Today I journeyed to the forest to seek out some Eastern Hemlock (tsuga canadensis) in an absolutely breathtaking part of Northeast Ohio that’s only about a 15 minute’s drive from my front door. Here exists one of a few forests almost exclusively dominated by eastern hemlocks – a sight to behold at any time of the year.
Walking through the forest feels ancient, even though most of these trees are under 100 years old. Some old trees still stand, living reminders of how beautiful and aged hemlock can be, and remnants of ancient trees since removed linger on the forest floor.
It was chilly today, and rather overcast – overall, a good day for being out and about in the forest, it wasn’t too warm and the beautiful canopy of hemlock boughs above my head protected my from the light February drizzle.
Being in this area is really…
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Three weeks ago a Facebook group was set up about my book, Village Witch for anyone who’s interested in the stories behind the story so to speak. Here’s the description and link:
It’s been going well and we now have 70 members. I haven’t been quite sure of what the members would enjoy but certainly for me, some of the comments have triggered off quite a few memories of events and anecdotes that failed to make it to the book – so I’ll talk about a few here and on the group. 🙂
So…about the curious cat. I need…
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I recently came across a blog in which an Elder was ranting about current students. The jist of her rant seemed to be “In the Good Old Days, I walked barefoot up a snowy mountain both ways for the beatings that I was grateful to receive”. This blog upset me for several reasons. Anyone seeking traditional teaching is in for a whole lot of hard work, transformation, grief and yes, even possibly pain. It is definitely not a path for just anyone, and a lot of people who seek it will drop out when the going gets tough. It is not easy, it is not without tears; essentially, expect to work your ass off. Traditional Craft training will eat up a good portion of your life and you should expect to agree to do what your teacher asks of you.
But…there seems to be some confusion out there about what…
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In Estonia, accusations of magic, which were often about enchanted potions, were rare, while the belief in magic was common. Accusations of werewolves, on the other hand, were common. At 18 trials, 18 women and 13 men were accused of causing damage to property and cattle while in the shape of werewolves. Under torture, they confessed to having hidden their wolvf-skins under a rock. The werewolf trials petered out at the end of the 17th century. As late as 1696, however, a pack of werewolves was believed to run wild in Vastemoisa under their leader Libbe Matz.
The werewolf was not always regarded as evil in the Baltic. A notable case in Jürgensburg in Livonia in 1692, follows a similar pattern, but did not end in a death sentence: the eighty-year-old Thiess confessed to be a werewolf who, with other werewolves, regularly went to hell three times a year to fight the witches and wizards of Satan to ensure a good harvest. This case is was also noted by Carlo Ginzburg as similar to that of the Benandanti. The court tried to make Theiss confess that he had made a pact with the devil and that the werewolf was in the service of Satan, but they did not succeed, and he was sentenced to whipping on 10 October 1692.
Hans the Werewolf
The trial of “Hans the Werewolf” is a typical example of the combined werewolf and witch trials, which dominated witch hunts in Estonia.
In 1651, Hans was brought before the court in Idavare accused of being a werewolf at the age of eighteen. He had confessed that he had hunted as a werewolf for two years. He claimed he had gotten the body of a wolf by a man in black. “When asked by the judges if his body took part in the hunt, or if only his soul was transmuted, Hans confirmed that he had found a dog’s teeth-marks on his own leg, which he had received while a werewolf. Further asked whether he felt himself to be a man or a beast while transmuted, he said that he felt himself to be beast”.
Thereby, the court considered it proof that he had not dressed out, but really transformed into a werewolf, which meant he had undergone a magical transformation. Furthermore, as he was given this disguise by a “man in black,” which the court thought was obviously Satan, he could be judged guilty of witchcraft and sentenced to death. In the Baltic countries, this was a common method of turning a werewolf trial into a witch trial.