Much of what passes for ‘witchcraft’ today was everyday knowledge to our forebears, especially those who lived and worked in the countryside. Here were to be found practical household hints, remedies and family recipes that had been handed down from generation to generation, some still existing in the form of treasured journals and notebooks. There is, however, nothing fanciful or far-fetched about this information - in fact, The Secret People is a remembrance of times past and a preservation of ‘parish-pump witchcraft, wise-women and cunning ways’ adapted for use in the 21st century. It may also go a long way in helping those present-generation pagans in search of an identity and answer the questions: Who ... what am I?
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
I have read one other book by Ms. Draco. I love the way she writes, and it is so relaxed and laid-back. She doesn’t complicate her words. She is able to keep a reader fascinated about the subject she is writing about.
This book, “The Secret People” is a complete recipe book. It gives some great insights into foods, herbs and linen cupboard. There are subjects in this book that I have not seen written in others. It was a pleasure to read and visualize how this used to be the way people lived, and in some places still can. ~ Jennifer Wright , PaganPages.org
The Secret People was a well written and accessible book looking at the old wisdom that has been handed down for centuries from one country wise woman to the next. Melusine Draco drew from a wide variety of historical sources to trace the knowledge that would have been commonplace for our grandmothers or great grandmothers.
I really liked the mix of practical and esoteric information. The advice was no nonsense and the practical warnings regarding herblore helped me trust the author.
The Secret People should be appealing to a wide audience ranging from those interested in pagan rituals to people interested in incorporating some of the old ways back into their lives. The lively mix of history, modern anecdotes, and recipes makes this a fun and informative book!
~ Kimberly O'Hara Nunez (Educator) , NetGalley
My interest in this book was two-fold: I'm incubating a book in which a character might need much of this information, and of course simple curiosity in this author's take on the subject. It's an utterly practical compilation of recipes and hints that do not require the reader to be a "parish pump witch" or wise woman. All you have to be is someone looking for natural solutions to common problems – looking for common sense and time-worn remedies. There are tidbits pulled from Mrs. Beeton's book right alongside things that could be found in any decent grimoire.
There is a magical bent much to the information – a holly will balance the magical energies of a rowan or apple tree in your garden, for example – but there's nothing airy-fairy about this book; advice like that feels more like feng shui. Even the section on divination feels more solid and straightforward than others I've seen.
I went into this expecting to harvest bits and pieces I could reference if my fantasy-eighteenth-century physician ever comes more to life. I came out of it with actual useful ideas for cleaning, for treating headaches and sore throats, for repelling pests, for celebrating Twelfth Night, and simply for being more aware of the seasons. "If a girl-friend has been having a run of misfortune, give her a bunch of carnations, or Gillyflowers, and this will turn her luck to good." Carnations all around, I think … ~ Tracey Stewart, Stewarttry
Synopsis: Much of what passes for 'witchcraft' today was everyday knowledge to our forebears, especially those who lived and worked in the countryside. "The Secret People: Parish-Pump Witchcraft, Wise-Women and Cunning Ways" is comprised of practical household hints, remedies and family recipes that had been handed down from generation to generation, some still existing in the form of treasured journals and notebooks. There is, however, nothing fanciful or far-fetched about this information - in fact, "The Secret People" is author Melusine Draco's remembrances of times past and a preservation of 'parish-pump witchcraft, wise-women and cunning ways' adapted for use in the 21st century. "The Secret People" may also go a long way in helping those present-generation pagans in search of an identity and answer the questions: Who ... what am I?
Critique: Melusine Draco originally trained in the magical arts of traditional British Old Craft with Bob and Meriem Clay-Egerton. She has been a magical and spiritual instructor for over 20 years with Arcanum and the Temple of Khem, and writer of numerous popular books. In "The Secret People: Parish-Pump Witchcraft, Wise-Women and Cunning Ways" she draws upon her years of experience and expertise to provide the non-specialist general reader with a compendium of extraordinarily well organized and presented information that will prove to be an inherently fascinating and impressively informative read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended for community and academic library Metaphysical Studies collections, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Secret People" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.99).
Wisconsin Bookwatch: November 2016
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575
~ Susan Bethany , midwest book review
The Secret People: Parish-pump witchcraft, Wise-women, and Cunning Ways is filled with many delicious hidden gems of the old ways. This book is about the humble ways of everyday living long ago. As you thumb through book you can highlight some of the ideas and traditions that appeal to you. The author touches on a lot of basic ingredients most people keep in their homes today. For example, I found an oatmeal bath for eczema that I plan to try on my little one. It lists different ways to use countless herbs, Vinegar, honey and lemons etc. It touches on numerous things such as treating sore throats, athletes foot and hangovers. This book provides the basics for making a tincture It also contains recipes for food and festive drinks such as apple water, lemonade, wine and beer. I think my favorite part of the book was reading about the divination. It included methods and spells you don't see such as Casting of Lots. I appreciated the detail in that section. When I finished the book it left me hoping there will be another book to follow with even more recipes that can be whipped up in the kitchen. ~ Connie Rounds, Amazon and Goodreads
Wonderful book to have on hand for any Pagan interested in some of the history of "wise women" or "cunning folk", basically anyone who used natural resources in the past. Basically, those who were eventually called Witches. I liked the fact that it stayed middle of the road as far as paganism goes and didn't lean towards any one belief system.
As a Wiccan myself, I liked the different used for the herbs, both medicinal and not. My herblore is sadly lacking and this will help. I also enjoyed the charms and spells that were provided, I am definitely adding some of these to my BOS.
~ Cryssy Matz, Crystal's Cozy Corner Blog
The Secret People: Parish-pump witchcraft, Wise-women, and Cunning Ways by Melusine Draco is a collection of wisdom from natural healers, showing us many herbs and their uses in medicinal potions and more.
It is a wonderful little book for anyone curious about the old ways, the tricks for attracting love or making money, and for predicting fortune. It also has some very interesting tips on how to make use of everything you got in your pantry so that nothing is wasted - very environmentally friendly!
I loved reading it, and have recommended it already to some friends of mine who enjoy the arts of herb medicine. ~ Phillipa Song, NetGalley
The Secret People appealed to me because I read quite a lot of historical fiction, much of it with a magical twist. Books like the Outlander series or Paula Brackstone's witch series. This is a collection of stories, lore, traditions, recipes, and history of the Celtic people from whom I'm descended. While it touches on witchcraft, it isn't a book of spells but more a book of age-old advice.
"Theirs was a knowledge that filtered down in the form of spells, domestic plant medicine and country lore, imparted to offspring, friends and neighbours, who in turn handed it down to their children…and so on down through the generations."
It was fascinating to learn that the same plant could be traditionally used for ailments which seemed quite contradictory, such as low sperm count and syphyllis. I also found the calendar-related chapters to be interesting, as they told of how Saints Days connected to early pagan celebrations and gods. There's a chapter about what skills and traditions went into poaching animals from the lord's land.
Written in an historic manner, this is still an easy read that I enjoyed. ~ Barbara Searles, NetGalley
"I’ve so looked forward to this book. It's high time our old ways came to light again so that we can all remember and use them. Draco writes in a style that is easy to read and her knowledge of the old ways is enormous. Anyone who wants to get back into the old customs and traditions of Britain will find this book a source to be treasured." ~ Elen Sentier, author, shaman and wise-woman
"A fascinating read bringing together the history of all the wise women, men and cunning folk that came before us creating the folk lore that we know and draw from today. Reminding us that a lot of what we practice now stems from a time long forgotten, from the home to the fields and all the interesting folk you meet on the way." ~ Rachel Patterson, author and witch
"The Secret People is all about the kind of practical folklore our grandmothers and great-grandmothers would have used in their daily lives when planting a cottage garden, foraging for herbs in the hedgerows, treating family ailments and making the most of what was around the house. It is also about the secret folklore they would have known, from love charms and fortune-telling to protection spells and magical cures. The book is both really useful and a delight to read. Mélusine said that it would take me on a trip down memory lane, and it certainly did." ~ Lucya Starza, author of Pagan Portals: Candle Magic