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Posts tagged witch:

Witch Pricking
Witch Pricking was an activity rife at the height of the witch trials in the 16th and 17th century. It was believed that all witches carried the Devil’s Mark, a permanent mark left by the Devil on his initiates skin. Such marks could be used as evidence at witch trials but moles and birthmarks were often mistaken for the Devil’s Mark and, in the absence of such marks, Pricking would be used to create one. 
It was also believed that witches would neither bleed nor feel pain when pricked. Specially adapted Pricking devices have been left over from the time of the trials. Some of these had hollow handles so that that the blade would retract into the empty space when pressed against the victim’s flesh. This would give the impression that they had been stabbed without feeling pain. Others have been found with both a sharp end and a blunt end: the sharp end would be demonstrated first, drawing blood and causing pain, and then, through slight of hand, the blunt end would be used on the ‘witch’ to apparently prove that they felt no pain and did not bleed when cut.
[Source]

Witch Pricking

Witch Pricking was an activity rife at the height of the witch trials in the 16th and 17th century. It was believed that all witches carried the Devil’s Mark, a permanent mark left by the Devil on his initiates skin. Such marks could be used as evidence at witch trials but moles and birthmarks were often mistaken for the Devil’s Mark and, in the absence of such marks, Pricking would be used to create one.

It was also believed that witches would neither bleed nor feel pain when pricked. Specially adapted Pricking devices have been left over from the time of the trials. Some of these had hollow handles so that that the blade would retract into the empty space when pressed against the victim’s flesh. This would give the impression that they had been stabbed without feeling pain. Others have been found with both a sharp end and a blunt end: the sharp end would be demonstrated first, drawing blood and causing pain, and then, through slight of hand, the blunt end would be used on the ‘witch’ to apparently prove that they felt no pain and did not bleed when cut.

[Source]

Befana
Here comes, here comes the BefanaShe comes from the mountains in the deep of the nightLook how tired she is! All wrapped upIn snow and frost and the north wind!Here comes, here comes the Befana!
One may recall the previous Advent post demonstrating the curious depiction of witches on Christmas cards. Well, Befana may go some way to explaining that little oddity…
In the Italian folklore, Befana is an old woman who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on Epiphany Eve (January 5) in a similar way Santa Claus.
Legend has it that Befana was approached by the Three Wise Men a few days before the birth of Jesus. They asked for directions to where the Son of God was but Befana did not know. She provided them with shelter for a night, as she was considered the best housekeeper in the village, with the most pleasant home. The men invited her to join them on the journey to find the baby Jesus, but she declined, stating she was too busy with her housework. Later, Befana had a change of heart, and tried to search out the astrologers and Jesus, however, she was unable to find them, so to this day, she is searching for the little baby. She leaves all the good children toys and candy or fruit, while the bad children get coal, onions or garlic.
Another legend takes a slightly darker tone as La Befana was an ordinary woman with a child whom she greatly loved. However, her child died, and her resulting grief maddened her. Upon hearing news of Jesus being born, she set out to see him, delusional that he was her son. She eventually met Jesus and presented him with gifts to make him happy. The infant Jesus was delighted, and he gave Befana a gift in return; she would be the mother of every child in Italy.
Also, popular tradition tells that if one sees Befana one will receive a thump from her broomstick, as she doesn’t wish to be seen. 

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 21st

Befana

Here comes, here comes the Befana
She comes from the mountains in the deep of the night
Look how tired she is! All wrapped up
In snow and frost and the north wind!
Here comes, here comes the Befana!

One may recall the previous Advent post demonstrating the curious depiction of witches on Christmas cards. Well, Befana may go some way to explaining that little oddity…

In the Italian folklore, Befana is an old woman who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on Epiphany Eve (January 5) in a similar way Santa Claus.

Legend has it that Befana was approached by the Three Wise Men a few days before the birth of Jesus. They asked for directions to where the Son of God was but Befana did not know. She provided them with shelter for a night, as she was considered the best housekeeper in the village, with the most pleasant home. The men invited her to join them on the journey to find the baby Jesus, but she declined, stating she was too busy with her housework. Later, Befana had a change of heart, and tried to search out the astrologers and Jesus, however, she was unable to find them, so to this day, she is searching for the little baby. She leaves all the good children toys and candy or fruit, while the bad children get coal, onions or garlic.

Another legend takes a slightly darker tone as La Befana was an ordinary woman with a child whom she greatly loved. However, her child died, and her resulting grief maddened her. Upon hearing news of Jesus being born, she set out to see him, delusional that he was her son. She eventually met Jesus and presented him with gifts to make him happy. The infant Jesus was delighted, and he gave Befana a gift in return; she would be the mother of every child in Italy.

Also, popular tradition tells that if one sees Befana one will receive a thump from her broomstick, as she doesn’t wish to be seen. 

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 21st

(Source: Wikipedia)

The White Witch of Rose Hall
The story of The White Witch of Rose Hall is a Jamaican legend concerning English plantation owner Annie Palmer. Born in England in the late 18thcentury, to an English mother and Irish father, Annie spent her formative years in Haiti. When her parents died of yellow fever her Haitian nanny, a well-versed practitioner of voodoo ritual, brought her up, teaching her witchcraft in the process. 
Annie later moved to Jamaica where she married John Palmer, the owner of Rose Hall plantation, east of Montego Bay, in 1820. John Palmer, and Annie’s two subsequent husbands, all died suspiciously, and it is speculated that Annie herself brought about their demise. She reportedly stood at 4’8”.
Annie ruled the plantation with an iron fist, punishing the mere whiff of defiance from her slaves with public floggings, tortures and even murder. She also took a number of male slaves as lovers, but when Annie began to lavish her attentions on an individual, his days were numbered. She would murder her lovers when she became bored with them and bury them in unmarked graves on her land. She also became known as a mistress of voodoo, using it to terrorise the plantation.
According to the legend Annie was murdered in her bed by Takoo, one of her lovers who was also practiced in the art of voodoo, during a slave uprising in the 1830s. Supposedly, Annie was in love with the husband of Takoo’s granddaughter, and when Annie conceded that she could not have him as her own she placed a voodoo curse on the granddaughter, who died a week later. Takoo murdered Annie as revenge.
She was buried in a special grave, prepared with voodoo charms and markings, to prevent her ghost roaming the earth, however, it is said to have been unsuccessful and Annie’s spirit haunts the corridors of Rose Hall to this day. It is said that a family who owned the property after the Palmers had a housekeeper who was “pushed” by Annie off of Annie’s favourite balcony, subsequently breaking her neck and dying. 
[Written with help from here and here. If anyone’s interested Herbert G. de Lisser’s The White Witch of Rose Hall is petty good account of the legend, and is available on Amazon. I wrote about it in my dissertation and anyone’s who is a fan of Gothic and/or post/colonial literature will enjoy it.]

The White Witch of Rose Hall

The story of The White Witch of Rose Hall is a Jamaican legend concerning English plantation owner Annie Palmer. Born in England in the late 18thcentury, to an English mother and Irish father, Annie spent her formative years in Haiti. When her parents died of yellow fever her Haitian nanny, a well-versed practitioner of voodoo ritual, brought her up, teaching her witchcraft in the process. 

Annie later moved to Jamaica where she married John Palmer, the owner of Rose Hall plantation, east of Montego Bay, in 1820. John Palmer, and Annie’s two subsequent husbands, all died suspiciously, and it is speculated that Annie herself brought about their demise. She reportedly stood at 4’8”.

Annie ruled the plantation with an iron fist, punishing the mere whiff of defiance from her slaves with public floggings, tortures and even murder. She also took a number of male slaves as lovers, but when Annie began to lavish her attentions on an individual, his days were numbered. She would murder her lovers when she became bored with them and bury them in unmarked graves on her land. She also became known as a mistress of voodoo, using it to terrorise the plantation.

According to the legend Annie was murdered in her bed by Takoo, one of her lovers who was also practiced in the art of voodoo, during a slave uprising in the 1830s. Supposedly, Annie was in love with the husband of Takoo’s granddaughter, and when Annie conceded that she could not have him as her own she placed a voodoo curse on the granddaughter, who died a week later. Takoo murdered Annie as revenge.

She was buried in a special grave, prepared with voodoo charms and markings, to prevent her ghost roaming the earth, however, it is said to have been unsuccessful and Annie’s spirit haunts the corridors of Rose Hall to this day. It is said that a family who owned the property after the Palmers had a housekeeper who was “pushed” by Annie off of Annie’s favourite balcony, subsequently breaking her neck and dying. 

[Written with help from here and here. If anyone’s interested Herbert G. de Lisser’s The White Witch of Rose Hall is petty good account of the legend, and is available on Amazon. I wrote about it in my dissertation and anyone’s who is a fan of Gothic and/or post/colonial literature will enjoy it.]

The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancashire
A somewhat Hallowe’en themed oddment. It’s a bit of a long read but it’s pretty interesting:
The 1612 Pendle Witch trials are perhaps the most famous in English history, involving twelve individuals accused of murdering ten people by witchcraft. Two families were primarily concerned, each with octogenarian matriarchs: Demdike, her daughter, and grandchildren, then Chattox and her daughter.
The Justice of the Peace for Pendle Hill in Lancashire, a county “fabled for its theft, violence and sexual laxity,” was tasked by James I to seek out religious nonconformists, and it was with this attitude that he heard allegations made by a John Law, who claimed to be the victim of witchcraft.
Walking along a quiet path Law encountered Alizon, the infamous Demdike’s granddaughter, who asked him for some metal pins. Such pins were often used for magical purposes – healing, treating warts, divination, and for love magic, which may be why Law refused. A moment later he slumped to the ground. Initially he made no accusations against Alizon, but she appears to have been convinced of her own powers, later confessing to Law, who convalesced at a nearby inn.
At court Alizon confessed she had sold her soul to the Devil and she told him to lame Law after he had called her a thief. Her mother said Demdike had a mark on her body, which many would have regarded as having been left by the Devil after he had sucked her blood.
Alizon was also questioned about Chattox, another suspicious figure, and, seeing an opportunity for revenge, as there was much bad blood between their families, she accused Chattox of murdering five men by witchcraft, including her father. She claimed her father had been so frightened of Chattox that he gave her oatmeal each year so she wouldn’t hurt his family. On his deathbed he claimed that his sickness had been caused by Chattox because he missed a payment. 
Demdike, Chattox and her daughter Anne, were summoned to court. Both elderly and blind Demdike and Chattox provided damaging confessions. Demdike claimed that she had given her soul to the Devil 20 years ago, and Chattox that she had given her soul to “a Thing like a Christian man”, who promised “she would not lack anything and would get any revenge she desired”. A witness claimed her brother had fallen sick and died after having had a disagreement with Anne, and that he had frequently blamed her for his illness. All three were committed to gaol to be tried for maleficium.
Then Demdike’s daughter organised at meeting at their home, Malkin Tower. Those sympathetic to the family attended, but when officials heard they investigated to determine the purpose of it. As a result, eight more people were accused of witchcraft, including Demdike’s daughter.
All but two were tried in Lancaster in August 1612, along with the Samlesbury witches and others, in a series of trials that have become known as the Lancashire witch trials. One was tried in York, and another died in prison. Of the eleven who went to trial ten were found guilty and executed by hanging; one was found not guilty.
[Written with (a lot of) help from Wikipedia]

The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancashire

A somewhat Hallowe’en themed oddment. It’s a bit of a long read but it’s pretty interesting:

The 1612 Pendle Witch trials are perhaps the most famous in English history, involving twelve individuals accused of murdering ten people by witchcraft. Two families were primarily concerned, each with octogenarian matriarchs: Demdike, her daughter, and grandchildren, then Chattox and her daughter.

The Justice of the Peace for Pendle Hill in Lancashire, a county “fabled for its theft, violence and sexual laxity,” was tasked by James I to seek out religious nonconformists, and it was with this attitude that he heard allegations made by a John Law, who claimed to be the victim of witchcraft.

Walking along a quiet path Law encountered Alizon, the infamous Demdike’s granddaughter, who asked him for some metal pins. Such pins were often used for magical purposes – healing, treating warts, divination, and for love magic, which may be why Law refused. A moment later he slumped to the ground. Initially he made no accusations against Alizon, but she appears to have been convinced of her own powers, later confessing to Law, who convalesced at a nearby inn.

At court Alizon confessed she had sold her soul to the Devil and she told him to lame Law after he had called her a thief. Her mother said Demdike had a mark on her body, which many would have regarded as having been left by the Devil after he had sucked her blood.

Alizon was also questioned about Chattox, another suspicious figure, and, seeing an opportunity for revenge, as there was much bad blood between their families, she accused Chattox of murdering five men by witchcraft, including her father. She claimed her father had been so frightened of Chattox that he gave her oatmeal each year so she wouldn’t hurt his family. On his deathbed he claimed that his sickness had been caused by Chattox because he missed a payment. 

Demdike, Chattox and her daughter Anne, were summoned to court. Both elderly and blind Demdike and Chattox provided damaging confessions. Demdike claimed that she had given her soul to the Devil 20 years ago, and Chattox that she had given her soul to “a Thing like a Christian man”, who promised “she would not lack anything and would get any revenge she desired”. A witness claimed her brother had fallen sick and died after having had a disagreement with Anne, and that he had frequently blamed her for his illness. All three were committed to gaol to be tried for maleficium.

Then Demdike’s daughter organised at meeting at their home, Malkin Tower. Those sympathetic to the family attended, but when officials heard they investigated to determine the purpose of it. As a result, eight more people were accused of witchcraft, including Demdike’s daughter.

All but two were tried in Lancaster in August 1612, along with the Samlesbury witches and others, in a series of trials that have become known as the Lancashire witch trials. One was tried in York, and another died in prison. Of the eleven who went to trial ten were found guilty and executed by hanging; one was found not guilty.

[Written with (a lot of) help from Wikipedia]

A Horned Witch, by Anonymous. 18th century.

A Horned Witch, by Anonymous. 18th century.

Aldiborontiphoskyphorniostikos
Aldiborontiphoskyphorniostikos was a book that contained a game in which players had to read the snippet for each letter of the alphabet as fast as they could without making a mistake. Alternatively, several players could read the snippets in a staggered manner. The snippets for each letter contain tongue-twisting mock-Latin names whose content is cumulatively appended at the end of each new letter snippet.
The following is the snippet for the letter O:

ODDS NIPPERKINS! cried Mother Bunch on her broomstick, here’s a to-do! as Nicholas Hotch-potch said, Never were such times, as Muley Hassan, Mufti of Moldavia, put on his Barnacles, to see little Tweedle gobble them up, when Kia Khan Kreuse transmogrofied them into Pippins, because Snip’s wife cried, Illikipilliky! lass a-day! ‘tis too bad to titter at a body, when Hamet el Mammet, the bottlenosed Barber of Balasora, laughed ha! ha! ha! on beholding the elephant spout mud over the ‘Prentice, who pricked his trunk with a needle, as Dicky Snip, the tailor, read the proclamation of Chrononhotonthologos, offering a thousand sequins for taking Bombardinian, Bashaw of three tails, who killed Aldiborontiphoskyphorniostikos.

Aldiborontiphoskyphorniostikos

Aldiborontiphoskyphorniostikos was a book that contained a game in which players had to read the snippet for each letter of the alphabet as fast as they could without making a mistake. Alternatively, several players could read the snippets in a staggered manner. The snippets for each letter contain tongue-twisting mock-Latin names whose content is cumulatively appended at the end of each new letter snippet.

The following is the snippet for the letter O:

ODDS NIPPERKINS! cried Mother Bunch on her broomstick, here’s a to-do! as Nicholas Hotch-potch said, Never were such times, as Muley Hassan, Mufti of Moldavia, put on his Barnacles, to see little Tweedle gobble them up, when Kia Khan Kreuse transmogrofied them into Pippins, because Snip’s wife cried, Illikipilliky! lass a-day! ‘tis too bad to titter at a body, when Hamet el Mammet, the bottlenosed Barber of Balasora, laughed ha! ha! ha! on beholding the elephant spout mud over the ‘Prentice, who pricked his trunk with a needle, as Dicky Snip, the tailor, read the proclamation of Chrononhotonthologos, offering a thousand sequins for taking Bombardinian, Bashaw of three tails, who killed Aldiborontiphoskyphorniostikos.

Soucouyant.

The soucouyant or soucriant in DominicaTrinidadian and Guadeloupean folklore (also known as Ole-Higue or Loogaroo elsewhere in the Caribbean), is a kind of witchvampire.

The soucouyant that lives by day as an old woman at the end of the village. By night, however, she strips off her wrinkled skin, puts it in a mortar, and flies in the shape of a fireball through the darkness, looking for a victim. Still in the shape of a fireball, the soucouyant enters the home of her victim through the keyhole or any crack or crevice.

Legend

Soucouyants suck the blood of people from their arms, legs and other soft parts while they sleep. If the soucouyant draws out too much blood from her victim, it is believed that the victim will die and become a soucouyant herself, or else perish entirely, leaving her killer to assume her skin. The soucouyant practices witchcraft, voodoo, and black magic. Soucouyants trade the blood of their victims for evil powers with Bazil the demon who resides in the silk cotton tree. To expose a soucouyant, one should heap rice around the house or at the village cross roads as the creature will be obligated to gather every grain, grain by grain (an almost impossible task to do before dawn) thus being caught in the act. In order to destroy the soucouyant, coarse salt must be placed in the mortar containing the soucouyant’s skin. She then cannot put the skin back on and will perish. Belief in soucoyants is still preserved to some extent in Trinidad.

The skin of the soucouyant is said to be very valuable, as it is used when practicing black magic.

Origin

Soucouyants belong to a class of spirits called jumbees. Some believe that soucouyants were brought to the Caribbean from European countries in the form of French vampire-myths. These beliefs intermingled with those of enslaved Africans.

In the French West Indies, specifically the island of Guadeloupe, the Soukougnan or Soukounian is a person able to shed his or her skin to turn into a vampiric fireball. In general these figures can be anyone, not only old women, although some affirm that only women could become Soukounian, because only female breasts could disguise the creature’s wings.

The term “Loogaroo” also used to describe the soucouyant, possibly comes from the French mythological creature called the Loup-garou, a type of werewolf and is common in the Culture of Mauritius.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Decked out for Halloween, a masked woman on roller skates—most likely a random addition to her costume—poses in 1910.

Decked out for Halloween, a masked woman on roller skates—most likely a random addition to her costume—poses in 1910.

Victorian witch fancy dress. c.1885.

Victorian witch fancy dress. c.1885.