‘Where have you been for the past few months, Lee?’ I hear you ask. The same place we’ve all been: at home, 6ft away from anybody I don’t know. You would think this would have lent itself to getting plenty of blogging done, but apparently, it did not. However, I’m back this week with a fresh ‘Metaphyiscal Monday’ with someone I know from a number of witchy Discord servers we share. In this chat, Magory and I talk about their witchcraft, their work in the field of archaeology, and how it has created a feedback loop of the person that they are today.
Hi Magory! Thanks for agreeing to chat with me tonight. To begin with, would you like to introduce yourself to my readers?
Absolutely! I'm a green and kitchen witch, living in Northern England now for five years. I'm also a heritage archaeologist, so I work in museums to bring archaeology and history to the public. On top of that, I'm also a PhD researcher in the Archaeology Department at the University of York. My research looks at accessibility for people with hidden disabilities in museums and heritage sites.
When it comes to my metaphysical journey, I "officially" started about a year ago, but since then I've dabbled in tarot, runes, astrology, as well as finding my place working with plants and my kitchen.
I’ve been watching the different topics you’ve chimed in on in our shared servers, so it seems like for a self-proclaimed newbie, you’re really putting the effort in!
What does being a ‘green and kitchen witch’ mean to you?
To me, it's about what you feel most comfortable working with. I started really gardening during the first national lockdown here in England. I was lucky enough to inherit a juniper bush, a lavender bush, and a HUGE rosemary bush when we moved into the house we're renting, so I slowly started adding to the little garden.
Not going to lie, I’m low-key jealous of those bushes...
Right?!?! I'm so lucky that the people who rented before me knew what they were doing!
As I expanded my garden, I felt more and more empowered, like I was reconnecting with myself. I'd never tried to have houseplants before, let alone a proper garden, so I was a little worried. But I have a green thumb it seems, and I credit that to all the research I've put into these plants. Not only do I look at the regular scientific stuff, but also correspondences for the plants and what deities each plant is sacred to.
I remember that a friend of mine who is a kitchen witch told me that when it comes to it, your own correspondences are completely invaluable; seeing as what spices mean what varies from culture to culture, etc. Is that something you’ve found as well?
Yes!!! Honestly, the correspondences can vary so wildly from place to place, that there's a lot of freedom in.. Not quite picking and choosing, but in the freedom to use what resonates with you and dismiss the rest. Basil for me is SUCH a powerful, protective force, but that's not how everyone sees it. And that's okay!
I've weirdly moved away from the scientific stuff now, and am going more on intuition when it comes to caring for my plants. And they're doing so well!
When it comes to actually working with these plants, that's where my kitchen witchery comes in. Almost all my plants are culinary plants - lots of herbs - so I use them when I'm making food for my family. I always hated the expectation that, as the matriarch, I was in charge of feeding everyone. But as I started to see food preparation less as an obligation and more of a magical creation, I've actually fallen in love with cooking! It might seem a bit childish, but I see each meal as a potion that I'm making, carefully selecting the ingredients to add to the brew to achieve what I'm going for. More often than not, my goal is just "stop being hungry" but that's still a worthy goal!
I like this a lot. Self-care as a part of your practice - as well as caring for others - can be really important.
What first made you consider these parts of yourself as areas of witchcraft? What’s your history, there?
I honestly didn’t even realise that green and kitchen witchery were a thing until I got started! I reached out to one person I know in “real life” who is a pagan and she introduced me to witch-stagram, which is where I was first exposed to kitchen witchcraft. It’s taken off from there, but the thing that really connects me to it is, ironically, history.
As an archaeologist, I’m a big history nerd, especially medieval history. So I started trying out historical recipes, just as a side project, but I noticed that whenever I made those recipes, or made something from scratch like bread, I could feel the power flowing through me. I never feel so connected to the past, to myself, and to my past self as when I’m tending to my plants or kneading bread. It shuts out the modern world for a little bit and brings me back to my centre of power.
Aha! Now, this is the juicy bit. I’ve been wanting to grill you about your work for months now, but I’ve been putting it off and putting it off - I’ll admit, that’s part of why I wanted to talk to you today. Could you talk a little bit more about what drew you into history?
I will happily talk about history!
Excellent! My kind of people!
So my first exposure to history really was learning about King Arthur when I was in 3rd or 4th grade - and I was hooked. I loved the feel of the era, the magic of the setting, and just being able to glimpse into the lives of people who experienced the world in a very different way than I do. And yes, the historical accuracy of anything related to King Arthur isn’t great, but it sparked that love of everything medieval in me that still exists to this day. I live in York, which is famed for, among other things, its amazing amount of medieval buildings that are all over the place. The museum I work in is even a converted medieval church! So walking through a place that is so steeped in not just history, but medieval history especially is so incredible to me.
Do you feel that there’s a kind of residual energy to those locations? Little whispers of the past?
Very much so! It’s funny, before this current lockdown, I travelled to a different city with my partner to see his new job location, and as soon as I got out of the car, the energy of the whole city was completely different to York. It looked similar in lots of ways, but it felt so very different because of its life as a play-thing for the rich over the past couple of centuries. Whereas with York, you can feel the history seeping out of every corner. I love walking around the city centre (when I’m allowed!) just to soak in the energy of the place.
That’s super fascinating! It’ll be nice when you’ll get to explore again.
If you don’t mind me asking, I know you’ve also done some spiritual work into your personal history. Is that something you’ve be willing to talk a little bit more about?
I would love to! I’ve done a little bit of past life work, and it seems like one of my past lives links to the period of King Arthur - or at least, what can be presumed to be his era. I was a nun who also raised a bunch of children in a forest, orphans and runaways that didn’t have a home, and I taught them how to survive off the land and to use the forest and to work with the spirits of the place. That’s where I get my ‘witch’ name, Mother Magory. There’s lots of echoes of her in my current life as well, including a ridiculous obsession with medieval monks and nuns! I’m looking forward to delving deeper into this by working with Ada Pembroke and learning more about astrology and how it can be harnessed to understand a past life.
What kind of research have you done? Past life regression is something I’ve been meaning to get seriously into for a decade, now, so methods and recommendations are highly appreciated!
It’s been a bit of mixed methods for me on this - it started off with someone doing an energy reading on me, which gave me the broad brush strokes. Since then, I’ve done a lot of journaling and dream interpretation which has given me more details. There’s also a lot to be said for intuition - there’s tiny little details and flashes of memories that I have that, when I dig into medieval academic scholarship, have turned out to be true. Things like food and recipes that turned out to be historically accurate, despite me not knowing the culinary practices of the time.
And the research for your PhD is also about history, right, but a little different. What kind of thing are you studying, to jog my memory and inform my readers?
Yes, similar but also… not.
For my PhD, I’m asking people with hidden disabilities to go around museums with me to understand their experience. In turn, this is helping me understand how museums can increase accessibility for people with hidden disabilities - things as simple as ‘make sure there’s enough seating, people need to sit down to rest’ and as complicated as ‘you’re valuing preservation of this 17th century quilt over the ability for people to actually see it.’ It’s been really eye-opening work!
As someone who could (tentatively) be labelled a “spoonie witch” the idea of accessibility for those with hidden disabilities is quite near and dear to my heart. Does it relate to your archaeological work, at all?
It does in a huge way. As a heritage archaeologist, pretty much everything you see in a museum is something that I work on. From choosing the objects we display to writing the text on the interpretation boards and even a museum’s social media feed, that’s something that I could be involved in. So I’ve been taking this research and feeding it back into my job - not to toot my own horn, but in the past year alone, my museum group has won 3 different accessibility awards for all the work we’ve done!
You should toot! Toot away!
More than awards, though, it’s really important to me that anyone can access the past. For me, being able to hold a piece of medieval pottery and to put my thumb in the thumbprint of that medieval potter is an incredible feeling, and I want everyone to experience that. They may need to access history in a different way - for instance, maybe they would prefer to listen to a podcast or read a book, but maybe they want to be able to step into a restored medieval townhouse to experience life as it would have been in the 16th century. And it’s my job to make sure that we provide that opportunity in any way we can.
As someone who feels very passionately about education and sharing knowledge - and someone whose day job is with a company dedicated to accessible media - it means a lot to me to hear you say that.
I know you’re planning on taking Jared’s class on the Icelandic Sagas at the Nameless Academy. Is that an expansion of your research, or more related to your witchcraft, or both?
A bit of both, really. In addition to being a famously medieval city, York is a famously Viking city. That is where the name York comes from - the Vikings called us Jorvik (pronounced your-vick).
I have wanted to visit for years. I somehow never got the chance to go South when I lived in Scotland - or, technically, I bypassed York and went to Whittington - but as someone whose historical know-how is “1066 to the Magna Carta” and the viking era before that… well. Colour me jealous.
Oh man, never skip York! Not only do we have Vikings, we have chocolate! But that’s a whole different historical period.
I know quite a lot about Viking-age York, and I’m learning on my own about some Viking magical practices, but I honestly don’t know much about the Icelandic Sagas, other than having heard a few of my co-workers tell me about them. So I’m looking forward to learning more about that time period, the people in the Sagas, and especially about magical practices during that time.
Thanks so much for this wonderful chat! To finish things off, I have a question that I like to always ask: what is one piece of advice you would give anyone who would like to learn more about your field of expertise? Green/kitchen witchery and history, so… two pieces of advice, I guess! Bonus!
This piece of advice goes for both of them: be curious. It’s okay to not know things, not knowing something means you have really cool things to discover! There’s so many people out there who are experts, which is just a fancy word for a giant nerd who gets really geeky when they talk about what they love. *gestures to this entire interview*
Also, and this applies to both as well: if anyone ever makes you feel bad for not knowing something or for asking questions, forget them. I could get into power dynamics and the hierarchy of knowledge, but it’s enough to simply say that they’re intimidated, so keep asking those questions! I used to be really intimidated to ask questions until I discovered this truth, and I haven’t stopped asking questions since.
Magory is a green and kitchen witch, heritage archaeologist, and accessibility specialist. She can be found online under the handle ‘MotherMagory’ at Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.