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Witchcraft Beliefs: Virtual Special Issue 13, 2022

Virtual Special Issues of Folklore

Virtual Special Issues of Folklore are selections of articles on specific themes from our journal, hand picked by our editor Jessica Hemming. With a podcast introduction written and read by Juliette Wood, and a bibliography of featured articles and further reading.

Listen to the Podcast Introduction to Folklore’s 2022 Virtual Special Issue ‘Witchcraft Beliefs,’ and explore the featured articles related to the podcast. These articles are free to access at any time by Folklore Society members: just log in to the Members’ area at folklore-society.com/wp-login.php

Excerpt from the podcast: This Virtual Special Issue began with accounts of two witch-trials that took place at the end of the seventeenth century. The final article also deals with an early case of witchcraft, but one whose effects were still current in Canewdon, an Essex village that had remained isolated until the beginning of the twentieth century (Maple 1960). The addition of typical witch-legend motifs transformed this single historical case into a much more elaborate legend. The witches became linked to the church tower and its bell, and acquired the power to bewitch carts and horses, and to paralyse their victims. This last motif brings us full circle to the nightmare experiences and spirit possessions associated with bewitching discussed in other articles.

The articles selected for this Virtual Special Issue demonstrate a number of features which remain important in any study of beliefs associated with witches and witchcraft, namely the power of narratives as reflections of social attitudes and the ability of supernatural and rational explanations for these wide-ranging beliefs to exist side by side.

Download the transcript of the podcast

Featured Articles from Folklore

Burning Feathers: A Hint at Hysteria in a Connecticut Witchcraft Case, by Joseph Pentangelo, vol.132/1 (2021): 59-71

Anders Poulsen—Sámi Shaman Accused of Witchcraft, 1692, by Liv Helene Willumsen, vol. 131, no. 2 (2020): 135-58.

The Nightmare Experience, Sleep Paralysis, and Witchcraft Accusations, by Owen Davies, vol. 114/2 (2003): 181–203.

The Witch as Hare or the Witch’s Hare: Popular Legends and Beliefs in Nordic Tradition, by Bodil Nildin-Wall & Jan Wall, vol. 104/1-2 (1993): 67-76.

Witches’ Herbs on Trial, by Michael Ostling, vol. 125/2 (2014): 179–201.

Further Reading

Witchcraft, Spirit Possession and Heresy, by Lucy Mair, vol. 91/2 (1980): 228–38.

Fatal Feeds?: PlantsLivestock Losses and Witchcraft Accusations in Tudor and Stuart Britain, by Sally Hickey, vol. 101/2 (1990): 131–42.

Demonology and Medicine in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, by Sona Rosa Burstein, vol. 67/1 (1956): 16–33.

‘The Old Woman as Hare’: Structure and Meaning in an Irish Legend, by Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, vol. 104/1-2 (1993): 77–85.

The Witches of Canewdon, by Eric Maple, vol. 71/4 (1960): 241–50.