At their October meeting Stanhoe and Barwick WI were treated to Dr Maureen James speaking on “Witch, Wicca and Women”, a history of English witchcraft.
Going back beyond medieval times Dr James showed us how strong women were portrayed form Greek myths through to well-known mystics such as Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe.
She explained how women had always been herbalists and treated illnesses, and how women had always talked together about the mysteries of birth and death, and this led to them often being labelled as a witch.
The Witchcraft Acts of 1542 and 1745 banned all forms of witchcraft, and resulted in public hangings for perpetrators.
BY Victorian times there were lots of fortune tellers, soothsayers, and local superstitions which lasted right up to recent years, such as “reading the fortune in the tea leaves” and “the charming of warts.”
There is a museum of witchcraft and magic in Boscastle which features much of the history, and of Wicca, the twentieth-century development founded by Gerald Gardner.
It was a real romp through witchcraft history.