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Cory Thomas Hutcheson
Several things set New World Witchery apart from other books on North American magical traditions. Firstly, it opens by explicitly rejecting mythologized images of Witches, suggesting that friends, neighbors and loved ones more likely fit the description. Secondly, it is simultaneously reliably researched and intended to instruct actual magical practice. Lastly, it presents a broad range of North American magical traditions and does not treat the Mason-Dixon line as some kind of entry point into Fairyland. (Perhaps regretfully, the American South is not a mystical region awash in root-doctoring magical grandmothers.) Hutcheson does occasionally exoticize both the South and Appalachia, but does not completely fall into the trope. In fact, reading this book leads you to believe that the author has actually visited these regions—something that cannot be said for many similar texts.
Hutcheson’s work incorporates magic from many regions and traditions including power doctors, granny women, root working, brujeria and folk traditions of the mid-Atlantic and New England, among others. He writes about materials and practices such as dollies, herbs, dousing, divination and spirit flight and does not shy away from subjects like meeting the devil at the crossroads that might challenge readers but nonetheless remain important aspects of some forms of magic in North America. Throughout the book, you feel as though the information is being presented in a straightforward manner appropriate to the topic.
The author holds a doctorate in American Studies, but the book does not read a bit like an academic tome! It is a practical text—it contextualizes specific practices by discussing their folklore and history while also including copious information on how to go about doing them. His “Dirt Under the Nails” sections in each chapter provide explicit instructions for making floor washes and sweetening jars, setting lights, meeting the Man in Black and many other charms, formulae and practices. He follows these up with a section on “The Work” which provides spiritual exercises the reader can engage in to deepen their understanding and connection to their magic. Anyone interested in learning about or practicing any form of North American magic would do well to select New World Witchery.