The spread of witchcraft folklore to and in America
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27-06-2013, 12:08 PM
RE: The spread of witchcraft folklore to and in America
(27-05-2013 11:40 PM)ghostexorcist Wrote:  [...]

Later folklore stated that witches would transform people into these animals and ride them. This eventually gave way to even later folklore that forewent the transformation and stated that the witches would just ride people at night as they slept. This phenomenon has been dubbed “witch riding.” Waking up with knots in your hair (a.k.a. bed head) was said to be sure sign of this. Witch riding is mentioned in Salem witch trial documents from the 17th-century, so it most likely came to the US around this time via European settlers. It’s important to note that witch riding is common in Cajun and African American folkore. Therefore, the legend may have spread to the US in several waves to the north and south. Additionally, the folklore may have spread from different countries. For instance, the puritans of New England had ties to Britain, while the Cajuns had French roots. The braiding folklore was so popular that Shakespeare even mentioned it in "Romeo and Juliet" (1597)


It turns out the source for this statement was both right and wrong. I recently contacted the head of the Salem Witch Trial archive, and he told me that the term "hag" does not appear in the documents. However, certain women were accused of visiting people in spirit and sitting on their chests at night while they slept. Here is an example:

Quote:( John Louder v. Bridget Bishop .)

John Louder of Salem Aged aboute thurtey two Yeares Testifieth
and sayth that aboute seaven or Eight years since I then Liveing w'th
Mr John Gedney in Salem and haveing had some Controversy with
Bridgett Bushop the wife of Edw'd Bushop of Salem Sawyer aboate
her fowles that used to Come into our orchard or garden. Some little
tyme after which, I goeing well to bed; aboute the dead of the night
felt a great weight upon my Breast and awakening looked and it
being bright moon; light did clearely see s'd Bridget Bushop -- or her
likeness sitting upon my stomake and puting my Armes of of the
bed to free myselfe from that great oppression she presently layd
hold of my throat and allmost Choked mee and I had noe strenth
or power in my hands to resist or help my selfe; and in this Condition
she held mee to almost day, some tyme after this, my Mistress
Susannah Gedney was in our orchard and I was then with her. and
said Bridget Bushop being then in her Orchard w'ch was next ad-
joyneing to ours my Mistress told s'd Bridget that I said or afirmed
that she came one night & satt upon my brest as afores'd which she
denyed and I afirmed to her face to be true and that I did plainely
see her. upon w'ch discourse with her she Threatened mee. And
some tyme after that I being not very well stayed at home on a Lords
day and on the afternoon of s'd day the dores being shutt I did see a
black pig in the Roome Coming towards mee soe I went towards itt
to kick it and it vanished away

Immediately after I satt down in an Narrow Bar and did see a
black thing Jump into the window and came & stood Just before my
face, upon the bar the body of itt looked like a Munky only the feete
ware like a Cocks feete w'th Claws and the face somewhat more like
a mans than a Munkiey and I being greatly affrighted not being able
to speake or help my selfe by Reason of fear I suppose, soe the thing
spake to mee and said I am a Messenger sent to you for I understand
you are trobled in mind, and if you will be Ruled by mee you shall
want for Nothing in this world upon which I endeavered to clap my
hands upon itt, and sayd You devill I will Kill you. but could feale
noe substance and itt Jumped out of the window againe.and Imediatly
Came in by the porch althow the dores ware shutt. and sayd you
had Better take my Councill, where upon I strook at it with a stick
butt strook the Groundsill and broak the stick, but felt noe substance,
and that arme with which I strook was presently disenabled, then it
vanished away and I opened the back dore and Went out and goeing
towards the house End I Espied s'd Bridget Bushop in her orchard
goeing to wards her house, and seing her had no power to set one
foot forward but returned in againe and goeing to shutt the dore. I
Againe did see that or the like creture that I before did see within
dores, in such a posture as it seemed to be agoeing to fly at mee, up-
on which I cryed.out; the whole armor of god be between mee and
you. soe itt sprang back and flew over the apple tree flinging the
dust w'th its feet against my stomake, upon which I was struck dumb
and soe Continued for aboute three days tyme -- and also shook many
of the apples of, from the tree w'ch it flu over:

(Reverse) John louder apearid before me this 2. dy of June 1692
and one the oath that he had taken did owen this testimony to be the
truth before us the Jarris of Inquest

Quote:Jurat in Curia
On her tryall Bridget Bishop alias Oliver denied that she knew this
deponent though the orchard of this depon't & the orchard of said
Bishop Joined & they often had difference for some yeares together
(Reverse) Evidence ag't Br. Bishop. Jno Loader

Since the terms "hag riding" and "witch riding" were another name for the incubus-like attacks of cauchemar, the author of my source said that it was a common charge in Salem documents.
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28-06-2013, 01:53 PM (This post was last modified: 28-06-2013 02:07 PM by ghostexorcist.)
RE: The spread of witchcraft folklore to and in America
(22-06-2013 05:24 AM)ghostexorcist Wrote:  My initial research suggests the connection between Cauchemar and witch-riding is a mistake in definition. Cauchemar literally means "pressing demon/goblin," but it is most often translated as just "nightmare." The "mare" of nightmare is a Saxon word for demon or goblin. However, it seems people who don't know its linguistic roots may have thought it had something to do with horses (a "mare" is a female horse). Desmond Morris suggests that this well known painting by Henry Fuseli may have popularized this idea:

[Image: John_Henry_Fuseli_-_The_Nightmare.JPG]

As usual, Shakespeare's work is a time capsule for cultural beliefs of his time. The third act from King Lear (1606) has a line that reads:

This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet. He begins at curfew,
and walks till the first cock. He gives the web and the pin,
squints the eye, and makes the harelip; mildews the white wheat,
and hurts the poor creature of earth.
Saint Withold footed thrice the 'old;
He met the nightmare, and her nine [foals];
Bid her alight
And her troth plight,
And aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!

The nightmare is depicted as a mare (horse) with nine foals (baby horses)


This is the foul devil Flibbertigibbet. He begins at night,
and walks till the morning. He gives eye diseases,
causes blindness, and makes the harelip; mildews the white wheat,
and hurts the poor creature of earth.
Saint Withold crossed the field three times;
He met the nightmare, and her nine [foals];
He told her to promise
To stop doing harm.
And go away, witch, go away.!
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