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  • Bowing to Horses and Dragon’s Blood! November 20, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    horse dragon

    Two magic horse stories recently, one modern and one medieval. This further example of horse witchcraft comes from the second half of the nineteenth century in Retford in the English Midlands. The story begins with a classic example of witch striking, though look out for an unusual addition, dragon’s blood!

    At Retford, the other day, a man, named Bellamy, was charged with having, on the 7th instant, committed a violent assault upon Charles Swallo, a youth employed in a place where the defendant acted as foreman. Bellamy, it appears, had got it into his head that his two-horses had been bewitched by Swallow, in consequence of which Bellamy had been induced to draw some of Swallow’s blood to mix with some ‘dragon’s blood’, which, in addition to a charm which he carried about with him on his person, would stop the progress of the witch’s power, and prevent him from doing further mischief. Swallow deposed – Bellamy struck me across the nose with the butt end of his whip stock with great violence, and then on several parts of my body, and seriously injured me. He said I had bewitched his horses. Defendant now produced a tin canister, which contained two or three ounces of red powder, which he called Dragon’s blood,’ and which he had purchased of Mr Clayter, druggist, Retford, which if mixed with Swallow’s blood, would act as a charm upon the horse, and prevent the witch from spreading further upon them.

    What is really interesting for Beach are the rare details of what a horse witch did or what he was alleged to have done. More horse witches please: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com

    He said he had frequently seen Swallow bow to his horses and salute them, and then make crosses on his forehead, which made them good for nothing, and they were frightened to death at him. He caught him one morning in the stable making curtsies to the horses, and they would not eat anything, afterwards that morning upon which he told him if came there again he could draw blood of him, which was the only way to stop him from pursuing his witching habits.

    There is also an interesting coda. Beach particularly liked the return of the criminal to the bench.

    ‘Dragon’s blood’ is a good thing against witchcraft. Mr Simpson: did you ever see a dragon? Defendant: No, but I have heard of such a thing. The recipe was given me by Ranthy, the coal porter at Leverton station. I do not think Swallow bewitched me, but some one else got him to do it. A charm in the following choice Latin was here handed to the Bench: [terrible Latin copied exactly!] ‘Omnes spirituous laudit Domenum misem habe prophetas exeriet Deus Disinter Inimians.’ Mr Simpson: You are fined L 2, or two month’s imprisonment. Defendant took out his purse and paid the money and left the court, but in a few minutes returned to ask for his charm, saying he would sooner pay L. 2 more than lose it. Of course, the ‘charm’ was at once given to him.