Ouija Boards

Public domain, 1892 first board

Ouija Boards

~ By Thomas Baurley / Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Research 9/7/2017.

By far one of my most favorite occult tools would be the Ouija Board, made famous throughout history by none other than the game manufacturer “Parker Brothers”. But how old is the Ouija Board? is it just a board game? does it work? Is it demonic? Those are just a handful of questions people have over the instrument made to communicate with the dead. So controversial even Pagans and Witches have mixed reactions with it, from outright scared avoidance to obsessive usage.

In print, the Ouija board was first referenced in February 1891 C.E. in newspaper advertisements promoting the “Ouija, the Wonderful Talking Board” as a new and popular toy that answered questions of “the past, present and future with marvelous accuracy.” It guaranteed that it would have “never-failing amusement and recreation for all classes”. It was promoted as having a link “between the known and unknown, the material and immaterial”. It originally sold for $1.50 a board and planchette. It was officially authenticated and patented by the U.S. Patent Office. In order to be approved by the Patent Office on February 10, 1891, it had to be “proven” to work, and it was, so permitted to proceed. Some Psychologists suggest that it may offer a link between the known and unknown. It has been rationalized as operating under the ideometer effect – that automatic muscular movements take place without the conscious will or volition of the individual. This has become the explanation for the successes of other devices as well such as pendulums, dowsing rods, and the more commonly popular fake bomb detection kits.

Public domain, 1892 first board

The Ouija board consists of a flat board with the letters of the alphabet sprawled upon it in either a circle or crescent, arch or straight text, but most commonly as two semi-circles above the numbers of 0 through 9. It also has the words “yes” and “no” on it, most commonly in the uppermost corners, sometimes with the word “goodbye” most commonly placed at the bottom of the board. It commonly comes with a tear-drop shaped device called a “planchette” either of wood or plastic, but has also involved downturned cups, glasses, or circular pieces of translucent glass. Some of the planchettes have a small window or clear/translucent piece or glass embedded in it that manuevers over numbers or letters.

The board is often placed on a table, or the knees of two people facing one another, with each person placing their finger tips on the planchette. One of the users would ask the board (actually the spirit(s) being communicated with) a question and the planchette in response would move from letter to letter, number to number, and spell out the response.

Boards today are usually cardboard, with a laminate printout of the design, but in earlier days was wood, stone, or more durable materials. I used to make them from tree trunk slices and a circular pattern of letters and numbers in a Celtic-styled design. The planchette today is primarily plastic, though earlier and more elaborate boards still use glass or wood.

Historian Robert Murch claims that he’s been researching it since 1992 and most of its history is obscure, unknown, and mysterious. It has been proposed that its only as old at 19th century American spiritualism when it became “cliche” and “trendy” to communicate with the dead. While Spiritualism is pretty old in Europe, it didn’t really popularize in the Americas until 1848 when the Fox sisters claimed to receive messages from spirits by rapping on walls answering questions and conducting seances/ channelings in parlors utilizing pieces of paper or cardboard on a table with a upturned wineglass or by means of automatic writing. Back in the day, it was popular to communicate with the dead especially to assist in the passing process of the deceased.

The first producers of the Ouija Board game was the Kennard Novelty Company who sold it to the mainstream audience as a toy. It was promoted by the Associated Press in 1886 as a board with letters, numbers, and a planchette as a phenomena being used in spiritualist camps throughout Ohio. The investor Charles Kennard of Baltimore in 1890 rounded up investors such as attorney Elijah Bond, surveyor Col. Washington Bowie and himself to create the Kennard Novelty Company to exclusively make these bards for profit, rather than spiritualism. It was called the “Kennard Talking Board”. The name “Ouija” was created by Elijah’s sister-in-law Helen Peters. (It was not the combination of the French word “oui” for “yes” and German “ja”.) Apparently the board itself gave the name “Ouija” when asked what it should be called, and came with the meaning of “Good Luck”. Apparently Peters had been wearing a locket during the reading that had a picture of the famous author and women’s right activist “Ouida” but had “Ouija” (misread) above her head in the picture. Peters apparently was also present to demonstrate to the Patent Office that the board actually worked. The chief patent officer asked the board to spell out his name (unknown to those in attendance) and it did. There was no explanation by the Patent Office how it actually worked, just that it did.

By 1892 the Kennard company expanded from one factory in Baltimore to two, then two more in New York, two more in Chicago, and one in London. By 1893 the Company was managed by William Fuld. Fuld died in 1927 from a freak fall off the roof of his new factory that the board told him to build.

The board became extremely popular in the 1910-20’s after World War I, Prohibition, and Norman Rockwells illustration of it on the May 1920 cover of the Saturday Evening Post. It came in great demand during the Great Depression as well. By 1944 a single department store sold 50,000 boards in just 5 months of carrying them. In 1966 Parker Brothers bought the game, and by 1967 sold over 2 million boards. Macabre and eerie stories about its use became widespread by then and started to give the board a bad name. Fundamentalist Christianity attacked it claiming it to be the tool of the Devil. This just increased sales and never harmed its distribution.

By 1973, “The Exorcist” hit the theaters and began scaring people from the implication that the 12 year old Regan was possessed by the devil after playing with the board by herself, leading to people’s fear that one should never use it alone. From this point the board was feared and became a target for banning. By 1991 Hasbro took over manufacturing and selling the board acquiring it from Parker Brothers. It became commonplace in Hollywood horror films and as early as 2001 in New Mexico was burned on bonfires alongside Harry Potter and Snow White books. Catholic.com calls it even today “far from harmless” and Pat Robertson claims demons reach people through the boards. Infantile and newbie Pagans, Wiccans, and Heathens also think its a dark tool. Experienced and well versed Pagans, Witches, and Druids however utilize it as a very valuable tool, comparable to a cell phone with service to the dead.

Today it has a reborn popularity and sales have once again increased. It was made popular again from its use in “Castle”, “Breaking Bad”, “Rizzoli and Isles”, Paranormal Activity 1&2. It became iconic fashion for the Goth music industry and imprinted on bras, underwear, and shirts by Hot Topic. There are apps on i-phones, programs on the computer as well as the internet to use the game online. (see http://www.museumoftalkingboards.com/WebOuija.html) By 2015 there were glow-in-the-dark versions made by Hasbros.

In May of 2012, City Officials in San Francisco consulted a ouija board to determine the outcome of a vote on whether or not to recommend naming a Navy ship after slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk. Officials claim they made contact with his spirit and that Milk spelled on the board “Good riddance to don’t ask, don’t tell”. (Harvey Milk was shot in 1978 by Dan White)


  • McRobbie, Linda Rodriguez 2013 “The STrange and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board” Smithsonian.com. Website referenced 9/6/17 at http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-strange-and-mysterious-history-of-the-ouija-board-5860627/?utm_source=onesignal.
  • Wikipedia n.d. “Ouija”. Website referenced 9/7/17 at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouija.

  • Yahoo News: 2012-05-23 “City Officials Consults Ouija Board Before Vote”. Website referenced June 2012. http://news.yahoo.com/city-official-consults-ouija-board-vote-130857601.html.

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The Wishing Steps of Rock Close

Wishing Steps

Wishing Steps
* The Rock Close * Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * http://www.blarneycastle.ie *

Onwards with the quest for charms and blessings, just after kissing the legendary Blarney Stone for the gift of gab we wandered into The Rock Close of Blarney Castle. It was time to visit the wiley old witch of Blarney for a endowment of wishes. The witch requires the wisher to walk backwards up and down the steps with their eyes closed without stopping for a moment or thinking of anything other than the wish – then that wish will come true within a year. Of course I did it, and those who know me can only guess what my wish was … The roughly hewn 21-24 limestone steps climb up through an archway of limestone rocks. The steps can be wet and very slippery. Legend states that the witch was forced to do these blessings on the steps as a way for her to pack for her firewood she uses in the Witches kitchen located at the top of the steps. It is believed that if you go up the stairs early in the morning you will see dying embers in the fire pit of the Witches’ Kitchen and Stone which is supposedly lit every night by the Blarney Castle Witch.

The witch supposedly grants the wish within a year’s time. Others say a “year and a day”. My wish came true in precisely a year and 2 months. On June 28, 2010 I wished to be united with my soul mate and twin flame that previous prophecies said I’d meet. I also always had dreams as a child I’d marry an Irish woman. A year later in 2011 I was supposed to go to Ireland but while in Scotland ran out of money and called to tell my Irish friends I wasn’t able to come for a visit. They asked if I was going to Burning Man to which I replied, “I couldn’t afford it”. They had a position open for me as staff in helping build the Celtic dragon effigy for Ireland at Burning Man, so I went. I had a theme camp set up called “Tir na nOg” and was a base camp for the Irish crew. The night of the Effigy burn, I was a fire guardian and while watching the perimeter, had a friend from Colorado come fire spin for the event and she needed a safety person – unable to assist as I was already tied up with the boundary, I looked around the audience and saw a woman dressed like a leprechaun who was sober – I asked her to assist and she did. Afterwards I invited her back to our Tir na nOg camp, fed her fairy food and drink, and we fell in love. It turned out she was from Ireland, via the Pacific Northwest after working a summer on Vancouver Island, and lived in Cork – a stone’s throw from the Blarney Witch. She was looking for other Irish to hang out with. I moved to Dublin with her, two months later at the Stone of Destiny was inspired to propose to her, and we soon after married and gave birth to a beautiful son. So every year we return to the Blarney Witch to thank her for playing cupid. In our experience, we believe the wishing steps work.





The Blarney Witch: Her Kitchen and Stone in the Rock Close

The Witches’ Kitchen

Witches Kitchen
* The Rock Close * Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * http://www.blarneycastle.ie *

In the enchanted grounds of Rock Close in the fabled lands of Blarney Castle is the infamous Kitchen of the Blarney Witch. Archaeologically it is believed to have been a prehistoric dwelling potentially as old as the Neolithic (3,000-5,000 years old) if there is any connection of it to the The Rock Close Dolmen (Blarney Castle) or the Druid’s Cave and Circle. Atop her wishing steps is her kitchen. It has a chimney and fireplace within.

The Witches’ Kitchen

Offset from the kitchen is her stone. Apparently by legend she is bound and entrapped in the rock in servitude to bestow wishes upon those who walk up and down backwards the wishing steps while thinking only of their wishes and not letting any other thoughts drift in. In exchange, the Blarney guardians provide her firewood for this very kitchen so she can continue her spell craft and crazy brews while staying warm at night for when darkness falls she is magically released from the stone she is trapped within. Some say if you arrive early enough you can still see the dying embers of the fire as she lights a fire every night. Many believe that it was the Blarney Witch who really told McCarthy about the power of the Blarney Stone while others claim it was her who enchanted the stone as a “thank you” to McCarthy for saving her from drowning in the river. No one seems to know how she was entrapped into her rock. The Echoe Ghost Hunters investigated this area in 2010-2011 and claimed very strong EMP’s were recorded in the area of the Witches’ Kitchen. Most of the lore in this area is centered around the Witch of Blarney.

The Witches Stone




The Rock Close of Blarney

Rock Close

Rock Close
* Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * www.blarneycastle.ie *

A mystical portal in the heart of the castle grounds of Blarney Castle is Rock Close, a place where faeries dance, Witches’ bless and answer wishes, Druids weave magic, stone monuments made, and magic is alive. The Rock Close garden is not only a site of myths and legends, but of romance and art. A dolmen greets you as you walk along the river after walking through a weaved willow tunnel, with misty meadows, moss covered rocks, and waterfalls. As you walk up the Witches Wishing steps to the Witches Kitchen and where the Witch is trapped in the stone, overlooked by the Druid Cave and by the Druid Ceremonial circle where you can walk around where the faeries play. This is one of the most fun and condensed folklore heavy sites I’ve encountered in Ireland – of course its history is a mystery in of itself. It is also a great romantic getaway from the tourist heavy section of Blarney Castle. Prehistoric dwellings adapted by 10th, 13th, and 19th century adaptations lead a lot to the imagination in this garden. In 1824, Croften Croker wrote in his “Researches in the South of Ireland” about the mysteries of this spot.

    “In this romantic spot nature and art (a combination rather uncommon in pleasure grounds) have gone hand in hand. Advantage has been taken of accidental circumstances to form tasteful and characteristic combinations; and it is really a matter of difficulty at first to determine what is primitive, and what the produce of design. The delusion is even heightened by the present total neglect. You come most unexpectedly into this little shaded nook, and stand upon a natural terrace above the river, which glides as calmly as possible beneath. Here, if you feel inclined for contemplation, a rustic couch of rock, all festooned with moss and ivy, is at your service; but if adventurous feelings urge you to explore farther, a discovery is made of an almost concealed, irregularly excavated passage through the solid rock, which is descended by a rude flight of stone steps, called the “Wishing Steps,” and you emerge sul margine d’un rio, over which depend some light and graceful trees. It is indeed a fairy scene, and I know of no place where I could sooner imagine these little elves holding their moon-light revelry. ~ Croften Croker, 1824


It was a highly popular in the early 19th century with antiquarians. The mysteries of the Blarney Witch, the Fairies, the Druids, and the Dolmen are sure to enchant you. Blarney Castle does document that this was a place for Druidic worship. The sacrificial altar of course is hearsay, the Druid’s circle is probably, the hermit’s cave or Druid’s cave is a mystery as is the Witches’ kitchen and wishing steps. It has been documented that in the late 1700’s C.E. (Common Era) that the Rock Close was made into the garden area upon which foundations are walked upon today. Apparently the castle owners landscaped around already existing prehistoric dwellings, stone monuments, and Druid circles to make the magical faerie glen it is today.





Mark Twain’s ancestor was witchfinder general

Cross-posted from Irish Central:

Mark Twain’s ancestor was ‘witchfinder general’ during Belfast witchcraft trial

In the original article listed above, author Michelle K. Smith of Irish Central uncovered in Irish Central news that Mark Twain’s ancestor, his late uncle Edward Clements was the Witchfinder General and participated in a number of witch hunts in Ireland and had Irish Roots. He was especially noted for his participation in the Islandmagee Witch Trial that took place in Belfast during the 18th century.

This discovery was made by Dr. Andrew Sneddon whose research revealed the connection in his recently released book, “Possessed by the Devil: The History of the Islandmagee Witches; Ireland’s Only Witchcraft Mass Trial”.
Dr. Andrew Sneddon discovered that American novelist Mark Twain’s ancestor was the ‘witchfinder general’ during the Islandmagee Witch Trial in Belfast in the 18th century. Itwas during the 1711 witch hunt in Belfast that uncovered eight old women in Islandmagee in Ulster that had been found guilty of bewitching a young 18 year old girl named Mary Dunbar. Mary Dunbar had come to Islandmagee to comfort her cousin after the death of a relative that the locals believed also had been bewitched. Locals had claimed that Mary had been showing signs of possession and bewitchment as she had vomited pins, feathers, and cotton, was continuously screaming and reacted angrily to prayers. He jailed the eight women for a year, holding them in stocks four times a day during the market where the locals could pelt them with vegetables and fruit. Dr. Sneddon believed the that Mary Dunbar had accused these eight women in order to gain sexual attention. During her fits apparently she took company with the local men in her bedroom who held her down writhing on the bed perhaps for sexual pleasure or attention. He relates that Ireland had alot of witch hunts from 1500-1800 C.E.





One of the most common forms of divination, pendulums are used to tell the sex of unborn children, detect pregnancy, tell the future, answer life’s questions, prophecy, divining, and a common place magic trick. No one really fully understands the process of how the pendulum works. Pendulums are easy to make as it simply involves attaching a small weight to a length of chain, thread, or cord. The process of using it is even easier, as all one has to do is place their elbow on a table, face the pendulum which is looped over the index finger, and asked questions – to which the weight will move and provide answers. People often ask the pendulum if they should take trips, make life choices, if someone likes/loves them, relationship issues, if they should make purchases, if they are sick, allergic, and/or pregnant. Some use the pendulum to determine allergies. Others use pendulums to locate lost items, find places on a map, hidden treasure, water, caves, graves, or secrets of the unknown. Albeit easy to use, the pendulum does take a bit of rhythmn, practice, and tuning for precision results. Pendulums can be constructed of simply a lead fishing weight, a coin (such as a Norwegian kronos), a ring, a crystal, stone, or needle attached to a length of string or chain. Some choose to purchase simple to elaborate ones from Metaphysical, Pagan, New Age, Witch, or Occult shops. Some “experts” claim a true pendulum needs to be made using certain guidelines, including requirements of something that weighs at least three ounces and attached to 4-6 inches of cord. In my experience, the cord should be roughly the length of your hand from your wrist to the tip of your middle finger. As far as weight, that varies, as I’ve had much success if a pin definitely weighing under 3 ounces.

The best success with pendulums use I’ve found is to hold the cord between the thumb and first finger of your right or left hand (depending on what handedness you are – though some claim it must be the right hand. I am however left-handed and find it works perfectly with my usual orientation) or drooped over your index finger pinned by your thumb. Then resting your elbow on a table allow the pendulum to swing freely an inch or so above the surface of a table. You can also purchase a pendulum board for clearer and a more “fancy” presentation. Stop the movement of the weight with your free hand and then ask the pendulum your question. Ask it to answer “yes” and make note of the movement of the swing. Ask it to answer “no” and make note of the movement of the swing. Generally though, if it swings the direction of your head when nodding “yes” (to and from your face), then that is a “yes”. If it moves side to side, like the movement of the head in western culture for “no” it is a no. There is some dispute that the movements vary based on cultural views of body language for yes/no answers. The pendulum can also move diagonal meaning “maybe”, “don’t want to answer”, “right question”, or “don’t know”. It can also move in circles (clock-wise or counter-clockwise). Once the pendulum indicates an answer, which can be answered with mini swings to full swinging motions your answer should be revealed. There is also some debate that you should be asking Deity, spirits, ancestors, faeries, angels, and/or the undead directly your question while others believe you can just do it directing the question to the pendulum itself. (A debate similar to the usage of a ouija board) Your questions don’t need to be limited, just make sure you really want to know the real answer to your question. It is also very possible to mentally influence and override the movements of a pendulum if you think to hard on a particular response or too personally engaged with the result. In this case, its best to have someone not attached to the matter to do the pendulum reading for you. It is advised not to use the pendulum flippantly nor to let it rule your life. Place intuition, instinct, and common sense into action for your commitment with results from the pendulum. Pendulums are used also for dowsing. The intent behind the dowsing or divination sometimes dictates whether the pendulum is made of crystal, metal, or other materials. Stage magicians have audience members seal items in envelopes and presented to him/her to which a pendulum is used to “dowse” whether the item belongs to a male or a female. They can be held over a pad or cloth with yes/no written on it as well for audience demonstration. In Radiesthesia, pendulums are used for medical diagnosis.

Scientifically we know the pendulum swings by the influence of gravity, making it swing back and forth along a circular arc. The time it takes for a pendulum to oscillate from the peak of the swing on one side to the other and back is called the period of vibration, which depends on the length of the pendulum, the magnitude of gravitational acceleration where the pendulum is located, and the amplitude of the swing. A small amplitude has no effect on the period and the period is given by the equation T=2p l/g where T is the period of vibration, l is the length of the pendulum, and g is the local gravitational acceleration. The Greek letter ? (pi) is a constant with an approximate value of 3.1416. Pendulums are used in science for the uniformity of its period especially for keeping time, demonstrating the earth’s rotation, and determining gravitational acceleration at a particular location. The first recorded use of a pendulum, according to Science, was in 1620 when the British scientist Francis Bacon proposed using a pendulum to measure gravity, suggesting taking one up a mountain to see if gravity varies with altitude. According to “science” its use for pseudo-science broke out from the knowledge of the foucault pendulum. In 1851, Jean Bernard Léon Foucault showed that the plane of oscillation of a pendulum, like a gyroscope, tends to stay constant regardless of the motion of the pivot, and that this could be used to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth. He did this by suspending a pendulum free to swing in 2 dimensions from the dome of the Panthéon in Paris. The length of the cord was 67 m and once in motion, the plane of swing was observed to precess or rotate 360° clockwise in about 32 hours thus becoming the first demonstration of the Earth’s rotation that didn’t depend on celestial observations. After this, it was believed that “pendulum mania” broke out and utilized in various sub-cultures, groups, demonstrations, and New age spirituality.

~ By Leaf McGowan

    Bibliography, References, Recommended Reading:
  • About.com: How to use a Pendulum. Website referenced July 2012. http://healing.about.com/cs/tools/ht/How_pendulums.htm
  • Calacademy: The Pendulum. Website referenced July 2012. http://www.calacademy.org/products/pendulum/page1.htm
  • How Stuff Works: Science – The Pendulum. Website referenced July 2012. http://science.howstuffworks.com/pendulum-info.htm
  • Llewellyn Publications: The Pendulum. Website referenced July 2012. http://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/471.
  • Pendulums.com. Website referenced July 2012. http://www.pendulums.com/



Lady Befana

The Italian Witch Santa

Lady Befana, the Italian Witch Santa  was a folkloric myth of a old woman who would travel around the countryside delivering gifts to children throughout Italy. It is believed that once long ago a woman named Befana was approached by the Three Wise Men just before the birth of Jesus. They asked her for directions to where he lay as they had seen his star in the sky, but she replied she didn’t know and offered them shelter for then night. Being the village’s best housekeeper and host, she was invited to go with the Three Wise Men to baby Jesus the next day – but she declined as she was too busy with cleaning chores. Just after they left, she had a change of heart and tried to find them unsuccessfully. It is believed that to this day she has been searching for the child and in her travels, leaves all the good kids toys, fruit, or candy and coal, garlic, or onions for the bad kids. It is perceived in Italy very much like most of the world believes in Santa Clause. However while modern Pagans throughout the world incorporate her into visiting their households on the Winter Solstice or Yule, according to Italian folklore – she’d visit the Italian folk around January 5th, during Epiphany Eve. It is theorized that she was named after the Italian “La Festa dell’Epifania” (Epiphany) Feast Day as a manifestation of the divinity. Folklorists suggest that she may be related to the Roman Goddess Strenia, who was often depicted as presiding over the New Year’s eve gifts which were called “Strenae”. Others have suggested her name being a mispronunciation of the Greek word “epifania” or “epiphaneia”, or after Bastrina, gifts associated with the Goddess Strina. Many times her gifts are depicted as being figs, dates, and honey – which were also commonly depicted or associated with Befana. She was depicted often being noisy, riotous, and licentious. She would visit the children and filling their socks hung at the chimneys with care with candy, figs, dates, or honey if the children had been good, or a lump of coal or dark candy if they were bad – just as was similarly depicted with Santa and the filling of his stockings. Sometimes it has been rumored that she’d sweep or housekeep a house before leaving if it was left messy. Instead of a glass a milk like children leave for Santa, they would leave her a glass wine and a plate with a few morsels of food. She is often depicted as a smiling happy soot covered old lady with a black shawl draped over her shoulders and riding a broomstick through the air, sometimes swooping down into the chimneys carrying a hamper filled with gifts and candy. She is supposedly “fairy” cloaked and not to be seen. If children do spy her, they will receive a thump from her broomstick as she doesn’t want to be seen. She is however an Italian national icon. Her figure is associated with the Papal States during Epiphany in the regions of Umbria, Lazio, and Marche with her residing in Urbania. Numerous festivals take place during this time of year celebrating the holiday with Befana images swinging from the main tower of the city center. One such festival, called the Feast of the Befana is held in the Piazza Navona in Rome every year. The National Befana festival is held in Urbania every year between January 2nd and 6th.

Another myth about her origin was that she was an ordinary woman with child whose death maddened her with grief. Once she learned about baby Jesus being born, she set out to see him, delusionally thinking he was her son. As she met him, she showered him with gifts. This pleased Baby Jesus and his gift to her in return was that she would be mother to every child in Italy. A Befana Choir takes place every Winter Solstice at the Kensington Market’s Festival of Lights parade in Toronto, Canada.

As gifts were commonly exchanged in honor of Ianus and Strenia during Roman times to celebrate the beginning of the year. This is a tradition that is believed to have influenced the Befana or Strenae myth. Other Pagan customs surround her legend including the stockings by the chimney, the Yule Tree, New Years traditions, and burning of a old lady character to represent the old year just passed in order to give space for the new one. Many European countries burn a puppet of a old lady at the beginning of the year with Celtic origins. There are also potential origins of her traced to Neolithic beliefs and practices, as well as sharing similarities to Perchta in Pre-Christian Alpine traditions. Some Saturnalia legends claim the Romans would go to the Temple of Juno on Capitoline Hill to have their augers read by Lady Befana, depicted as an old woman reading the augers. During Epiphany, a Pagan festival celebrating the Ancestors was often held and it is also theorized the origin of the Befanotti (representing the ancestors) going from home to home singing the “Pasquella” with the Befana coming down the chimneys took place. She is first found mentioned in classic literature in a poem by Agnolo Firenzuola in 1549.


  • Abruzzo 2000:
    2011 “Christmas in Abruzzo: The Befana”. Website referenced December 2011. http://www.abruzzo2000.com/abruzzo/traditions/christmas/befana.htm.
  • Bonvincini, Alice

    2011 “The Befana Comes by Night …”; Italian American Digital Project: http://www.i-italy.org/16375/befana-comes-night/.
  • Calandra, John D.
    2009 “The Legend of La Befana”. Italian American Institute. http://qcpages.qc.edu/calandra/community/commbefa.html.
  • Giglio, Michael
    2008 “Taking Flight with Italy’s Holiday Witch”. Speigel Online: www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,596060,00.html.
  • Illes, Judika
    2009 The Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses. ISBN: 9780061350245.
  • Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia
    2011 – Website referenced. en.wikipedia.org.

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Ritual Magic – ABC News Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Tasmania’s old houses revealing some bizarre secrets.

Fiona Breen

Source: 7.30 Tasmania | Duration: 7min 36sec

Topics: 19th-century, paganism, historians, tas

via Ritual Magic – ABC News Australian Broadcasting Corporation.



Burns’ Tam O’Shanter, 1792 (1855 illustrations) « Sexy Witch

Burns’ Tam O’Shanter, 1792 (1855 illustrations) « Sexy Witch.

Burns’ Tam O’Shanter, 1792 (1855 illustrations)

“Tam O’Shanter” is a ghost story written in verse by the great Scottish poet Robert Burns. Burns persuaded his friend Francis Grose to include a drawing of Alloway Kirk, in his Antiquities of Scotland (1791), which Grose promised to do if Burns would supply him with a ghost story to go with it. Burns wrote a brief version of the story in prose before starting his 224 line poem. Both versions have been quoted in the following account (see here for the prose and here for the poem).

The poem concerns a farmer, Tam. After a night of drinking and story-telling, Tam must ride home to Carrick through a heavy storm. As Tam passes Alloway kirk-yard it is “the wizard hour, between night and morning”. He sees a bright light streaming from the ruined church and, on investigating, he is “surprised and entertained, thorough the ribs and arches of an old gothic window … to see a dance of witches merrily footing it round”. As the dance grows “fast and furious” the women cast aside their cloths and dance in their “sark” (undershirt). Alone among the many “wither’d beldams, auld and droll” (withered grandmothers, old and comical) Tam notices a “winsome wench” in a “cutty sark” (short shirt). After some time observing the young witch dancing, Tam unwisely cries out “Weel done, Cutty-sark!”; at which, the music stops, the lights go out and all the witches give chase. Tam makes for the bridge (since a witch can’t cross running water): “the pursuing, vengeful hags were so close at his heels, that one of them actually sprung to seize him: but it was too late; nothing was on her side of the stream but the horse’s tail, which immediately gave way to her infernal grip, as if blasted by a stroke of lightning.”

The poem was immediately, and immensely, popular: it has been illustrated many times. Artists have shown particular relish in depicting Nannie (the young witch) dancing, chasing Tam, and grasping the tail of Tam’s horse, Meg (or Maggie). The three illustrations below are by John Faed (and engraved by Lumb Stocks and James Stephenson for the 1855 edition). These are some of the best and most frequently reprinted or copied illustrations to Burns’ poem. I have accompanied each illustration (or detail) with a passage from the poem.  (Follow link above or below for the author’s article to continue …)