Witch Gothandra – On Witchcraft page 3

Witch Gothandra – On Witchcraft page 3

Witch Gothandra – On Witchcraft page 3

When witches were brought to trial, one of the first measures was to search for special marks which were believed to betray their true character.

Witch Gothandra – On Witchcraft page 3

These were especially the so-called witches‘ moles, spots of the size of a pea, on which for some reason or other the nerves had lost their sensibility, and where, in consequence, no pain was felt.

These were supposed to have been formed by being punctured, the Evil One performing the operation with a pin of false gold, with his claws or his horns.

Other evidences were found in the peculiar colouring of the eyes, which was said to represent the feet of toads; in the absence of tears when the little gland had been injured, and, above all, in the specific lightness of the body. In order to ascertain the latter, the accused were bound hand and foot crosswise, tied loosely to a rope, and then, three times, dropped into the water. If they remained floating their guilt was established; for either they had been endowed by their Master with safety from drowning, or the water refused to receive them because they had abjured their baptism! It need not be added that the executioners soon found out ways to let their prisoners float or sink as they chose–for a consideration.

Witches’ trials began in the earliest days of Christianity, for the Emperor Valens ordered, as we learn from Ammianus Marcellinus, all the wizards and enchanters to be held to account who had endeavoured by magic art to ascertain his successor.

Several thousands were accused of witchcraft, but the charge was then, as in almost every later age, in most cases nothing more than a pretext for proceedings against obnoxious persons. The next monster process, as it began to be called already in those early days, was the persecution of witches in France under the Merovingians. The child of Chilperic’s wife had died suddenly and under suspicious circumstances, which led to the imprisonment of a prefect, Mummolus, whom the queen had long pursued with her hatred. He was accused of having caused her son’s death by his charms, and was subjected to fearful tortures in company with a number of old women.
Still, he confessed nothing but that the latter had furnished him with certain drugs and ointments which were to secure to him the favour of the king and the queen.

A later trial of this kind, in which for a time calm reason made a firm stand against superstition, but finally succumbed ingloriously, is known as the _Vaudoisie_, and took place in Arras in 1459. It was begun by a Count d’Estampes, but was mainly conducted by a bishop and some eminent divines of his acquaintance, whose inordinate zeal and merciless cruelty have secured to the proceedings a peculiarly painful memory in the annals of the church.

A large number of perfectly innocent men and women were tortured and disgracefully executed, but fortunately the death of the main persecutor, DuBlois, made a sudden end to the existence of witchcraft in that province. One of the most remarkable trials of this kind was caused by a number of little children, and led to most bloody proceedings. It seems that in the year 1669 several boys and girls in the parish of Mora, one of the most beautiful parts of the Swedish province of Dalarne, and famous through the memory of Gustavus Vasa and Gustavus III., were affected by a nervous fever which left them, after their partial recovery, in a state of extreme irritability and sensitiveness. They fell into fainting fits and had convulsions–symptoms which the simple but superstitious mountaineers gradually began to think inexplicable, and hence to ascribe to magic influences. The report spread that the poor children were bewitched, and soon all the usual details of satanic possession were current.

The mountain called Blakulla, in bad repute from of old, was pointed out as the meeting-place of the witches, where the annual sabbath was celebrated, and these children were devoted to Satan.

Church and State combined to bring their great power to bear upon the poor little ones, an enormous number of women, mostly the mothers of the young people, were involved in the charges, and finally fifty-two of the latter with fifteen children were publicly executed as witches, while fifty of the younger were condemned to severe punishment! More than three hundred unfortunate children under fourteen had made detailed confessions of the witches’ sabbath and the ceremonies attending their initiation into its mysteries.

A similar fearful delusion took hold of German children in Würtemberg, when towards the end of the seventeenth century a large number of little boys and girls, none of whom were older than ten years, began to state that they were every night fetched away and carried to the witches’ sabbath. Many were all the time fast asleep and could easily be roused, but a few among them fell regularly into a trance, during which their little bodies became cold and rigid. A commission of great judges and experienced divines was sent to the village to investigate the matter, and found at last that there was no imposture attempted, but that the poor children firmly believed what they stated. It became, however, evident that a few among them had listened to old women’s tales about witches, with eager ears, and, with inflamed imaginations, retailed the account to others, till a deep and painful nervous excitement took hold of their minds and rapidly spread through the community. Many of the children were, as was natural at their age, led by vanity to say that they also had been at the sabbath, while others were afraid to deny what was so positively stated by their companions. Fortunately, the commission consisted, for once, of sensible men who took the right view of the matter, ordered a good whipping here and there, and thus saved the land from the crime of another witches’trial.

Our own experiences in New England, at the time when Sir William Phipps was governor of the colonies, have been forcibly reported by the great Cotton Mather.

Nearly every community had its young men and women who were addicted to the practices of magic; they loved to perform enchantments, to consult sieves and turning keys, and thus were gradually led to attempt more serious and more dangerous practices. In Salem, men and women of high standing and unimpeached integrity, even pious members of the church, were suddenly plagued and tortured by unknown agencies, and at last a little black and yellow demon appeared to them, accompanied by a number of companions with human faces. These apparitions presented to them a book which they were summoned to sign or at least to touch, and if they refused they were fearfully twisted and turned about, pricked with pins, burnt as if with hot irons, bound hand and foot with invisible fetters, and carried away to great distances. Some were left unable to touch food or drink for many days; others, attempting to defend themselves against the demons, snatched a distaff or tore a piece of cloth from them, and immediately these proofs of the real existence of the evil spirits became visible to the eyes of the bystanders.

The magic phenomena attending the disease were of the most extraordinary character. Several men stated that they had received poison because they declined to worship Satan, and immediately all the usual sequences of such treatment appeared, from simple vomiting to most fearful suffering, till counteracting remedies were employed and began to take effect. In other cases, the sufferers complained of burning rags being stuffed into their mouths, and although nothing was seen, burnt places and blisters appeared, and the odour and smoke of smouldering rags began to fill the room. When they reported that they were branded with hot irons, the marks showed themselves, suppuration took place, and scars were formed which never again disappeared during life–and all these phenomena were watched by the eager eyes of hundreds. The authorities, of course, took hold of the matter, and many persons of both sexes and all ages were brought to trial. While they were tortured they continued to have visions of demoniac beings and possessed men and women; when they were standing, blindfolded, in court, felt the approach of those by whom they pretended to be bewitched and plagued, and urgently prayed to be delivered of their presence.

Finally, many were executed, not a few undoubtedly against all justice, but the better sense of the authorities soon saw the futility, if not the wickedness of such proceedings, and an end was made promptly, witchcraft disappearing as soon as persecution relaxed and the sensation subsided.


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Witch Gothandra – On Witchcraft page 1

Witch Gothandra – On Witchcraft page 1

Witch Gothandra – On Witchcraft page 1

Perhaps in no direction has the human mind ever shown greater weakness than in the opinions entertained of witchcraft.

Witch Gothandra – On Witchcraft page 1

If Hecate, the oldest patroness of witches, wandered about at night with a gruesome following, and frightened lovers at their stealthy meeting, or lonely wanderers on open heaths and in dark forests, her appearance was at least in keeping with the whole system of Greek mythology.

Tacitus does not frighten us by telling us that witches used to meet at salt springs, nor the Edda when speaking of the “bearers of witches’ kettles,” against whom even the Salic Law warns all good Christians.

But when the Council of Ancyra, in the fifth century, fulminates its edicts against women riding at night upon weird animals in company with Diana and Herodias, the strange combination of names and the dread penalties threatened, make us almost think of witches as of real and most marvellous beings. When wise councillors of French Parliaments and grey dignitaries of the Holy German Empire sit in judgment over a handful of poor old women, when great English bishops and zealous New England divines condemn little children to death, because they have made pacts with the Devil, attended his sabbaths, and bewitched their peaceful neighbours–then we stand amazed at the delusions, to which the wisest and best among us are liable.

Christianity, it is true, shed for a time such a bright light over the earth, that the works of darkness were abhorred and the power of the Evil One seemed to be broken.

According to the sacred promises that the seed of woman should bruise the serpent’s head. Thus Charlemagne, in his fierce edict issued after the defeat of the Saxons, ordered that death should be inflicted on all who after pagan manner gave way to devilish delusions, and believed that men or women could be witches, persecuted and killed them; or, even went so far as to consume their flesh and give it to others for like purposes! But almost at the same time the belief in the Devil, distinctly maintained in Holy Writ, spread far and wide, and as early as the fourth century diseases were ascribed not to organic causes, but to demoniac influences, and the Devil was once more seen bodily walking to and fro on the earth, accompanied by a host of smaller demons.

It was but rarely that a truly enlightened man dared to combat the universal superstition.

Agobard, archbishop of Lyons, shines like a bright star on the dark sky of the ninth century by his open denunciation of all belief in possession, in the control of the weather or the decision of difficulties by ordeal. For like reasons, we ought to revere the memory of John of Salisbury, who in the twelfth century declared the stories of nightly assemblies of witches, with all their attending circumstances, to be mere delusions of poor women and simple men, who fancied they saw bodily what existed only in their imagination.

The Church hesitated, now requiring her children to believe in a Devil and demons, and now denouncing all faith in supernatural beings. The thirteenth century, by Leibnitz called the darkest of all, developed the worship of the Evil One to its fullest perfection; the writings of St. Augustine were quoted as confirming the fact that demons and men could and did intermarry, and the Djinns of the East were mentioned as spirits who “sought the daughters of men for wives.” The witches’ dance is found in the records of a fearful Auto-da-fè held in Toulouse in the year 1353, and about a century later the Dominican monk, Jaquier, published the first complete work on witches and witchcraft. He represented them as organised–after the prevailing fashion of the day–in a regular guild, with apprentices, companions, and masters, who practised a special art for a definite purpose. It is certainly most remarkable that the same opinion, in all its details, has been entertained in this century even, and by one of the most famous German philosophers, Eschenmayer.

While the zeal and madness of devil-worshippers were growing on one side, persecution became more violent and cruel on the other side, till the trials of witches assumed gigantic proportions and the proceedings were carried on according to a regular method. These trials originated, invariably, with theologians, and although the system was not begun by the Papal government it obtained soon the Pope’s legal sanction by the famous bull of Innocent VIII., _Summis desiderantes_, dated December 4, 1484, and decreeing the relentless persecution of all heretical witches. The far-famed _Malleus maleficatum_ (Cologne, 1489), written by the two celebrated judges of witches, Sprenger and Gremper, and full of the most extraordinary views and statements, reduced the whole to a regular method, and obtained a vast influence over the minds of that age. The rules and forms it prescribed were not only observed in almost all parts of Christendom, but actually retained their force and legality till the end of the seventeenth century.

These views and practices confined to Catholic countries; a hundred and fifty years after the Reformation, a great German jurist and a Protestant, Carpzon, published his _Praxis Criminalis_, in which precisely the same opinions were taught and the same measures were prescribed. The Puritans, it is well-known, pursued a similar plan, and the New World has not been more fortunate in avoiding these errors than the Old World. A curious feature in the above-mentioned works is the fact that both abound in expressions of hatred against the female sex, and still more curious, though disgraceful in the extreme, that the special animosity shown by judges of witchcraft against women is solely based upon the weight which they attached to the purport of the Mosaic inhibition: “Thou shalt not suffer a _witch_ to live” (Exodus xii. 18).

These are dark pages in the history of Christendom, blackened by the smoke of funeral piles and stained with the blood of countless victims of cruel superstition.

For here the peculiarity was that in the majority of cases not the humble sufferers whose lives were sacrificed, but the haughty judges were the true criminals. The madness seems to have been contagious, for Protestant authorities were as bloodthirsty as Catholics; the Inquisition waged for generations unceasing war against this new class of heretics among the nations of the Romanic race.

Germany saw great numbers sacrificed in a short space of time, and in sober England, even, three thousand lost their lives during the Long Parliament alone, while, according to Barrington, the whole number who perished amounted to not less than thirty thousand! If only few were sacrificed in New England, the exception was due more to the sparse population than to moderation; in South America, on the contrary, the persecution was carried on with relentless cruelty. And all this happened while fierce war was raging almost everywhere, so that, while the sword destroyed the men, the fire consumed the women!

Occasionally most startling contrasts would be exhibited by different governments. In the North, James I., claiming to be as wise as Solomon, and more learned than any man in Christendom, imagined that he was persecuted by the Evil One on account of his great religious zeal, and saw in every Catholic an instrument of his adversary. His wild fancy was cunningly encouraged by those who profited by his tyranny, and Catholics were represented as being, one and all, given up to the Devil, the mass and witchcraft, the three unholy allies opposed to the Trinity! In the South, the Republic of Venice, with all its petty tyranny and proverbial political cruelty, stood almost alone in all Christendom as opposed to persecutions of wizards and witches, and fought the battle manfully on the side of enlightenment and Christian charity. The horrors of witch-trials soon reached a height which makes us blush for humanity.


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Witch Gothandra – On Witchcraft page 2

Witch Gothandra – On Witchcraft page 2

Witch Gothandra – On Witchcraft page 2

Among the magic phenomena connected with witchcraft, none is more curious than the so-called witches’ sabbath.

Witch Gothandra – On Witchcraft page 2

This is the formal meeting of all who are in league with Satan, for swearing allegiance to him, to enjoy unholy delights, and to introduce neophytes.

That no such meeting ever really took place, need hardly be stated. The so-called sabbaths were somnambulistic visions, appearing to poor deluded creatures while in a state of trance, which they had produced by narcotic ointments, vile decoctions, or even mere mental effort. For the most skilful among the witches could cause themselves to fall into the Witches’ Sleep, as they called this trance, whenever they chose; others had to submit to tedious and often abominable ceremonies.

The knowledge of simples, which was then very general, was of great service to cunning impostors; thus, it was well known that certain herbs, like aconite, produce in sleep the sensation of flying, and they were, of course, diligently employed. Hyosciamus and Taxus, hypericum and asafoetida were great favourites, and physicians made experiments with these salves to try their effect upon the system. Laguna, for instance, physician to Pope Julius III., once applied an ointment which he had obtained from a wizard, to a woman, who thereupon fell into a sleep of thirty-six hours’ duration, and upon being aroused, bitterly complained of his cruelty in tearing her from the embraces of her husband.

The Marquis d’Agent tells us in his _Lettres Juifs_ , that the celebrated Gassendi discovered a drug which a shepherd used to take whenever he wished to go to a witches’ assembly. He won the man’s confidence, and, pretending to join him in his journey, persuaded him to swallow the medicine in his presence. After a few minutes, the shepherd began to stagger like an intoxicated person, and then fell into profound sleep, during which he talked wildly. When he roused himself again many hours afterwards, he congratulated the physician on the good reception he had met at Satan’s court, and recalled with delight the pleasant things they had jointly seen and enjoyed! The symptoms of the witches’ sleep differ, however; while the latter is, in some cases, deep and unbroken, in other cases the sleepers become rigid and icy cold, or they are subject to violent spasms and utter unnatural sounds in abundance.

The sleep differs, moreover, from that of possessed people in the consciousness of bodily pain which bewitched people retain, while the possessed become insensible. Invariably the impression is produced that they meet kindred spirits at some great assembly, but the manner of reaching it differs greatly. Some go on foot; but as Abaris already rode on a spear given to him by Apollo (Iamblichus De Vita, Pyth. c. 18), others ride on goats.


In Germany a broomstick, a club, or a distaff, became suitable vehicles, provided they had been properly anointed.

In Scotland and Sweden, the chimney is the favourite road, in other countries no such preference is shown over doors and windows. The expedition, however joyous it may be, is always very fatiguing, and when the revellers awake they feel like people who have been dissipated. The meetings differ in locality according to size: whole provinces assemble on high, isolated mountains, among which the Brocken, in the Hartz Mountains, is by far the most renowned; smaller companies meet near gloomy churches or under dark trees with wide-spreading branches.


In Italy, the witches loved to assemble under the famous walnut tree near Benevent, which was already to the Longobards an object of superstitious veneration, since here, in ancient times, the old divinities were worshipped, and afterwards the _strighe_ were fond of meeting. In France they had a favourite resort on the Puy de Dôme,near Clermont, and in Spain on the sands near Seville, where the _hechizeras_ held their sabbaths. The Hekla, of Iceland, also passes with the Scandinavians for a great meeting-place of witches, although, strangely enough, the inhabitants of the island have no such tradition.

It is, however, clear that in all countries where witchcraft prospered, the favourite places of meeting were always the same as those to which, in ancient times, the heathens had made pilgrimages in large numbers, in order to perform their sacrifices, and to enjoy their merry-makings.
In precisely the same manner the favourite seasons for these ghastly meetings correspond almost invariably with the times of high festivals held in heathen days, and hence, they were generally adopted by the early Christians, with the feast and saints’ days of Christendom. Thus, the old Germans observed, when they were still pagans, the first of May for two reasons: as a day of solemn judgment, and as a season for rejoicing, during which prince and peasant joined in celebrating the return of summer with merry songs and gay dances around the May-pole.

The witches were nothing loth to adopt the day for their own festivities also, and added it to the holidays of St. John the Baptist and St. Bartholomew, on which, in like manner, anciently the holding of public courts had brought together large assemblies. The meetings, however, must always fall upon a Thursday, from a determined, though yet unexplained association of witchcraft with the old German god of thunder, Donar, who was worshipped on the Blocksberg, and to whom a goat was sacrificed–whence also the peculiar fondness of witches for that animal. The hours of meeting are invariably from eleven o’clock at night to one or two in the morning.

The assembly consists, according to circumstances, of a few hundred or of several thousands, but the female sex always largely prevails. For this fact, the famous text-book of judges of witchcraft, the _Malleus_, assigned not less than four weighty reasons. Women, it said, are more apt to be addicted to the fearful crime than men because, in the first place, they are more credulous; secondly, in their natural weakness they are more susceptible; thirdly, they are more imprudent and rash, and hence always ready to consult the Devil, and fourthly and mainly, _femina_ comes from _fe_, faith and _minus_, less, hence they have less faith!

The guests appear generally in their natural form, but at times they are represented as assuming the shape of various animals; the Devil’s followers having a decided preference for goats and for monkeys, although the latter is a passion of more recent date. The crowd is naturally in a state of incessant flowing and ebbing; the constant coming and going, crowding and pressing admits of not a moment’s quiet and even here it is proven that the wicked have neither rest nor peace.
Among this crowd flocks are seen, consisting of toads and watched over by boys and girls; in the centre sits Satan on a stone, draped in weird majesty, with terrible but indistinct features, and uttering short commands with an appalling voice of unnatural and unheard of music. A queen in great splendour may sit by his side, promoted to the throne from a place among the guests. Countless demons, attending to all kinds of extraordinary duties, surround their master; or, dash through the crowd scattering indecent words and gestures in all directions.

English witches meet, also, innumerable kittens on the Sabbath and show the scars of wounds inflicted by the malicious animals. Every visitor must pay his homage to the lord of the feast, which is done in an unmentionable manner; and yet they receive nothing in return–according to their unanimous confessions–except unfulfilled promises and delusive presents. Even the dishes on the table are but shams; there is neither salt nor bread to be found there. They are bound, besides, to pledge themselves to the performance of a certain number of wicked works, which are distributed over the week, so that the first days are devoted to ordinary sins and the last to crimes of special horror. Music of surpassing weirdness is heard on all sides, and countless couples whirl about in restless, obscene dances; the couples joining back to back and trying in vain to see each other’s faces. Very often young children are brought up by their mothers to be presented to the Master; when this is done, they are set to attend the flocks of toads till the ninth year, when they are called up by the Queen to abjure their Christian faith and are regularly enrolled among witches.

The descriptions of minor details vary, of course according to the individual dispositions of the accused, whose confessions are invariably uniform as to the facts stated heretofore. The coarser minds naturally see nothing but the grossest indecency and the vilest indulgences, while to more refined minds the apparent occurrences appear in a light of greater delicacy; they hear sweet music and witness nothing but gentle affection and brotherly love. But in all cases these witches’ sabbaths become a passion with the poor deluded creatures; they enjoy there a paradise of delight, –whether they really indulge in sensual pleasure or surrender mind and will so completely to the unhallowed power that they cease to wish for anything else, and are plunged in vague, unspeakable pleasure. And yet not even the simple satisfaction of good looks has granted them; witches are as ugly as angels are fair; they emit an evil odour and inspire others with unconquerable repugnance.

How exclusively all these descriptions of witches‘ sabbaths have their origin in the imagination of the deluded women is seen from the fact that they vary consistently with the prevailing notions of those by whom they are entertained; with coarse peasants, the meetings are rude feasts full of obscene enjoyments; with noble knights, they become the roving’s of the wild huntsman, or a hellish court under the guise of a Venus’ mountain; with ascetic monks and nuns, a subterranean convent filled with vile blasphemies of God and the saints. This only is common to all such visions, that they are always conceived in a spirit of bitter antagonism to the Church: all the doctrines not only but also the ceremonies of the latter are here travestied.

The sabbath has its masses, but the host is desecrated, its holy water obtained from the lord of the feast;

its host and its candles are black, and the _Ite missa est_ of the dismissing priest is changed into: “Go to the Devil!” Here, also, confession is required; but, the penitent confesses having omitted to do evil and being guilty of occasional acts of mercy and goodness; the penalty imposed is to neglect one or the other of the twelve commandments.


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The Lancashire Witches 1612-2012

Lancashire Witches

Lancashire Witches

The Lancashire Witches 1612-2012 as we know it

With reference to the Lancashire witches 1612-2012. It is said that not long after ten Lancashire residents were found guilty of witchcraft and hung in August 1612, the official proceedings of the trial were published by the clerk of the court Thomas Potts In his The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster.

The Lancashire Witches 1612-2012

Four hundred years on, Robert Poole reflects on England’s biggest witch trial and how it still has relevance today.

Woodcut of witches flying, from Mathers’ Wonders of the Invisible World (1689) and used in an 18th-century pamphlet about the Lancashire witches.

Four hundred years ago, in 1612, the north-west of England was the scene of England’s biggest peacetime witch trial: the trial of the Lancashire witches. Twenty people, mostly from the Pendle area of Lancashire, were imprisoned in the castle as witches. Ten were hanged, one died in gaol, one was sentenced to stand in the pillory, and eight were acquitted. The 2012 anniversary sees a small flood of commemorative events, including works of fiction by Blake Morrison, Carol Ann Duffy and Jeanette Winterson. How did this witch trial come about, and what accounts for its enduring fame?

We know so much about the Lancashire Witches because the trial was recorded in unique detail by the clerk of the court, Thomas Potts, who published his account soon afterwards as The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in the County of Lancaster. I have recently published a modern-English edition of this book, together with an essay piecing together what we know of the events of 1612. It has been a fascinating exercise, revealing how Potts carefully edited the evidence, and also how the case against the ‘witches’ was constructed and manipulated to bring about a spectacular show trial. It all began in mid-March when a pedlar from Halifax named John Law had a frightening encounter with a poor young woman, Alizon Device, in a field near Colne. He refused her request for pins and there was a brief argument during which he was seized by a fit that left him with ‘his head … drawn awry, his eyes and face deformed, his speech not well to be understood; his thighs and legs stark lame.’ We can now recognize this as a stroke, perhaps triggered by the stressful encounter. Alizon Device was sent for and surprised all by confessing to the bewitching of John Law and then begged for forgiveness.

When Alizon Device was unable to cure the pedlar the local magistrate, Roger Nowell was called in.

The Lancashire Witches 1612-2012

Characterized by Thomas Potts as ‘God’s justice’ he was alert to instances of witchcraft, which were regarded by the Lancashire’s puritan-inclined authorities as part of the cultural rubble of ‘popery’ – Roman Catholicism – long overdue to be swept away at the end of the county’s very slow protestant reformation. ‘With weeping tears’ Alizon explained that she had been led astray by her grandmother, ‘old Demdike’, well-known in the district for her knowledge of old Catholic prayers, charms, cures, magic, and curses. Nowell quickly interviewed Alizon’s grandmother and mother, as well as Demdike’s supposed rival, ‘old Chattox’ and her daughter Anne. Their panicky attempts to explain themselves and shift the blame to others eventually only ended up incriminating them, and the four were sent to Lancaster gaol in early April to await trial at the summer assizes. The initial picture revealed was of a couple of poor, marginal local families in the forest of Pendle with a longstanding reputation for magical powers, which they had occasionally used at the request of their wealthier neighbours. There had been disputes but none of these were part of ordinary village life. Not until 1612 did any of this come to the attention of the authorities.
Illustration from James Crossley’s introduction to Pott’s Discovery of witches in the County of Lancaster (1845) reprinted from the original edition of 1613.

The net was widened still further at the end of April when Alizon’s younger brother James and younger sister Jennet, only nine years old, came up between them with a story about a ‘great meeting of witches’ at their grandmother’s house, known as Malkin Tower. This meeting was presumably to discuss the plight of those arrested and the threat of further arrests, but according to the evidence extracted form the children by the magistrates, a plot was hatched to blow up Lancaster castle with gunpowder, kill the gaoler and rescue the imprisoned witches. It was, in short, a conspiracy against royal authority to rival the gunpowder plot of 1605 – something to be expected in a county known for its particularly strong underground Roman Catholic presence.

Those present at the meeting were mostly family members and neighbours, but they also included Alice Nutter, described by Potts as ‘a rich woman who had a great estate, and children of good hope: in the common opinion of the world, of good temper, free from envy or malice.’ Her part in the affair remains mysterious, but she seems to have had Catholic family connections, and may have been one herself, providing an added motive for her to be prosecuted. She was, along with a number of others named by the children, rounded up, and by the time of the trial in August the Pendle accused had been joined in the dungeons of Lancaster Castle by other alleged witches from elsewhere in the county.

All nineteen were tried in the space of two days, amid dramatic courtroom scenes.

Ten of them were hanged the next day on Lancaster Moor, high above the town and overlooking Morecambe Bay. It was probably the first time any of them had seen the sea.

Alice Nutter and several other defendants defied convention by refusing to offer any confession on the gallows. To many of those present at the hanging this would have seemed like proof of innocence, and it may have been such rumblings about the trial that prompted the trial judges to ask the clerk of the court, Thomas Potts, to take the unusual step of publishing an account of it. In truth Potts had already had a large hand in organizing the trial itself and may well have suggested the publication in the first place. He certainly used it to curry favor with King James I, whose book Demonology he cited several times, proclaiming how the authorities had followed the King’s advice on uncovering cases of witchcraft in the Lancashire trial. The Lancashire trial was then cited from the 1620s onwards as the legal precedent for using child and ‘supergrass’ evidence in witchcraft cases. Indirectly, the trial of the Lancashire witches may have influenced the notorious ‘witchfinder-general’ trials of the 1640s and even the Salem witch trials of the 1690s in New England.
Thomas Potts as he was imagined in Harrison Ainsworth’s The Lancashire witches, a romance of Pendle Forest (1850), illustrated by Sir John Gilbert.

The modern fame of the Lancashire witches is down to the publication in 1849 of an imaginative novel by Harrison Ainsworth, a friend of Charles Dickens with local connections and one of the bestselling Victorian novelists.

His novel The Lancashire Witches has never been out of print, and it was successful in part because to drew on an edition of Potts’ original book published in 1848 by Ainsworth’s friend James Crossley, the Manchester antiquarian.

The Lancashire Witches 1612-2012

Ainsworth has in turn inspired many other publications and theories. The trial began to receive serious academic attention in the 1990s, pulled together in a book of essays which I edited for Manchester University Press, The Lancashire Witches: Histories and Stories. In 2012 an international conference at Lancaster University, Capturing Witches, will bring together the latest work, both factual and fictional. No fewer than five new novels have appeared, most notably Jeanette Winterson’s At Daylight Gate, as well as a book of verses by Blake Morrison, A Discovery of Witches, and a BBC documentary, The Pendle Witch Child.

The remarkable range of new work testifies to the richness of historical themes thrown up by the trial, but I would like to single out one in particular: children and witchcraft. Much of the key evidence in the trial of 1612 was given by two children, James and Jennet Device, aged about nine and twelve. Caught up in a terrifying web of charges and arrests they panicked, and their stories, designed to clear themselves, ended up in the deaths of most of their own family members, and indeed of James himself. In some parts of the world, children continue to be accused of witchcraft and to suffer horrific maltreatment as a result.

A case of a Nigerian child in London, tortured and murdered by their own family for being a witch, recently hit the national headlines. Lancaster, home of the 1612 trials, is also home of Stepping Stones Nigeria, a campaigning charity dedicated to protecting children from accusations of witchcraft and other abuse. It has been adopted as the charity of the Lancashire Witches 400 programme. There could be no better way of marking the anniversary of the Lancashire witches trials than to visit their website and learn more about how witchcraft remains a live issue, four hundred years on.


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Witch O Chick Script 32

Witch O Chick Script 32

Witch O Chick Script 32

Here are a few more snippets that might be useful for you below and my Home Page is HERE


What Does Love Mean

Witch O Chick Script 32

This is from a widely circulated email where the source is unknown:

A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, “What does love mean?” The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:

“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all even when his hands got arthritis, too. That’s Love. “Rebecca – age 8

When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth. “Billy – age 4

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other. “Karl – age 5

“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French Fries without making them give you any of theirs. “Chrissy – age 6

“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired. “Terri – age 4

“Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.”Danny – age 7

“Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.” Emily – age 8

“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.” Bobby – age 7 (Wow!)

“If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.”Nikka – age 6

“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day. “Noelle – age 7

“Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well. “Tommy – age 6

“During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.” Cindy – age 8

“My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.” Clare – age 6

“Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken. “Elaine-age 5

“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford. “Chris – age 7

“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day. “Mary Ann – age 4

“I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones. “Lauren – age 4

“When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you” Karen – age 7

“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn’t think it’s gross. “Mark – age 6

“You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget. “Jessica – age 8

And the final one — Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. (Now this will melt your heart.) The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbour was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard and sat beside him. When his Mother asked him what he had said to the neighbour, the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.”


Witchcraft facts

Witch O Chick Script 32

Here Are Some Amazing Facts About Witchcraft … and why you shouldn’t even think about practicing the craft until you read every word of this!

Everything stems from your beliefs. If you don’t believe magick can happen – it won’t. When you believe in what you are doing, can see it as your reality and then combine that with a powerful spell, it will happen!

You just don’t go out there and wave a real or imaginary wand and it all happens. You don’t just say words and expect a chariot to draw up outside your house and have it handed to you on a silver platter. You have to focus on what is you want, imagining that you have it already.
Witchcraft is not about imposing your will onto others. It is certainly about influencing the energies to bring you what you desire – not at the expense of another’s free will or knowingly causing another harm. When you practice witchcraft you are to come from a place of positive intent.


Today

Witch O Chick Script 32

Today you know more than you did at this time yesterday.
Today you are one day closer to becoming the person you were meant to be.
Today you have more experience, and more wisdom than you did just one day ago.
So what’s the best thing to do today? More!
You are more today than you’ve ever been before.
What a waste it would be to ignore that!
What a waste it would be not to make full use of it!
Now that you’ve become more, it’s time to do more.
Right now, you have what it takes to put more effort into your work, more love into your relationships, more discipline into your actions, and more passion into your life.

The tools and opportunities available to you have grown.
So use them to make your results and your life grow, too -not next week, not in a few days, but right now.
What can you improve just a little bit today? Those little improvements add up, compounding on each other until you’ve soon forged your life into a masterpiece.
You have more today than ever before. So go out and make more of this day than you’ve ever done.
Today is truly golden, and you have what it takes to make your life shine more brightly with each passing moment.
You really can do it, you know!

witchochick


Should you wish to contact me:

witchochick@yahoo.com

 

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