The Wise-Womans’ Ways; the modus operandi of the women (and men) of the old ways, and the knowledge that they held.

What is a Wise-Woman (or Cunning Man)?

A Wise-Woman or Cunning Man collectively known as Cunning folk, were the folk healers or wise folk within the village. They were professional or semi-professional practitioners of folk medicine, folk magic and divination. The term was common place in Europe from the Middle Ages until the 20th century. Their practices were known as the Cunning Craft. They were extremely self-reliant people who could provide for themselves to the point of almost total self-sufficiency.

Cunning: the skill to achieve or make things in a clever way, especially for a particular purpose. The original sense was ‘possessing erudition or skill’ – from Middle English cunne, an obsolete variant of can: Synonyms: Ingenious, Subtle, Imaginative, Shrewd

Oxford Languages

The cunning folk of old sourced their supplies by either foraging for them in nature or growing them themselves. Their gardens; or if you went back far enough, the areas surrounding their homes/villages were therefore places of great importance. They didn’t have to expend time and energy going out and searching for a plant if they had it growing in their own neighbourhood. The plants and herbs provided not only their food but also their medicines, remedies, lotions and potions. Plant materials would also be made into fabrics, dyes for those fabrics, tools and other needed items. They grew things in the same way that nature grows things.


My grandmother (a village wise-woman), always taught me that if I wanted to know how to grow something to go and look at how nature grows it. Nowadays with the love of, and incessant need for labelling everything, this is known as Biomimicry. This is complex; nature is extremely complex, it is literally creating eco-systems. Sub-pages on specialist knowledge are coming soon.

The Importance of being ‘Soil’

Dead Dirt or Living Soil? - The Wise-Woman's Garden

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