We use cookies to improve your website experience. To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy. By closing this message, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

Betwixt and Between: Isobel Gowdie, the Witch of Auldearn

  • Start date: 18th May 2019
  • End date: 19th May 2019
  • The Wellington Hotel, Old Road, Boscastle, Cornwall PL35 0AQ
  • Organiser: Museum of Witchcraft and Magic
  • Website

To accompany MWM’s Summer exhibition:

Betwixt and Between
Isobel Gowdie, the Witch of Auldearn

I shall go into a hare,
With sorrow and sych and meickle care;
And I shall go in the Devil’s name,
Ay while I come home again.

– Isobel Gowdie

On April 13th 1662, a woman called Isobel Gowdie gave the first of four confessions, witnessed by the ministers of Auldearn and Nairn and at least twelve local lairds and church elders. What led to Isobel being hauled before the magistrates is unknown but what makes her so remarkable is the content of her testimony. Never before were such vivid and complex descriptions recorded giving insight into seventeenth-century witchcraft and fairy belief.

This exhibition does not set out to describe the details of Isobel’s life, which are all unknown, or to detail the times in which she lived. Instead we present a poetic meditation on various aspects of the confessions. Tales of shape-shifting and transforming into a Hare, of riding on horses made from straw while flicking ‘elf-shot’ from her thumb to destroy her enemies. Of feasting beneath the Downie Hill with the King and Queen of the fairies and of orgiastic coven meetings with the devil.

All of this and everything Betwixt and Between.

In light of the hypothetical and exploratory approach of the exhibition, we are keen to include speakers from various disciplines, including: poets, writers and artists.


-Shape-shifting in witchcraft and folklore
-The witchcraft trials in Scotland
-Misogyny in the 17thC and beyond
-Fairy Belief
-Isobel Gowdie’s influence on contemporary witchcraft practice
-Shamanism and Christianity
– Sex with the Devil
– Cunning Folk
– Flying salves and witch flight


Authors are invited to speak for 20 minutes followed by a 10 minute Q&A.

Please submit an abstract of no more than 200 words and include a brief biographical note, including contact details.

To submit your abstract, please email: museumwitchcraft@aol.com


• Deadlines for Abstract submissions: 11th March 2019

• Notification of acceptance: 18th March 2019

For any enquiries regarding the conference please contact: museumwitchcraft@aol.com

We are unable to cover travel or accommodation expenses. Please find a list of travel operators and local hotels below:

The Riverside


The Wellington Hotel

Lower Meadows B&B

Youth Hostel

There are also a number of Airbnb’s in Boscastle, as well as many other cottages to rent.