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  • Written Gibberish and Magic November 16, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Written Gibberish and Magic

    Keith Thomas includes in his classic Magic and the Decline of Religion a few precious pages on gibberish charms that were sometimes given out by ‘cunning men and women’ (aka witches) to those who wanted protection. These were typically worn about the neck of someone who wished for help against demons or better health. Some […]

    The Biography of a Difficult to Bury Witch November 10, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Biography of a Difficult to Bury Witch

    Here is a little bit of gossip from Cornwall 1880 and a dose of human misery. An extraordinary but well authenticated instance of belief in witchcraft comes from St. Blazey, Cornwall. A woman named Keam, who died the other day, was believed by her neighbours to be a witch, and great difficulty was experienced in […]

    Very Late Witch Case from Norfolk, 1941 October 11, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Very Late Witch Case from Norfolk, 1941

    This blog has long taken pleasure in noting late cases of witchcraft from Britain and Ireland. From time to time Beach announces, in arrogance, that this case or other was absolutely the latest: just last month it was an assault on a witch from 1924 from Devon. However, the following remarkable case seems to make […]

    Late Witch Attack, 1924 September 16, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Late Witch Attack, 1924

    ***This post is dedicated to Jill*** This blog has long had an interest in witchcraft from western Europe and particularly bizarre late examples of witchcraft including alleged human sacrifice in Britain during World War II and even some witch killings in the nineteenth century. Here is a case of late witchcraft scratching: it was sincerely […]

    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 […]

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