may surprise you!), you can easily begin to unearth your magical heritage.
Google any society in the world + folk magic and you will almost certainly come up with something.
Find an expert.
Once you get some insight into where your bloodlines trace back to (West Africa, Ireland, Japan, ect), it’s time to seek out someone with deep knowledge of the indigenous religious history there.
Universities, cultural centers, museums, and libraries are all great resources for tracking down someone who knows all about the witchy roots of your heritage.
Ask to interview them—and don’t forget to offer something in return. If you have any information about your family’s connection to their research, offer to make copies of any relevant photos or documents (journals, notes, ect) that you discovered in your own research.
Knowledge like this is often extremely valuable for researchers interested in these topics.
Of course, make sure you have permission from anyone still alive before handing over personal information to a researcher. But you may be surprised at how enthusiastic older generations are to share their knowledge and history with people who want to know all about it.
Try incorporating some of what you discovered in your own practice.
Keep it simple at first.
Maybe your grandmother used to open all the windows after a storm to “let out the bad” or lit a candle for her mother on the anniversary of her death.
Or, maybe you found a book of old family recipes you can easily incorporate into your kitchen witch practice.
Keeping your family’s witchy roots alive (and even passing them on to the next generation of little witchlettes) is a beautiful way to make your witchy life a little fuller, richer and deeper.