Book Review – Witches, Druids and Sin Eaters: The Common Magic of the Cunning Folk of the Welsh Marches by Jon G. Hughes with Sophie Gallagher

Book Review

Witches, Druids and Sin Eaters:
The Common Magic of the Cunning Folk
of the Welsh Marches 

by Jon G. Hughes with Sophie Gallagher

Publisher: Destiny Books

312 Pages

Published: September 2022



Witches, Druids and Sin Eaters: The Common Magic of the Cunning Folk of the Welsh Marches by Jon G. Hughes and Sophie Gallagher represents the collaboration between a lineage Druid and a witchcraft researcher and is a thorough and comprehensive guide to the ancient magickal practices of the people of the Welsh Marches. The insight that Mr. Hughes and Ms. Gallagher bring to this tome is clearly evident in the content as a lineage of Druidry and impeccable research speaks through every page.

The Welsh Marches define the ancient borderland between Wales and England, an area that has had a profound influence on the history of the British Isles… the Marches have a potent history of conflict, change and uncertainty that has bred a unique people and culture, establishing itself as a lasting repository for ancient witchcraft, Druidic lore, and occult practice…

The success of this writing was largely aided by Mr. Hughes and Ms. Gallagher’s access to the archives of the National Museum Wales, local museums found within the Welsh Marches, ancient texts and the compilation of a Grimoire highlighting the spells and workings uncovered. A nice addition is found in the center section of photographs of specific tools and artifacts that were part of the remaining tools of Welsh craft.

Witches, Druids and Sin Eaters: The Common Magic of the Cunning Folk of the Welsh Marches is separated into two (2) parts and eighteen (18) chapters. The Bibliography is sparse in offerings, but I suspect that to be the result of first-hand experience and already accumulated research rather than relying on the more academic approach. That being said, everything about this title is scholarly in the best sense of the meaning. The Index is a necessary and appreciated resource to allow the reader to more accurately find points of reference that would be more transparently embedded in a plethora of information.

Part 1: Witchcraft and Druidic Lore of the Welsh Marches provides the reader with the foundational historic information that will be of use in Part 2: Grimoire of the Welsh Marches. The rituals and spell workings in this section are unlike most that a reader would normally come across in lesser researched books. Additionally, they are very specific to the culture and mindset of an ancient peoples that are not easily applicable to modern magick.

Reading through the chapters of Part 1: Witchcraft and Druidic Lore of the Welsh Marches transports the reader into the mysteries of the ancient folk who practiced their magick using nature-found materials, witch spell bottles, wax poppits and more. There is a sense of authenticity and purpose that was both a necessary device to maintain secrecy in some areas and the deep connection to nature, its cycles, seasons and by products to enhance the work and foster a level of communication that we have very much lost in our modern trappings of technology, city and urban sprawl.

Part 2: Grimoire of the Welsh Marches sparks a newfound purpose to infuse within the reader’s practice. The rituals and spells are complex in their simplicity and inspire new ways of approaching the intentions of magickal practice. Some of the practices may be those that modern practitioners may shy away from, particularly casting and lifting curses. There is a lengthy chapter dedicated to this type of magick and gives due consideration to the manner in which a curse is constructed and the ethics involved in exacting this type of work. Chapter 16: Elixers of Love is another area that may not appeal to everyone’s sense of mores. Nonetheless, these were very common practices in the ancient times as well as now, perhaps with slightly different monikers.

Would I Recommend:

Witches, Druids and Sin Eaters: The Common Magic of the Cunning Folk of the Welsh Marches by Jon Hughes and Sophie Gallagher is not an easy read in the context of being a title that is expected to offer up the “taken out of full context” ritual or working. However, for those who are drawn to the historical approach to their chosen craft workings, this is exactly the format of book that should be used as resource and possibly grimoire for those practices that call to you.

About the Author:

Jon G. Hughes is part of a lineage of Druids that has been practicing for five generations in a remote area of Wales. The director of the Irish Centre for Druidic Practices and the author of several books, including The Druidic Art of Divination, he teaches workshops throughout Europe. He lives in Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland.

Sophie Gallagher is a witchcraft researcher steeped in the ways of the ancient Witches of the Welsh Marches. Raised in rural Wales, in the very center of the Welsh Marches, she now lives in Devon, England, close to the ancient moors of Dartmoor.


Witches, Druids and Sin Eaters: The Common Magic of the Cunning Folk of the Welsh Marches on Amazon




About the Author:

Robin Fennelly

Robin Fennelly is an Elder within The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition and serves as High Priestess of Coven of the Mystic Path, the 12th Coven within the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition. She teaches and facilitates classes for the Pagan Experience Study Group that serves as foundation for membership within Coven of the Mystic Path.

Her spiritual journey is strongly rooted in both Eastern philosophy and the Western Magickal systems from which she has formed a core foundation that is diverse in knowledge and rich in spiritual practice.  A life-long learner, her practice has evolved from the classical and philosophical teachings of books, practical experience and enrichment of this knowledge base by attending workshops of various spiritual traditions presented by master teachers.

Robin formally came to the Wiccan path in 1994. Following a practice as a solitary for 2 years, she dedicated to Oak and Willow Coven of The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition in November of 1996. She received her 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th (Elder) degrees within the Assembly Tradition and has served as High Priestess of two ASW covens since Samhain of 2001 and the Winter Solstice of 2015.

As a teacher of esoteric and magickal studies she uses Energetic Anatomy, Tarot, Astrology, Hermetic Qabala, Eastern Philosophy, and Numerology as the foundations of her diverse selection of workshops and writings for more than 25 years. Exploration of varied energetic protocol has been the focus of her work for some time now and the information gained through direct experience informs all of her magickal and spiritual work.

Robin’s writings have been featured online, and in print Internationally.  She has authored several books incorporating her unique style of writing making use of poetry, prose and pathworking to enhance the concepts presented.  She has taught extensively throughout the Pagan community, including Sacred Space Conference, Spring Magick, Between the Worlds Interfaith Conference and Free Spirit Gathering Festival. Her most recent projects include a channel on youtube: A Journey to the Inner Chamber. She also shares audio pathworkings and ritual on her bandcamp site: Teachings on the Path with Robin.

Robin is the owner of Holistic Embrace providing services for mind, body and spirit such as Tarot readings, Astrology reports, Spiritual Guidance and other related offerings.  She lives in Eastern Pennsylvania and her life is blessed by a 40+- year marriage, five children and the opportunity to work in the field of public education.

Robin’s Website:
Coven of the Mystic Path, ASW:

Her books can be found on Amazon or purchased directly through her website:
For more info:

The Inner Chamber, Vol. 1 It’s Written in the Stars-Astrology
The Inner Chamber, Vol. 2 Poetry of the Spheres-Qabalah
The Inner Chamber, Vol. 3 Awakening the Paths-Qabalah
The Light of SELF: Consciousness, Spiritual Practice and Learning to
Magickal Verse: A Collection of Poetry and Prose
A Year of Gaia: The Eternal Cord
The Elemental Year: Aligning the Elements of SELF
Temple of the Sun and Moon: Luminous Devotions
Sleeping with the Goddess: Nights of Devotion
A Weekly Reflection: Musings for the Year
The Magickal Pen: A Collection of Esoteric Writings
The Enchanted Gate: Musings on the Magick of the Natural World
The Temple of the Sun: An Astrological Solar Year
Writings in the Shadow: An Exploration of the Shadow Nature