Witches and Wizards are bought into the modern world with a series of tales, not tall but true, about mysterious and magickal beings who were once considered a normal, it not very necessary component of everyday life.
They were considered essential to wellbeing of the community and also feared as their powers could also bring hardship and destruction.
This so named Pagan way of life, changed with the slow but insidious introduction of a formalised religion into many communities which was eventually to bring with it some of the worst, and horrific incidents of brutality the world had ever seen. The introduction to chapter 1 encapsulates in a few lines what was before and what was to follow, when the Old Gods and the New had a truce.
But in the first instance Lucy Cavendish has introduced us to a number of stories of these most magickal and mystical people who lived, and in some cases loved, on this earth.
Rituals, overseen by wizards or witches, were a standard component of village life if the crop was to succeed and give a plentiful harvest. The preparation for this commenced some time before the crop was planted and once in, thanks in the form of another ritual, was offered for the earth to have given forth in bountiful measures.
The point here is the cunning people were respected and accepted – cunning meaning wise and knowledgeable – with their words also respected and acknowledge by Kings and commoners alike.
Merlin was a very real person and although there has been much debate out where he was from originally and where his final resting place is, he was alive, did have great and powerful knowledge and did influence history during his time.
And then things began to go totally and horribly wrong during the 1400’s with a series of pestilences, plagues befalling Briton and Europe. Along with death, starvation and disease came fear, a very powerful demon, and one which needed something on which to blame the horror of what was happening.
And so the Burning Times or the Witch Craze, began in Wurzburg, Germany where they feared the healers and wise men and women. They decreed they were all Witches and deserved to be burned. The Church pointed its finger at these people who still practiced the ‘old ways’, convincing the people of the towns and cities they were the Devil, or at the very least followers of the Devil.
Thousands of men, women, children, and animals met their deaths in horrible circumstances, throughout Europe and Britain, a situation which continued on through to the Salem Witch trials in Massachusetts in 1692.
Although you may think this has all happened in times past and is no more account that history, it is as recently as 2001 when, more than 100 years after the last of the Salem executions, five of the victims of this horrific event were exonerated.
Each of the chapters deals with a different time in history, each one as fascinating as the next. Stories have been told and retold, to try and help understand just what did happen and promote the deep and long held philosophies that underpin that of the craftsmanship that goes into being a Witch or Wizard, otherwise known as ‘cunning’ folk; the folk who acknowledge the ways of the earth, the seasons of the year, and the fundamental beliefs that there is a time for everything and for everything, a time.
At the end of the book there are a series of celebrations you can undertake for the various seasons of the year. Dotted throughout the book in various chapters are also simple spells you may like to use and excerpts from various manuscripts used in the compilation of this book, which make fascinating reading.
This is a first book in the Supernatural Series, with the content being as intriguing as they are informative and enjoyable. Whatever subject or topic Lucy Cavendish chooses for her next book, it will be well worth the wait.