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

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Sussex Academic Press, 2005 - History - 317 pages
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In the hundreds of confessions relating to witchcraft and sorcery trials from early modern Britain we frequently find detailed descriptions of intimate working relationships between popular magical practitioners and familiar spirits of either human or animal form. Until recently historians often dismissed these descriptions as elaborate fictions created by judicial interrogators eager to find evidence of stereotypical pacts with the Devil. Although this paradigm is now routinely questioned, and most historians acknowledge that there was a folkloric component to familiar lore in the period, these beliefs and the experiences reportedly associated with them, remain substantially unexamined. Cunning-Folk and Familiar Spirits examines the folkloric roots of familiar lore 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
 

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User Review  - tredara - LibraryThing

A very interesting set of ideas about how early modern brits might have experienced spirit contact and alliance. Read full review

Contents

ONE A Harsh and Enchanted World
8
TWO Cunning Folk and Witches
26
THREE The Magical Use of Spirits
46
The Meeting
59
FIVE The Working Relationship
77
six Renunciation and Pact
92
The Interface
112
INTRODUCTION TO PART n
123
INTRODUCTION TO PART in
163
ELEVEN Psychosis or Spirituality?
185
TWELVE The Unrecognized Mystics
199
THIRTEEN Greedigut and the Angel Gabriel
218
FOURTEEN The Freedom of Magic
243
Notes
258
Bibliography
294
Index
303

NINE Spirit Worlds and High Gods
146

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About the author (2005)

Emma Wilby is an honorary fellow at the University of Exeter.

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