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) Witchcraft and Sorcery.


Picking up a highly-popular maga

zine the other evening, I was some-]

what nmnzcd to find tliat a Writer in, its pages claimPcl that, in some dis

Itrlcte of Scotland the jyaelic.? ofj v.'ltrhrrn'I still flourished. I was, oT| omirm, nwnre thai. Miss f.C. A. Murray,!

.of University Colirge, London, i-eccntly |

[claimed to iiave dlscove/ed societies of:

! witches still surviving in the remoter

parts of England, so It may well be j

that here and there isolated instances

i o{ witchcraft still persist in contain re-1

mote districts in Scotland, although I

take leave to question this (writesj

Lewis Spence In the "Weekly Scots


The fashionable theory that witch craft was of comparatively late intro

duction into Scotland arises out of a! misapp-chcnslon of the fact that about! the middle of the fUlcenth century it! was reintroduced into our country in a somewhat novel and modified form, i Witchcraft, or female sorcery, had l flourished in most European countries for centuries prior to this date, and no less in Lowland Scotland. where the Saxon word "wicca," a witch, as well as the term "carllne." were of lmme

I mortal usage. And although tho cult

obtained equally in the Highlands it I was naturally not known there by an

| English word, its practitioners being:

called merely "wise women," and in some cases Nlcnevins, or "daughters of heaven," a name also used for a species of nymph. But the rise ,of a new witch-cult in the South of Prance, known as Vauldc,-io, or "sorcoVy," which in its derivation is the same as the Creole French "vaudox" or "voodoo," which de.scribes the cult of the negn witch-doctors of the West Indies, hart effects in both England and Scotland.! and was almost certainly brought to on-1

shores by French immigrants. j

This new sorcery greatly stimulated the native cult., which adopted many of its practices, although .well-ma.'hpd I differences between the English. French I and Scots varieties of witchcraft con

tinued . to prevail. The terhx "witch"'

'in Scotland would therefore appear to; h&ve been resuscitated on the appearT j anee bf . this'foreign .revival of an! ah&'ebt spedefi ol fcroMc sorcery. |

Witchcraft, it Is hPW known. is a

fcihalr Ihaglcal cUlt, probably original- J lng In A very early worship of the bull, |

the h6rse, or the goat as a symbol of I fertility b£ wotteh who hoped for off

spriilBi It Would, of course, depend , upon the .regltm where it flourished as to milch of chlmals was adopted ofi ibft beast l/spsclally adored. In,

ancient Oaul,. far instance, we And a ;

caste of women adoring the horse- j<

goddess Epoba.

In the course of ages there gtew | f ut> arouhd these cults accretions ofi

MM^inlne lotft fiiiglcal and medicinal J feh|eh suryived ?fcell Ihto modern times,

thoiigh thfe Central Idea of animal wor-< ship Wai probhbly .16sl. But the cii.-cs I

and CtAtms tot the hehoot of bane otl cattle in use ip this island appear to betfr out the theory that in Britain it had anciently been associated with the bull and cow.

That it was definitely the debris ot a very ancient nature-nelson.- and not a mere reversal ot the Christian

, faith by a number of defuded wo men, is now quite apparent from the close studies ol the cult made In recent years.

The nature of the ritual and cere monies gone through in Scotland Is perhaps best illustrated for us by the account of the trial of the North Ber wick witches, which took place In the relgn of James VI. in 1690. John Flan, schoolmaster ofPrestonpans; Robert Orlerson, Effle M'Calyane, Barbara Napier, Bells Duncan, and others, gath ered at the church on the promontory three, arriving on 'horseback about eleven at night. John Flan was mask ed and led the band of about a hun dred persons, only six were men.

First the worshippers turned about widdershins, or against the course of the sun, nine times, after which Flan blew up the doors by magic and blew in the llehts, which were like groat black candles giving a blue flame. -The

devil, in shape like "A melkle black

man." suddenly started up lb the pul | pit, and after calling the roll harangu | ed his worshippers, adjuring than to

do all the harm they could to human ity at large.

Dancing took place, Cells Duncan, playing on a "trump," and Fijui lead tag the ring. Such dances Were al ways circular, and the performers took hands with their faces outward to the ring instead of . inward, and 'moving from right to left-- The same'coven of witches attempted to wreck the ves sel which was carrying King James and his newly-wed' bride from Nor way hy casting eats into the sea to raise o tempest, and for this some of them w^rc apprehended, tortured; ahd-flnally burnt on the castle-hill of Edinburgh in January 1592. .

Now It is noticeable that the ap pearance of the melkle black man. at such revels is practically constant in Scotland, so 11 may be lnfotfcd that hs was regarded as the priest of the cult He typified Satan, gave the wltchcs the occult names by which they were henceforth to be known, and. set a mark upon tliem, a small rtd or blue patch, which wns thought to be imper vious to pain or the thrusting of » needle, and which may have boon a.

tf.ltoo mark. Some savage, peoples | still place such a mark on those who enter their religious cults for the first time.

At Dalkeith the devil appeared dress

ed in black clothes with a black hat i upon his head. Hie minister of Crich ton became such a black priest And "teat up" the dancers to the strains of a piper. It is also to be expressly not-' ed that this type of priest, usually ex horted the witches to work all tlio harm

they could, and provided them with the knowledge or such spells and medicines

as could furnish them with the -means of doing so.

On some occasion actual sacrifices

, were made to the devil. Alexander i Hamilton, a warlock, WAS tried In

1630 for sacrificing a cat to his Sata nic majesty, and Acnes Cowley of Humble in 1649 for pouring a Uba I tlon ot milk to "those under the

earth." Many witches were punished or burnt for selling charms or

to cure people or to harm or kill] them. In 1597 Janet Stewart under took to cure the young laird of Bar geny of leprosy by rubbing him With quicksilver, a cure she learnt from her j father, while others employed for. sim ' liar purposes the oil of worms, agrim

ony, and blade sheep's grease. Janet

GMract preiorUnd ft wink of ttMk1

nen's eggs and brandy, and It Is notlc , able that such draughts had to be taken nine times, the number.

| Some years ego I was advised by a

Dundee friend to wear a lianl: of red silk round the waist as a cure for lumbago. What was my astonish ment to find later that this cure had been known to my grandparents, and | had been circulated originally in Dun

dee by a witch who practised there In the late 17th century 1

Fevered children and consumptives were passed thrice through a circular wreath of woodbine, or through a hesp of green yarn; wisps of straw were put In a cow's mouth and set on lire to cure the animal, and water was fre quently cast cross-wise over a cow's back to o-ld it of disease, favourite witcli-amulets were the adderstone, the toad stone, the mole stone, the cock knee stone, or sea-urchin's shell, and the snail-stone, n small hollow cylinder of blue glass, which cured sore eyes. Many of these were merely curiously shaped pebbles, and were supposed to guard one against disease, while others were manufactured articles having a symbolic1 significance, tin! jrt.unatoly, my r-pacc is too short to rtepl further here wllh the Intr,resting topic of wltch modlclne. which was a most Important part of the cult.

Some recent writers on Scottish Witchcraft have alleged that U«\ Scot tish witches were not thought to fly to

.their sabbaths through til* Ale- But

like most generalisations, this la not quite rorreet. Agnes Sampson, one of the North Berwick witches, was seen to fly through the air on a nohdesoript ;anlma], christian Stewart, of Leltch, < was also so transported. In 1671 men

: survived who claimed to have seen a

I fellow-soldier carried through the air. John Plan of prestonpans was so lev itated and Chrlstt&n Shaw was carried i away by a swift and unaccountable ! motion, "her feet not touching the

'ground." There was also a similar case tn Breadalbane. Still instances of

'levliatlon through the virtue of oint ments applied to the body or by broom sticks were comparatively rare In Scot


The evil eye was one of the princi pal weapons of the witch In Scotland as elsewhprc. In 1661 Janet Ccck was tried for overlooking and so killing the child of Jean Rarest. Satan ad vised Janet Irving to look with open cyes on those Who bore her IU-W1U. and a witch destroyed the crop of David Sumlaquoy, In BlrSay, by over looking him while he sowed It. There were, Indeed, hundreds bf such caB«.=. The antidote, ?was a cfoss made from the rider tree, fixed to lhe house stable, or byre, so that none of the Inmates might be bespelled. A elite for. a horso .so smitten was the following, from the Klrk stsslon Register of Htflyrood,


Thrie biters has thee bit, <

In the tung, tbo eye, the baft

that's worst,

Other thrlR 1hy help rton be.

In the name of the Tether. Son, And

Holle Ohost.".

All this goes to Show, X think', that here we are lial concerned with the grotesque cantrips of a few Isolated women acting but or individual mal ice, e>r without Instruction, but with the deeds of people associated with a widespread cult or pagan origin, hav ing a Well-digested system of medical end magical lorn of Its own. a distant ritual, and v;i th affiliations throughout the whole or the Lowlands and a cer tain part of the Highlands. The cult seems to have been at lis most popular between 1470 and 1720. The precise limits and traditions of Scotch wltch c-alt are still to .be defined, but these arc fradualiy coming .to be known unrt rcoognlsed, Mid probably In a de cade or two its full history and signifi cance will be revealed to us.

Warrior, Major-General J. E. B. SeeIVs famthis war Jinrac, celebrated his 2ist birthday on April 21. Qineral Serl.v, who keeps the horse on -his cslalo In Ihr Islo of Wight? treated Warrior and several of his ('Able com panions to a "birthday party," at which carrots, sugar, and oats we're provided. Warrior had many escapes in lb* SffctiBf on the Wtttero Zttoat