As an English witch, I like to occasionally travel to places of historical relevance to witchcraft. Sometimes it makes me sad of course as it often unveils tales of persecution and hangings for these poor, often totally innocent women. Often I get a real buzz out of going somewhere so steeped in a history that is relevant and which feels personal to me. And most common of all, I come away frustrated at the lack of genuine, solid information.
The reason I mention this is because I was chatting to someone last night (originally talking about the article I posted the other day!) that I visited Pendle Hill with - erstwhile home to one of the most famous witch trials in the land. I’ve been a couple of times now and I can’t get enough of the atmosphere - dark, foreboding and gloomy it is also a place of great beauty and charm. A wonderful mix in other words. I fully recommend Witches Galore too - a shop I was totally LOATH to leave!!
The Pendle Hill Witches Trial is a fascinating tale and one that is worth reading up on if you’re the history buff type (which I am - shame my memory fails to allow me to be a clever clogs with it!). If you are a witch or Wiccan yourself, one thing that will strike you is that it is incredibly difficult to see any recognisable forms of witchcraft in any records or accounts from the time. All that comes through is prejudice and scapegoating.
What also amazes me is that it obvious that some of the accused were clearly not even witches at all. They were extorting money out of ignorant locals to make a living and in many ways perpetuating myth and stereotypes in order to frighten people into paying for their services.
So, the more I read and experience in my visits, the more I just see examples of the attitudes to witches that have remained throughout the centuries. Sadly, what I don’t see is hardly anything that I can learn from and include in my own work. There will have been witches at the time, maintaining the Pagan ways and focusing on the good and pure energies of the universe. It’s just a shame that so much of their wisdom has been lost and overshadowed.