Tag Archives: Witch

Witchcraft in the Orkney Isles: The torture of Alesoun Balfour

In my book Eternal Witch, I feature as a side-plot the story of Alison [sic] Balfour, who lived on Mainland, the Orkney Isles, towards the end of the sixteenth century. This was a period during which Witch-hunts were prevalent in Scotland (King James VI, the future James I of England, was particularly eradicating them). So much so that ‘Witch’ became a dirty-word – calling someone a ‘Witch’ was tantamount to accusing them of being in league with the Devil, and also put them in serious danger of them being arrested, tortured and executed.

As with most Witch-hunts later in England, many of the women so accused were not witches in any sense of the word at all, but were in fact people whom their accusers did not like (e.g. they were Catholics instead of Protestants; they were caught up in an inter-family vendetta; etc).

Alison Balfour was unique amongst women accused of Witchcraft, in that, as a herbalist and ‘cunning-woman’ she was the closest thing to being a ‘Witch’ in the true sense of the word – i.e. a ‘Wise Woman.’ Moreover, her crime was not that of getting caught up in a falling-out between neighbours, but of being scapegoated during a politically-motivated murder plot. She protested her innocence vehemently – even under torture – and only made a confession (which she later retracted) when she was forced to watch her family being tortured in front of her.

When I first heard her story it struck me that Alison Balfour was probably the best example in the British Isles of a woman who was a genuine witch, and who used her skills and powers only to help people, yet who came to a bad end nonetheless because of the machinations of others (i.e. men).

Source: Witchcraft in the Orkney Isles: The torture of Alesoun Balfour

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Voodoo Economics Part 2

The Sumner family Brain-cell has worked out a cunning plan for how the Witches in Romania can get back at their government. One of the Witches needs to get herself put on trial. She then offers to demonstrate to the court that she is genuine. Assuming the Judge is gullible, he says yes, whereupon the Witch delivers the punchline: “I predict that I will be found guilty and convicted.”

Remember the proposed new law threatens to punish fortune tellers if their predictions turn out incorrectly, this will cause the Judge’s brain to explode as he tries to work out the paradox. Moreover, the Witch will not be stuck in an endless Groundhog Day loop or pantomime of “You’re guilty! Oh no you’re not! Oh yes you are” etc because of the double-jeopardy rule.

Another witchy problem solved by Yours truly! 😉

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Catholic Church upsets Wiccans; Daily Mail upsets Harry Potter Fans

Independent Roman Catholic publisher of pamphlets, “The Catholic Truth Society,” has come up with a “helpful” guide on how to bring witches and wiccans to Christ and His Church. It is called Wicca and Witchcraft: Understanding the Dangers, and is written by a former witch who was apparently saved for the Lord. I note that from the blurb it tries to answer why young people are attracted to Wicca – as if it is only a youth fad and of no interest to adults!

Honestly! As every pagan knows: no witch would ever disgrace herself by writing such an egregious book attempting to convert teenage Christians to Witchcraft.

Inevitably though, the cauldron of controversy surrounding this story has been stirred up by Nazi propaganda rag and Britain’s most anti-Pagan newspaper, the Daily Mail – in a piece entitled How to cure a witch: Catholic Church issues guide in Britain to turn the tables on Harry Potter. Now examine this headline once again. First of all there is the absurdity of the Daily Mail turning the issue from Christianity vs Wicca to Christianity vs Harry Potter (why? what has the Mail got against Harry Potter?). More sinisterly though, there is that word – “cure.” The CTS talks about evangelizing and prosetylising, the Daily Mail talks about “curing.” IMHO, if the Catholic Church wants to retain any semblance of credibility it should dissocciate itself from the Daily Mail which seems to be pursuing its own incoherent anti-pagan agenda.

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Happy Lugnasadh!

Lugnasadh or “Lammas-tide” (July 31st) is an ancient pagan feast which yet again has been assimilated into the Christian church, in much the same way that Samhain has been assimilated in the form of Hallowe’en. Lugnasadh is the origin of the Harvest Festivals which take place in churches up and down the land.  Apparently in Pagan times it was also when the divine priest-king was sacrificed in the fields and his body scattered.

Poor old dying god! He keeps getting sacrificed and reborn all the time!

According to my book of witchy things (“What Witches Do” by Stewart Farrar), on this day cakes and wine are meant to be taken as well – so doubtless I shall observe this obligation later.

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The Pentagram

News today of naughty Pagan goings on in the Forest of Dean, in Gloucestershire, UK.  Apparently, a local well has been the subject of a severe case of well-dressings to celebrate the Equinox. Shock, horror! Apparently St Anthony’s Well, which is the renowned for its miracle cures for skin conditions, has been haunted by several teenage delinquents who have also been leaving pentagrams nearby, much to the consternation of local Christians.

Let us gloss over for one moment the fact that Christians ought to be praising God for any teenager that ventures near a cure for skin conditions, no matter how odd. Let us also gloss over the fact that this ancient well, though supposedly a Christian site is almost certainly an old pagan one that got saved for the Lord. What – pray tell – exactly is wrong with a Pentagram?

The Pentagram is a symbol of Nature – literally. Its proportions are based upon the Golden Ratio – 1:1.618… etc – which itself is based upon the Fibonnaci series.

Now there is a curious (and not unrelated) fact – if one were to imagine that the orbits of both the Earth and the Planet Venus were circles, then the major occlusions of the Sun by Venus as seen from Earth would mark out the points of a pentagram! There is a simple reason for this: the ratio of the distance of Venus from the Sun, to the distance of the Earth to the Sun, corresponds to the Golden Ratio – 1:1.618. Because orbital speed is also proportional to its distance from the Sun, it follows as a Math that a Pentagram-like arrangement would occur.

I was chatting on this matter to some Companions of mine in the pub – where all matters of cosmic importance are always discussed.

“What I find most remarkable,” I said, “is that the planet Venus just so happens to be that particular distance from the Sun in relation to Earth.”
“Yes,” one of my Companions answered. “And we are the only planet with intelligent life to see it.”

In this sense the Pentagram is quite exciting – it is a greater argument for Intelligent Design than a lot of the tripe put forward by Bible-bashing fundies. Christians have a unique opportunity to embrace this symbol because it really does indicate that a divine being created the Heavens and the Earth – yet they shy away from it because they think it is a symbol of the occult. Pagans are smarter in that respect.

Of course there are some Christians who like to appropriate the Pentagram as a sacred symbol – simply because it is a symbol of the number 5. There were 5 wounds of Christ, and there are 5 letters in the Hebrew spelling of the Qabalistic name of Jesus – “Yeheshuah.” This, incidentally is the basis for the Pentagram ritual of the Golden Dawn, which itself has passed into the neo-pagan tradition.

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