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  • Breathing Out the Spirit: Another Modern Witch March 11, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    Catastrophe in the Beachcombing household. Our beloved aupair has just heard that her mother has been involved in a serious car accident in the States, so we have spent most of the last twelve hours looking for flights and looking for a replacement.

    She is going tomorrow or the day after: and just last night we were picking out the stars in the Italian heavens…

    By way of a filler post while the family unit regroups here is a nineteenth-century witch extract that got Beach’s curiosity going a few months ago.

    Many a stout horse-shoe and rusty sickle may now be found behind the doors or hung from the beams in the cow-houses and stables belonging to the farmers in that locality, which date their suspension from the time when this ‘witch’ in reputation held the country-side in awe. Not one of her neighbours ever dared to offend her openly ; and if she at any time preferred a request, it was granted at all hazards, regardless of inconvenience and expense. If, in some thoughtless moment, any one spoke slightingly, either of her or her powers, a corresponding penalty was threatened as soon as it reached her ears, and the loss of cattle, personal health, or a general ‘run of bad luck’ soon led the offending party to think seriously of making peace with his powerful tormentor.

    So far so good. A frightening old hag holds the nineteenth-century countryside hostage in her district in the north of England. But consider her end. This is where things finally get exotic…

    As time wore on, she herself sickened and died; but before she could “shuffle off this mortal coil” she must needs transfer her familiar spirit to some trusty successor. An intimate acquaintance from a neighbouring township was consequently sent for in all haste, and on her arrival was immediately closeted with her dying friend. What passed between them has never fully transpired, but it is confidently affirmed that at the close of the interview this associate received the witch’s last breath into her mouth, and with it the familiar spirit. The dreaded woman thus ceased to exist, but her powers for good or evil were transferred to her companion; and on passing along the road from Burnley to Blackburn, we can point out a farm-house at no great distance, with whose thrifty matron no one will yet dare to quarrel.

    Any parallels to breathing out your power? Drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com


    Invisible writes: ‘On the subject of last breaths, behold! the Last Breath of Thomas Edison, the Wizard of Menlo Park.  On the subject of breath as power, of course, there is Genesis 2:7 for the ultimate breath transfer. And John 20:19-23 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” There is also a tradition among watchers at the deathbeds of Victorians and saints to catch the “last tear” of the dying. I think I remember this detail from the life of St. Therese of Lisieux. There is a medical explanation for this last tear, which, given my unsettled files, escapes me, but it was common practice to wipe the tear with a piece of linen and preserve it in a crystal vial/reliquary. Mere sentiment or collection of a powerful primary relic? I suppose the same spirit motivated secret royalists to dip handkerchiefs into the blood of King Louis at the guillotine. One wonders which has more power: breath or blood? Obviously breath was considered more ephemeral or the witch could have breathed into a quickly sealed container instead of into her successor.’ Thanks Invisible!