By Witchipedia, Magical Religions and Spiritual Paths

Cunning Folk: Professional Magical Practitioners of Europe

Updated on:


Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)


Reviewed by: Tina Caro

Cunning folk are professional magical practitioners of Europe. They use a variety of magical techniques to serve their clientele providing magical protection, midwifery, healing, divination to find lost people and things and the source of and solution to problems, matchmaking, and hex breaking.

Cunning Folk in Modern Days

Cunning folk were not considered witches, though modern definitions might put them in the “witch” category. These folks historically were unwitchers, the first line of defense against witchcraft as witchcraft was specifically harmful magick.

Cunning folk do not tend to subscribe to a specific magical tradition or rely on single methods but seek out knowledge of and experiment with a variety of techniques to serve their clientele best.

They may use astrology, herbal lore, alchemyceremonial-magick, dream work, astral projection, sympathetic magick, prayer and various divination techniques all blending with whatever brand of folk magic they were raised with.

A magical cure or service usually incorporates a variety of methods, including more mundane methods such as nutritional, psychological and emotional support. Cunning folk served humans, their fields and their livestock.

Historically, there were a lot of cunning folk in Europe, though they were called different names in different locals (see below) and there was competition for clients. To beat out the competition, cunning folk might offer exceptional services, traveling great distances and paying late-night visits to clients, or market themselves by building a mystical persona about themselves with interesting costumes, eccentric home decor and a variety of trained familiars.

Other Names for Cunning Folk

England and Wales

Witch Doctor, White Witch (used by 19th century folklorists, not common people), Wizards, Wise Men, Wise Women, conjurer, pellers, wicca, wicce, dry, carline, nicnevins (daughters of heaven)


Hexenmeister, Kräuterhexen


Guaritori (healers), fattucchiere (fixers), pratico (wise one), donne che aiutano (women who help), mago, maga or maghiardzha (sorcerers) and sometimes Stregha (Witch, derogatory)


De Kloka (the wise ones), klok gumma (female), klok gubbe (male)

About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

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