WHAT IS FOLK MAGIC?
Folk magic is a general term that refers to spells, charms, rituals, curses, and other forms of magic that are practiced by average people, particularly those in the working class. It can be contrasted to traditions that require extensive formal training and may only be available to people of a certain social class. Examples of formal magic traditions of the latter type are hermeticism, systems of theurgy reserved for priests or other religious leaders, and (often) the type of magic used in fantasy roleplaying games.
Folk magic practices are used for practical purposes and reflect the daily concerns and needs of the people who utilize them. They typically use items and ingredients that are inexpensive and relatively easy to obtain.
TYPES OF FOLK MAGIC
The specific types of magic found in most folk traditions fall into a limited number of categories:
- Apotropaic magic is used to bring good luck, ward off bad luck, and keep people, animals, and homes safe. It is one of the most common categories within folk magic.
- Magic designed to heal, cure diseases, and remove poison or venom is the second most common category of folk magic, and tends to be valued highly. Most adults know at least a few folk magic cures, but others require the expertise of a specialist.
- Another popular category of folk magic is that which revolves around love and personal relationships in general.
- Other positive forms of folk magic are used to locate people or objects, enhance the senses, tell the future, control the weather, deal with ghosts, and prevent the use of malicious magic.
The traditions included in Other Magic treat shapeshifting as an inherently evil act. It is assumed that people change their shapes to make it easier to spy on their neighbors or sneak into areas where they are not welcome.
Amulets and talismans are simple objects designed to protect the
people or animals who wear them. Some are left in buildings to protect them from intrusion, fire, or inclement weather. The terms are often interchangeable, though amulets are specifically designed for protection, while talismans may have broader uses, such as bringing good luck.
In English speaking countries, people who use magic with ill intent
are most commonly referred to as witches . Equivalent terms are found in most other languages. It is important to note that many folk magic traditions do not equate the term “witch” with a person who has sold his or her soul to a devil, demon, or other evil entity. In those cultures it is more indicative of people who simply choose to use their talents for malicious purposes. “Witches” of this type are capable of using magic in a positive manner, and people who are not normally considered to be witches may occasionally use magic for less than
The Table of Contents for Other Magic Issue #1:
The first issue of Other Magic (from the first Kickstarter ZineQuest event) is available on DriveThruRPG in print or PDF form. However, anyone who backs the newest issue, Other Magic #3: The Ancient World (on Kickstarter from February 8-21, 2021) will receive free PDFs of the first two issues!