Review: Italian Folk Magic

Italian Folk Magic: Rue’s Kitchen Witchery is a fantastic book and one I’ve really been wanting someone to write. Mary-Grace Fahrun provides a fantastic look into one of the most practical folk magic traditions I have ever seen. All the practices provided are so simple and just seem like mindful practices and prayers incorporated into everyday life to enchant it. It seems pretty much everything in one’s house becomes a magickal tool, which I really love – particularly the kitchen. Even the divination practices in the book are pretty straight-forward.

With a great sense of humility, she writes that her book’s “aim is not to practice ‘authentic’ Italian witchcraft. That’s way too much pressure – even for me! That would imply that there is only one way. There is no such thing. Authentic how? There is no way I do things exactly the way my nonna did in the 1930s in her little mountain village in Italy. Nor do I do things exactly the way my nonna’s sister did forty years later in America. I will share with you their practices. I will share with you my practice. A practice influenced and informed by those who came before me and shared their stories, skills, and secrets. The purpose of this book is to provide you with a guided tour of my magical life and introduce you to, and for some of you, reacquaint you with, the principles so you can create your own magical life.”

That being said, as a first-generation daughter of Italian immigrants, Fahrun presents what she has been passed down from mother-to-daughter through generations in a careful attempt to preserve and share these techniques as they were taught to her, even if they’ve been modified slightly to reflect more readily ingredients available in America and updated social attitudes. She also shares amazing anecdotes and stories growing up with Italian Folk Magic that are extremely entertaining to read about.

The book is well written, easy to follow, interesting, and a great reference resource. She explores the relationship between Italian Folk Magic practitioners and how they work with saints and spirits, sacred spaces and altars, Italian superstitions and proverbs, divination methods, spells, charms, recipes, curing the evil eye, curses, and so much more. The book is a great read, whether you’re Italian or not – if you’re not Italian, she writes that you should try to immerse yourself in the culture, learn about it and honor it if you want to practice the magic – just as you should with any other cultural folk magic practice.

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