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  • Fairy Witches #1: Joan Tyrry of Taunton March 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairy Witches #1: Joan Tyrry of Taunton

    Who was Joan Tyrry [Terry]? Beach knows very little, too little, in fact. And everything he does know about this sixteenth-century woman comes from Keith Thomas who in the 1960s visited Wells Diocesan Records and opened the dusty old boxes with A21 and A22 where her trial is recorded. KT never gave a detailed description […]

    Review: Witches, Fantasies and Fairies March 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Review: Witches, Fantasies and Fairies

    In 1966 Carlo Ginzburg, a WANW Italian historian, published I Benandanti. In this book, Ginzburg argued that a group of sixteenth-century Friulian peasants, who believed themselves to have  super powers – they could fly and fight witches – were the last traces of a pre-Christian fertility cult in the region. Ginzburg went on to argue that […]

    Wiccans and Fairy Shamans: Priority? January 23, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Wiccans and Fairy Shamans: Priority?

    In the last thirty years there have been growing numbers of men and women who have expressed a belief in fairies: for a minority of these communion with fairies has come to take on the outlines of a of religious system. We even read of ‘fairy shamanism’ and special ‘congresses’ where believers experiment with contact […]

    A German Vampire? December 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A German Vampire?

    A vampire in seventeenth-century Germany? Perhaps, perhaps not, but something strange was going on here. The year is 1685 and we are in Augsburg. George Schmetzer’s wife had just given birth and suffered back ache. While in the delicate state after child birth: the dreams began. She felt that someone was pressing down on her […]

    Witches, Confessions and the Truth November 25, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Witches, Confessions and the Truth

    Scholars of witchcraft in the burning years have an overwhelming problem. As rationalists they do not believe in the sabbat, devil sex or flying broomsticks. And yet, and yet… Women who were investigated often come up with the most extraordinary stories about the Satanic things that they have done. The problem for historians is why does […]

    Crowds #6: Bully Crowds November 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Crowds #6: Bully Crowds

    We have so far shown numerous posts on crowd photographs: crowd art, crowd speeches, August 1914 crowds, POWs in crowds and religious crowds. Here is by far the most unpleasant of the series – you have been warned! – bullying crowds. A group of people with power, perhaps newly acquired power, decides to revenge itself […]

    Panty-stealing Zimbabwean Goblin August 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Panty-stealing Zimbabwean Goblin

    This news story ran at the end of July. Why, on earth, didn’t it receive more international attention? Perhaps the world was tired of Zimbabwean mermaids. The version here comes (cut) from the The Herald (Zimbabwe). A sixty-two year-old Gokwe man has come out in the open and claimed ownership of a goblin which has […]

    Sixteenth-century Conjuring Tricks June 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Sixteenth-century Conjuring Tricks

    It was a slow day in the cave, the sabre-tooth tigers were roaring outside and the grass shoots and snails had all been consumed. Ug was playing with the knuckle bones of one of his late wives and with remarkable dexterity (given how poor he had been at hunting recently) he made the bones dance […]

    All Hail the Male Witch! June 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    All Hail the Male Witch!

    Why were witches, in the early modern period, women? The simple answer is that they were not. In all parts of Europe there were male witches and in some part of Europe male witches (witch = those put on trial for that crime) outnumbered narrowly or substantially the number of female witches. So at one […]

    Shape-Shifting in a Nineteenth-Century Court-Room May 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Shape-Shifting in a Nineteenth-Century Court-Room

    Beachcombing has visited the Isle of Man on several occasions in this blog (he has only been once physically): there was the mermaid sighting from an early submarine, the drunk Manx buggan, and the early medieval kingdom of Mannau. But he is confident that this story will trump them all. Our author has been describing […]

    Chickpeas, Menstrual Blood and Witchcraft April 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Chickpeas, Menstrual Blood and Witchcraft

    Beach offers today for contemplation this extraordinary early modern text from De morbis ueneficis ac ueneficiis (1595) by Battista Codronchi (obit 1628), a practical guide to dealing with witch’s spells. In this book BC explains a curious personal experience that led him to undertake his study: an illness that struck his baby daughter Francesca. Beach […]

    A Witch’s Secret Letter April 11, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    A Witch's Secret Letter

    This is perhaps the most extraordinary ‘witch’ source of them all. In 1628 Johannes Junius, aged fifty five, burgomaster of Bamberg was taken in by the local authorities as a witch. After days of interrogation he writes a secret letter to his daughter explaining his decision to confess to witchcraft. Here is the voice of the victim that […]

    How Many Burnt in the Burning Years? April 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    How Many Burnt in the Burning Years?

    Beachcombing has made fun in the past of historians and numbers: be they numbers for the population of Britain in Roman times or numbers of prisoners taken by the barbary pirates. Most historical numbers are simply partial facts or very partial facts multiplied by guesses. A classic example of this are the numbers of ‘witches’ […]

    The Gospel of the Witches: Missing or Faked? April 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Gospel of the Witches: Missing or Faked?

    Beach is not waving but drowning in the flood of work, but the summer is coming closer and – oh wonderful – closer. Soon he’ll be able to settle down to four months of light teaching and heavy research. Most of the cherry-blossom time will be given over to fairies. However, Beach has also been […]

    Breathing Out the Spirit: Another Modern Witch March 11, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Breathing Out the Spirit: Another Modern Witch

    Catastrophe in the Beachcombing household. Our beloved aupair has just heard that her mother has been involved in a serious car accident in the States, so we have spent most of the last twelve hours looking for flights and looking for a replacement. She is going tomorrow or the day after: and just last night […]

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