Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Even mentions the broomsticks

Somehow, I managed to miss this interesting work until now! I found it on a far-away shelf in the main reference library in Stockholm, innocently sharing it with “serious” and “scholarly” works on American folklore, country music and what not. Well, I don't think you'll find entries on bluegrass or rockabilly in this volume!

Rather, “The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft” contains information on both modern and ancient sorcery, sorcerers and, indeed, sorceresses. Gerald Gardner, Morgan le Fay, Mother Shipton, the Witch of Endor, the Witches of Eastwick and Margaret Murray have entries all their own. Many entries deal with witch scares and witch burnings. In the interest of completeness, author Rosemary Ellen Guiley gives us her take on the very basics of the craft: hag stones, brooms, charms and cats. One entry deals with Gypsies!

As behooves a serious reference work, the encyclopedia also deal with person or persons unknown to the general public. At least, I had no idea. Did you know that one Anna Ecklund from Wisconsin figured in one of the best documented and most notorious demonic possession cases in the 20th century? She was exorcised by Father Theophilus, a Capuchin monk. Details of her ordeal are included in this volume. One of the demons possessing Ecklund claimed to be Judas Iscariot.

Then there is the British witch Mother Redcap. She is the only person who entered a pact with the Devil (described as “a black man”!) and survived. Or, more exactly, died an entirely natural death in 1926. The reason, apparently, is that Redcap used her paranormal powers for good, by healing the locals in her community. Something tells me neither Satanists nor traditional theologians will like this one.

One entry deals with Charles Walton, a man with second sight who was renowned as a witch (or is it warlock?) in his village in Lower Quinton, England. He was brutally murdered in 1945 in a suspected ritual witch killing. The obligatory black dogs were seen in the vicinity…

One thing that sets “Encylopedia of Witches and Witchcraft” apart, is that it's written from a “true believer” perspective. The author describes herself on her Amazon page as a spiritual seeker and investigator of the occult, and looks pretty witch-like herself. Yes, you do have my permission to double-check her claims with the more serious scholarly volumes. Even so, I'm going to give this book five stars!

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