Cunning-Folk and Familiar Spirits: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic

Cunning-Folk and Familiar Spirits: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic

Emma Wilby

Language: English

Pages: 316

ISBN: 1845190793

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Cunning-Folk and Familiar Spirits: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic

Emma Wilby

Language: English

Pages: 316

ISBN: 1845190793

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This book examines the folkloric roots of familiar lore in early modern Britain from historical, anthropological, and comparative religious perspectives. It argues that beliefs about witches' familiars were rooted in beliefs surrounding the use of fairy familiars by beneficent magical practitioners or "cunning folk," and corroborates this through a comparative analysis of familiar beliefs found in traditional Native American and Siberian shamanism. The author then goes on to explore the experiential dimension of familiar lore by drawing parallels between early modern familiar encounters and visionary mysticism as it appears in both tribal shamanism and medieval European contemplative traditions. These perspectives challenge the reductionist view of popular magic in early modern Britain often presented by historians

The Hidden and Manifest God: Some Major Themes in Early Jewish Mysticism

The Psychopath's Bible: For the Extreme Individual

Complete Enochian Dictionary: A Dictionary of the Angelic Language as Revealed to Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley

Balkan Traditional Witchcraft

Outside the Circles of Time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

seventeenth century at least, may have been regarded as something most appropriate for servant girls and children'.46 Although some of the educated may have had their reservations, many sources from the period suggest that fairy belief was indeed a 'powerful folklore' among common folk at this time. In 1 597, King James VI of Scotland penned a treatise on witchcraft and sorcery, Daemon% gie, in which he referred condescendingly to the 'simple creatures' who believe in fairies, claiming them to be

499) mainĀ­ tained that a holly stick allegedly given to her daughter by the fairies could be used 'in order to find hidden treasure'.57 Similar beliefs lay behind an Aberdeenshire man's claim in 1 6 0 1 that a spirit in the form of a little man, almost certainly a fairy, woke him up to tell him 'thou art onder wraik, gang to the weachmanis houss in Stanivoid and thair thou sall find baith 71 HUMAN AND SPIRIT: THE MEETING siluer and gold' .58 However, despite such associations, monetary gifts

folk contain descriptions of malevolent intent on the part of the magical practitioner and evidence that they employed their fairy familiars to do harm. Agnes Sampson ( 1 5 9 1 ) , for example, was a highly-respected and largely benevolent cunning woman from Haddington, near Edinburgh, who cured the sick and " sought her haill responses" from her familiar ( described variously as a dog and a man and whom she seems to have invoked by calling 'Elva ' ) . Agnes was originally tempted into an

claimed of the accused that 'Scrabbling frantically for an answer, women probably told their interrogators [fairy] stories that they had heard, changed to the first perĀ­ son, and stories that they had told as pastimes, not meaning to be believed.'16 One of the reasons why scholars underplay the visionary dimension of the encounter-experience is because its existence is not well supported by source material. On the one hand, occasional references linking the familiar-encountec and trance

in part be attributed to the profound longevity of certain cultural elements, inherited pre-Christian cosmologies, mythic images and ritual techniques handed down through the generations through oral transmission and through which process the shaman's helping spirit transmuted into the early modern familiar, and his subterranean world of the dead into the fairy Elfame or Christian purgatory. Evidence of historical contiguity, however, is not wholly necessary to support the perspectives presented

Download sample

Download