Aaron Oberon’s first book Southern Cunning: Folkloric Witchcraft in the American South is a slender book that packs a punch. I had assumptions about what the book was going to be about and was surprised to find it wasn’t what I was expecting. I was expecting a book on southern conjure with the usual Christian influences and practices, and while that is touched upon – that is surprisingly not in the spirit of the book. Oberon addresses the importance of the Bible as a grimoire and certain folk magic practices that have been passed down from Christian conjurers, but with a twist – he wraps that up in using those practices as a form of blasphemy which gets into the heart of the spirit of the book.
Southern Cunning, on one hand, has the type of folk magic you’d expect from a book of this nature. On the other hand, Oberon has taken these practices and mixed them with Traditional Witchcraft, local urban legends passed down, and the folkloric ideas of the witch from both Europe and the Southern regions of the United States. What is brewed from this concoction is a brilliant practice that is nothing short of witchery in every sense of the word. The book is a slim but fascinating read and adorned throughout the book is artwork by Aaron giving it an aesthetic that helps preserve the spirit of the book, similarly to what Gemma Gary does in her books. There’s a strong emphasis on the book The Silver Bullet, and Other American Witch Stories compiled by Hubert Davis and as such would be the obvious book to read next after this one. Anyone who enjoys books on folk magic, folklore, or Traditional Witchcraft will definitely cherish Southern Cunning, which makes for a quick but delightful read.