Avant d'entrer dans le glossaire des sorcières, qu'est-ce qu'une sorcière ?
Comme l'explique l'experte en sorcellerie Diane Purkiss sur Épisode 83 du podcast English Heritage:
La définition de la sorcière change avec le temps. Le mot sorcière date d'environ 800 après JC. Il se référait à l'origine aux hommes qui pratiquaient la sorcellerie, mais 200 ans plus tard, il se référait aux femmes magiciennes et sorcières. Plus tard, cela signifiait des femmes qui étaient censées coopérer avec le diable ou d'autres esprits malins.
«Je suis vraiment une sorcière. Quand je dors, mon esprit s'éloigne de mon corps et danse nu avec le Diable.
de La Sorcière, Robert Eggers (2015)
En se concentrant sur l'époque où la plupart des marques de sorcières ont été faites, une sorcière est quelqu'un qui peut faire du mal simplement en voulant faire du mal, en utilisant un pouvoir intrinsèque à son corps ou en faisant appel à un pouvoir plus grand et plus sombre dans le cosmos. Elle veut peut-être vous faire du mal parce qu'elle est envieuse, ou parce que vous avez été un jour impoli avec elle à l'extérieur d'un magasin. Certaines sorcières peuvent vous faire du mal simplement en regardant dans votre direction, mais d'autres doivent échanger des parties de leur corps (généralement leur sang) pour le service de ces pouvoirs occultes.
un héros célèbre dans la mythologie grecque et, dans la sorcellerie, l'actéon est le dieu à cornes de cerf de la forêt. Le héros grec a connu une fin un peu malheureuse. Il était dans la forêt un jour quand il a accidentellement vu Artémis nue. Elle se baignait dans les bois. La déesse le surprit à la regarder, fascinée par sa beauté. Elle lui a dit de ne plus parler ou il le ferait transmogrifier dans un cerf. Mais ensuite, il entendit ses chiens de chasse et les appela. Bien sûr, il s'est transformé en cerf. Il a commencé à courir plus profondément dans les bois, mais il avait entraîné ses chiens à chasser le cerf, voyez-vous. Ils l'ont mis en pièces. Qu'est-ce qu'il a à voir avec la sorcellerie ? Le Dieu Cornu est l'une des deux principales divinités de la Wicca. Actéon avait AUSSI des cornes, tu vois ? Lorsque les traditions/croyances/rituels proviennent de plusieurs courants de pensée différents, nous l'appelons « syncrétique ». Le Dieu Cornu est une divinité syncrétique classique. On le voit beaucoup dans la fantasy et l'horreur. L'un de mes films d'horreur contemporains préférés est Le Rituel, dans lequel le Dieu de la Forêt à cornes de cerf a clairement influencé le monstre.
Discrimination fondée sur l'âge
Lorsqu'il s'agit d'accusations de sorcellerie, le handicap, le sexe et l'âge se recoupent. Les personnes les plus susceptibles d'être appelées sorcières étaient une catégorie de personnes considérées comme excédentaires aux exigences sociales, sans place dans la vie du village : personnes âgées, femmes, en âge de procréer. Un problème philosophique persistant : à quoi servent les femmes âgées ? Si la fonction principale d'une femme est de fournir des enfants, les femmes qui ne peuvent pas le faire sont considérées comme inutiles. Pire encore, en période de pénurie alimentaire, les femmes stériles sont considérées comme un gaspillage de nourriture. Les femmes âgées ont toujours troublé la société. Plus ils sont laids et pauvres, plus ils sont bouleversants. En plus de tout cela, autrefois c'était un crime d'être catholique en Angleterre, les derniers à prier encore en latin étaient bien sûr les personnes âgées, qui aimaient prier comme elles l'avaient toujours fait. Cela s'est avéré un problème pour Agnes Waterhouse, la première femme pendue en Angleterre pour sorcellerie. Entre autres choses, Agnès a été pendue pour avoir prié en latin, la langue qu'elle avait toujours utilisée pour la prière. Lorsque les coutumes changent et que les anciennes coutumes sont interprétées comme de la « sorcellerie », les personnes âgées sont vulnérables et parfois accusées du crime odieux de simplement ne pas suivre le rythme du temps.
Le Songe d'une nuit d'été
Un conte de fées de la Renaissance transformé en une célèbre pièce de William Shakespeare. La tempête est une autre pièce shakespearienne mettant en scène des sorcières, mais n'est généralement pas considérée comme sa « pièce de sorcière ».
La première sorcière condamnée d'Irlande. En 1324, elle est accusée d'avoir eu des relations sexuelles avec un démon. Dans les peintures, elle est représentée avec des cheveux roux séparés au milieu, avec une seule tresse à l'arrière. (Je suis prêt à parier que son « délit » remarquable était la pousse des cheveux roux.) En raison de sa réputation persistante, elle était aussi belle, et les hommes hétérosexuels qui étaient attirés par elle pensaient qu'elle avait le pouvoir de manipulation. Elle a également fait mourir quelques maris sur elle (de maladie), et il a été décidé qu'elle avait dû lancer une sorte de sort pour les tuer.
le lieu consacré qui contient les outils de la sorcière – une table, un banc, une souche d'arbre ou un rocher. Certaines traditions recommandent que l'autel soit circulaire et qu'il se situe à l'intérieur d'un cercle magique, dessiné sur le sol.
Sorcière des Alpes
Comme nymphes, les sorcières peuvent être associées à des caractéristiques naturelles et géographiques particulières.
les aiguilles et les épingles sont des amulettes classiques du mal. Les jinxers expérimentés recommandent le soufre et la gomme arabique. La poussière de cimetière et les clous de cercueil sont bons pour causer des dommages.
Un type de sorcière de la tradition hispanique. Le nom peut être lié à Diana ou Jana. Ce type de sorcière est une belle jeune femme dans sa vraie forme, mais prend la forme d'une vieille femme pour tester la charité des gens. Quand elle ne ressemble pas à une vieille femme, elle a les cheveux blonds, les yeux bleus et porte des tuniques faites de fleurs et d'étoiles argentées. Elle porte un bâton en or et porte des bas verts. Sinon, elle passe ses journées à surveiller les animaux et à traîner dans son palais souterrain qui regorge de trésors et de bijoux. Elle a beaucoup de trésors car tout ce qu'elle touche avec son bâton peut se transformer en trésor.
Un garçon d'un an. Le très vieux et les très jeunes étaient vulnérables lorsqu'il s'agissait de sacrifice rituel dans les rites de la maléfique.
La bigoterie dirigée contre les communautés juives. Pourquoi les sorcières modernes portent-elles si souvent de grands chapeaux noirs et pointus ? Il y a une théorie selon laquelle cela vient de l'antisémitisme au 13ème siècle. Les Juifs ont été forcés de porter des casquettes pointues identificatrices, qui sont devenues associées au culte de Satan et à la magie noire. D'autres suggèrent que le chapeau pointu vient d'un préjugé anti-Quaker. Il existe une autre théorie selon laquelle les chapeaux noirs sont une interprétation des chapeaux de gaspareau, portés par les femmes qui vendaient de la bière brassée à la maison. Cf. chapeau conique
Si vous avez lu Blanc comme neige vous connaissez déjà l'association entre les pommes et les vieilles femmes qui empoisonnent les jeunes femmes. Les pommes font une apparition fréquente dans les contes populaires, tout comme d'autres fruits et légumes. Il semble que le pica pour les fruits et légumes était très courant, ce qui n'est pas surprenant en période de pénurie alimentaire, lorsque les bébés à naître sapent les nutriments des mères. Les femmes enceintes étaient punies pour avoir cédé à ces envies. Après s'être soumis à des fringales, des forces surnaturelles interviendraient et rendraient la vie terrible à l'enfant à naître (voir Raiponce). Pour une femme enceinte au bord de la famine, une pomme serait une vente facile. Dans les premières histoires de sorcellerie, les sorcières sont associées aux pommes. Les pommes sont utilisées pour gagner du pouvoir sur les jeunes femmes (et aussi sur les enfants).
Position de la flèche
Une position physique similaire à l'asana oriental et au mudra. Lors de certains rituels païens, les participants adoptent cette position. Les pieds sont placés ensemble et les bras sont levés directement au-dessus de la tête, les paumes se touchant.
Athamé (ou athalme)
un poignard noir à double tranchant avec une lame aimantée. Il représente le pouvoir de la sorcière et est utilisé dans les rituels. C'est un symbole phallique clair, bien que la lame pointue suggère l'élément du feu, qu'elle symbolise également. L'acte de le plonger dans le Calice représente l'union des principes masculin et féminin. Il est également utilisé pour marquer un cercle magique. Il n'est pas utilisé pour la coupe. Si les sorcières veulent réellement couper quelque chose, elles utilisent un bolline.
« acte de foi ». Un rituel organisé pendant les Inquisitions espagnole et portugaise. Les autorités religieuses décideraient si une personne accusée d'un crime était coupable ou non. Après cela, il y avait un rituel public, connu sous le nom d'Auto-da-fé. Les autorités civiles ont exécuté la punition. À l'origine, la punition comprenait une variété de formes, mais est finalement devenue assimilée à une seule forme, brûler à mort.
Un an et un jour
unité de temps fréquemment utilisée en sorcellerie. par exemple. "Je me consacre à étudier avec ce coven pendant un an et un jour".
Baba Yaga est un slave légendaire sorcière, ou une sorcière, qui vit dans une hutte qui se dresse sur des cuisses de poulet et qui vole dans les airs dans un mortier, utilisant le pilon comme gouvernail. Le prédateur Baba Yaga, qui aime particulièrement les enfants, est une sous-catégorie de vieillesse. Elle est également connue sous le nom de Old Hag Yaga. Son nom est synonyme de ved'ma, qui signifie sorcière en russe.
de nos jours, dénigrer quelqu'un signifie le critiquer, probablement dans son dos. Mais l'origine du mot signifiait à l'origine lancer un sort et maudire quelqu'un.
Tombeau de Brouette
Une tombe à tumulus est un monticule de terre et de pierres élevé sur une ou plusieurs tombes. Aussi appelé : tumulus (pluriel tumulus) tumulus ou kourganes. Dans le monde entier, cela a été une façon courante d'enterrer les morts. Passons maintenant à la société anglo-saxonne en Angleterre : les anglo-saxons étaient chrétiens, mais ils ont commencé à s'intéresser à une légende urbaine particulière. Ils croyaient que des personnes mystérieuses se présentaient dans les tombes à tumulus pour invoquer les morts en versant du sang partout dans les tombes. Pourquoi quelqu'un voudrait-il faire ça ? Eh bien, ils pensaient que les morts invoqués avaient des pouvoirs spéciaux utiles, tels que prédire l'avenir, etc. Ils ne voulaient pas que cela se produise, alors les Anglo-Saxons ont construit des potences sur les collines des tombes de tumulus. De cette façon, ils pourraient au moins consigner tous les criminels dangereux et les méchants hypothétiques et surnaturels dans la même zone.
Le folklore médiéval décrivait également les chauves-souris comme des familiers des sorcières, et voir une chauve-souris à Halloween était considéré comme un signe assez inquiétant. Un mythe était que si une chauve-souris était aperçue en train de voler autour de sa maison trois fois, cela signifiait que quelqu'un dans cette maison mourrait bientôt. Un autre mythe était que si une chauve-souris entrait dans votre maison à Halloween, c'était un signe que votre maison était hantée parce que des fantômes avaient laissé entrer la chauve-souris. (Sciences en direct)
Les sorcières ont tendance à être divisées en « bonnes et mauvaises ». Befana est la « bonne sorcière » d'Italie qui apporte des cadeaux aux enfants à l'occasion de l'Épiphanie. (De nombreux autres pays ont plutôt un père Noël masculin.) En Italie, la Befana est la « sorcière de l'Épiphanie » et est célébrée le 6 janvier (la fête de l'Épiphanie). À Venise, une régate spéciale de l'Épiphanie a lieu sur le Grand Canal, avec des rameurs déguisés en sorcières qui courent de San Tomà au pont du Rialto, où la ligne d'arrivée – une énorme chaussette – pend.
Consort de Befana. Du dieu Faunus (le dieu romain à cornes de la forêt, connu sous le nom d'Actéon pour les Grecs de l'Antiquité).
Une vieille femme laide et diabolique. Aussi orthographié beldam. Nous avons peur des personnes âgées car elles nous rappellent que nous vieillissons tous, si nous avons de la chance.
Cloche, livre et bougie
Cette phrase vient en fait du catholicisme. Il fait référence au rituel d'excommunication : la sonnerie d'une cloche, la fermeture de la Bible et l'extinction d'une bougie. Pour une raison quelconque, un certain nombre de sorcières modernes aiment ce rituel et l'utilisent pour clore n'importe quel rituel qui leur est propre. Cela peut avoir été l'influence d'une pièce de comédie romantique intitulée Bell, Book and Candle (1950). Dans ce récit, une sorcière perd ses pouvoirs de sorcière si elle tombe amoureuse. Par conséquent, le lien entre l'expression et la sorcellerie s'est établi.
L'Italie compte un bon nombre de « bonnes sorcières ». Ceux-ci ont mené des batailles rituelles contre les Malandanti (mauvais) sur le sort de la récolte.
La sorcière manche à balai n'est pas n'importe quel vieux manche à balai. C'est techniquement un balai. La brosse d'un balai moderne normal a tendance à être étroite et large, tandis que la brosse d'un balai a tendance à être circulaire.
Ensorceler, c'est jeter un sort sur quelqu'un avec de la sorcellerie ou capter son attention d'une autre manière. La sorcière américaine fait beaucoup d'envoûtements ; Les sorcières européennes pas tellement. Les sorcières peuvent ensorceler les personnes, les animaux et les objets.
bijoux de cérémonie portés par les reines (couronne, jarretière, collier, bracelet).
Les sorcières utilisaient à l'origine un « livre noir » pour écrire à la main leurs sorts/recettes/chants, etc. Lorsque Gerald Gardner est arrivé, il a changé le nom en Book of Shadows.
Magie impliquant l'invocation supposée d'esprits maléfiques à des fins maléfiques.
une invention allemande de chasse aux sorcières. Un boîtier en fer de la taille d'un corps humain couvert de pointes. Il était fermé autour de la victime et conçu pour torturer mais pas tuer lorsqu'il se refermait autour d'elle.
"Les sorcières noires sont généralement montrées avec des tendances maléfiques et ont rarement des fins heureuses." (N'ganga Makhosi) Exemples : "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" Rosalind Walker, "The Vampire Diaries"" Bonnie Bennett, "American Horror Story: Coven's" Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau et Queenie, le redémarrage de "Charmed" de CW, alors que Macy Vaughn devient une méchante sorcière. « Les sorcières noires ont tendance à se diviser en deux catégories : les amis qui soutiennent le protagoniste le plus puissant et le plus populaire ou une sorcière avec une qualité malveillante. »
trouvé dans de nombreuses religions modernes mais typique de NeoWiccan. Abrégé en BB. Dans le rituel, cela signifie essentiellement "que ceci soit béni". Parfois, un membre officiel le dit et les participants le répètent après. Dans son roman Le conte des servantes, Margaret Atwood utilise une expression similaire pour son monde dystopique : « Béni soit le fruit ». Les habitants de Galaad se saluent ainsi. Il est basé sur ceci de la Bible : « Béni soit le fruit de vos entrailles, le produit de votre sol et la progéniture de votre bétail, la sortie de vos troupeaux et les petits de vos troupeaux » (Deutéronome). Mais parce que « béni soit-il » est également associé aux sorcières, il y a des vibrations de sorcière bien définies dans la salutation d'Atwood en Galaad.
Les hommes portent des bracelets en or et les femmes en argent. Dans certaines sectes, tout le monde le porte au poignet gauche. Dans d'autres sectes, les hommes portent la leur au poignet droit. Le nom et le diplôme de la sorcière sont gravés sur leur bracelet. Pour les sorcières du nouvel âge qui se lancent dans la lecture de la paume, le bracelet fait également référence aux lignes sous la paume.
manche à balai
l'équipement des sorcières est spécifique à la sorcière, comme les pinceaux sont spécifiques à l'artiste, les massues spécifiques au joueur. Il se remplit des vibrations de l'utilisateur et prend des propriétés magiques pour l'utilisateur. Il prend des décisions indépendamment de l'utilisateur. Le manche à balai est utilisé pour voler vers le sabbat des sorcières ou pour balayer la maison. Fait de brindilles d'aubépine, de noisetier, de sorbier, de saule, de genêt, de bouleau ou de prunellier. Comme la baguette, est un rappel du culte de l'arbre d'autrefois. Le balai d'origine était en fait une tige de balai avec des touffes de feuilles à la fin. La plante à balai a toujours été associée au don et au dynamitage de la fertilité. C'était la coutume des sorcières de laisser des balais ordinaires dans leurs lits pour tromper leurs maris lorsqu'elles partaient pour le sabbat. Dans certains rituels de mariage avec le couple sautant par-dessus le balai/balai. (Sautant par dessus un balai pour se marier ne se limite pas aux sorcières.) (Voir: Besom)
Onguent manche à balai
frotté sur un manche à balai pour le transformer en quelque chose qui peut voler. Aconit, morelle mortelle, pruche, quintefeuille, drapeau doux, feuilles de peuplier, persil, suie, sang de chauve-souris, la graisse des nourrissons non baptisés. (Les trois premiers sont hautement hallucinogènes à faible dose et mortels à forte dose.)
Il existe un long lien historique entre les femmes et couture, car la couture est autrefois un travail de femme. Dans cet esprit, il est probablement logique qu'un instrument de couture soit utilisé pour torturer les soi-disant sorcières. Les bodkins modernes fonctionnent comme une pince à épiler pour tirer les élastiques, les cordons, etc. à travers les tubes et les gaines. Les vieux bosquets avaient la forme de pics à glace miniatures. Pendant la folie des sorcières, l'histoire racontait que lorsqu'une sorcière vendait son âme dans le cadre d'un pacte avec le diable, le diable la marquait d'une tache. (Une marque du diable.) Cet endroit serait insensible à la douleur. Les inquisiteurs « vérifieraient » le corps entier d'une femme avec le corps pointu dans l'espoir de trouver la marque du diable. Finalement, sous une douleur extrême, les gens s'évanouissent. À ce stade, le tortionnaire conclurait que la marque du diable avait été trouvée.
Bolline (ou biolline)
un couteau à manche blanc utilisé pour fabriquer d'autres objets ou outils magiques ou pour inciser des lettres ou des symboles sur du bois ou de la cire. Il a la forme d'un croissant de lune et est de couleur argentée, également par déférence pour la lune. Certains Wiccans disent que ce couteau ne sert jamais à éplucher le fromage ou à découper des rôtis, mais d'autres l'utiliseront pour couper des herbes ou pour couper du gui directement de l'arbre ou à des fins pratiques similaires. Ce couteau est également utilisé dans la tradition druidique.
Au 17ème siècle, les gens ont commencé à enterrer des bouteilles dans leur jardin pour éloigner le mal. À l'intérieur des bouteilles : cheveux/épingles/urine et ainsi de suite. Celles-ci étaient connues sous le nom de bouteilles de sorcière. (Écoutez un podcast sur les bouteilles de sorcière ici.)
Les sorcières font un pacte avec le diable et ce gros tome est l'ensemble officiel de papiers reliés tout droit sortis de l'enfer. Une sorcière essaiera de vous le faire signer.
Livre des Ombres
Le néo-païen influent Gerald Gardner semble avoir rebaptisé le « Livre noir » le « Livre des ombres ». Mais il a peut-être volé cette belle phrase d'un article de 1949 dans le Observateur occulte, "Le Livre des Ombres" de Mir Bahir. Les sorts, les incantations, les rituels et les recettes sont enregistrés. Il est préférable que le livre lui-même soit fait par la sorcière. Cuir ou tissu pour la couverture, papier fait main ou parchemin pour les pages. Le livre doit être détruit à la mort de la sorcière. C'est pourquoi il reste si peu de choses sur la sorcellerie aujourd'hui – elle existe en tant que tradition orale. Dans certaines sectes, les nouvelles sorcières sont censées copier le Livre des Ombres à la main. Compte tenu de ce travail intense, il est ironique (ou peut-être naturel) que « The Book of Shadows » soit si souvent abrégé en BoS. Selon Gerald Gardner, il a obtenu le Livre des Ombres de l'ancien coven de Old Dorothy, survivant du 16e siècle. Soit dit en passant, les sorcières modernes ne le croient pas nécessairement sur parole. Quiconque a étudié l'anglais élisabéthain sait que celui qui l'a écrit s'est efforcé de le faire paraître vieux. Le Livre des Ombres est factuellement incorrect à certains endroits, par ex. il parle de sorcières brûlées vives en Angleterre (alors qu'en fait elles ont été pendues). Il plagia également (d'après Aleister Crowley et un article de magazine sur un ancien manuscrit sanskrit).
Un mot italien pour un coven de sorcières, littéralement un « bosquet ». (Lié au beau mot anglais « bosky », qui signifie boisé. En moyen anglais, « bosk » était une variante de « bush ».)
Bol de sel et d'eau
sur l'autel pour représenter les éléments
Mot espagnol pour "sorcière". (Le sorcier masculin est « brujo ».) Le mot était utilisé au Mexique pour désigner une femme bien informée sur la magie populaire, mais de nos jours, le mot n'a pas une si grande connotation.
Cet archétype de personnage est très ancien, commençant comme des types Baba Yaga, évoluant vers les types Mother Goose, et la sorcière burlesque Internet peut être vue dans des personnages tels que (fictif) Betty White, Nan de Catherine Tate et les vieilles femmes qui boivent et dansent un beaucoup sur les flux Facebook.
Temps de combustion
fait référence à l'engouement pour les sorcières, en mettant l'accent sur l'aspect brûlant du corps de la torture. Le brûlage est devenu érotisé, liant la mort et la douleur à la sexualité. Anne Sexton s'est fait connaître en tant que poète avec « Her King », dans lequel Sexton s'identifie à l'archétype de la sorcière, une version désirable d'elle-même. (Voir la dernière strophe pour un bon exemple de gravure érotisée). La femme brûlante érotisée peut également être vue tout au long de l'œuvre de Sylvia Plath, par ex. dans "Witch Burning". Pour les deux poètes, la brûlure fonctionne comme une métaphore pour « une caresse qui accepte la réactivité du corps » (selon les mots de Diane Purkiss), et la douleur équivaut à la passion.
La période brûlante/engouement pour les sorcières en Europe reste une période fascinante à ce jour, souvent revisitée dans la fiction via un regard contemporain.
Salle des Loups se rencontre Le favori dans ce premier roman envoûtant qui fait revivre avec brio les habitants d'une petite ville anglaise en proie aux procès des sorcières du XVIIe siècle et la jeune femme chargée de tous les sauver d'eux-mêmes.
Angleterre, 1643. La ferveur puritaine s'est emparée de la nation. Et à Manningtree, une ville vide d'hommes depuis le début des guerres, la terreur brûlante de la damnation brûle dans le cœur des femmes livrées à elles-mêmes.
Rebecca West, orpheline de père et de mari, s'irrite contre la corvée de ses jours, animée seulement occasionnellement par son engouement pour le beau jeune employé John Edes. Mais un nouveau venu, Matthew Hopkins, arrive. Figure mystérieuse et pieuse vêtue de noir de la tête aux pieds, il reprend le Thorn Inn et commence à se poser des questions sur ce que font les femmes en marge de cette communauté diminuée. Des rumeurs dangereuses de covens, de pactes et de désirs corporels ont commencé à planer sur des femmes comme Rebecca – et l'avenir est aussi effrayant que passionnant.
Brûler dans l'eau
Il existe un mythe selon lequel les sorcières brûlent dans l'eau. Comme un excellent exemple de la façon dont même la littérature pour enfants peut ajouter à la mythologie des sorcières, il s'agit d'une mythologie inventée de Le merveilleux magicien d'Oz (1900) par L. Frank Baum. Il était probablement au courant des brûlures corporelles des sorcières et de l'idée fausse de l'engouement pour les sorcières selon laquelle les sorcières flottent pendant la torture à l'eau, alors il a combiné ces tropes pour son histoire.
Gâteaux et Vin
la fin de tout rituel. Un petit "festin". Peut-être en fait du pain et de la bière.
Les anciens Égyptiens associaient le chat à la lune. Pour eux, le chat était sacré pour les déesses Isis et Bast (la gardienne du mariage). Les chats noirs sont associés à l'obscurité et à la mort. Dans le folklore des sorcières, les chats utilisent souvent les chats noirs comme familiers, mais comme vous pouvez le voir, les idées autour des chats, en particulier les noirs, vont au-delà de la sorcellerie.
Cape (ou manteau)
confère des pouvoirs magiques. Il est généralement bleu foncé ou noir avec des signes ou des symboles magiques brodés ou peints en or. Les alphabets magiques, les pentagrammes et les emblèmes du zodiaque sont des éléments décoratifs. Dans toutes les religions, certains vêtements ne sont portés qu'en présence des divinités et sont mis de côté lors du retour au « monde ».
Ce terme écossais signifie un sortilège. Il a tendance à être du genre mineur et espiègle. (Les sorcières peuvent être escrocs.)
Cantrip a été utilisé dans des romans et des jeux de rôle et signifie tout ce que le créateur veut qu'il signifie. Il fait parfois référence à un sort qui lit la même chose en avant et en arrière.
Agnes Waterhouse, la première femme pendue pour sorcellerie en Angleterre, a été accusée d'avoir prié en latin. En 1566, c'était un crime d'être une sorcière, et c'était aussi un crime d'être catholique. Dans le cas d'Agnes Waterhouse, les deux crimes se sont croisés et ont abouti à son assassinat par l'État. Historiquement, la transition du catholicisme au protestantisme reflète la transition du paganisme au christianisme. Une fois qu'une société évolue dans son système de croyances commun, les pratiques autrefois considérées comme orthodoxes sont désormais considérées comme non-orthodoxes (et aussi mystérieuses). Ces pratiques, autrefois considérées comme normales (en l'occurrence prier en latin) sont désormais considérées comme de la sorcellerie.
Au Moyen Âge, prier en latin était associé à la magie de guérison, mais après la Réforme protestante, c'était maintenant un signe que vous parliez à Satan.
le Chat Sith est une créature féerique de la mythologie celtique, qui ressemble à un gros chat noir avec une tache blanche sur la poitrine. La légende raconte que le chat spectral hante les Highlands écossais. Les légendes entourant cette créature sont plus courantes dans le folklore écossais, mais quelques-unes se produisent en irlandais. Certains folklores courants suggéraient que le Chat Sìth n'était pas une fée, mais une sorcière qui pouvait se transformer neuf fois en chat. Certaines personnes pensaient que le Chat Sìth était une sorcière qui pouvait se transformer volontairement en sa forme féline et revenir huit fois. Si l'une de ces sorcières choisissait de reprendre sa forme de chat pour la neuvième fois, elle resterait un chat pour le reste de sa vie. Certains pensent que c'est ainsi qu'est née l'idée d'un chat ayant neuf vies. (Wikipédia.)
Un chaudron ou une bouilloire en fer pour préparer les festins du Sabbat, les infusions magiques et les potions. Parfois, le feu est allumé dans le chaudron lui-même. Certaines sorcières utilisent en fait des pots ménagers ordinaires – consacrés, bien sûr. La forme ressemble souvent au ventre d'une femme enceinte, et est donc un symbole de fertilité.
Surtout, il symbolise le ventre de grossesse massif de la femme qui a donné naissance au monde, la Grande Déesse. Sa forme circulaire symbolise la vie et la régénération sans fin. Les choses sont chauffées à l'intérieur d'un chaudron, se transformant d'une chose en une autre, d'où le chaudron symbolise également la germination et la transformation. Les chaudrons traditionnels ont trois pieds, représentant le triple aspect de la Grande Déesse ou les trois destins. Dans la légende celtique, les chaudrons contiennent une réserve inépuisable de connaissances ou de nourriture. Dans ces histoires, les morts sont fréquemment jetés dans le chaudron et en ressortent vivants le lendemain. Malgré de nombreuses histoires dans lesquelles les sorcières cuisinent de la nourriture dans des chaudrons, ce n'est pas pour ça qu'elles sont. Ils servent à allumer des feux et à remplir d'eau et de fleurs.
Calice (ou corne à boire)
pour le vin ou l'eau sacrificielle. Dans certaines traditions le mariage sacré (union sexuelle entre le dieu incarné et l'adorateur) se réalise symboliquement en plongeant l'athamé dans le calice. (L'athamé représente le feu et le calice représente l'eau, ils s'équilibrent donc.)
Charge de la déesse
un évangile utilisé par de nombreuses sorcières modernes dans une variété de formes adaptées.
Charles Le Land
un folkloriste amateur qui a plaidé pour la survie des croyances religieuses païennes en Europe. Il a écrit Aradia, ou l'évangile des sorcières. Il a affirmé avoir rencontré une femme appelée Maddalena qui était issue d'une longue lignée de sorcières.
Le premier procès de sorcellerie anglais a eu lieu à Chelmsford, Essex, en 1566. Agnes Waterhouse (alias Mother Waterhouse) (vers 1503 – 29 juillet 1566) a été la première femme exécutée pour sorcellerie après ce procès. Elle a été jugée avec deux autres femmes du même village. Agnès a avoué avoir été une sorcière et a déclaré que son familier était un chat (devenu plus tard un crapaud). Elle a appelé le chat Satan, parfois orthographié Sathan, qui appartenait à l'origine à Elizabeth Francis. Le détail chat/crapaud ressort, mais parmi beaucoup d'autres choses, Agnès a été accusée de prier en latin. Nous savons tout cela parce que c'est écrit dans une brochure. Tu peux lire le contenu ici, avec une orthographe modernisée, ce qui le rend un peu plus facile.
Démon de la Cheminée
Cheminées, les fenêtres et les portes sont considérées liminaire des espaces où les mauvais esprits peuvent entrer dans la maison. Parmi les créatures qui peuvent voler dans votre cheminée : les sorcières, bien sûr.
Contrairement aux païens, qui étaient heureux de dire que les pouvoirs occultes provenaient d'une divinité mineure non cataloguée, les chrétiens étaient accrochés à la question de savoir d'où venaient les êtres surnaturels. Le christianisme ne pouvait pas se contenter des idées païennes parce que, selon le christianisme, il n'y a qu'un seul Dieu. C'est ainsi que le christianisme s'est retrouvé avec une théologie plus approfondie de l'occultisme, les conduisant finalement à la conclusion que si les pouvoirs occultes ne viennent pas de ce Dieu singulier, ils doivent venir de son adversaire – Satan. À partir du XIIe siècle, les idées sur Satan, les diables et l'enfer se sont concrétisées dans l'imagination des gens. Cette façon de penser a fini par coûter la vie à environ 30 000 personnes.
la première grande sorcière de la littérature, décrite par Homère comme « déesse ou fille, nous ne saurions le dire » et lorsqu'elle est vue pour la première fois par les hommes d'Ulysse, elle semble une douce jeune tisserande, tissant un « tissu ambrois pur et brillant,/ par ce métier connu des déesses du ciel. Devant son métier à tisser, elle chante « une chanson douce et froide ». Elle ne semble pas du tout être une sorcière, mais elle l'est et elle l'accuse de : fasciner les hommes, les transformer en swing, le pouvoir de rendre les hommes impuissants, à la fois sexuellement et autrement.
Une amulette signifiant « brin de rue » en italien, également connue sous le nom de charme de sorcière. Cette amulette est en argent et ressemble à un brin de rue avec divers autres symboles dans ses trois branches (généralement un croissant de lune, une clé, des étoiles, des poignards et des fleurs). La cimaruta remonte à 4500 av. Il peut être porté comme un pendentif ou des pendentifs plus grands peuvent être accrochés à la porte de la maison d'une sorcière. La cimaruta est à double face. Les trois branches d'argent de la cimaruta se rapportent à la Triple Déesse.
Un cordon de sorcière consacré. Il mesure neuf pieds de long ou est basé sur les mesures du corps de la sorcière. Les sorcières l'utilisent pour tracer un cercle pour le rituel. Le cingulum peut être porté autour de la taille pour représenter le niveau d'initiation de la sorcière (semblable à une ceinture de karaté). Il peut également y avoir des nœuds significatifs. Les nœuds peuvent être utilisés un peu comme des chapelets catholiques, ou indiquer le statut à d'autres sorcières, ou les masses de nœuds peuvent fonctionner comme des amulettes.
Ces sorcières du Mexique seraient les fantômes de femmes mortes en couches. Ils ont volé des bébés pour les manger pour se venger. On pense qu'ils se rassemblent à la croisée des chemins. Les gens laissent des offrandes à carrefour, dans l'espoir de sauver leurs propres enfants.
Clous de girofle
porté autour du cou dans un sac de conjuration promouvoir l'amitié (vaudou / hoodoo)
Les gens ne se sont jamais demandé si les sorcières étaient réelles ou non. Tout le monde savait qu'ils étaient réels – je veux dire, ils vivaient dans chaque village ! Cette question n'a commencé à être posée que vers la fin du 17e siècle.
Cône de pouvoir
une métaphore de la volonté du groupe. Ils demandent des choses en groupe et considèrent qu'ils peuvent avoir une emprise sur des choses lointaines.
Théories du complot
l'équivalent contemporain de la sorcellerie moderne. Une sous-culture propose une théorie pour expliquer le malheur. People are very reluctant to accept the stochasticity of life. This tendency to search for causes of misfortune can be seen from the 1550s onwards, connected to the Reformation and nascent Protestantism. This kind of thinking holds true today. We still don’t like the idea that we are unable to decide our own fates. We prefer a causal account of things that happen to us. The Early Modern belief that bad things happened because of witches was an Early Modern version of conspiracy theory.
associated with heretics in the Middle Ages. May derive from horns worn by many pagan deities to denote power. The brim is probably a 17e century addition. Pointed headdresses have always aroused the accusation of deviltry. Gnomes now wear it too, though they dye it red and shrink it.
Conjure bags (or charm bags)
These belong to the voodoo/hoodoo witch tradition rather than the European one. Many contemporary witches use them. They are little drawstring pouches (of red flannel or leather) worn around the neck or waist of the conjurer. They’re hung upon trees on the property of one whose luck one wishes to affect — usually for ill. “Laying the trick” refers to planting a charm bag where the intended subject must cross over it. The bags contain 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 or 13 objects: gemstones, herbs, powdered sulfur, coffin nails, pins, needles, graveyard dust, rabbits’ feet, lodestones, scarabs, horseshoes, nail clippings, photographs, locks of hair, dice, and counterfeit coins.
Contagion of the Deity
the idea that holy objects should not be used in other than holy places. (This is not just witchcraft but common to all religions.) It’s therefore unlucky to steal something from a place of worship.
A witch who has tried to teach themselves witchcraft and spells out of a book. (Think of Daniel in The Karate Kid before he is taken on by Mr Miyagi.)
Cord (or cingulam)
the magical binding cord that the witch wears around her waist and uses for symbolic binding rituals of all sorts. It is red, nine feet in length, and plaited. Natural materials such as cotton, silk or wool are preferred.
A woven wheat stalk in the form of a figure. Also called corn mothers. They’re meant to look like women, but some of them don’t much. In any case, the corn dolly symbolises fertility and the harvest. (Shapes made out of wheat stalks figure large in horror, along with haystacks, which tend to look a bit like monsters at night.) In American English, corn refers more generally to ‘grain’.
Cosmic Mother Of All
Starhawk, a modern feminist witch, uses this phrase to describe the Mother Earth-type character “whose breasts poured milk into the firmament and who birthed new stars, whose curved and luscious body was the very earth they trod on”. This figure stands in contrast to the Judeo-Christian/Islamic notion of a masculine God creating everything alone, while sidelining the female body entirely. “Images-of-women feminism” is Diane Purkiss’s phrase to describe a way of thinking about femininity in a way that is “annihilatingly prescriptive”. This thinking prescribes that positive images of women are: lactating, motherly, strong, authoritative. There is no thought to who mothers her. This idealised imagery in fact supports the patriarchal notion of the woman as nurturer of others. Many thinkers have believed in an “originary matriarchy”; this isn’t limited to witchcraft: Robert Briffault, Erich Neumann, J.J. Bachofen, Jane Harrison, Arthur Evans, and especially J.G. Frazer. The Goddess Of Everything (whatever we might call her) was originally invented/discovered by male scholars, not by empowered woman witches. The narrative goes like this: Women are subordinated today because The Great Mother (standing in for women in general) originally controlled everyone, and men had to wrest back some control of their own because women were so oppressive and also incompetent as leaders. And that, folks, is why the patriarchy exists. Tl;dr: Patriarchy is women’s punishment, and the natural order of things. Unfortunately, modern witchcraft doesn’t always do a great job of dismantling that particular narrative.
traditionally 13 in number but anywhere between 3 and 20. They begin by ‘casting the circle’, which isolates and purifies the holy place where magic will occur, where gods and goddesses will manifest, where time will disappear, where faith will become incarnate.
Covenant of the Goddess
In 1975 a number of covens banded together and formed Covenant of the Goddess. The organisation was founded by Starhawk in California and people can still join it today.
the location of the coven
the area around the covenstead. Traditionally one league in size. (About three miles in all directions.)
Anyone who is not a witch.
A shortening of ‘witchcraft’. (It is also used by Freemasons to describe their fraternity without publicly naming it.) Sometimes people say ‘Art and Craft’, meaning witchcraft.
the name a witch receives after an initiation ritual. Craft names tend to allude to favourite deities. (Covens are also named.)
Crossing The Bridge
Corresponds to ‘funeral’.
(Filthy Peasant) Crone
Adrienne Rich’s term for a midwife/sister/woman in touch with the earth and all things natural. We see similar outworking of this archetype in fairytales, and in contemporary folktales written for children. These women might be quite stupid e.g. Hildilid. They are often surrounded by a menagerie of pets and farm animals (who she considers pets). They often display hyper empathy with these animals (and I suspect they’re unable to slaughter them).
The gardener, the king, and the magician are three mature personifications of the archetypal masculine. They correspond to the sacred trinity of the feminine personified by the maiden, mother, and crone.
Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Modern witches wear thin bands of silver with a silver crescent moon at the front. This and the garter might convey rank.
Crows were feared as an indicator of death, and witches apparently used them when casting spells against enemies. Crows’ feet were therefore known as ‘witches feet’. It was also believed that witches could transform themselves into crows to travel unnoticed to sabbats. The word ‘crow’s foot’ also refers to the wrinkles around the eyes, and thereby also indicate the inevitable approach of death.
A ceramic or metal container in which metals or other substances may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures. Metaphorically, a situation of severe trial, or in which different elements interact, leading to the creation of something new.
a play by Arthur Miller and later a movie starring Winona Ryder. The real Abigail Williams was somewhere between 10-12 years old, but Miller turned her into a seductive, lustful teenager. Thematically, The Crucible is a straight-forward denunciation of mass hysteria and intolerance. Contrast this with other works of fiction which try to help their audience find a way of keeping strange characters as part of our society, without the martyrdom e.g. the poem “Song of Power” by Elaine Feinstein.
one of the medieval methods of finding proof against a suspected murderer. The common belief was that the body of the victim would spontaneously bleed in the presence of the murderer. Is mentioned in Daemonologie, King James’s crazed book about witches, who he believed would kill him.
The cunning folk in Britain were professional or semi-professional practitioners of magic in Britain, active from the Medieval period through the early 20th century. The cunning woman is a witch-like character seen in plays such as The Wise Woman of Hogsdon by Thomas Heywood (1638), The Alchemist (1610) by Ben Jonson. During this long era, people could set themselves up as “cunning folk” and sell services such as curing illness, finding missing objects/buried treasure, and also removing the dark magic imposed by some other witch. So any village with a dark, terrifying witch would also be home to a number of people claiming they’re able to defeat that dark witch with their own magic. Those cunning folk were identified as witches by the people doing the prosecuting. Ultimately, the prosecutors decided who got to live and die, so it was a bit dangerous setting yourself up as one of the cunning folk. The cunning folk were real people, not just fictional. There would have been cunning folk in just about every village in England in the 16e and 17e centuries, especially at the peak of the witch hunts in the British Isles. (For more on Cunning Folk, listen to this podcast.)
Spring of 1620 in a Lancashire fishing community and the memory of the slaughter at Pendle is tight around the neck of Sarah Haworth. A birthmark reveals that Sarah, like her mother, is a witch. Torn between yearning for an ordinary life and desire to discover what dark power she might possess, Sarah’s one hope is that her young sister Annie will be spared this fate.
The Haworth family eke out a meagre existence in the old plague village adjoining a God-fearing community presided over by a seedy magistrate. A society built upon looking the other way, the villagers’ godliness is merely a veneer. But the Haworth women, with their salves and poultices, are judged the real threat to morality.
When Sarah meets lonely farmer’s son Daniel, she begins to dream of a better future. Daniel is in thrall to the wild girl with storms in her eyes, but their bond is tested when a zealous new magistrate vows to root out sins and sinners. In a frenzy of fear and fury, the community begins to turn on one another, and it’s not long before they direct their gaze towards the old plague village … and does Daniel trust that the power Sarah wields over him is truly love, or could it be mere sorcery?
a solemn utterance intended to invoke a supernatural power to inflict harm or punishment on someone or something. There are people who believe curses work and they are sometimes taken seriously at government level. Emil Boc was Prime Minister of Romania 2008 – 2012, He announced a 16% tax on fortune-telling. Several self-described witches, including a celebrity called Bratara, threatened him by saying her curses always worked and if the PM were to go ahead with the taxation, bad things would happen to politicians.
Deals with the Devil
In Scotland, witchcraft was understood as a deal between a ‘witch’ and the devil. We know this because there exist records of Scottish interrogators asking women about supernatural encounters (more so than happened in England). (Look up the story of Elspeth Reoch.)
Degrees of Witchcraft
There are four levels of witchcraft, first, second, another second and third — neophyte, middle stage, second middle stage and fully fledged. Each degree has its own symbol. Sometimes witches write the symbol after their name: an inverted triangle, a triangle, a pentagram (star), and finally a triangle on top of a pentagram. The triangle is also known as the ‘three-fold salute’ and during initiation the shape of this inverted triangle is also drawn in the air, and in sequence on the breast, breast, genitals and breast.
King James of England had an obsession with witches and witchcraft and wrote a book about them, called Daemonologie (1599). Its subtitle is much longer. He was convinced witches were going to kill him. He supervised the torture of women who were meant to be Witches. In 1604 he had passed repressive anti-Witchcraft laws. He commissioned a group of scholars to translate the Bible into English. King James insisted that “his” Bible must be Protestant and passages must not support the Catholic Church. He also demanded that Witches should be condemned as evil at every opportunity. In 1611, the King James Version of the Bible was published. King James refused to pay the people who had done the massive job of translating it. In short, he inflicted much suffering on people who deserved so much better. In the end he wasn’t killed by witches at all. He died of a stroke. He also had a case of severe dysentery (bloody diarrhea). This is caused by particularly nasty gut bacteria or parasites. But he probably blamed that on witches, too.
a breakaway coven, still under the guidance of the mother coven
Someone who dedicates themselves to a period of study/practice with a coven
As the witch craze was kicking off, attention turned to monks and their wet dreams. Monks were required to confess their sins, and were asked about what happened during their wet dreams. Typically the dream would involve a dominant female figure and being sat on. The Scholastics then came up with an elaborate narrative in which monks were accompanied to their dormitories by demons, disguised as monks. They decided the demons must be there to harvest the monks’ seed. Why would demons want monks’ seed? Because of the cold and moist natures of demons, they acquired as much male seed as possible. This is also exactly how they thought of women. They believed women were sexually insatiable. Because of women’s cold and moist natures, women were constantly trying to perfect themselves by acquiring copious amounts of male seed. This is one example of how demons, witches and women became lumped in together.
Then they make a connection with women who think they fly through the night with the aid of a supernatural being. The concept of the witch’s sabbath comes from these two ideas amalgamated. As soon as these ideas are brought together the whole legal process changes to be about that narrative.
Clockwise. In Scottish folklore, deosil/sunwise/sunward (clockwise) was considered the “prosperous course”, turning from east to west in the direction of the sun. The opposite course, counterclockwise, was known as widdershins (Lowland Scots), or tuathal (Scottish Gaelic). (For more on the symbolism of cardinal direction see here.) In witchcraft, “deosil” usually refers to the direction of a witch’s dance or circle-casting.
areas on a witch’s body seen to be insensitive to pain. See also: teats. Spelled witch ‘markes’ or witch ‘signalls’ in documents.
sometimes considered the Goddess of all Witches
Margaret Murray’s God of the Witches. Margaret Murray was a feminist trailblazer in some ways, entering anthropology and going off on digging adventures before it was acceptable for women to do so. Still, people are complicated. She conceived the God of the witches as male, turning Diana into what she considers a masculine name.
Discovery of Witchcraft (The Discoverie of Witchcraft)
by Reginald Scot (1584), an English MP who had been trained in Latin and who could therefore refer to a number of texts unavailable to the masses. His Discovery of Witchcraft work includes invocations, demons’ names, potion ingredients and so on. This was an inspiration to playwrights and storytellers. Reginald Scot actually wrote this treatise to try and prove witchcraft was ne pas a thing. Reginald Scot was a Reformed Protestant. He therefore believed God was responsible for everything, not witches. He was also caught up in a mystical religion at the time known as Family of Love. He clearly had a deep interest in mystical stuff, and I’m not sure he managed to persuade anyone to stop believing in witchcraft. He probably made many of his readers extra interested in it.
After Gerald Gardner started his witchcraft cult, based on what he said he’d heard from Old Dorothy, a disciple of his called Doreen Valiente became one of his main helpers. She said in her autobiography that she even wrote some of the rituals. But Gardner preferred to credit anything he hadn’t done himself to the mystical Old Dorothy and never acknowledged Valiente. This example speaks to the way in which witch cults, like any other, tend to be led by men, with the work of women hidden, despite women disciples being necessary to the entire operations.
The real witch from an old witch family that Gerald Gardner claimed to have met. He called her ‘Old Dorothy’ and everything he didn’t make up himself, he attributed to her. Apparently Old Dorothy belonged to a coven of hereditary witches who had practised witchcraft for centuries. (Leland told a very similar story, but about a woman called Maddalena.)
Drawing down the moon
A ritual by which the High Priestess becomes in effect a goddess for the duration of the ritual. The rite is performed on the first night of the full moon, at midnight, the “witching hour.” The witch evokes the goddess within herself—that is, becomes the goddess incarnate. The goddess is she whom we call the triple goddess, the moon goddess, with her three phases—waxing, full, waning. She is Diana/Artemis, Astarte, Aphrodite, the Mother Goddess, and thus associated with birth, death, rebirth, and the lunar cycles. Meditation, chanting, dancing, and singing may all be used to evoke the goddess. The point is to reach a state in which human and divine edge for a time within the person of the dear of the coven.
Drawing down the sun
a newer expression based on ‘drawing down the moon’. This sometimes describes the riual in which the High Priest becomes in effect a god for the duration of a ritual. (The male equivalent of drawing down the moon.)
Drinking horn or chalice
filled with wine
a form of water torture also known as ducking or ‘swimming’. It was thought that one way to identify a witch was to bind her hands and feet and throw her into a body of water. A real witch would float. (And if she wasn’t a witch, she would have sunk and drowned unless hastily rescued.)
Although the dominant world tradition of Halloween associates witches with the season of autumn, Sweden has an Easter witch. The Easter witch is also a tradition in Finland and Gotland.
On Maundy (Cleansing) Thursday, before Good Friday, people build bonfires to keep devils away. Witches bring the coffee.
Brooms and rakes are hidden from pranksters during spring clean-up, in case pranksters join in and create havoc. Children decorate by placing witch figures in windows, and wear colourful dress-up, transforming themselves into wizards and witches. There are also many cats.
And what do witches have to do with Christianity? On the first Maundy Thursday Judas betrayed Jesus. On this day, evil was released into the world. ‘Evil’ obviously includes witches. Swedes believed the evil witches would fly on their broomsticks to Blåkulla. On this island the Devil would welcome them to his court. You can protect yourself from this threat by creating bonfires. Big fires scare Easter witches away.
The word means ‘deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.’ It is used to describe Pagans and Pagan traditions which borrow from various different sources. Pagans took their culture from spiritual beliefs, philosophy, magic practices and created their own way of life. Modern Eclectic Witchcraft or Eclectic Wicca works the same way, even drawing from popular fantasy novels such as Les brumes d'Avalon.
During the European Witch Craze it was commonly believed that witches travelled about in egg-shells. This is probably because in Germany, for instance, elves and sprites were long thought to hatch out of eggs. If an egg was laid before sunrise, you could see the pixie inside, apparently. However, you don’t want to break one of these eggs with supernatural beings inside. You’d die.
In some covens you count as an elder if you’ve been the leader of a coven for nine years.
Elizabethan Poor Laws
These laws led to a lot of misery for a lot of people. The people most likely to be accused of witchcraft were those considered disposable to society. Beforehand, some of society’s poorest were accommodated by monasteries, but then came the dissolution of monasteries. Now, poor/disabled/aged/illegitimate people without family to support them became the burden of individual parishioners. It follows that those people became much more hated and resented than before.
(the initial ‘e’ is silent) is one of the Lesser Wiccan Sabbats, usually celebrated on the Vernal or Spring Equinox (March 21 in the Northern hemisphere). Also known as Eostre’s Day, Rite of Eostre, Festival of the Trees and Lady Day.
a small gathering of local witches. A ‘small Sabbat’.
Colloquially known today as ‘the evils’ (in New Zealand) or ‘stink eye’ (in a funny scene from the film Juno), a threatening gaze or stare was once thought to be so powerful it caused actual harm. As a result, numerous amulets and charms have been invented, thought to protect one from the harms of the Evil Eye. The concept of the malevolent stare features in many cultures, including for example in connection with Balor in Irish mythology, who has become known as Balor of the Evil Eye. The commonly recognised symbol of the evil eye is the Arabic hamsa, common throughout North Africa-Middle East. This symbol in turn comes from Tanit, the principal goddess of ancient Phoenicia. This symbol is often affixed to the prows of ships, for example, as an amulet. It is meant to ward off the Evil Eye, but because language is weird, the amulet itself is also called the Evil Eye. (It’s basically an imaginary stare down competition.) See also: The Evil Eye: An account of this ancient and wide spread superstition by Fredrick Thomas Elworthy (1895).
the intersection of fairies and witches. People who practice fairy wicca work with nature spirits.
Diane Purkiss is an expert on witches and also on fairies (see her book Troublesome Things.) She explains that occult powers were once thought to come from fairies, but not the Tinkerbell fairies we think of today — from the older, darker, hairy fairies. These fairies might help you with the housework… or completely take over your life. What have ancient fairies got to do with witches? After the Protestant Reformation people didn’t want to believe in fairies anymore because the concept didn’t fit with the teachings of the Bible or with the fundamentalist idea of the afterlife. At this point, fairies became re-interpreted as devils. Now, any witch who calls on such beings is thought to be summoning the powers of hell to assist her. The so-called witch is even more threatening and scary than she ever was before. People believed they needed to take even more measures to guard themselves against her.
a rock in the shape of a stone, thought to function apotropaically (warding off bad luck). The points represent earth, air, fire and water, and Christian has also influenced the thinking behind crosses as good luck charms. Also called: andalusite, chiastolite, staurolite.
If you really believe in witches and witchcraft, you are also susceptible to believing that your, yourself, may have such powers. There are a surprising number of people recorded in history who came forward to confess they had killed or harmed someone using their own witchcraft. During the Witch Craze, this could be a suicidal act. "False confessions are not rare (…) young people are particularly vulnerable to confessing, especially when stressed, tired, or traumatized.”
short for familiar spirit — a common domestic animal given to the witch by the Devil — according to Inquisitors — to do her malicious bidding. They suckle on the witch’s blood, probably through one of her extra teats. The notion of the witch’s familiar comes out of the folklore of household fairies — brownies, elves and hobs, but not all familiars are fairies. Familiars can also be the ghosts of dead children, demons and ghosts. The concept of the familiar came from Scotland and England. Like fairies, familiars originally exhibited all forms of morality (they could anywhere between the extremes of good and bad), but after the Reformation, belief in the supernatural became very black and white — from that point on, all supernatural creatures were either good or bad.
Household fairies were considered demons. (Because they’re not angels.) After the Reformation, the animal familiar of a witch is considered an imp in disguise, a low-ranking demon, around to serve those in league with satan (similar to the lover’s valet, footman or chambermaid in 18e century opera). The familiar does small, bad deeds, leaping over fences the witch can’t clear, secreting itself in places where a witch can’t hide. Dogs, cats, bees, mice, rabbits, bats have all been cited in witch trials. They had fanciful names: Various British witch trials record a gray cat called Tittey, a black toad called Pigin, a black lamb called Tyffin, a black dog called Suckin, and a “red lion” called Lyerd. There were also assorted imps called Great Dick, Little Dick, Willet, Pluck, Catch, Holt, Jamara, Vinegar Tom, Pyewackett, Grizzel, and Greedigut. It was believed that the imp fed on human blood from the witch’s teat. (The teats might actually be little warts or polyps or wens.) A wen = a common cyst of the skin; filled with fatty matter (sebum) that is secreted by a sebaceous gland that has been blocked. If a woman had these, it was ‘proof’ that a woman was a witch. The familiars crave human blood. According to science, their little bodies are so mightily debauched that their bodies are subject to the continual reflux of particles and require some nutriment to supply the place of the fugacious atoms. They do this by sucking the blood of witches.
Short for “Family Tradition.” This refers to a Wiccan or Witchcraft tradition that is centred around the beliefs and practices of a single family as opposed to a tradition centred around individual personalities or a coven.
caused or acting by witchcraft (obsolete). From Latin fascinum (“witchcraft”).
We tend to see flogging as a kind of punishment or deterrent today, but in antiquity, that’s not what flogging was for. Flogging was for purification. Someone would get flogged to bewitch them, or more generally, to deal with any situation implying spiritual impotence.
In the Edo period of Japan (1603–1867), beliefs around kitsune (foxes) share commonalities with witch legend from all over the world. For one, kitsune can shapeshift. When a kitsune changes shape, its hoshi no tama holds a portion of its magical power. Another tradition is that the pearl represents the kitsune’s soul; the kitsune will die if separated from it for long. Those who obtain the ball may be able to extract a promise from the kitsune to help them in exchange for its return. This is similar to the Greek legend of the Graeae. (The fox’s tendency to creep about at night and murder essential livestock probably contributed to the association between foxes and witches. Also, I feel like a fox is the imaginative cross between a cat and a wolf.)
Fraudulent Medium’s Act
in 1951 this act in England and Wales replaced the witchcraft statutes and affected how some witches went about their business. Gerald Gardner, for instance, started publishing nonfiction works about witchcraft, then formed his own coven. He got his first followers from the members of his nudist club. This act remains a residual power that the state can draw on. There have been campaigns to abolish the last vestiges of witchcraft law (ie. the Fraudulent Mediums Act), and also attempts in Scotland to issue a free pardon to accused witches.
green, buckled in silver. Has magical powers, probably. Green is the fairy color, associated with Robin Hood, the green man and wood sprites. Some witch queens have as many as seven buckles on their garters. It might be red, made of silk, with long red ribbons and a pink rosette. Perhaps they’re used to remind them to behave well sexually. (Or perhaps the buckles are like notches on the bedposts?)
a fictional magician invented by Ursula Le Guin, but cited as if a ‘real’ sage rather than fiction by Starhawk. Modern witches sometimes conflate fiction with their witchcraft reality.
The leader of the Gardnerian sect of modern witches. Gerald, who was English, is probably the most famous neopagan and was around for the 1960s, which is good for him — an era ripe for new-old things. Unfortunately for Gerald he didn’t make it til the end of the sixties. He died in 1964 at the age of 79 on board a ship to Tunis (the capital of Tunisia). Gardner is known as The Father of Wicca, not to be confused with The King, Alex Sanders. (Notice how the founding figures of modern wicca are thought to be a handful of men? The history of modern witchcraft isn’t empoweringly feminist.)
any instrument of public execution including guillotine, executioner’s block, impalement stake, hanging gallows, or related scaffold
when witches wear gloves they are made of cat skin with fur on the inside.
a protruding front tooth. John Gaule, a 17th century clergyman listed gobber tooth as one way to tell a witch, along with a wrinkled face, furrowed brow, hairy lip, squint eye, squeaking voice, scolding tongue, rugged coat, skull-cap on her head, a spindle in her hand and a dog or cat by her side.
Granny suffered from robustly healthy teeth, which she considered a big drawback in a witch. She really envied Nanny Annaple, the witch over the mountain, who managed to lose all her teeth by the time she was twenty and had real crone-credibility. It meant you ate a lot of soup, but you also get a lot of respect.
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites
an archaic word for the black magic or witchcraft in which the assistance of evil spirits is invoked. Necromancy.
“old women”, “grey ones”, or “grey witches” from Greek mythology. These sisters shared one eye and one tooth between them, suggesting they are each a different facet of the same individual. (This was played with in the picture book The Widow’s Broom by Chris Van Allsburg.) These witch sisters are called Deino (or Dino), Enyo, and Pemphredo (or Pephredo). Their weakness is that they had to take their eye out and share it between them. Perseus took advantage of this, and while they were passing it between them he nicked it, and wouldn’t give it back until they revealed the location of the three objects needed to kill Medusa (or the location of Medusa). Their other sisters are the Gorgons. While the Gorgons lost their beauty but retained their immortality, the Graiae lost their youth and became old hags dependant on one tooth and one eye to see. Dans Clash of the Titans, the Graeae are called The Stygian Witches.
Witch cults were highly organised. There were twelve to a coven led by a grandmaster. The grandmaster’s assistant was Maiden of the coven, sometimes called Maid Marian where the legend of Robin Hood was strong.
Why are witches green?
a book of spells
a shortened version of the Old English word “hægtesse”, literally meaning “witch”. In its 14th century sense, hag meant a repulsive, vicious or malicious old woman. By the mid 1500s it had come to mean an evil spirit, demon or infernal being in female form. By the 1580s it meant a woman who had dealings with Satan (i.e.. a witch). The word hag is probably a shortening of Old English hægtesse, “witch fury”. Now, the word hag is most commonly used now in a derogatory, misogynistic way.
For the past decade, the depiction of an oft-nude elderly woman has been particularly prevalent in horror films. She is a hackneyed hag: at once generic and disturbing, capturing essences of real women along with otherworldly terrors. Either of portly or slight frame with a cascading stream of unkempt hair often the only thing cloaking her body, she dons signs of decay which manifest in an aging body and senescent aura.
THE HACKNEYED HAG: THE MONSTER MOST EMBLEMATIC OF THE PAST DECADE OF HORROR IS A NAKED OLD WOMAN by Natalia Keogan
a person born of a witch or a woman considered wicked
something ridden by hags (like a horse) and therefore afflicted with nightmare. This term is just one example of how we still make use of supernatural/witchy thinking to describe our psychological state. Other examples are ‘haunted’ (by a memory or dream), ‘diabolical’ (difficulties), ‘possessed’ (by an idea), and I’ve lately noticed a resurgence of ‘cursed’, especially among kids, to describe something unpleasant or weird in general.
a holiday that recognises (and seeks to remedy) the sun’s retreat. In pre-Christian times, great bonfires were lit to stimulate the sun to imitation. Anglo-Saxons called them ‘need fires’. Christians changed this autumn holiday to All Saints’ Day but pagan symbolism lingered. October 31 has variously been called: November Eve, Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve, and today Halloween. It is a bonfire holiday and a harvest holiday, incorporating the ideas of harvesting both the fruits of the earth and the souls of the dead. The Great Mother relinquishes her power to the winter god (The Horned God). Halloween is a liminal time — the last night before full winter (in the Northern Hemisphere) when the darkness is thickening. To this day, the idea of the Winter Solstice comes with a degree of anxiety.
traditionally refers to any sort of ‘making fast’ of a pledge by the shaking or joining of hands without official means, mostly an unofficial marriage (usually until such a time that a couple can get married legally). The term fell out of use as the practice itself did, but has seen a bit of a revival with neopaganism. Neopagans sometimes say “handfasting” in place of “wedding” or “marriage” to avoid perceived non-Pagan religious connotations associated with those terms.
During the English witch craze, accused witches were hanged rather than burned.
a scolding (even vicious) old woman
a.k.a. Hekate is a goddess in ancient Greek religion and mythology, similar to a witch. She is most often shown holding a pair of torches or a key. In later periods she is depicted in triple form. Hecate is associated with crossroads, entrance-ways, night, light, magic, witchcraft, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, ghosts, necromancy, and sorcery.
the most famous in witchcraft: mandrake, henbane, monkshood, hemlock, thorn apple, deadly nightshade. The richest in legend and lore: mandrake, henbane, deadly nightshade, thorn apple, monkshood. Witches discovered the majority of the drugs in modern pharmacopeia e.g. digitalis (for heart disease), ephedrine (for hay fever and asthma). Ergonovine (from ergo) and atropine (from belladonna) were discovered by witches and used in the management of labour and delivery. Witches gathered herbs at night, not just for self-concealment but because they had to be plucked during specific phases of the moon in order to work. Some when the moon was waning, some during full moon, some during an eclipse. Often she had to be sky clad.
The idea that (herbalist) witches make use of herbs for healing/midwifery and so on. Metaphorically, in narrative, the herbs can stand for ‘agriculture’ and for ‘untamed nature’. The herbalist witch is a modern fantasy in which it is believed domestic skills were once valued, and only became lost once men started to take over the sphere of medicine and midwifery. This particular fantasy is sometimes called ‘cottagecore’ in contemporary-speak. See it also in a 1987 short story called “The Green Woman” by Meghan B. Collins, about a good witch’s bad love affair. (Included in the collection Don’t Bet On The Prince: Contemporary Feminist Fairy Tales in North America and England, edited by Jack Zipes. Another example is Earth Magic: A Wisewoman’s Guide to Herbal, Astrological and Folk Remedies by Claire Nahmad and The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. These texts share in common an ‘escape to the country’ fantasy, juxtaposing urban life against country life. (Country life is timeless, unchanging, stable and natural, so this fantasy also appeals to those who feel the times are moving too quickly, and the fear that we will be hopelessly left behind.)
These days a hex is an evil spell or a curse but hex is also another word for witch. The witch meaning is older. This word originated in the United States of America, from German hexe (to practise witchcraft).
Water blessed by a priest is thought to repel witches. In the Catalan region of Spain and France (Catalonia), people would sprinkle holy water around their doors and around other liminal spaces of the home (chimneys and windows) because New Year is an example of a liminal time of year, and according to Catalan folklore, witches are thought to steal children away at New Year unless Holy water is used in this way.
known by his powerful door of male goat. His eyes blaze with passion and he has an immediate sexual effect upon all females present. He might manifest as Pan or a normal goat or just an object of lust. See also: Actaeon.
the leader of a coven
Hoodoo, also known in the West as conjuring or rootwork, is a cultural tradition practiced largely in the southern United States with ties to Yoruba religious spirits and deities, similar to voodoo and Santeria. “One film that serves as a slight reprieve from the racist storylines is Paramount Pictures’ “Spell.” Featuring a predominantly Black cast, the thriller still showcases Black witchcraft but without demonizing hoodoo as a whole.” Voodoo is based on a real religion which has been appropriated by white culture to suggest a witchy, supernatural, often drug-induced vibe.
a series of words said as a magic spell or charm
Another word for wizard or enchanter.
a male demon believed to lie on sleeping persons and to do sex to sleeping women (a.k.a. rape). An incubus also refers to someone who depresses or worries others, or to a situation resembling a terrifying dream
Most witches were either single or post menopause. There’s a particular horror about a woman whose marriage is no longer or never was fruitful. Anxiety about barrenness. Again it’s about transmission — the assumption is that you’ll pass barrenness on somehow through your eyes to somebody’s flock of sheep/crop/orchard.
a metaphor for rebirth. (The torture of witches is also known by the same name.) When tortured, she receives a witch’s mark (a tattoo?), a new name and a kiss to the Grandmaster of the coven, usually the kiss of infamy. The initiation of witches is similar to the initiations which take place at puberty in various cultures around the world.
In The Broom Closet
a riff on ‘in the closet’, borrowed from LGBTQIA+ communities. Refers to a witch who isn’t out to their family/friends/co-workers about their beliefs.
Isis is a healer witch first mentioned in the Old Kingdom (2686–2181 BC). She was the Goddess of magic and wisdom. She used her magic to protect children and heal the sick. In art, she sometimes wears a sheath dress and a headdress with her name on it. Sometimes she’s wearing a crown of cow horns with a sun disk, or a crown with a cobra above her head. Isis is also the reason behind tyet amulets (a.k.a. ‘the knot of Isis’).
an evil spell, or a person believed to bring bad luck to others around them
King of the Witches
Alex Sanders, from Birkenhead, England. June Jones wrote a book about this guy. (She called her book King of the Witches, so that’s what Alex was called after that.) Media loved him. It helped that he loved to wear a loincloth. His story was that he’d been initiated into witchcraft by his grandma. His first wife wasn’t really into the supernatural, so that marriage didn’t last. He went for a walk one day and met up with a wealthy couple who said he looked just like their son. They became his patrons. Alex Sanders was a a colourful figure, and key to the neopagan revival of late 20th century England. He died in 1988 (lung cancer). Between 1998 and 2003 neowiccans were able to chat with him from the spirit world but the ghost of Alex Sanders seems to have moved on (for now).
Kiss of Infamy
a kiss on the devil’s ass. Also called the kiss of shame, the shameful kiss, the osculum infame. It was commonly believed during the witch craze that all witches paid homage to the devil by kissing his rump.
Knot of Isis
Also called tyet amulets. These amulets signify the binary nature of life and in the Old Kingdom were typically placed on mummies in the hope that Isis’s power would shield them from disease and evil. These days when you see any depiction of a generic ‘Ancient Egyptian goddesses’, notice they’re wearing amulets to ward off bad vibes. Witch healer Isis is behind this.
a seductive witch created by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (English poet, illustrator, painter and translator, 1828-1882). Lady Lilith is just one example of the new breed of glamorised witches who began entering fiction, poetry and art at the fin de siècle (end of the 19th century). Other examples of seductive (rather than crone/hag) witches are Morgan Le Fay as portrayed by Frederick Sandy and Sidonia Van Bork created by Edward Burne-Jones. These male artists created their sorceresses for a number of reasons, most probably because the seductive witch was a male fantasy, but evil and seductive witches were also supposed to warn women away from embracing their own desires. These sorceresses were evil but also signified freedom, and their freedom became their punishment. These new glamorous witches also served as a warning to men against the emasculating magic of a beautiful woman. However, real women tended to enjoy these freedom stories and created fantasies of their own. Woman writers started creating their own glamorous witches in which sex appeal became one of their occult powers (e.g. Evelyn de Morgan).
brings sexual power (voodoo/hoodoo)
As soon as laws are made against witchcraft, it inevitably follows that this law is applied. One of the earliest law codes we have, the code of Hammurabi (Babylonian) has a statute against sorcery. When the Henrician and Elizabethan witchcraft statutes were passed in England, culture changed. Previously, if you suspected your misfortune was down to witchcraft, you’d go and privately hire a white witch to remove the bad magic for you. But once the anti-witch laws were in place, as well as doing that, you could make a formal complaint. England’s anti-witchcraft movement lasted in law from about 1500-1710, about 200 years. This spans the period when the elite believed in witchcraft. (Makes sense, since the elite were in charge of making the laws.)
the art of healing, medical knowledge and skill
Letters On Demonology and Witchcraft
A book by Sir Walter Scott, first published in 1830. Scott had always been big into the supernatural. This book is a collection of his knowledge, with information gleaned from all over the place. The book was a hit. Many people wrote him letters telling him of their own witch experiences, and about obscure witch stories he’d forgotten to include. Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft was the inspiration for a tradition of Victorian novels on necromantic themes that includes Harrison Ainsworth’s The Lancashire Witches and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Lilith is an example of an ancient witch. Ideas about witches predate Christianity. Lilith is a character in Jewish mythology, developed in the Babylonian Talmud (3rd to 5th century AD). Lilith is just one character providing us with evidence that ideas about witches existed in Ancient Greece and Rome. Ancient Near Eastern civilisation created an especially rich corpus of stories about female demons, and also left evidence of many carefully crafted protection spells.
Found in several ancient Hebrew language texts, the word “lilith” is commonly translated as “night monster” or “night hag”. The medieval text Alphabetum Siracidis, Othijoth ben Sira – a compilation of Aramaic and Hebrew folk-tales – is the earliest surviving written account giving Lilith as the name of the first woman in the Garden of Eden. The story of Adam’s first wife is much older than that however, written of (or at least alluded to) in The Book of Genesis, which is now thought to have been written circa 600 BCE.
The Daughters of Lilith, Daily Grail
Loki is a cunning, shapeshifting trickster god in Norse mythology. Loki could change gender. They were the father/mother of all evil women (witches and giantesses).
The last witch prosecution in England was 1709. But there were still witch lynching e.g. in 1893 in the village of Long Compton. Long Compton is on the Warwickshire/Oxfordshire border. This village is historically interesting in part due to the nearby stone circle. (These kinds of artefacts often function to keep beliefs alive.) 1893 is long after the law credits witchcraft accusations. After the law stopped dealing with witchcraft, people continued vigilante justice against those they believed were witches. In 1893, one woman in Long Compton was stabbed to death with a pitchfork. It was thought that if you stabbed a witch above the heart, this would remove the spell. Clearly that’s what someone was trying to do. 1893 is not that long ago, and is almost 200 years after the last legal witch prosecution in England.
Discriminatory treatment of people considered physically unattractive. Discrimination based on appearance is still a major problem for modern society, but right up into the Early Modern era, lookism had another troubling layer to it. From ancient times until Early Modern times, people really did believe that if you looked at something ugly it will somehow come out in any malleable or formative part of yourself. Related to this kind of transmogrification, people literally believed that if at the point of conception the woman looks at a picture of a Black man, then her baby’s skin would be black. They believed all sorts of related wacky things. Another example: A woman’s baby would be covered with hair if she looked at a picture of John the Baptist. People invented stories to explain routine birth defects, and of course the mothers were blamed for causing defects by doing something she shouldn’t have. If you believe this is how the world works, it follows that everything you see is something that you’re “allowing into” yourself. If you go out and see a woman with one eye, a crooked tooth/back, limping, you don’t look at her, because she can transfer some of her bad luck onto you, just by looking at you.
The Greeks and Romans had many laws covering in particular the area of love magic. Each witch has her own method for helping people fall in love. One method is to draw a minikin on a piece of paper meditating on the beloved person. It has to be 13 inches tall. If the loved person has drawn on the paper or touched it, that works better. Use this manikin to cut a pattern out of an old bedsheet, folded over. If the persona has been on your bed, don’t wash the sheet and use that. Use the two halves to sew the manikin. Leave the head open for stuffing. Turn it inside out. However, modern witchcraft is a watered down, sanitised version of the love magic that was once practised in Ancient times. Ancient people were pretty vengeful! One of the most terrifying kinds of Greek and Roman magic is curse magic, where someone might invoke the power of a particular deity (most famously Hecate), but also Athena/Minerva at Aquae Sulis, to cast a curse on someone who had turned you down. This magic ensured this person could never have sex with anyone else so long as you lived. Curses are disturbingly graphic and physical. People might cast a curse to make someone’s genitals disappear, or to make someone’s thighs permanently stitched shut. Unfortunately, literal infibulation is not simply a figment in the imagination of the ancient spurned lover trying to cast a curse to help themselves feel better: the ritual removal of the external female genitalia and the suturing of the vulva is practised today.
a drink credited with magical power; can make the one who takes it love the one who gave it
poppet means puppet. In sympathetic magic, witches are called upon to bring lovers together by binding does representing them, while saying invocations and burning candles. The poppets might be made of cloth, straw, clay or wax. In the clay and wax models, bits of hair, nails and skin might be incorporated into it. The doll is stuffed with herbs sacred to Venus. A potpourri of dried rosebuds, blackberry leaf, dittany. Elderberry, motherwort and vervain should be tried. Chant the lover’s name all the while you’re doing this. Make a similar poppet to represent yourself out of using cloth you have touched or used. Decorate the doll in some way that represents them. Bind them together using red ribbon previously consecrated to Venus. It has to be cut in some multiple of seven (inches) long. Or even better, the same number of inches as the age of the beloved. (Does metric work?) They have to be laid on an altar and invoke the aid of the gods. Afterwards you can put it in a cigar chest or linen close and the potpourri love poppets will make your clothes smell nice. Do this ritual on a Friday, which is sacred to Venus and also to freya the Norse goddess of love. Repeat for another two Fridays. Repeat as necessary.
In the Malleus Maleficarum by Catholic clergyman Heinrich Kramer (1487), which became the handbook for the inquisition and torture of many people, most of them women, we find the following passage:
(According to the old proverbs t)here are three things that are never satisfied, yea, a fourth thing which says not, It is enough; that is, the mouth of the womb. Wherefore for the sake of fulfilling their lusts they consort even with devils. More such reasons could be brought forward, but to the understanding it is sufficiently clear that it is no matter for wonder that there are more women than men found infected with the heresy of witchcraft. And in consequence of this, it is better called the heresy of witches than of wizards, since the name is taken from the more powerful party. And blessed be the Highest Who has so far preserved the male sex from so great a crime: for since He was willing to be born and to suffer for us, therefore He has granted to men the privilege.
Part I, Question VI from the 1487 text Malleus Maleficarum (“Hammer of Witches“)
Subtext: Women are witches because women are too lustful because women can have more than one orgasm, which is far, far too many.
(W)hat sort of women more than others are found to be superstitious and infected with witchcraft; it must be said, as was shown in the preceding inquiry, that three general vices appear to have special dominion over wicked women, namely, infidelity, ambition, and lust. Therefore they are more than others inclined towards witchcraft, who more than others are given to these vices.
Part I, Question VI from the 1487 text Malleus Maleficarum (“Hammer of Witches“)
The Fairy Queen or Queen of the Fairies. Mab is a figure from Irish and British folklore, believed to rule the fairies. Based on Shakespeare’s creation, in English-speaking cultures she is often named Titania or Mab.
One of Shakespeare’s most popular and enduring plays, created around 1606. Shakespeare’s Three Witches conform to a stereotype of ugliness. These witches appear “wither’d and so wild in their attire”. They “don’t look like inhabitants of the earth”. Note that Macbeth was published a few years after King James’s Daemonologie. Shakespeare was heavily influenced/inspired by real life witch trials and superstition.
the witch Charles LeLand claimed to have met.
A female follower of Dionysus, associated with intense reveling. Also an excessively wild or emotional woman.
Witches didn’t invent magic. Early human societies had magical thinking. They were superstitious, did things they thought would make their crops grow, other things to keep women safe during childbirth etc. So what changed? Why did people (“witches”) suddenly start being persecuted for performing magic during the witch craze? In the 1400s, a divide opened up — not between the ‘magical’ and the ‘non-magical’ but between the high-level magic of learned men and… well, the magic of those other people: Women, the poor, the generally disenfranchised. Also, the Malleus Maleficarum happened, aka Hammer of Witches, published in 1487 by Henry Institoris, which was a guidebook on witches and how to spot them. Witches were supposed to have got their magic from the devil. And because women were weaker than men, they were more susceptible to the devil’s tricks. Also, women were more emotional and unpredictable and wouldn’t use magic for good ends, only to punish men who had scorned them.
contemporary witches prefer to spell it with a ‘k’ at the end. Magick performed in kitchens is no less effective than magick performed in churches. On the BBC’s Woman’s Hour program, Cambridge classicist Mary Beard described ‘witch’ magic as a way of changing the world to suit and accommodate yourself. Older women who strive to do this are therefore often called witches (often intended as an insult).
a child thought to have been caught up in witchcraft or with a witch for a mother, or a child conceived during magical sex acts.
nine feet in diameter and cast (drawn in the air) with the athame. It is the place between two worlds — the realm of the gods and the realm of the humans. Cosmic power is concentrated here.
said to create conjugal contentment (voodoo/hoodoo)
Latin phrase meaning “evil tongue”. (See also: evil eye.) Certain contemporary traditions around the world abide by this concept. For instance, Lashon hara is considered to be a very serious sin in the Jewish tradition. Lashon hara describes derogatory speech about a someone which emotionally or financially damages them or lowers them in the estimation of others.
The phrase mala lingua can be found in The Discoverie of Witchcraft by Reginald Scot
Maleficium is the Latin word used in court proceedings to describe witchcraft used to inflict harm (evil deeds). Torturing and witch hunting was worse on the European continent than in England. In England, witches were punished for malefica (evil deeds), not for heresy. For example, witches were charged for causing blight to crops, babies to die, illness. These were civil rather than ecclesiastical crimes. In England witches at least had to be punished under civil law, which had constraints against torture and burning. (In England, witches weren’t burned — they were hanged.) ‘Malefick witchcraft’ is also a phrase seen in documents. In Elizabethan England, the maleficium laws turned ordinary citizens into spies on one another, exacerbating anxiety, creating mistrust.
In most countries, more women than men were tortured and murdered as suspected witches. There are a few exceptions: In Iceland and Finland, male witches outnumbered female. In Iceland, the reason for this was the fact that the magic openly performed in the Icelandic society had come to be associated with men. Likewise, in Finland, the traditional profession of a folk healer or cunning folk and the practice of magic were attributed more of often to men than to women, and that this category was the most common target of the witch trials.
a type of hair colouring, and a sign of witchy otherness and alternative beauty. The bolt of traditionally, but not always, white hair has been popularised by celebrities such as Billie Eilish and Mimi Wade. The mallen streak has only been called that since the 70s. In the 1950s it was called a hair flash and was part of rockabilly culture. The name ‘mallen streak’ originally comes from the Latin ‘malignus’ (meaning bad kind) and was first coined by pop novelist Catherine Cookson in her ‘Mallen’ trilogy. In pop culture, villainous women are often identified by their mallen streaks: Cruella de Vil, Bellatrix Lestrange, Lily Munster, Rogue, Bride of Frankenstein. During the witch craze, a naturally occuring mallen streak may have served as ‘evidence’ that a woman was a witch. Unfortunately, hair tends to grey from the front, and often in patches.
A woman who believed the god of the witches is called Dianus. Her model of witchcraft is a fertility cult centring on the worship of a horned god. She wrote The Witch-Cult in Western Europe in 1921, and is considered an authority by many modern witches. She believed that people prosecuted for witchcraft were members of a nature religion surviving from pre-Christian times. They weren’t accepted by Christians because they had ritual sex with a hairy god.
‘Witch Finder Generall’. Matthew Hopkins (c. 1620 – 1647) was an English witch-hunter whose career flourished during the English Civil War. His title of witch finder was bestowed upon himself by himself. He mainly murdered people in East Anglia. He ‘only’ murdered people over a span of three years, but he and his mates managed to murder more people for witchcraft than had been murdered over the previous 100. He was radicalised after reading Daemonologie by King James. He probably died of T.B., but he’s now a legendary bogeyman anti-hero and there are various sensationalist stories around his life and death. We do know he died young, before his late twenties.
focusing on women. Modern witchcraft sects are interested in this aspect.
A witch looks into a mirror and sees other things than simply a reflection. In Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the step-mother (witch’s) mirror even talks. A witch’s mirror is black and shiny enough to reflect somethin, but not so reflective that you get back a perfect mirror image. A black shiny surface is therefore good for scrying (fortune telling). When Charlie Brooker wrote his Black Mirror series he took the historical supernatural witch’s mirror and gave it double duty: The modern black mirror is a tablet computer or iPhone.
Mists of Avalon
a series of novels by Marion Bradley, and influential to the practice of some modern witches. The story is a retelling of of the Arthuriad which itself draws on writing by modern witches. This book perfectly exemplifies the link between practising modern witches and fantasy fiction.
As a practice, modern witchcraft dates back only so far as the end of the second world war. However, its discursive origins date back to the Romantic period. People who lived in the Romantic period were into pantheism. We can see that today in fiction and poetry. You don’t have to be a witch to have a residual belief in maleficent witchcraft. When we feel animosity, we can believe that sense is harmful in its own right. This seems to be a natural human tendency which needs to be critiqued and examined before it’s discarded.
May or may not have been a real person. Although almost everything about her has been invented, she was probably a real woman living in York c. 1530. There’s always an old woman oracle in the culture. We’re always looking for people to tell the future. Henry the eighth is thought to have written about her but how reliable was he? He dictated a letter to the Duke of Norfolk with the instruction to send certain traitors his way. On the list was the Witch of York. Some sources think this Witch of York was ‘Mother Shipton’: sometimes an oracle, sometimes a witch, sometimes daughter of the devil. Stories about Mother Shipton and her prophecies formed an entire genre in the late 17th century. She became a stock character. (Listen to a podcast about Mother Shipton at Stuff You Missed In History Class.)
some have magical properties. Some are made of seashells, acorns, seeds and wood. Others are made of blue glass beads (worn today in the Middle East as protection against the Evil Eye). Others contain crescent moons, symbols of Diana, the goddess most often associated with the witch cult.
Communicating with the dead, usually hoping to predict the future. The adjective is necromantic.
The idea of necromancy had been around for centuries, with Isidore of Seville writing about it back in the 7th century, but by the 15th century it was established in England that necromancy was the reserve of very educated men. Necromancy was not any old craft that a peasant could learn, but a very elite form of magic. Only men who could read and write; who had been to university; and who had access to a wealth of books could learn the skills required to perform it. This became of vital importance to accusations against royal women in the 15th century. A woman, even of such high status as to be part of the English royal family, would not be believed by the masses to have the knowledge to perform necromancy themselves.
North Berwick witches
The North Berwick witch trials were the first major witch trials in Scotland. They happened in 1590. A number of people from East Lothian, Scotland, were accused of witchcraft in the St Andrew’s Auld Kirk of North Berwick. They ran for two years and implicated over seventy people. Many confessed under torture that they’d met up with the devil at night. These trials are apparently what inspired Shakespeare when he wrote Macbeth.
When depicted in illustrations, the ‘ugly’ witch tends to have masculine features as well as features of the elderly. Our culture idealises sexual dimorphism and youth.
A form of folk magic, medicine or witchcraft originating in Africa and practised in parts of the Caribbean. Also refers to witch doctor or spell. Origin uncertain; apparently from a Caribbean creole, probably ultimately from a West African language.
ODOUR OF CARRION
Vapores et nidores refers to ‘steam and the odour of roasting victims’. Similarly, cadaverinie nidores refers to ‘the odour of carrion’. Both phrases refer to the sacrificial offerings essential to the performance of certain rites connected to witchcraft.
Old Hag Syndrome
Before we knew about sleep paralysis, it was known as Old Hag Syndrome. The name comes from a people who feel like a hag is sitting on their chest at night, preventing them from moving. In medieval folklore the demonic Incubus and Succubus were blamed for this condition. (Listen to this podcast about Old Hag Syndrome.) Also called the Night Hag.
These evil spirits, which bring terrible dreams, are known in German and Slavic folklore as “mara” or “mare”, and so the Night Hag becomes the nightmare. The mare were thought to ride horses through the hours of darkness, leaving the creatures tired and sweating in the morning, and humans too could find themselves much depleted after a visit from the Night Hag; a night of being “hag-ridden”.
The Daughters of Lilith, Daily Grail
Some use ‘The Old Race’ to describe witch-like communities thought to live in the centre of the forest. People who live in towns and villages harbour a fear that one day they’ll swarm out from the forest and descend upon the rulers. In contrast, the disenfranchised harbour a fantasy that if they went deep into the forest they would be welcomed, or that the Old Race will come out of the forest and liberate them.
Most people these days have a sense of witchcraft which comes from fantasy/children’s literature. Those ideas are far removed from reality. As an example, we have an idea that the ‘real’ historical witch comes from Roman Paganism. Instead, most historians of witchcraft say Christianity functioned to stigmatise what were once Orthodox Pagan beliefs by calling Orthodox Pagan beliefs witchcraft. Early Christians (up to the 11e or 12e C) treated witchcraft as a joke. If women ever confessed in church that they were having witchy dreams and so on, confession manuals from this era (studied by people working in the church) advised that women should be told to calm down. Witch stories were considered nonsense. As evidence, an 11e century penitential advises people to tell their parishioners that if they say they’ve gone flying at night with Diana that they’re making it up, it was just a bad dream. Paganism did not actually influence the beginning of the witch craze. (Cf. Scholasticism, which had far more to do with the witch craze than Paganism.) Today, not all Pagans identify as witches. Witches exist on a particular branch of Paganism. Some don’t want to use the word ‘witch’ because of all the baggage. (For example, many people think witches are Satanists. In another misrepresentation, witches are associated with the New Age movement, which many witches also despise.)
a solution or remedy for all difficulties or diseases. A panacea
According to a 15th century guide to detecting and eradicating witchcraft, witches were capable of making penises vanish—and some even kept them in nests and fed them oats. (See more at Vice.)
An Anglo-Irish word meaning witchcraft, a spell or magic, especially spells which make people better or increase production of milk in cows and so on.
Pretty much the same as a voodoo/hoodoo doll except usually just a piece of wax or knotted rag, or any sort of stand-in that doesn’t have to look like the victim much at all. (If anything can be a poppet, then anything at all found around a so-called witch’s house can be used as evidence in court.)
The long-toed, phallic shoe. This point sometimes grew so extended that it had to be stuffed and canned to the ankle to prevent it from tripping the wearer. Introduced to France during the eleventh century, it took on such exaggerated proportions that the phrase ‘your poulaine is more man than you’ became a taunt for laggard lovers. Both phallic and horn imagery are evoked. This shoe (along with the horned headdress) was denounced from the pulpit.
(or girdle of puffballs) — strung together with a magical pouch hanging in their midst. Different from the cingulum. The pouch itself contains the witch’s charms and amulets. It’s made of skin. It’s a variation on the voodoo/hoodoo charm bag.
Widespread radio seems to be the thing which finally put an end to popular belief in witchcraft in England.
When regular people believed they lived in a world inhabited by witches, anything slightly different about your body could easily distinguish you as a witch. Red hair is unusual, and therefore was dangerously associated with witchcraft. The link between witches and red hair continued long after the witch craze — Anne of Green Gables was written in the early 1900s, long after people ostensibly stopped believing in witches. But there was a very good reason why Anne did not appreciate her red hair. It wasn’t just vanity; red-headed girls battled very real prejudice.
Richard the Third
Richard III (1452 – 1485) was King of England and Lord of Ireland from 1483 until his death in 1485. During his reign, there were stories going around about how witches were trying to assassinate him using witchcraft. In the public imagination, the countryside was populated with ugly little old ladies with the powers to take down a King, despite all his guards and so on. This was terrifying. Until now, witches hadn’t been taken too seriously by the elite ruling class (the top 5%). But now the ruling class started to join the rest of the population, wondering if witches really were a great menace. This coincided with witchcraft becoming theologised. Now the ruling class in the British Isles, as well as the peasants, started to take witches seriously. Now life started to get really terrible for anyone accused of witchcraft.
Royals were not immune to accusations of witchcraft. In the early 1400s in England, Dowager Queen Joan of Navarre (c1370-1437), second wife of King Henry IV of England, was accused of using evil magic to try to kill her stepson, Henry V, alongside a small handful of accomplices. She was imprisoned in Leeds Castle for several years, until Henry V released her upon his deathbed.
A few decades later, Joan’s step-daughter-in-law, Eleanor Cobham (c1400–52), who was Duchess of Gloucester, was also accused of using evil magic to kill the king, this time Henry’s son, King Henry VI of England.
By the end of the 1400s, the idea that women use sorcery for their own ends was well established. Richard III claimed Elizabeth Woodville with her mother, Jacquetta, had used witchcraft to make Edward IV fall in love with Elizabeth. No one with power questioned it.
Because of these widespread beliefs that women were manipulative, magical and invisibly dangerous, royal women had the burden of behaving in ways which would not make people think ‘witchcraft’! For them, as for the least powerful women living in poverty in the village fringes, beliefs about witchcraft kept them in a kind of prison.
the rue plant (depicted in the silver amulet the cimaruta) is both protective and a tool of witches, who use it to cast spells and throw hexes.
witches’ sabbath. A melange of meeting, dance, orgy, love feast, bacchanal, feast of Priapus, and a parody of Christianity. May derive from fertility dances of Palaeolithic times around the antlered representation of the incarnate god. But it borrowed from every religion through the ages, and finally from Christianity. Witches were said to fly to Sabbat on broomsticks, up chimneys, through billowing clouds. When they arrived they oiled themselves for the dance using powerful hallucinogenic ointments which may have been introduced vaginally. What do witches do at sabbat? That depends on which country we’re talking about. English witches were not thought to have wonderful sexy times at Sabbath — English witches just ate a lot. If your food had been stolen from your English barn, say, you’d likely blame a witch, since English witches were thought to have a capacious appetite (for food).
a term used by Mary Daly, referring to states which use torture, dismemberment and murder to control the population.
In Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, more than 200 people were accused of witchcraft, with 14 women executed by hanging. The town of Salem is today a tourist trap but the illage itself renamed itself Danvers in the 1800s, so many tourists don’t realise it’s there. In Danvers you’ll find a memorial to the Salem witches who lived there. The best-known is Rebecca Nurse. You can visit her house. Remember, Salem was just a tiny village in the woods with a population of about 200 people. This clearing was quite a way from the village (especially if you travelled by foot).
Salem Martyr, The
A Salem witch depicted by Thomas Satterwhite Noble in a painting he called “The Salem Martyr” (1869).
October 31st, a.k.a. the Celtic New Year, Hallowe’en, All Hallow’s Eve, November Eve. Importantly for witches, this is This holiday is the Wiccan new year. Many people celebrate with costume parties and trick-or-treating. Samhain is the night when the God dies and leaves the Goddess alone until Yule, when he is born again. Halloween/Samhain is a time when the doors between real world and the supernatural open to each other.
Satanic ritual abuse is the subject of a moral panic (often referred to as the Satanic Panic) that originated in the United States in the 1980s, spreading throughout many parts of the world by the late 1990s, and persists today.
Inspired by the McMartin preschool trials and the Satanic Panic of the ‘80s, the critically acclaimed author of The Remaking delivers another pulse pounding, true-crime-based horror novel.
Richard doesn’t have a past. For him, there is only the present: a new marriage to Tamara, a first chance at fatherhood to her son Elijah, and a quiet but pleasant life as an art teacher at Elijah’s elementary school in Danvers, Virginia. Then the body of a rabbit, ritualistically murdered, appears on the school grounds with a birthday card for Richard tucked beneath it. Richard doesn’t have a birthday—but Sean does . . .
Sean is a five-year-old boy who has just moved to Greenfield, Virginia, with his mother. Like most mothers of the 1980s, she’s worried about bills, childcare, putting food on the table . . . and an encroaching threat to American life that can take the face of anyone: a politician, a friendly neighbor, or even a teacher. When Sean’s school sends a letter to the parents revealing that Sean’s favorite teacher is under investigation, a white lie from Sean lights a fire that engulfs the entire nation—and Sean and his mother are left holding the match.
Now, thirty years later, someone is here to remind Richard that they remember what Sean did. And though Sean doesn’t exist anymore, someone needs to pay the price for his lies.
Modern witchcraft is not Satanism and nothing like Satanism. Even Satanists often feel misunderstood because people think they worship Satan. Organised Satanism is a mixture of atheism, libertarianism and Machiavallian pragmatism. Satanists celebrate the freedom to indulge. (For Satanists, Satan is a symbol only; they are skeptics who don’t believe in supernatural beings.)
According to one historical theory, Scholasticism had far more to do with starting the witch craze than Paganism ever did. Scholasticism was an attempt to arrive at a really complicated empirical theory of everything. This way of thinking also developed as a way of defeating heresy. Scholastics had excellent imaginations and as part of their theory of everything, they really did start to believe that there were evil demons hanging around at night, stealing men’s seed.
a.k.a. “seeing” or “peeping”. The practice of looking into a suitable medium (e.g. a crystal ball or a black mirror) in the hope of detecting significant messages or visions.
Doreen Valiente, in her classic Witchcraft for Tomorrow, talks about the “magic mirror” (1999). Storytellers have played with our lowkey fear of mirrors for ages.
Scottish Witchcraft Act of 1563
Under the Scottish Witchcraft Act 1563 both the practice of witchcraft and consulting with witches were capital offences. This Act stayed on Scottish statute books until repealed as a result of a House of Lords amendment to the bill for the post-union Witchcraft Act 1735. Professor Julian Goodare wrote of the act, “Few acts of the Scottish parliament can have had such deadly consequences… The result was the execution of up to two thousand people over the next century and a half.” For more on this, see this interactive map of Isobel Young’s story, which is especially useful when studying the context of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
naked. Clothing reduces the power that emanates from the human body. In cold climates they practise energetic circle dances to warm up before stripping off.
the reason for secrecy is that it’s thought secrecy brings spiritual power.
In modern witchcraft there’s no single person in charge, and there is no single set of unified practices and beliefs. Sects include: Gardnerians (Gerald Gardner), Dianics, racial faeries, Alexandrians (see: Alex Sanders), hedge-witches, famtrads (family witches). Witches like their diversity, as diversity is evidence of freedom. Beliefs in common: Worship of a Mother Goddess and her male consort (polytheism). All sects understand the natural world as a spiritually significant place (pantheism). All sects adopt a festive calendar similar to those from the ancient world, with feasts. Witchcraft is all about ritual, some old, some invented anew.
Self-Blessing (or Self-Dedication)
a personal ritual whereby the witch dedicates herself to the service of the Mother Goddess and the Horned God. It can be done with a coven or before one’s own alter. Use oil, incense, candles or water, wine and salt. Do it when you feel you need to rededicate yourself to the path. It might be done naked in a tranquil place. Stand on sprinkled salt, light candle, anoint the eyes, nose, mouth, breast, loins, feet with water and wine.
Witches were believed to be attracted by the human scent of a shoe. This may explain the tradition of hiding shoes in the walls of buildings.
Witchcraft from Russia, the Ukraine, and Belarus, the Balkans and the Baltic states takes a slightly different form. This 2,000 year old tradition has only a thin Christian veneer over its pagan origins. Slavic pagan gods and goddesses acquired new lives as the saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church. (Russian hereditary witch,occultist and witchcraft scholar Natasha Helvin joins podcast host Mark Norman to discuss the beliefs, traditions and practices associated with witchcraft in the Slavic tradition.)
There’s a close connection between snakes/serpents and trickster women (cf. Eve in the Garden of Eden) and anything connected more specifically to women is prone to becoming connected (at some point in history) to witchcraft. In Ancient Greece it was thought that contact with a snake would give you the gifts of prophecy. Hey, witches also have the gift of prophecy. Snakes are also widely coded as Satanic, associated with evil, also with temptation, baby-killing vampire spirits and all things awful. This is no doubt an outworking of our natural fear of snakes, combined with a very human love of storytelling. These narratives are in fact adaptive, because they encourage us to give snakes a wide berth. Too bad about the side-serve of misogyny, hey.
In England, during the witch-craze, 90% of people accused of witchcraft were women. But in other countries more than half were men. The image of the ‘seductive sorceress’ we see in pre-Raphaelite art comes from medieval and Arthurian legend. (Modern examples include Queen of the goths, Morticia Addams, goth schoolgirls.) But in reality, most of the women tried for witchcraft during the witch craze were elderly, disabled and had some ‘unevenness of body’ such as a missing limb or eye, or differently coloured eyes. The view of sorcery we have today is romanticized and post- Victorian. (Modern examples include the green-skinned Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz.)
a modern Jewish witch who wrote the book Dreaming the Dark (1982), arguing for disarmament, environmental action and sexual liberation (as well as emphasising inner tranquility).
a form of punishment or torture in which the victim was secured to a rope and made to fall from a height almost to the ground before being stopped with an abrupt jerk. Also refers to the instrument that does this.
There’s a hefty body of anxious legislation about a figure called the Strix who is an evil sorceress.
Survey of Scottish Witchcraft, The
collects data pertaining to three-hundred and five witch-trials which took place between 1590 and 1662 (representing roughly ten percent of the total in Scotland during that period).
Supernatural thinking almost always comes down to the following: birth, sex and death. Modern stories tend to convert supernatural beliefs of the past into metaphors for psychological states. For instance, modern productions/interpretations of Hamlet present the witches and ghosts as metaphors for Hamlet’s inner state, considered figments of Hamlet’s imagination. Earlier audiences who actually believed in these things would have understood the supernatural aspects of Hamlet more literally.
Sympathetic (or Imitative) Magic
primitive or magical ritual using objects or actions resembling or symbolically associated with the event or person over which influence is sought. Sailors feared women who whistled because of the sympathetic magic implied in “whistling up the wind”.
from Medieval folklore, a female demon believed to have sexual intercourse with (rape) sleeping men. As happens to almost every other word which originally means ‘woman’ something, has also come to mean sex worker. The word succuba is also used. There is a passage in The Babylonian Talmud (3rd-5th C) with three references to Lilith (Tractate Shabbath 151b).
R. Hanina said: One may not sleep in a house alone, and whoever sleeps in a house alone is seized by Lilith.
An important part of the folkore around Lilith is her transfiguration into a succbus. This passage is sometimes interpreted as that part of the story.
Don’t spend too much time with a succubus or your health, wealth and wellbeing will be affected. You might even die. The succubus is the embodiment of disgust with female genitalia.
There are accounts of men being forced to perform cunnilingus on succubi, whose vaginas dripped urine, dung and other vile juices and smells.
The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft & Wicca by Rosemary Ellen Guiley
The succubus is also a way for men to absolve themselves from sex acts for which they might otherwise feel guilty. As part of the story, men are helpless in the presence of a succubus, no matter how disgusted of her he may also be.
Around one in 500 humans, or 0.2%, have “supernumerary nipples”. If you were unlucky enough to be American during their witch craze, your extra nipple may have been considered evidence that you are a witch. Other normal and common marks may have been used against you as well. They are collectively known as ‘witch marks’. But the supernumerary nipples were thought to be for suckling familiars. It was believed that witches couldn’t feel these areas if they were poked and prodded.
There are trolls, goblins, and witches. Which kind of monster is Sophie?
Sophie is a monster expert. Thanks to her Big Book of Monsters and her vivid imagination, Sophie can identify the monsters in her school and neighborhood. Clearly, the bullies are trolls and goblins. Her nice neighbor must be a good witch, and Sophie’s new best friend is obviously a fairy. But what about Sophie? She’s convinced she is definitely a monster because of the “monster mark” on her face. At least that’s what she calls it. The doctors call it a blood tumor. Sophie tries to hide it but it covers almost half her face. And if she’s a monster on the outside, then she must be a monster on the inside, too.
Being the new kid at school is hard. Being called a monster is even harder. Sophie knows that it’s only a matter of time before the other kids, the doctors, and even her mom figure it out. And then her mom will probably leave — just like her dad did.
Because who would want to live with a real monster?
A Jacobean playwright who wrote a play called “The Witch” sometime between 1613 and 1616. It wasn’t published until 1778. We don’t know why it wasn’t performed on stage. It may have failed with audiences, or it may have been pulled for political reasons. Middleton’s primary source for material on witches was the Discovery of Witchcraft of Reginald Scot (1584).
We don’t have the complete records but, perhaps influenced by Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, people today tend to assume that once you were accused of witchcraft, that’s it, that’s curtains for you. In fact, most English cases resulted in acquittal. About 25% of English witches were convicted once they went to trial. However, even if you were acquitted you could still die in jail. We have no figures on that. Not counting lynching and people who died in jail, England records about 3000 deaths, maybe more. This is how trials tended to proceed: In England, before a witch trial took place, a Justice of the Peace would be doing the rounds trying to work out if there was a witchcraft problem in the area. The JP would build up a file of depositions and also probably confessions from the accused. Other witches would commonly be named, and this might lead to a trial with a jury. Important to remember: There were no defence barristers or prosecution lawyers in Early Modern law courts. If you were accused of witchcraft and taken to court, there was no one to stand up for you.
Trial by ordeal
Trials which put people through ‘ordeals’ (torture) e.g. dunking.
Trio of Witches — The number three is hugely important in the practice of witchcraft, and it goes back a long way. Goddess triads are common in Classical mythology. Likewise, literature and art offers numerous examples of witches who hang out in groups of three. The Weird Sisters of Shakespeare’s Macbeth are one standout example. (Acknowledging the influence of ancient mythology in Macbeth, the Goddess Hecate is mentioned on the page, Act 3, Scene 5.) Then there are the Three Witches of Ben Johnson. Aside from the tentpole examples, witch trios are seen in stories from all over the world, e.g. in Greek and Slavic traditions. The three witches often come in a trio of maiden, mother and crone, representing how women are typically divvied up by life stage (and perceived usefulness). The storybook trio of witches can be seen in real life. In Romania in 2010, after an election which involved occultists and accusations of spritual interference from influential people, a group of three witches staged an event outside the Congress of the Social-Democrat Party. These white witches held candles and healing plants and offered to extort “the violet flame” out of the Party. They said that their benevolent powers were the only way to defeat the dark power of the violet flame which was influencing events inside government house.
Dame! Dame! the watch is set.
Quickly come, we all are met.
From the lakes and from the fens,
From the rocks and from the dens,
From the woods and from the caves,
From the churchyards, from the graves,
From the dungeon, from the tree
That they die on, here are we!
Witches’ Charm, Ben Jonson, included in Mists and Magic chosen and edited by Dorothy Edwards illustrated by Jill Bennett
Old Norse word meaning “hedge-rider”. (Along with Old High German zunritha. Refers to both witches and ghosts.
to release someone from a witch or from witchcraft
Walpurgis Night (Saint Walpurgis Night) is the eve of the Christian feast day of Saint Walpurga, an 8th-century abbess in Francia, and is celebrated on the night of 30 April and the day of 1 May. Saint Walpurga was hailed by the Christians of Germany for battling “pest, rabies and whooping cough, as well as against witchcraft.” Christians prayed to God through the intercession of Saint Walpurga to protect themselves from witchcraft. In the Northern Hemisphere, this time of year leads people into darkness. It is believed that on Walpurgis Night we become visibly closer to the dead. Placate the dead with sweets. Or, frighten them with loud noises and horrible masks.
May have tree worship at its root (ha). These are magical branches plucked from sacred trees in sacred groves. The best wand will be made of one of the woods sacred to the White Goddess: elderberry, willow, rowan, hazel, oak or mistletoe. A straight and slender branch should be hollowed at the centre (the pith removed). Some traditions require it be transcribed with a pentagram as well as the witch’s ritual name (the name given to the witch on her initiation). More importantly it has to be blessed in the name of the Mother Goddess and consecrated as a tool of the witch’s will. The stronger the witch’s will, the more invincible the wand.
Witches and water don’t go well together. There are a number of reasons for this. They would have suffered from PTSD after being tortured and thrown into a body of water to see whether they sank (not a witch) or swim (a witch). According to some beliefs, e.g. in Catalonia, Holy water was supposed to repel them, though it wasn’t the water that was the problem in this case, more the fact that it had been blessed by a priest, using white magic to counteract her black magic. According to this same folklore, witches avoided washing because they didn’t want to expose their witch marks, thereby exposing them to torture. It is rare to find skin that is perfect. Anyone susceptible to witch accusations would have been sensibly loathe to reveal her body to strangers. In Robert Burns’ poem ‘Tam O’Shanter‘ (1791), witches are shown to be afraid to cross a stream. A running stream they dare na cross.” (If you’re being pursued by a witch, cross a stream to shake her off.)
A weigh house was a public building where product was weighed but during the witch craze, they found another purpose: for weighing people accused of witchcraft. If the victim were lighter than a certain weight, they called her a witch and she’d have to pay them money to avoid persecution. In 1931, friends Jan Waslh and M.C. Escher wrote and illustrated a book called The Terrible Adventures of Scholastica. The story is about the witch of Oudewater. Oudewater is a small town in the Netherlands famous for its Witch’s Scales. Defendants wanted to be tried in Oudewater because they did not rig their scales there. As a result of this honesty, no one was ever found guilty of witchcraft.
the three sister witches of Macbeth by William Shakespeare, considered Shakespeare’s “witch play”.
a (rural) woman historically considered to be knowledgeable in matters such as herbal healing, magic charms, or other traditional lore. A witch, basically. This healing wise woman witch is a modern witch archetype, seen in fiction such as Wise Woman by Monica Furlong, about the single, liberated woman healer/midwife who lives on the edge of a town, in that liminal space where civilisation meets forest. She grows herbs in her garden and is (to modern audiences) harmless, perhaps genuinely healing to those who dare visit. In reality, the midwives during the Witch Craze were more likely to side with the persecutors. Also, women accused of witchcraft were often married with young families to care for, and quite likely accused of witchcraft by another woman. (We know this from evidence given by women at trials.) The midwives were the Aunt Lydias, regulating rather than liberating women’s bodies and sexuality. They were in a good position to search for witch marks, or determine whether a woman was pregnant or not, at the behest of state power. Just because the midwives had great knowledge about women’s bodies it doesn’t naturally follow that they were using this knowledge for good. The concept of the witch as healer is worldwide e.g. Espagnol curandera, ‘female healer’ (witch).
a cake made from rye meal and the pee of little witch girls. Sometimes ash would be among the ingredients. The story of the witch cake came out of Salem in America. Tituba was the slave of a local minister and supposedly baked a cake using these ingredients. A white neighbour ‘admitted to’ telling Tituba how to bake one of these magic cakes. What was the point of witch cakes? If a dog eats a witch cake the dog (a familiar) supposedly reveals the identity of the witch. (Not sure if they thought the dog would talk?) Anyhow, Tituba was trying to identify the person responsible for bewitching young Betty Parris. Later she was accused of being a witch herself, because she dabbled in witch magic. (Didn’t make any difference that the magic didn’t work.)
The phrase ‘colder than a witch’s tit’ usually refers to an emotional response which is less warm than expected. The breasts depicted in images of hags from the Middle Ages are those typical for a woman who has spent her life using her own body to nurture and feed others. These breasts are the inverse of the young, pre-pregnant breasts of sexually appealing women.
often used on the altar
the use of supernatural powers or magic for selfless purposes.
‘…a white magician is just a black magician with a good housekeeper.’
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites
William Dawson Bellhouse
William Dawson Bellhouse (1814-1870) was a magician, surgeon and galvanist and other things besides. Basically, he was a ‘cunning man’. His personal magical workbook, the survival of which is uncommon among 19th century cunning folk, is now in the collection of the New York Public Library. Listen to a podcast about him here.
le Witchcraft Act of 1735 continued to be used until relatively recently, notably in the famous witchcraft case in England during WW2. Designated as Hellish Nell, Helen Duncan (by vocation a spiritualist and medium, 1857-1956) was prosecuted after claiming the spirit materialization of a sailor told her HMS Barham had been sunk. (Unfortunately for her, it had actually sunk.) She probably got these details from a friend in the navy, but because she seemed to know all this before it had been officially announced, and because she was known as a spiritualist and medium, Helen Duncan was one of the last people convicted under this act, soon to be replaced in 1951 with the Fraudulent Medium’s Act.
The historical repression of witches during one particular period in modern history. Witchcraft (or sorcery) has always existed. Ideas of witches exist, really, from the very earliest human societies. There has never been a time in human history when people didn’t have an idea of malign magic. Unlike sorcery itself, or the concept of witches, the witch-craze was a distinctly modern historical phenomenon, like Nazism or Stalinism. Multitudes of human beings, mostly women, were condemned to horrible deaths for ‘crimes’ which today we consider wholly fanciful. Witch-craze lasted from 14e through to the 17e century.
There is controversy about what witching hour is. We know that witching hour is a notion of a magical time when the barrier between the other world and where undead, restless entities may be able to pass over from the other world into the material world. This includes witches and their familiars. Shakespeare used it a fair bit in his plays. Witching hour is generally considered to be between midnight and 3 a.m. in England’s Early Modern period.
Witch marks may refer to an extra nipple or similar, thought to be bodily evidence that someone is a witch. Witch marks is also the name given to protective markings found on old buildings. These marks are good evidence that even once the elite stopped believing in witchcraft, the common people continued. Witch marks are about trying to invoke an idea of goodness. If you believe that old, ugly lame women will transmit all this to others, you also believe that beauty can be similarly transverted, that beauty and evenness are the best way to counter that kind of ugly unevenness. So making a beautiful ritual mark is itself a good protection against an ugly person/spirit. Witch marks mostly survive domestically. Witch marks survive best in houses that are themselves crooked and uneven.
Witch of Endor
There are mentions of witches in the Bible. One appears in the book of Samuel (written 931-721 BC): the Witch of Endor, or the Endorian Sorceress. This woman summoned the spirit of prophet Samuel. She’s depicted in an 1857 painting.
As part of the witch craze, The Great Age of Witch Trials took place in Europe between 1550 and 1700. Nobody agrees on how many people were murdered. Estimates range between 500,000 and 9 million. Many were burned alive. After 1700 trials disappeared almost completely. Why the sudden change in 1550? Until then, Christian authorities had refused to acknowledge the existence of witches. But in 1550 they reversed their position, resulting in a witch hunt across Christendom. There were probably economic factors involved. Also, Old women are terrifying — they remind us all of death. No coincidence that the witch trials begin at the same moment as the European Reformation in religion, which radically reset relations with the dead by deleting purgatory and the cult of the saints. Before that the living could be useful to the dead by praying for them. This was a way of managing emotions around dead loved ones. It worked both ways — you could ask the dead to act on your behalf in front of God. But the Reformation got rid of this transactional relationship with the dead.
a tool used by inquisitors to prick so-called witches skin. The blade slid into the handle under pressure and if the witch didn’t seem to feel it this was proof of her guilt.
Keyed to agricultural times and seasonal changes. Spring (March 21), Beltane (April 30), Midsummer, Lugnasadh (August 1), Autumn, Samhain, Yule (December 21), Imbolc (February 1).
Children’s stories led me to believe that wizards were basically male witches. But no, witches can be any gender (though most are women). The English words “magician” and “witch” have different etymologies. A “magician” practised legerdemain (card tricks, sleight of hand), whereas “witch” referred to those who were supposed to have dealings with the devil or other evil spirits. With their cooperation she was supposed to perform supernatural acts.
‘Men’s minds work different from ours, see. Their magic’s all numbers and angles and edges and what the stars are doing, as if that really mattered. It’s all power. It’s all-’ Granny paused, and dredged up her favourite word to describe all she despised in wizardry, ‘-jommetry.’
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites
In the Middle Ages people thought witches rode around on wolves (for their own sexual pleasure). Yes, that is a wolf, not the Muppet version of a llama.
Old High German word meaning “hedge-rider”, along with Old Norse tunriða.
‘Diane Purkiss … insists on taking witches seriously. Her refusal to write witch-believers off as unenlightened has produced some richly intelligent meditations on their — and our — world.’ – The Observer
‘An invigorating and challenging book … sets many hares running.’ – The Times Higher Education Supplement
One of America’s leading anthropolgists offers solutions to the perplexing question of why people behave the way they do.
Why do Hindus worship cows?
Why do Jews and Moslems refuse to eat pork?
Why did so many people in post-medieval Europe believe in witches?
Marvin Harris answers these and other perplexing questions about human behavior, showing that no matter how bizarre a people’s behavior may seem, it always stems from identifiable and intelligble sources.
READ AT MY OTHER BLOG
The header image is a pre-Raphaelite painting by John William Waterhouse, of Circe Offering The Cup To Ulysses. In Greek mythology, Circa was a goddess of magic or sometimes a nymph, enchantress or sorceress. For more similar images see this post at the Art of Myth blog.
Les malas sont de magnifiques beauté composés de 108 perles que les Boudhistes et les Hindous en font usage depuis des siècles pour méditer. Il est utilisé pour compter les mantras (les prières en sanskrit) selon groupes de 108 répétitions. La récitation d’un mantra est utilisée comme une forme de méditation.
Selon les origines du yoga, un mantra est un mot ou une phrase en sanskrit qui a des avantages spéciaux qui transforment la conscience, satisfont les désirs ainsi qu’à promeuvent la guérison.
La « guirlande de méditation » est donc la traduction littérale de ce mot d’origine sanskrit, la langue des textes sacré hindous et bouddhistes, ce qui renvoie à son utilisation première le « Japa » (type particulier de méditation où le fidèle récite des textes sacrés). Dès lors, le japa mala sert à la récitation de prières mantras pendant séances de méditation.
Le Mala sert principalement à compter la répétition de récitations de mantras dans le bouddhisme lors des prières et pendant la méditation, tandis que dans l’hindouisme ce bracelet Mala « Rudraksha » est un accessoire de protection aux vertus spirituelles avec la composition de graines d’Elaeocarpus ganitrus de tailles différentes.
Le bracelet Mala permet, à l’aide de ses perles, d’estimer votre temps de méditation. Il est une valeur équitable de la durée de chacune de vos séances.
Le bracelet Mala pourra aussi vous aider à étudier votre patience et votre concentration. La patience et la méditation sont deux vertus indispensable à la méditation. Ce sont aussi des qualités considérables dans votre vie de tous les jours et dans votre développement personnel et spirituel.
Le fait d’égrener chacun pluie donne l’opportunité de se recentrer. Le bracelet Mala est un machine qui rappelle à l’essentiel en toutes circonstances.
Il est le symbole du parcours de ses chemins profonds. Il suggère que ces chemins seront être traversés à l’infini en dévoilant encore de nouvelles richesses. C’est une façon de connaître que la connaissance de soi est Illimitée. Le développement personnel est l’art de parfait une vie. Il est plausible de profiter de l’énergie du Mala tibétain pour optimaliser sa séance. Certains parure Mala permettent d’accéder plus rapidement à un état de sérénité profond. Ils sont également propices or bien-être et à la relaxation.
Dans le yoga, le bracelet Mala permet aussi devenir un point de fixation. Il permet de rester concentré, et particulièrement de réaliser abstraction de l’environnement.
Les bijoux bracelet Yoga ont parfois des vertus lithothérapie grâce aux pierres semi précieuses. Le pouvoir des pierres est très puissant sur le corps humain.
Voici les pierres naturelles donnant des énergies positives :
• Jaspe dalmatien
• Pierre de soleil
• Agate noire
• Pierres de lave
• Pierre d ambre
• Oeil de faucon
• Jaspe jaune
• Pierre de protection
• Pierre de lune
• Lapis lazuli
• Oeil de tigre
Ceux qui examinent les chakras décrivent comme des organes vivants. Ils auraient pour fonction la contrôle de « l’énergie » entre différentes parties du corps, et entre le corps, la terre et l’univers. Soumis aux aléas de l’individu, ils présenteraient des symptômes de rigidité ainsi qu’à d’affaissement, d’encombrement ainsi qu’à de perte de vitalité. Ils communiqueraient parmi eux et seraient capables de se compenser mutuellement. Réciproquement, une action « d’harmonisation énergétique » ( comme le bois notre bracelet ) aurait des répercussions sur facultés de l’individu.