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  • Ritual Murders in Nyasaland November 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Ritual Murders in Nyasaland

    The following was a written answer given in a written exchange in the British parliament 13 March 1962. At this date Nyasaland (aka Malawi) was a British territory and would be for another two years. (In the postwar period the British government was often put under pressure over the question of responsibility for colonial possessions […]

    Wesley Ghost #9: Fairy, Witch or Demon? November 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Wesley Ghost #9: Fairy, Witch or Demon?

    In previous posts Jeffrey has been explained by this blogger as a product of life in a strictly regulated religious setting, where adolescent girls were yoked to Samuel Wesley’s strict high Anglican ideals. There is a very good chance that this is the key to understanding the poltergeist events and that some sort of poltergeist […]

    Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft November 23, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Persuasions of the Witch's Craft

    ***Thanks to Stephen D for bringing this book to my attention*** Most anthropologists choose an exotic destination and then head off to live with the Kwang or the Baiga for a couple of years, subsequently using the material they gather there for their doctorates. In the 1980s Tanya Marie Luhrmann, instead, headed from Cambridge in […]

    Hating Medieval Cats #2: The Rod Cat November 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Hating Medieval Cats #2: The Rod Cat

    A few days ago Beach started the hunt for cat hating in the Middle Ages. Here is a second text from Etienne de Bourbonne (aka Stephen of Bourbon) who has sometimes appeared here before. Etienne was a Dominican inquisitor and so is something of an expert, let’s say. Auvergne is in central France. Similarly something of […]

    Murder, McCormick, Murray and the Witches October 27, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Murder, McCormick, Murray and the Witches

    In 1968 Donald McCormick published  Murder by Witchcraft (Arrow Books), it was one of about forty books that he wrote (under his own name or that of ‘Richard Deacon’) and it was, like many, perhaps all of the others, shot through with falsehoods and lies. Beach has examined Donald’s porkies on Jack the Ripper and on Madoc […]

    Late Witch Ducking in Bedfordshire October 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Late Witch Ducking in Bedfordshire

    Just to put the following events in perspective. The last witch certainly executed in England – there are some subsequent doubtful cases – dates to 1682: the last witch executed in Scotland dates to 1727. In 1735 witchcraft ceased to be a supernatural crime in England. Yet, 12 July 1737, The Monthly Chronologer reports the […]

    Flying Girlfriend, Frightened Boyfriend and the Witch Orgy October 19, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Flying Girlfriend, Frightened Boyfriend and the Witch Orgy

    Beach has recently become obsessed with stories about witches’ flying exploits. Here is a tale (sounds almost a folk tale) from the pen of the dreadful Jean Bodin, one of Europe’s most important sixteenth-century witch theorists. There was… at Lyons a young noblewoman a few years ago, who got up at night and, lighting the […]

    Stolen Horses and the Cunning Man October 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Stolen Horses and the Cunning Man

    Cunning men were the healers and magicians of the English countryside from the middle ages up until the reign of George V. They had various jobs: including making love potions, casting birth charts, healing animals and individuals, and undoing witchcraft. However, the activity that got them most in the newspaper was their talent for finding […]

    Human Pixy-Leading in Suffolk September 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Human Pixy-Leading in Suffolk

    As noted before in this place Suffolk, where this story took place, is part of East Anglia in which witch traditions were particularly strong. In fact, so strong were these witching traditions that sometimes they blotted out other parallel traditions. Fairylore, for example, are difficult to dig up in this part of England. Take this lovely […]

    The Judge, His Wife and the Witch’s Orgy September 22, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Judge, His Wife and the Witch's Orgy

    Beach has recently been reading the descriptions of Johann Weyer (obit 1588) who published in 1563 On the Illusions of the Demons and on Spells and Poisons. Weyer’s position was essentially this: the supernatural certainly existed (there was no question for example that the Devil abused and tempted humanity); but the witch craze, which he […]

    Margaret Murray in Her Own Words September 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Margaret Murray in Her Own Words

    Margaret Murray (obit 1963) was a brilliantly creative and ill disciplined scholar who not satisfied with the mysteries of the pyramids (she was an Egyptologist) decided to sort out European witchcraft in two books: The Witch Cult in Western Europe (1921) and The God of the Witches (1931). Modern scholars universally reject her methods, while […]

    Broomstick Accidents September 8, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Broomstick Accidents

    A simple question today. Are witch’s broomsticks dangerous? Well, anything that takes human beings out of the natural element, namely the earth and places them with the birds could go wrong and depending on how high witches were flying, horribly wrong. The greatest in flight danger that witches faced was accidentally saying a Christian name […]

    Butter Tricks and Witches August 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Butter Tricks and Witches

    Here is a silly story from nineteenth-century Wales followed up with a serious point: or as serious as this blog ever gets. Mrs. Braithwaite [of Caergwrle, Flintshire] supplied a Mrs. Williams with milk, but a short time ago refused to serve her, and the cause was as follows: Mrs. Braithwaite had to that time been […]

    Witch Violence in Nineteenth-Century Cumbria August 14, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Witch Violence in Nineteenth-Century Cumbria

    A modest attempt to shed some light on a peculiar act of near murder from Yorkshire, August 1874. We are at Garsdale in Cumbria in one of the wildest parts of the UK and Levi Abbott an excavator on the railway (navvy?) is in court because he has wounded Ellen Bowers, his landlady who kept […]

    Witching Spiders from Suffolk August 13, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Witching Spiders from Suffolk

    This witching story from the late seventeenth-century is interesting for two reasons: first because it is inherently weird and creepy; second because it may be the source for one of the greatest twentieth-century horror stories. Frightened of spiders? Then go click away. At St. Edmund’s Bury, in Suffolk, Sept. 6, 1660, in the middle of […]

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