Work Header

Wizardry Most Humble & High

Work Text:

"In Tudor England (in the period before The Reformation) magic use in agricultural environs was largely in the hands of monasteries who would disperse their largesse to their tenant farmers in return for a fee. This fee could take the form of either money or material goods..." [1]

As it turns out there are some Tudor spells you simply can't recreate (the heart of a long extinct bird is only one example) but there are plenty you can. The simple spells ordinary people used - to keep the dairy cool and clean, for a fire that did not smoke, for clean water and to keep pests from the garden.

Spells for healthy animals and people are considered the province of the Church - for that is the magic given by The Lord to dispense as He wills through his priests - for it is only the Lord who may give and take life and health, though you may pray for intercession and use holy relics.

Though there is a fair trade in healing spells of various kinds - especially in the enhancement of charm bags and herbal remedies. The most common are simply herbs and flowers bound in undyed linen with perhaps a small muttered invocation or a charm from a local midwife - not entirely legal but not illegal either. There are also peddlers who sell more dubious concoctions that include love potions and curses. Ways to prevent and end pregnancy are also well known spells and are not officially proscribed or written against.

What it means is that when setting up the farm all three of them get used to only using the basic spells - you sprinkle herbs enhanced with a charm to keep away pests and keep the floor clean (Ruth) but the herbs have pest control properties in and of themselves. You might use a spell (Peter and Alex) to keep a pig pen secure but the foundation has to be solid in the first place or it will all fall apart regardless of the strength of the spell.


A spellyl for goode bonney babes. Taketh a goodely hand of goode honey & maekth withvith it a cakye & wrapen thy cakye in a oakye leafyve & sayeth thy blessing & further sayeth 'habere, liber & fiat' three times. [2]

"Please tell me this isn't actually the spell for a 'clean and sweet privy'?" Peter says, looking down at the unpleasant smelling pile of refuse and animal manure and wrinkling his nose.

"Of course it is - this kind of magic works on the law of degree - that to prevent a thing one must include the ingredients akin to what is being prevented. Just ignore the smell and give me the feathers"

It does as it turns out, make for a beautifully smelling privy. And the spell for the dairy is even pleasant - flowers and fresh milk and cheese. Though the spell against bed bugs is decidedly not pleasant - but it works and it makes the best use of resources - a common factor with all the spells.

Alex and Peter make faces at the myriad ways in which you have to try and decipher the spell for sheep tracking (it involves setting spells on stones at points along the boundaries of their farm) and Ruth just looks at them when they return covered in mud and makes a point of looking up the 'moste effycial remeydies fore clyn clouts' and they all decide that it was worth it.

"In this period of the early Tudor era, the kind of agricultural magic you are looking at is so intertwined with faith and with the church - the hierarchy of magic is implied within this. And you find it in everything - especially the cooking."

Ruth turns to the camera excitedly from the ingredients on the table.

"So when you prepare a festive meal you do so with these things in mind. Now this is the way magic links to a solstice feast..."


"The Royal College of Magic was officially founded in the 1100s by Henry II and his wife Eleanor. It was built on the site of the former site of the magic school that, while expanded by both Alfred the Great and William The Conqueror is believed to have roots back to the era of Skara Brae as a druidic site. Agricultural focused magic became increasingly important as the population expanded but the Romans focused it on a specific elite who..." [3]

The other thing to note about trying to cook with spells that are several hundred years old is that often the order of the words are completely different - generally they tie into the particular day or a particular saint (and sometimes a folk tale) but it also means that you learn exactly why a particular saint is the patron of baking and bread and how you would invoke that saint in a charm to help the bread rise. It all comes down to the feast cooked for the Monastery - the kitchen spells in the Monastery kitchen are far more sophisticated - especially when hosting a noble guest (much more in line with the way Hampton Court would have been).

It means not just spells for clean water, pest and temperature control but spells to hold together elaborate pastry creations, to colour meats and to give animation to subtleties (there's a beautiful one for the marzipan doves to make them fly). Indeed it means working with the Monastery Kitchen Wizard - who was specifically in charge of such things, bringing back a long ago world in tiny marzipan birds and sugared violets.

"Monasteries in the time of the first Tudor had solidified into both a great business and spiritual concern - involved in politics, education, charity and non-profit work and business of all kinds it was the all encompassing institution in this world - in agriculture not the least. The wizard monks who worked in the monasteries had specific areas of responsibility - kitchen, medical, gardens (including ponds, streams, gardens and crops), illumination and writing of manuscripts, animals and the business and clerical side of things. These spells included..." [4]