Put To Question: Pressing

Torture isn’t allowed under English law –

but some folk still get pressed to death by the peine forte et dure!

pressing

“he will lie upon his back, with his head covered and his feet, and one arm will be drawn to one quarter of the house with a cord, and the other arm to another quarter, and in the same manner it will be done with his legs; and let there be laid upon his body iron and stone, as much as he can bear, or more …

(from the Curiosities of Cowel’s Interpreter)

Put To Question: The Strappado

Torture isn’t allowed under English Law

but some unfortunates fall prey to The Strappado . . .

strappado

“They tied my hands behind my back. Then they hung me from a door. It feels like they are stretching you from all sides. My torso was twisted and my shoulders were dislocated from their joints from time to time. The pain cannot be described. The [Inquisitor] was shouting, ‘Confess or you will die here.'”

Demdike’s Lament: Return of the Druid

Demdike’s Lament: Return of the Druid

   Kotabinski

In the days of old they called us

the Wise Women

and begged our aid

when the world beat against them.

The Druids crowned us

High Priestesses –

we raised storms to keep

the invaders at bay.

Dancers span spells

and wrought powerful potions,

bringing new life into being

and healing ill.

We brewed roots, bark, plants and

poisoned berries

and sang to claim the winds and wilds.

Waterhouse

Then the clergy spoke and made

all the Cunning

into Heretics,

ostracized from the Divine.

We terrified them

and were ground down

under the boot of

the cruel Inquisition.

We became Witches

 and the burnings began.

But we never honored Satan –

only nature.

Yet those put to question

still gave up

their friends to fire and gallows.

Nesbit

We now roam the land as Vagabonds

telling futures

and changing luck.

Skilled eyes that can pierce through the veil

will be Clairvoyants,

 mastering the spirit world.

When doctors and science

fail to tame the feral –

they will label us mad and

damaged Hysterics.

Yet healers always find new ways

to combat superstition.

And when faith returns

I know Wise Women

will ride the moon once again.

Pictures:

Wilhelm Kotabinski

John William Waterhouse

Evelyn Nesbit

Ever Counted Magpies?

Here’s a little rhyme to tell your future by counting Magpies! 

 

Bird 1      One for sorrow

 

Bird 2    Two for joy

Bird 3   Three for a girl

 

Bird 4    Four for a boy

 

silverFive for silver

 

gold   Six for gold

secret   Seven for a secret never to be told

 

wish   Eight for a wish

kiss   Nine for a kiss

Birds 10

Ten for a bird you must not miss.

Happy counting!

Soul Night – By Any Other Name

Call it what ye will – but the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest.

Samhain means Summer’s End.  We Wise Women celebrate on the nearest full moon afore November, after the harvest is gathered.  This is halfway between Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice.  It represents the end of summer and the start of the spiritual New Year.  Samhain comes from the Celtic Fire Festival when all the Druids remembered the dead.  Bonfires may be built to cleanse and protect – and sacrifices are offered to the gods.  It’s a night of divination, mummers, feastin’, guisin’, and young lads followin’ the Hobby Horse about the village.

The Church of Rome made this feast into All Hallows’ Eve, the start of All Saints’ Day to honor the Christian saints and martyrs – and All Soul’s Day that remembers the souls of the dead.  There’ll be Soul Cakes eaten instead of meat, candles lit for the dear departed, vigils, feasts, and the ringin’ of church bells everywhere.

Halloween

The youngsters have just celebrated Halloween, short for Hallowed or Holy Evening, and remembered the frailty of life with skeletons, ghouls,  cobwebs, tombstones, and demons.  They hope to have chased evil and death away, by honoring the darkness. Some carved turnips into Jack o’ Lanterns for those lost souls who’ve been denied both Heaven and Hell.  There were pranks and guising to imitate mischievous spirits, costume feasts, processions, and mummers’ plays.

Aye, it’s a powerful week — but be careful to guard your own soul!