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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 […]

Totoro and Kiki: A Tribute June 17, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
Totoro and Kiki: A Tribute

  ***Dedicated to little Miss Beachcombing who makes 5 today and who Beach will be spoiling for the next hours*** Ghibli is a Japanese cartoon studio that has, in the last thirty years, created two of the greatest films for children and two of the greatest fairy/witch films ever made: Totoro (1988) and Kiki (1989). […]

Vision Quest #3: Witch Lotions June 10, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Vision Quest #3: Witch Lotions

An interesting witch case from fourteenth-century Italy with hints of hallucinogens. The following passages appear in the work of Bernard of Siena (aka Bernardino, and Bernardine) (obit 1444). This, btw, is before the witch craze really catches fire. It has several curious features. I having preached of these charms and of witches and of sorceries, […]

William Thornber and the Witches, Boggarts, Sorcerers and People of the Fylde June 7, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
William Thornber and the Witches, Boggarts, Sorcerers and People of the Fylde

Part of the StrangeHistory project is to put up sources that for some reason have not made it onto Google Books and the like. In an attempt to do just this Beach spent a long hour typing out, yesterday, 3000 words from William Thornber’s The History of Blackpool and its Neighbourhood (Poulton 1837). I know, […]

Magonia #3: The Tempestarii May 27, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Magonia #3: The Tempestarii

After a few days delay, back to Magonia… Agobard’s reference to Magonia is often quoted, in translations of variable quality. But far less attention is paid to his references in the same text (‘Contra insulsam vulgi opinionem de grandine et tonitruis’) to tempestarii or stormy-ones: In these parts [i.e. what is today southern France] almost […]

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