Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"In the name of the Father, the Son, King Arthur, and Queen Elspeth."

The first Witchcraft trial in Scotland for which the "dittay" (indictment) has been preserved largely intact, is that of Janet Boyman in 1572. (Variations on her name are Janet Bowman and Jonet Boyman.) The documentary evidence leaves no room for doubt that this accused Witch was someone sought after for her abilities as a healer.
"Jonet Boyman of Canongate, Edinburgh, accused in 1572 of witchcraft and diabolic incantation, the first Scottish trial for which a detailed indictment has so far been found. Indeed, it is one of the richest accounts hitherto uncovered for both fairy belief and charming, suggesting an intriguing tradition which associated, in some way, the fairies with the legendary King Arthur. At an 'elrich well' on the south side of Arthur's Seat, Jonet uttered incantations and invocations of the 'evill spreits quhome she callit upon for to come to show and declair' what would happen to a sick man named Allan Anderson, her patient. She allegedly first conjured 'ane grit blast' like a whirlwind, and thereafter appeared the shape of a man who stood on the other side of the well, and interesting hint of liminality. She charged this conjured presence, in the name of the father, the son, King Arthur and Queen Elspeth, to cure Anderson. She then received elaborate instructions about washing the ill man's shirt, which were communicated to Allan's wife. That night the patient's house shook in the midst of a huge, and incomprehensible ruckus involving winds, horses and hammering, apparently because the man's wife did not follow the instructions to the letter. On the following night the house was plagued by a mighty din again, caused, this time, by a great company of women."
[Scottish Fairy Belief by Lizanne Henderson and Edward J. Cowan (2001) 127-128.]

For more on Jonet Boymen, also see P.G. Maxwell-Stuart's Satan's Conspiracy: Magic and Witchcraft in 16th Century Scotland (2001), pp. 62-66.

1 comment:

Ananta Androscoggin said...

Perhapss we need someone to pen a new book:

"Satan's Conspiracy:
The Rise of Nondenominational Evangelical Christianity in the 21st century"