Crafts of the Cunning: An Introduction to Early Modern British Cunning-Craft with Dr. Alexander Cummins

A part of the Voices of Folk Magic Series
This class will livestream via Zoom at 7pm Eastern on Sunday July 17th 2022 and will be available as a video for viewing afterwards 

Wise Ones. Pellars. White witches. Sorcerers. Doctors. There are a huge variety of regional names for folk magic practitioners and service magicians in the pre-modern British Isles. These are often collected, by historians and practitioners alike, under the broad umbrella term of cunning-folk: those who practice cunning crafts.

Such professional practitioners made their trade in the practical magics of divining, unbewitching, treasure-hunting, spirit conjuration, ghost-laying, and the making of charms, talismanic objects, and magical medicines for their clients. These individuals frequently straddled the lines between disapproved witchcraft and pious charming prayers, and between salt-of-the-earth folk sorcery and high learned ritual magic. Moreover, while the royal courts and aristocratic circles had their own service magicians on retainer, most cunning-folk worked for the working-classes of poor folks trying to get by and help themselves.

In this class, contemporary cunning-man Dr Alexander Cummins will present this exploration and celebration of cunning-craft, not simply as a cabinet of historical curiosities, but a schoolhouse of dead transatlantic folk magicians to honour and learn from, and a storehouse of Old World techniques to compare and contrast the folk magics of the pre-modern British Isles with those of the Americas. Such study is hoped to build better understandings of our own practices, and to see the intersectional commonalities of different but related historical traditions, struggles, and magical solutions.

Dr Alexander Cummins is a contemporary cunning man and historian. His work focuses on the dead (folk necromancy), divination (geomancy) and the grimoires. He received his doctorate on early modern magical approaches to the passions.

His published works include The Excellent Booke of the Arte of Magicke (Scarlet Imprint, 2020) with Phil Legard on early modern visionary nigromancy, The Starry Rubric (Hadean Press 2012), on early modern astrology and astrological magic, A Book of the Magi: Lore, Prayers, and Spellcraft of the Three Holy Kings (Revelore Press 2018) and contributions to collections by Three Hands Press, Revelore, Hadean Press, and Scarlet Imprint. He is a frequent speaker on the international circuit, and co-hosts the podcast Radio Free Golgotha.

Dr Cummins gives classes and workshops online and in person. His work and services can be found at

Spiritus Arcanum