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

ISBN-10: 1845190793
ISBN-13: 9781845190798
Edition: 2005
Authors: Emma Wilby
List price: $39.95
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Description: 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  More...

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Book details

List price: $39.95
Copyright year: 2005
Publisher: Sussex Academic Press
Publication date: 12/1/2005
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 317
Size: 5.75" wide x 9.00" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.034
Language: English

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 it was generally assumed that they were largely 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. This book confirms the folkloric roots of familiar-belief in early modern Britain by examining the links between the stereotypical witch's familiar and the cunning-man or woman's fairy-familiar as represented in witch-trials and contemporary writings. The author goes on to analyse the experiential dimension of these familiar-encounters by looking at the visionary trance-states of nineteenth and twentieth-century Northern Asian and Amerindian shamans. The book concludes by suggesting that a vigorous popular visionary tradition existed throughout Britain in the period, a view which challenges the reductionist view of early modern popular magic often presented by historians.

List of Illustrations
Preface: Walking with Spirits - A Cunning Woman's Tale
Acknowledgments
Demon and Fairy Familiars: The Historical Context
Introduction to Part I
A Harsh and Enchanted World
Cunning Folk and Witches
The Magical Use of Spirits
Human and Spirit: The Meeting
The Working Relationship
Renunciation and Pact
Demon and Fairy: The Interface
Anthropological Perspectives
Introduction to Part II
The Shaman's Calling
Spirit Worlds and High Gods
The Experiential Dimension
Introduction to Part III
Phantasticks and Phantasms
Psychosis or Spirituality?
The Unrecognized Mystics
Greedigut and the Angel Gabriel
The Freedom of Magic
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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