Episode 2.3: The Jumbies

Happy Midsummer and Matariki (Māori New Year)! June’s full moon is known as the Strawberry Moon, Oak Moon, Honey Moon, Mead Moon, Rose Moon, and Basil Moon.

In this episode we discuss The Jumbies (audiobook), written by Tracey Baptiste and narrated by Robin Miles.

Our theme song is “Moon and Spruce” by Sarah Littledrum.

Here’s a listening guide for the episode. (For a description of our segments, go here.)

Introduction (0:00 – 4:42)

Which Craft? (4:46 – 13:21)

  • Story inspired by Caribbean fairy tales like “The Magic Orange Tree”
  • Island setting, Caribbean culture
  • Audiobook narration: wide range of voices that reflects the diversity of the Caribbean
  • Reading songs in books
  • The early reveal of Severine’s identity and humanization of her character
  • Reinforcing the theme of balance by alternating points of view

“Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?” (13:27 – 31:22)

  • Nuanced depiction of “bad” characters
  • Multiculturalism in the Caribbean reflected in the characters
  • Celebration of dark skin
  • Core group of friends: 2 girls and 2 boys
  • Malik as a non-verbal character
  • Overlapping issues of indigeneity, colonization, slavery, and immigration
  • Fear of the unknown, “us vs. them”
  • Biracial bodies, merging of different communities

Related Links

Colonization of the Caribbean: Before Europeans

Slavery in the Caribbean

“We Are Not a Nation of Immigrants”: “We should say: We are a Nation of Immigrants, Descendants of Chattel Slavery & First Peoples of this Land. This would compel all Americans to acquaint themselves to the true history and sacrifices of this land that carved out the opportunities they now enjoy.”

“Bald Heads and Queer Noses” (31:28 – 39:12)

  • Jumbie bodies
  • The witch’s body and her shriveled arm
  • The loss of Dru’s hair

“Round About the Cauldron Go” (39:18 – 51:52)

  • Opening scene: Corinne running through the forest chasing her mother’s necklace–sets up centrality of the island enviornment and Corinne’s growing power
  • The witch’s magic vs. Corinne’s magic (both based in natural world) and the liminal spaces they inhabit
  • White witch vs. green woman
  • Severine’s cooking vs. Corinne’s oranges
  • Severine as force of death, Nicole as a force of life
  • Corinne saves the frog, then the frog saves her

Related Links

The Green Man

“Treguna, Mekoides, Trecorum, Satis, Dee!” (51:58 – 57:09)

  • Forming Magic–connected to child-bearing?
  • All Hallow’s Eve and graveyards
  • Importance of the ocean and the fish folk
  • Wax figure of Corinne’s mother

Final Spells (57:14 – 1:00:55)

  • Logistics of interspecies reproduction
  • Not your regular “dead mother” trope

New Segment! Lunar Rituals with Jenny (1:01:00 – 1:06:43)

  • Lovely suggestions for celebrating the summer solstice
  • Thoughts about the power of oranges (and the sun)
  • Rituals for the Basil Moon

Re: our comments about family separations at the border. We recorded this episode before the new Executive Order. However, most of the families that were separated have not yet been reunited, and those that have are still being held in internment camps. You can help by calling your representatives and donating to the following organizations:

You may also want to participate in a Families Belong Together event on June 30.

Minisode 2.2 May Grab Bag

May’s full moon is known as the Flower Moon, Mother’s Moon, Milk Moon, and Bee Balm Moon. (Check out the end of this post for a fun lunar ritual!)

In this not-so-mini minisode we touch on a whole range of topics, including the reframing power of travel (perfect for a full moon in Sagittarius!); the grounding effects of place and heritage; Carnival and the liberation of marginalized bodies; the peculiar magic of royal weddings; fairies, ghosts, and monsters, and just about everything except witches–which is ridiculous, considering our conversations were centered around New Orleans and Scotland! (To make up for it, I’ve linked some witchy recommendations below.)

Our thanks to Sarah Littledrum for providing the theme song, “Moon and Spruce” (she gets a bee-themed shout out from Jenny in this episode!), and a very special thank you to Linda’s sister, Alisha, who rescued Linda’s recording for us when Linda was out of town.

Finally, if you are moved by Linda’s account of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, please consider donating to help the people of Puerto Rico who are still suffering from the damage caused by Hurricane Maria. You can find a list of relief organizations here.

 

Related Links

Our Outlander episode

Our Akata Witch episode

 

About women and masked/ liberated bodies in Carnival:

The Masked Merriment of Mardi Gras

History of All-Female Krewes

Women krewes march, dance into Mardi Gras history

  • Excerpt: “All the clubs owe a huge debt to the women-led social aid and pleasure clubs. … That image of women being able to be sexy and have a different body type really came from black Mardi Gras.”

NOLA History: Women in Carnival

“Carnival and the lower body” from Ritual in Early Modern Europe by Edward Muir (a little more on the academic side, but it unites several threads of our discussion)

  • Excerpt: “Carnival liberated human consciousness and permitted a new outlook by allowing common people to organize themselves ‘in their own way’ as a Carnival crowd. According to Bakhtin, the basic mechanism by which Carnival achieved its liberating effects was through turning the world upside down, especially by privileging images from the earthly underworld and the lower body, what Bakhtin called the ‘material bodily lower stratum’ represented through ‘grotesque realism'” (99).

 

About Scotland:

History of Scotch Whisky

Katie’s travel blog (see the Gryffindor apartment here)

Culloden Battlefield

Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition

Grey Cairns of Camster (which Katie crawled inside and immediately regretted)

The Jacobite Steam Train (aka Hogwarts Express)

Witch trials in early modern Scotland

 

Witchy Recommendations

Louisiana State Museum

Witchy things to do in New Orleans

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

Secret Feminist Agenda Episodes 2.18 and 2.19

Botanical Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland by Lisa Schneidau

Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2018

All of Scotland! (Katie stayed in the Highlands, but if you happen to go to Edinburgh, be sure to check out all the witchy things!)

 

And finally, here is the ritual Jenny shared from Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook. (Plus a resource for creating your own rituals.)

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Minisode 2.1 April Grab Bag

Happy full moon, witches! April’s full moon (one of the most potent and magical!) is called the Pink Moon for the wild ground phlox flowers that bloom in North America in early spring. Other names include the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, the Fish Moon, the Grey Goose Moon, and the Hare Moon. This year it is also the Scorpio Full Moon.

In this fun grab bag of an episode–our first minisode of season two–we talk about the sorcery of predatory guardianship, the magic of daily practice and setting goals that focus on internal fulfillment, the mystical origins of birthday traditions, and the witchy power of Hamilton! (Tip: Listen closely to Jenny’s section for some beautiful birdsong in the background!) We also give recommendations for some uncanny books and board games. See below for links and further reading.

Our theme song is “Moon and Spruce” by Sarah Littledrum.

Part One: Magical Experiences, Discoveries, and Thoughts

“How the Elderly Lose their Rights” by Rachel Aviv 

Classical Roots of Harry Potter Spells

Our Girl Who Drank the Moon Episode 

Anne Lamott: “12 Truths I Learned from Life and Writing”

This is Why You Get to Celebrate Your Birthday Every Year (NB: half of the citations are broken/ wrongly linked, so definitely take this with a grain of salt!)

Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend

“The Women of Hamilton”

Part Two: Witchy Recommendations

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo

Mysterium

As d’Or (Golden Ace!)

Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden

Disclaimers about Joseph Boyden: here and here

Episode 2.2 A Wrinkle in Time

Happy full moon, warriors! And happy Ostara, Passover, and Easter to those who celebrate. It’s the last blue moon of 2018, so we hope you’re doing something magical tonight!

In this episode we discuss Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved children’s classic A Wrinkle in Time as well as the recent (2018) film adaptation directed by Ava DuVernay.

Our theme song is “Moon and Spruce” by Sarah Littledrum.

Here’s a listening guide for the episode. (For a description of our segments, go here.)

Introduction (0:00 – 4:11)

Which Craft? (4:16 – 30:50)

  • L’Engle’s publication journey and inspiration for the book
  • Setting for the story: New England vs. L.A.
  • “It was a dark and stormy night”
  • Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which as witches (+ references to Shakespeare)
  • A Wrinkle in Time as a contemporary dream vision
  • Process of adaptation and changes made for the film:
    • Focus on Meg’s journey: learning to love herself
    • Sequence on Camazotz
    • Final showdown with the IT
    • Meg’s relationship with her father
    • Mrs. Who’s quotes
    • Changes to Mrs. Whatsit’s character
    • Changes to the Happy Medium
  • Visuals/ CGI and music

“Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?” + “Bald Heads and Queer Noses” (30:55 – 55:37)

  • Casting Storm Reid and centering women of color
  • Meg’s journey to embrace her body and natural hair
  • The witches’ appearance and bodies
  • Importance of representation in film and how movies like Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time are changing the industry
  • Calvin as sidekick/ love interest/ supporting character
  • Meg’s parents, biracial couple
  • Dr. Kate Murry: beauty, scientist, mother
  • Mae Jemison
  • Charles Wallace

Related Links

Vulture: Ava DuVernay on Meg’s Natural Hair

Code Switch: In Search of Black-on-Black Love

“‘Round About the Cauldron Go” (55:43 – 1:06:02)

Gather ’round while Jenny drops some of her boundless wisdom about gardens and flowers and the portrayal of the natural world in the film!

  • Meg’s backyard garden
  • Mrs. Who’s house
  • “Tessering is almost nearly perfectly natural”: finding your frequency
  • Magic of wild nights
  • Uriel: natural beauty, color-speaking flowers, Mrs. Whatsit’s transformation
  • Orion: finding balance
  • Camazotz: looking inwards

“Treguna, Mekoides, Trecorum, Satis, Dee!” (1:06:05 – 1:16:44)

  • Spiritual truths beyond Christianity
  • Nature of evil (book version vs. film version)
  • Tesseracts powered by love
  • Fantasy as a vehicle for conveying complex ideas to children

Final Spells (1:16:48 – 1:19:46)

  • Math and making learning fun
  • Flatland (Correction: the main character is a square, not a triangle)
  • Meg holding Calvin’s hand in the book vs. in the film

Blooper Reel (1:20:42 – 1:23:52)

Claire’s Recommendations

Episode 2.1: Into the Woods

Happy full moon, witches! And welcome to season two!

That’s right. Our whole coven is back to discuss the 2014 film adaptation of the Sondheim musical Into the Woods. The perfect way to kick off a month with a blue moon!

The first full moon in March is called the Sap Moon or Worm Moon. Other names include the Moon of Winds, the Death Moon, the Chaste Moon, the Fish Moon, the Sleepy Moon, and the Big Famine Moon.

CW: sexual assault, #MeToo, Larry Nassar, Johnny Depp, infidelity, infertility. See the listening guide below for which sections to skip.

Our theme song is “Moon and Spruce” by Sarah Littledrum.

Here’s a listening guide for the episode. (For a description of our segments, go here.)

Introduction (0:00 – 3:15)

Which Craft? (3:30 – 17:10)

  • Adaptation: differences between the stage version and screen version
  • Circular narrative and the four central characters
  • Effect of using and changing familiar stories (and returning to the darker roots of fairy tales)
  • Meryl Streep’s performance
  • Conveying theme through lighting, music, and special effects
  • The baker and his wife as everyman characters

“Are You a Bald Head or a Queer Nose?”: Representation + Bodies (17:40 – 1:05:45)

  • The baker and toxic masculinity/ social pressures (+ the importance of having a supportive community in order to change cycles of abuse/ destructive behaviors/ demands of cisheteronormativity)
  • So many dead mothers (separation of child and parent as central theme)
  • Women in diverse stages of life–but no women of color 😦
  • Sexual violence: Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, Larry Nassar, #MeToo, empowering victims of assault (31:14 – 40:26)
  • Jack’s sexual awakening and the princes’ focus on sexual conquest (40:26 – 42:45)
  • The baker’s wife: punishing women for infidelity (43:20 – 49:46) 
  • The witch’s body: can beauty and power co-exist? + healing from assault (49:52 – 55:35)
  • Infertility as a curse (55:41 – 59:49)
  • Blindness, disability, and magical princess tears

“Round about the Treguna”: Nature + Spirituality (1:06:06 – 1:22:46)

  • The woods as a psychological, transformative space/ journey
  • Getting what you wish for/ the magic of normalcy
  • Liminal spaces, bridging life and death
  • The spell and its ingredients (transmuted by the cow)
  • The witch’s garden and magic beans

Final Spells (1:23:13 – 1:28:20)

  • Typecast Lucy Punch and other versions of Cinderella
  • Other movies/ plays with similar musical themes
  • Learning from and improving on our parents’ example

Related Links

Liz Gilbert on The School of Greatness

Blooper Reel (1:29:16 – 1:30:06)

A sort-of photo of the four of us, together again:

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 7.33.15 PM

Claire and Jenny’s tablet-laptop contraption:

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Katie’s blue hair:

 

 

Episode 1.8: Season Finale

Happy full moon, witches! December’s supermoon (kicking off a supermoon trilogy!) is in Gemini and is known in various cultures as the Cold Moon or the Long Night Moon.

Other names for December’s moon include the Bitter Moon (Chinese), Oak Moon (English), Snow Moon (Cherokee), Peach Moon (Choctaw), and Twelfth Moon (Dakotah Sioux).

We have reached our eighth episode (a very fortuitous number!) and the end of our first season. In this special episode, we reflect back on the texts we’ve discussed and the witches who have inspired us.

Our theme song is “Moon and Spruce” by Sarah Littledrum.

Listen to hear our answers to the following questions:

“Which witch…”

  • Inspired you to learn something new or to improve your craft?
  • Helped you to see other people in a new light or to better understand your own position in society?
  • Changed the way you think of your body or the human body in general?
  • Taught you something about the natural world or encouraged you to heal and/or connect with your environment?
  • Encouraged you to create art or foster a spiritual practice?
  • Made you laugh?

“What was your favorite/ most magical moment from doing the podcast?”

“Which witch wins the ‘Witch of the Year’ Award?”

You can find and listen to all of our previous episodes here.

If you have comments, feedback, and/or suggestions for Season 2, please do let us know! Thanks again for listening, and we will see you on a forthcoming full moon in 2018!

Episode 1.7: The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Happy full moon! November’s moon (the most magical!) is in Taurus and known in the pagan tradition as the Tree Moon.

Here are some of the other names for the November moon: Dark Moon (Celtic), White Moon (Chinese), Snow Moon (English), Beaver Moon (Algonquin), Trading Moon (Cherokee), Sassafras Moon (Choctaw), Moon When Horns Are Broken Off (Dakotah Sioux), and Frost Moon (other Native American peoples). In the southern hemisphere it’s called the Corn Moon, Milk Moon, Flower Moon, and Hare Moon. Read more about November’s moon here.

In this episode we discuss Newbery medal winner The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

Our theme song is “Moon and Spruce” by Sarah Littledrum.

Here’s a listening guide for the episode. (For a description of our segments, go here.)

Introduction (0:00 – 3:33)

NB: We skipped our formal discussion of craft this time, but our observations about Barnhill’s writing are scattered throughout the episode.

“Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?” (3:38 – 12:15)

  • Complex, nuanced depictions of female characters (most of the characters are women!)
  • There actually is a good witch and a bad witch in this book! Ignatia vs. Xan
  • The Sisters of the Star (female police force) vs. the Elders (male governing body)
  • Two primary characters, Ethyne and Antain, step away from the established institutions in order to enact change
  • The Elders’ authority is undermined by women’s friendship
  • We end with a brief discussion of race

“Bald Heads and Queer Noses” (12:18 – 46:29)

  • Adara’s “madness” and her magic
  • Antain’s scarred face (bodies as text!)
  • Luna’s neurodivergence, dyslexia, and changing body (and how it intersects with her magic)
  • Love beyond physical appearance
  • Systemic problems in U.S. maternity care
  • Hunger as a motivating force

Related Links

“Braids, Cornrows, Dreadlocs, & many more and why it’s not ‘just hair’: A thread”

“When ‘Fatal’ Foetal Abnormalities Are Not So Fatal”

October was Dyslexia Awareness Month. Here are some ideas about how to improve our educational system for dyslexic children.

“Round About the Cauldron Go” (46:30 – 1:06:15)

  • Centrality of nature: the bog, volcano, forest, magical full moon!
  • Importance of birds
  • “Good” characters are aligned with nature and “bad” characters work against it
  • (Magical) significance of trees, wood, and paper as instruments of creation/ art
  • Stories and memory

“Treguna, Mekoides, Trecorum, Satis, Dee” (1:06:17 – 1:34:13)

  • Sorrow and self-care in the digital age
  • The importance of art and hope
  • More than one way to be an activist
  • Luna’s visions and the love that binds families (of all stripes) together

Related Links

“Mob Shaming: The Pillory at the Center of the Global Village”

“‘Our minds can be hijacked’: The tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia”

Irresistible : The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping us Hooked by Adam Alter

Reclaiming the idea of the maiden in the tower: A Tumblr post by star*anise

Secret Feminist Agenda episodes 1.11, 1.12, and  1.13 (about mental health, sickness, rest, and activism)

Final Spells (1:34:17 – 1:41:05)

  • The necessity of change
  • Luna’s father
  • The things that can be accomplished when women work together

 

On December 3, we’ll end the year with a special episode reflecting on our first season. See you on the next full moon!