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  • Highland Cat Killing and Cat Demons September 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Highland Cat Killing and Cat Demons

    There is a long tradition of cats being either pampered by humans or being killed in various ghastly ways. As noted before on this blog – the cat throwing of the Lowlands, for example – cat cruelty was, in the early modern period, institutionalized. Here is one horrific example from the Hebrides. Cat lovers might want […]

    Review : The Book of Grimoires July 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Review : The Book of Grimoires

    Claude Lecouteux is one of the world’s most interesting writers on folklore and magic: his work on the wild hunt, for example, is perhaps the best we have. However, this new book by CL, The Book of Grimoires: The Secret Grammar of Magic (2013 Inner Traditions, from the French original, 2002) is not strictly by […]

    So You Want to Become an Early Modern Witch: 16 Steps July 18, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    So You Want to Become an Early Modern Witch: 16 Steps

    We are back in the seventeenth century and your neighbours are really getting on your nerves, money is tight and, frankly, you want to let down your hair and deny God and the mother Church. How do you get involved with early modern Satanists and impress at the Sabbat? Well, luckily for you someone was […]

    The Fortune Teller and the Children Tax May 19, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Fortune Teller and the Children Tax

    This appeared in a news report from 1888 A remarkable trial has been opened in the city of Mexico [i.e. Mexico City]. During the past year an old woman, living in a little town near the capital, has been exacting a monthly tax trom the fathers of families to prevent her from taking the lives […]

    Headless Witch Zombies in Nineteenth-Century England! April 16, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Headless Witch Zombies in Nineteenth-Century England!

    Strangehistory has given some publicity in the past to the peculiar custom, found throughout the English-speaking world and beyond, of blood-letting to break witchcraft: the victim must draw blood from the witch, preferably from the face. It would be pointless to give yet another example of this barbarity. But though blood-letting features in the following […]

    Witch Ducking and Three in a Bed March 12, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Witch Ducking and Three in a Bed

    This may not be the last witch killing in Britain, that seems to have taken place some months before. But this is my candidate for the last attempted witch ducking in the UK in 1880! Susan Sharpe, the ‘witch’ apparently brought the case to court because she was frightened that the local community, or elements […]

    Welsh Leaf Mould, Pies and Cunning Magic January 10, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Welsh Leaf Mould, Pies and Cunning Magic

    A nineteenth-century letter detailing some very unusual goings on at Hawarden on the Welsh borders. On Sunday the 17 inst., it was discovered that some earth had recently been dug up under the east window of the church. At first it was supposed that some still-born infant had been deposited there [!!!]; but on procuring […]

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

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Bowing to Horses and Dragon's Blood!

    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, […]

    Medieval Horse Whispering October 19, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Medieval Horse Whispering

    Beach was fascinated by the example of East Anglian horse whispering, which he stumbled upon, and above all with readers’ replies elucidating this tradition. A bit more research has led him to a medieval parallel. It is a fascinating piece. Note that our author Gervase (early thirteenth century) doesn’t see the knight horse conjurer in […]

    Child Sacrifice in Nineteenth-Century Italy October 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Child Sacrifice in Nineteenth-Century Italy

    Sorry but a busy day today and still fighting the good fight against dishonest architects so just a strange report from 1858. Beach has not the slightest idea what to make of it. Really, it should all be pure fantasy and yet there is a lot circumstantial information: also the fact the child was English. […]

    Last State Persecuted Witch in Europe October 2, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Last State Persecuted Witch in Europe

    We are in 1862 and a letter arrives in the UK from Hungary and Reka. A few days since a farmer, residing in the commune of Bazas, denounced his daughter-in-law as a witch, and said it was she who had for a long time prevented rain from falling. He moreover affirmed that for several months […]

    Horse Whispering Witch September 16, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Horse Whispering Witch

    A weird witchcraft story published in 1984, recalling an event in 1908. The date, the subject matter and the place, East Anglia, are all quite surprising as are the horses. Don’t really know what to make of this one, though it is fun to read. In 1908 I was a blacksmith’s helper working for Mr […]

    Review: Barry, Witchcraft and Demonology July 17, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: Barry, Witchcraft and Demonology

    Witchcraft is extraordinarily popular in history faculties: there can be few first grade universities that don’t offer either a course on witchcraft or a course that has a witchcraft component. But caveat emptor, actually most of these courses are not about witchcraft, but about the witch hunt, in which tens of thousands of men and […]

    French Witch Body Vandalism June 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    French Witch Body Vandalism

    This is taken from a French newspaper from 1864. It reminds Beach of the beginning of one of those 1970s British neo-pagan horror films, Blood on Satan’s Claw, Wicker Man and the like. In fact, Beach would not like to be Lemonnier… He’d probably have a couple of very unlikely erotic experiences and then be […]

    Strange Air Battle in the Caucasus June 20, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Strange Air Battle in the Caucasus

    In volume 7 of the Seyahatname the Turkish traveler Evliya Celebi describes his travels in Austria, the Crimea and the Caucasus in 1664. 28 April of that year he had a remarkable experience in Circassia. As there is no English translation of EC we have to rely here on Carlo Ginzburg’s paraphrase of a translation […]

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