Writing

Photo of author behind a short wall of books
The author in a book fort of his creation following the research for one book

As a writer, I try my very best to provide complex, nuanced information in an accessible, friendly voice. I have written in a number of genres, from non-fiction to poetry. My primary work is a combination of the academic and the non-fictional/informational aimed at a public market. Below, I am happy to share some the work I’ve done in fiction, poetry, and academic writing. Below you’ll find a small selection of my published works. If you’re interested in seeing my complete publication and media record, you can do that here.


Books

new world witchery cover (subtitle rework) 2New World Witchery: A Trove of North American Folk Magic is one of the most comprehensive collections of witchcraft and folk magic ever written. The book shows you how to integrate folk traditions into your life and deepen your understanding of magic. Folklore expert Cory Thomas Hutcheson guides you to the crossroads of folk magic, where you’ll learn about different practices and try them for yourself. This treasure trove of witchery features an enormous collection of stories, artifacts, rituals, and traditions. Explore chapters on magical heritage, divination, familiars, magical protection, and spirit communication. Discover the secrets of flying, gathering and creating magical supplies, living by the moon, working contemporary folk magic, and more. This book also provides brief profiles of significant folk magicians, healers, and seers, so you can both meet the practitioners and experience their craft. With New World Witchery, you’ll create a unique roadmap to the folk magic all around you. This book has sold thousands of copies to date, and is available in paperback, e-book, and audiobook editions. (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2021)

54devilsdigitalcover Fifty-four Devils: The Art and Folklore of Fortune-telling with Playing Cards explores the practice of cartomancy (reading playing cards, much in the way some read tarot cards) and incorporates both a practical method of reading based on multiple folk traditions and an analysis of some of the sources used in writing the book. I self-published this book in 2013, and while it received some later interest from a major publisher, to date it remains a self-published volume (and has done quite well in that format, selling several thousand copies in both paperback and digital editions).

FORTHCOMING: Llewellyn’s Complete Book of American Folk Magic. (Editor). Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications. Under Contract. Expected publication 2022.

Other Book Contributions (Chapters and Introductions)

Several other books are currently in various stages of planning and writing, and as those are completed I will add them here. I have also written several introductions and/or chapters for various books, including:

  • Chapter: Domestic and Automotive Folklife. Oxford Handbook of American Folklore and Folklife Studies, Simon Bronner, ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Forthcoming (2019).
  • Chapter: European American Folklore (co-author, with Anthony Buccitelli). Oxford Handbook of American Folklore and Folklife Studies, Simon Bronner, ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019).
  • Encyclopedia Entries: “Name Lore,” “Old Betty Booker,” “Old Granny Tucker,” “Pata de Gallo,” “Tailypo.” American Myths, Legends, & Tall Tales: An Encyclopedia of American Folklore, Christopher R. Fee and Jeffery Webb, eds. (Denver: ABC-CLIO, 2015).
  • “Killing the Moon: Witchcraft Initiations in the Mountains of the Southern United States.” In Hands of Apostasy: Essays on Traditional Witchcraft, Michael Howard and Daniel Schulke, eds. Richmond Vista, CA: Three Hands Press, 2014.
  • “Introduction.” A Rustle of Dark Leaves: Tales from the Shadows of the Forest (Misanthrope Press), 2012.

Academic Writing

Krampuslauf 067The rapid adoption of Krampus as a figure in popular media notwithstanding, many people as yet do not know who Krampus is. Stopper’s selection of the Christmas monster for the Philadelphia parade has symbolic significance beyond and attempt to claim Western cultural heritage. Embracing the darker aspects of the holiday season is a way of engaging with mainstream culture on the terms of the subculture, what Magliocco (2004) calls “the discourse of oppositionality.” Neo-Pagans have embraced the parade and its various diabolical creatures, perhaps surprising many outsiders given the long-term dissociation with any Satanic or diabolic figures from Neo-Pagans (Adler 2006). As Stopper noted, however, darkness can be “healthy,” and Neo-Pagans embracing a devilish Krampus parade can be just as much about a subdominant religious group confronting its collective fears as a child building a Krampus mask might be addressing his or her personal anxieties. The current discursive model of dominant culture and subdominant culture plays out repeatedly in other cultural venues, and the groups involved with Krampuslauf will likely grow to include more subdominant groups—members of the LGBTQ community or possibly minority groups seeking civil rights in other venues. Scholars will need to be attuned to the historical, folkloric, and sociological significance of such dark figures, and see them in the context of oppositional discourse. As new figures, festivals, and causes emerge, numerous opportunities for participation and observation appear. The potential to examine Krampus rhetorically in American discourse on holiday consumerism remains largely untapped, and sadly beyond the scope of this paper. Perhaps future research will turn the lens on similarly “dark” festival figures, such as celebrations of Santa Muerte. I personally hope someone somewhere has embraced some dark aspect of the Easter Bunny, although I may simply be exhibiting the scars of seeing the film version of Watership Down at too young an age. As more people encounter celebrations of “darkness,” they may come to see just how much good they can do.

-From “Christmas Monsters: The Rise and Meanings of the Philadelphia Krampuslauf,” in Contemporary Legend (Winter 2017)

Selected Academic Works

  • Chapter: Domestic and Automotive Folklife. Oxford Handbook of American Folklore and Folklife Studies, Simon Bronner, ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Forthcoming (2019).
  • “Christmas Monsters: The Rise & Meanings of the Philadelphia Krampuslauf.” Contemporary Legend. Winter 2017.
  • “Book Review: The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas: Roots and Rebirth of the Folkloric Devil, by Al Ridenour.”  Western Folklore. v.76 no.3 (Western States Folklore Society, Summer 2017).
  • “Finding New Monsters in Old Places: A Review of the Works of Simon J. Bronner through an Age-Intersectional Lens.” Children’s Folklore Review. v. 38 (American Folklore Society, 2017).
  • “Book Review: Baba Yaga: The Wild Witch of the East in Russian Fairy Tales, by Sibelan Forrester.” Marvels and Tales. v.30 no.2 (Wayne State University Press, 2016).
  • “Book Review: Shadowing the White Man’s Burden: U.S. Imperialism and the Problem of the Color Line, by Gretchen Murphy.” Journal of American Ethnic History (Univ. of Illinois Press, Summer 2016).
  • “Domesticating the Ogre: Horror Play and Fatherhood.” Midwestern Folklore (Hoosier Folklore Society, Fall 2015).
  • Articles: “Name Lore,” “Old Betty Booker,” “Old Granny Tucker,” “Pata de Gallo,” “Tailypo.” American Myths, Legends, & Tall Tales: An Encyclopedia of American Folklore, Christopher R. Fee and Jeffery Webb, eds. (Denver: ABC-CLIO, 2015).

Please see my CV for a more complete listing of my publications


Fiction & Poetry

I was holding the picture in my hand, and just thinking.  Thinking about what to do with it, really.  Part of me wanted to toss it in the fire, frame and all.  I don’t know, I was drunk and tired and the ice was still falling and Elmer was still snoring a few feet away.  It was just all so damn depressing.  Maybe if I’d had the power on I could have watched a 70’s cop movie or something.  It might have helped.

Examining what happened between Mary and I hadn’t gotten me anywhere after she left.  It wasn’t a lab problem in a science class.  Scrutiny and test dyes and observation yielded inconclusive results.  It wasn’t anything that could be broken down into a flow chart, a mind map, or any other graphical representation.  It was a conversation that had gone bad.  Words with consequences I couldn’t foresee.  A series of sounds inviting destruction, signaling the end.  High screams, low howls, the rumble of thunder.  All very dramatic.  The whole thing was underscored with timpani drums and cellos and tribal dancing with severe lighting.  Looking back now was like watching a really great performance; like remembering a horror movie that really scared the hell out of me.

Elmer bolted awake and stared around the room with wild eyes.  I froze as he gasped for breath, watching as he tried to fix his gaze on something.  Finally, his searching eyes found me and his panting slowed.

“What time is it?” he grunted.  I picked up my wind-up clock and stared at it intently for a minute, then turned it around for him to see.

“Almost one in the morning, Elmer.  You were sleeping pretty good…”

“Tom, you can’t let her in!  You understand, you can’t let her come in here!”  He was really worked up about something, and I thought it was a dream for only a second before someone knocked on the door.  I sat in a chilled silence, the fire growing visibly dimmer next to us, before a long wail pierced the air.

-From “Wolves,” in Etched Offerings: Voices from the Cauldron of Story (Misanthrope Press, 2011)

Selected Fiction & Poetry Works

  • “Wolves” (Short story). Etched Offerings: Voices from the Cauldron of Story (Misanthrope Press), 2011.
  • “Constellations” (Poem). Raving Dove: An Online Poetry Journal (Raving Dove, Inc.), issue 10, Summer 2007.
  • “Prophecies” (Poem). Merge: An Independent Journal of Convergent Ideas (Rosemarie Dombrowski), issue 13, Summer 2006.