Nobody can deny the fact that books are fantastic. We can travel through them or with them, we can explore, we can learn new, fascinating things, we can expand our horizons, which is why we all read. However, unfortunately some things cannot be found in books; simple things, really but these simple things make all the difference in the world. I am lucky enough to have certain people in my life, who practice folk magick, just like I do. These people are Elders (Yes, with a capital E), Elders that I respect fully. These people have been practicing magick for many decades and the majority of them have learned their Craft from their parents and their parents in turn from their ancestors.
Some of these people were illiterate to begin with, they endured pain, suffering. Some of them were deported, some banished from their own country yet they never lost their faith in their practices, fact which is inspiring and awe provoking to say the least. The way we practice in my region may have quite a few similarities and differences to what you practice and I absolutely love that. I love how diverse our practices are. I love how we can come together and share what we practice with each other. But enough with the rambling now.
Today I am going to be presenting to you an interview . Yes, an interview but this interview is going to be a little different. I firmly believe that we can learn so much from Elders, all of us can, but most of us dont really bother. So much practical knowledge, advice, and wisdom is lost in this way. Therefore, I thought I would take some time to interview an acquaintance of mine, who is an Elder Folk Greek Witch (if you do not resonate with this word, that is totally fine, lets say practitioner instead). Her name is Irini (pronunciation: ee-REE-nee [=peace] ) and she lives in Greece, on a beautiful Greek island called Crete.
- So, hello Irini and thank you for taking the time to give this interview to me. I greatly appreciate it. Could you tell us a few things about your background?
Of course. As you know, both my mother and my father were born in Turkey. They were of Greek origin, but when I was born, there were a lot of Greek people in Turkey, before the war. My grandmother was born in a region close to the Black Sea, so you can tell my heritage is a quite mixed. I do not refer to myself as a witch . This word carries so many misconceptions in our language, I dont feel comfortable using it. I do not and never actually felt the need to define myself. I never liked this word, In Turkish either. I never resonated with it. I only practice the craft of my ancestors. My mother did the same and so did my grandmother. I wish I knew more about my roots but when I was young it was nearly impossible to track your roots and where you came from.
- Thank you for this. Could you give us some background information about your practice?
My practice is very diverse but very still if I can call it this way. In my practice, I do not make changes, I do not tweak things. I approach it with great, utter respect and awe . My practice first of all is folk, I guess you could call it [folk magic] . My great-grandmother passed it down to my mother, her sisters and- brother and they passed it down to me but we never called our practices witchcraft, or magic or words you all use nowadays to describe these practices. We never called it anything because it was and is a way of life, a way to be, a way to exist, a way to appreciate Life and all-that-is. Regarding my craft now, it has Greek and Turkish elements in it, and probably more but like I have already mentioned, I was never able to track my own roots to an extend that would satisfy me.
- Did your mother or ancestors use to write down anything related to your practices or was the tradition orally passed down to you?
Nothing was written down by them. To begin with, they did not know how to write. They never went to school. Back then, most women were unfortunately illiterate . Our place was only in the house. The majority of us didnt go to school, even if we wanted to, we couldnt. Different times. Hard times. The tradition was passed down to us orally , all of it but my sister and I started writing things down when we were in our 30s. You see, when you do something every day and it has become a part of you, you do not think about the future. In your mind you suppose that somehow everything you know will be passed down to your children, but nothing is certain, which is why we began documenting our practices. Initially, it was some basic spells and tips we got from our mother, but my sister has done an outstanding job on documenting a big part of it for future reference.
- Does your practice revolve around nature?
It revolves around all that is. It revolves around Nature. It revolves around God. It revolves around Life and animals. It has no boundaries and limits. We believe that life is a divine gift. We are here to make a difference and expand ourselves and all-that-is.
- Do you believe in God?
Yes, I believe in God and I am Christian. [Some background info here: In Greece, Religion is inextricably linked with the nation of Greece so lots of people who practice folk magic in Greece are actually Christian , NOT everybody though!] . I do not believe in God the way the church does. I believe in God in my own way and I think that God is not really as the church portrays IT to be.
- When you were in Turkey, did people practice magick back then?
I was originally in a city called Canakkale and yes, many people both of Greek, Armenian and Turkish origin (and others) practiced magic but they never shouted it out. We had our religion, Christianity, but we couldnt provoke anybody. We didnt even have any interest in doing so. Initially, before the war, we lived in peace. We respected them and they respected us and our faith. But yes, many people practiced magic but they kept it a secret , we all did.
People would react In a very negative way when faced with a weird-looking (to them) object and so we had to keep it a secret. Back then, if you were a woman and you were not married, you were nothing, you were considered to be worse than dirt. You could only be considered to be someone if you were married to a wealthy man, so many girls and many women would do works around love but these works werent so innocent. They were of binding nature. Of course, there were also conflicts among shop-owners, there was a lot of poverty back then ; there was a lot going on with regards to competition.
- Were people afraid of magic?
Many people were petrified , not only scared of it. The works [by works she means spells] people used to do back then were not so innocent. Some people used to curse others to get what they wanted to get, to achieve their goals, to make their lives better. I feel the need to mention again here that there was a lot of competition among men and among women. Some people though were not afraid, and these people usually were the ones who followed these practices, like we did and do up to this very day.
And we were not afraid because we had faith in what we were doing and we knew how to deal with it. Something that you need to understand is that back then we did not have television or movies or Hollywood, so our practices werent considered to be special, or I dont know, cool. No special effects, no special sounds, it was just the way it is. But we always approached it and we still do so, with love and respect, gratitude, discipline and responsibility. We did not fear it. We had nothing to fear .
It was a part of our daily lives , day in and day out. It was there when we cooked, and we healed, and when we prayed, and when we collected flowers and herbs. It was there when we thought we were in despair, and it was there when we were happy. It was one with us. That is what people do not understand nowadays. We did not follow our practices once in a blue moon or when we wanted to draw wealth in to our lives, or maybe, a lover. We did it daily, day in and day out. And we did it with respect and awe. Our lives were not easy but we never gave up on our way of life because that is what it is, a way of life. Once youre in it, youre in it.
- Do you have any complaints regarding your grand-children or young people in general?
Yes. I have many complaints but my biggest complaint is that young people nowadays do not use their brain at all when they research [magic] . You read your books, you read your websites and many of you do not take a moment to reflect on what you read, you just take it all in without judgement and you do not ask. My son never approved of my practices and that is okay but my daughter would never bother to ask me. Mom, how do we do this. Mom why do we do that a certain way?. My advice is simple. Ask, ask even if you think that your questions are silly. Ask your elders. Ask, ask and ask. Ask and judge. Ask and judge. We make mistakes, too, but your job is to receive what we offer to you and take it a step higher, embellish it, enhance it. But always approach it with care and responsibility.
- Thank you for this. Would you mind telling us a few things about how our practices are connected with Christianity? In my experience, when people hear about that, they usually feel its odd, or weird or contradictory to say the least.
In Greece, many of us who practice magic as you call it, do follow religion of our country (Orthodox Christianity) and our practices are beautifully connected and associated with it. In which fashion? We use holy water, from the church, we read the psalms of Davids, we use Davids psalms a lot, we use blessed objects and candles in our works, we do uncrossing works with psalms written by the Saints and many many more. Some people resonate with that, some people dont. When we were in Turkey we held onto our origin, our faith, so our religion was an integral part of our lives as well.
We were not in our country, we were not born in our country so we had to have something to hold onto and that was our faith, our practices, our heritage, history, culture, and our ways. We had to hold onto them, that is why we never tweak or change them. We change nothing. Everything that was handed to us we practice. Of course we have our own experience and ideas but we do not change what was handed down to us at all. We take into account how divine and how sacred and holy what we practice is.
When we work with our herbs, we work with Life, we work with Nature, God, we work with the Light. We bless them and they bless us. When we work with cards, we treat them with respect and care. Everything we do, we do it in a very clear, very specific way. Before we read the cards, we fast, we cleanse ourselves internally and externally. Nowadays, young people have lost this sense of respect towards our Ways in my opinion. What we do is Holy. What we do is divine and sacred. Tradition is the only thing that binds us with our ancestors; it is the only element that connects us with them, with what they did and what they believed. So, please, please, always remember how sacred everything you do in regards to your practice is.
- Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to share with me your wisdom, knowledge, information, advice and love towards your practices, Irini. I appreciate it massively. Thank you.
I truly Hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did.
Thank you for reading.