Witchcraft An Ancient Way

Articles > Witchcraft An Ancient Way


Janis & Sampe Allen
July 18th 2014, 7:55pm
Updated November 5th 2014, 8:33pm

Witch, number  one in the Salem witch trials 1880


The following article was published in 1908

Witchcraft. — At Shaftsbury, Vermont, eighty years ago, the belief in witches was quite general, and even the children knew the rhyme which brought disaster into the family circle; for it often happened that a witch would come down the chimney in the form of a black cat, and say, —"I, Tattaru, Tell you To tell Tatterrier That sits by the fire That Tatterrags is dead." And soon after that some one of those sitting around the fireplace would sicken and die.

The country doctor of the neighborhood used to go, with his wife and daughter, on a certain day of each year, to gather bittersweet-root to ward off the witches. None of the three spoke, or turned their eyes to right or left, from the time they left the house until they entered it again. The sister of my informant fell ill with typhoid, and, in the excessive weakness consequent upon the disease, would tremble when startled or excited. At this, the old doctor would shake his head solemnly, and say, " I don't like that! I don't like that! She is bewitched."

The people all knew that when a horse balked, he was bewitched ; but none knew who the witch was, until one time they put a red-hot horseshoe on a balking animal, when the woman who had bewitched him went lame with a burned foot.

Another time a witch was discovered in this wise: One of the women of the village had given a poor neighbor permission to come to her garden for vegetables whenever she liked; and whenever the neighbor came, she walked in at the front door, and through the house to the garden. But one day the lady hung a horseshoe over the front door; and the next time the neighbor came with her basket, she walked rapidly to the door, stopped suddenly, seemed agitated, and went around the house to the garden, for witches cannot come under a horseshoe.

The Indians in a New Mexican pueblo known to the writer still believe in witches. Several years ago, during a religious ceremony in the kiva, they caught a supposed witch peeping in through a crack. The worshippers ran out and stoned the witch, chasing her till she fell in a little clump of peachtrees. Three days after, she died; and when she was buried, the wind blew furiously, proving that she was indeed a witch.

Some years later one of her little girls died of diphtheria ; and when she was buried, the wind blew, as at the mother's funeral. " And you see," said my little informant in an awed whisper, "that showed that if she had lived to grow up, she would have been a witch too."

Clara Kern Bayliss.
Macomb, III.