Wortcunning: A Folk Medicine Herbal/A Folk Magic Herbal, by Nigel G. Pearson
Recently released by Troy Books Publishing, Wortcunning, is a collection of traditional herb lore acquired by the author some 30 years ago while working with a coven in East Anglia. The Sussex family of witches working within a local folk tradition, over the generations amassed this collection of herbal wisdom. The herbal information presents a working family tradition of medicinal herbalism, offering a glimpse into the early plant practices of the previous century.
Cleverly reversed and split from cover to cover, the front portion titled A Folk Medicine Herbal contains the collected medicinal lore, while the back section, A Folk Magic Herbal gives traditional magical uses, planetary associations and folk names for each of the plants previously listed. Pearson, author of: Treading the Mill: Workings in Traditional Witchcraft, The Devil’s Plantation: East Anglian Lore, Witchcraft and Folk-Magic, and Walking the Tides: Seasonal Magical Rhythms and Lore; offers his insight and experience filling in the blanks for the magical applications of these plants.
A convenient pocket-sized booklet available in both paperback and fine hardbound editions, signature of Troy Books Publishing. This book would make a convenient field guide and reference book. While the plants listed are local to the English countryside, many are also found across North America as well. The book contains a number of traditional recipes and folk remedies for common ailments and other complaints. It demonstrates the intimate knowledge that this family had of the local flora, including the plant’s growing habits, and how this cherished knowledge was kept by these individuals over the years. It is likely that many families kept their own unique collections of herbal knowledge during this time before modern medicine. Such people would have been sought after by the local community and revered for their application of this knowledge. Pearson provides us with a glimpse into one family’s proficiency with herbal medicine. The sometimes unconventional herbal remedies were the result of individuals with a magical worldview, and deeper knowledge of the inner workings of these plant’s healing properties.