The Forfar witches. In 1563 the newly created Church of Scotland made it illegal to either be a witch or to consult a witch in an attempt to stamp out pagan practices. This Act of Parliament was not abandoned until 1736. In between 1563 and 1736 is known from documentary evidence that at least 1,500 people were executed for the crime of being a witch..... (more)
'Witching Time of Night'-Witchcraft was a fact of life not something only a few believed in. If your milk soured a witch's curse was to blame. If your pregnancy miscarried, your elderly female neighbor was behind it, especially if she lived alone and knew how to heal the sick. Witches were hanged in England, burnt in Europe. Suicides were still buried at crossroads to confuse their way back from the land of the dead, stakes were put though their hearts to pin them to the ground.
This 1643 woodcut shows a witch apparently surfing on a plank across the River Kennet at Newbury. Shot at by Parliamentarian soldiers, she reportedly caught and ate the musket balls, until finally being brought down. Witches, having rejected baptism (as the demonologists saw it) could not sink in water, which rejected them. Hence their ability to sail in sieves (News from Scotland), and the notorious swimming test promoted by the 1613 pamphlet, Witches Apprehended, Examined and Executed.
Celtic Limestone Female Figure, BC 100 to AD 100. A Celtic goddess, perhaps the Welsh deity Modron or the protectress of horses, Epona. She probably once held fruits symbolic of her fecundity and maternity. The Celts believed in a mother Goddess who presided over mortals, and visualised the gods themselves as belonging to and being controlled by a great divine mother. The Celtic goddesses are embedded in the folk memory and perpetuated in the tales and topographical legends of the country.
A statue of Alice Nutter, one of the accused and hanged Pendle Witches. The trials of the Pendle witches in 1612 are among the most famous witch trials in English history, and some of the best recorded of the 17th century. The twelve accused lived in the area around Pendle Hill in Lancashire, and were charged with the murders of ten people by the use of witchcraft.