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coffee_luvr
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

Hello All-

I wanted to participate in the discussions but I am miserably behind in the reading schedule!  I was hoping to catch up this weekend but am still not completed with the first section.  I am hoping to get further along this week and finish the book on time but will not be able to participate in the first section discussion until later. 

Coffee_luvr

Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. ~Barbara Tuchman
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dhaupt
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

 


coffee_luvr wrote:

Hello All-

I wanted to participate in the discussions but I am miserably behind in the reading schedule!  I was hoping to catch up this weekend but am still not completed with the first section.  I am hoping to get further along this week and finish the book on time but will not be able to participate in the first section discussion until later. 

Coffee_luvr


 

Coffee, you finish whenever you can and comment when you're able, we'll all still be here to chat about it.

Don't forget this week to also check back and chat with the author Mary Sharratt will be here.

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Mary_Sharratt
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

Thank you, everyone, for your insightful comments!

 

One of my goals with this book was to portray the social history of the Reformation in Northern England and how its impact on the poor, common people who had based the rhythm and cycles of their lives on a seasonal church calender with many feasts and festivals and so on.

 

Mountain Muse wrote:

 

Even with these deep beliefs, many of the lower class never gave up the "old" religion that dated back into pre-history.  The practices were passed down within the families and not readily shared beyond the door of the family home, except with those they trusted.  They intermingled these practices and stories in with their Catholicism creating a unique practice that allowed the arts of the ages to remain and be practiced, as long as they did not interfere with the politically accepted faith of the day.  Catholicism turned a blind eye to the practices, but the newer Anglican Church of England was not so tolerant.

 

This is very true. One of the most fascinating things my research uncovered was this rich syncretic folk religion that my cunning women drew upon and that became viewed as witchcraft after the Reformation.

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Mountain_Muse
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

 


Mary_Sharratt wrote:

Thank you, everyone, for your insightful comments!

 

One of my goals with this book was to portray the social history of the Reformation in Northern England and how its impact on the poor, common people who had based the rhythm and cycles of their lives on a seasonal church calender with many feasts and festivals and so on.

 

Mountain Muse wrote:

 

Even with these deep beliefs, many of the lower class never gave up the "old" religion that dated back into pre-history.  The practices were passed down within the families and not readily shared beyond the door of the family home, except with those they trusted.  They intermingled these practices and stories in with their Catholicism creating a unique practice that allowed the arts of the ages to remain and be practiced, as long as they did not interfere with the politically accepted faith of the day.  Catholicism turned a blind eye to the practices, but the newer Anglican Church of England was not so tolerant.

 

This is very true. One of the most fascinating things my research uncovered was this rich syncretic folk religion that my cunning women drew upon and that became viewed as witchcraft after the Reformation.


 

Welcome Mary!

 

Thank you for joining us.

 

I am enjoying how well you have been able to get across the point that the "old religion" was so melded into catholicism that it was many times very hard to separate and see where one stopped and the other started.  I think this is also one of the reasons that the Anglican church associated the practice of Catholicism with witchcraft. 

 

 Where were you able to come across some of the old incantations?  Showing that the incantations were a mix of leftovers from the old religion with a healthy dose of the Catholic liturgy (Ave's. and other intercessory prayers) really reinforced the point.

 

Mtn Muse

A really good book is much like an artichoke. As you peel back each page of the of the book, you get closer and closer to the succulent heart of the story.
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Peppermill
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

 


Mary_Sharratt wrote:

Thank you, everyone, for your insightful comments!

 

One of my goals with this book was to portray the social history of the Reformation in Northern England and how its impact on the poor, common people who had based the rhythm and cycles of their lives on a seasonal church calender with many feasts and festivals and so on.

 

Mountain Muse wrote:

 

Even with these deep beliefs, many of the lower class never gave up the "old" religion that dated back into pre-history.  The practices were passed down within the families and not readily shared beyond the door of the family home, except with those they trusted.  They intermingled these practices and stories in with their Catholicism creating a unique practice that allowed the arts of the ages to remain and be practiced, as long as they did not interfere with the politically accepted faith of the day.  Catholicism turned a blind eye to the practices, but the newer Anglican Church of England was not so tolerant.

 

This is very true. One of the most fascinating things my research uncovered was this rich syncretic folk religion that my cunning women drew upon and that became viewed as witchcraft after the Reformation.


 

Mary -- if your journey for this book took you there, please comment on how Protestantism as it manifested itself in England during the Reformation impacted the lives of "ordinary" people differently than the Continent.

 

My question springs from our discussion about the roodscreens -- how the Protestants wanted to remove them and others were willing to even restore them and secret them to their private chapels if need be.  I was particularly struck by the existence of private chapels when I visited Amsterdam.  What were the symbolisms and the subsequent actions that were so important as to generate these conflicts?

 

Pepper

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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coffee_luvr
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

 

Fozzie-
I felt the same as you; it seems that this decision to cross to the side of hurting rather than healing had a lasting negative effect to Bess and her family.
But with the pressure Anne was giving her and Bess' concern for Annie, I can surely understand why she made this decision.

Fozzie wrote:

dhaupt wrote:

 

7. In chapter 7 Bess comes to a turning point in her cunning ways, when she tells Annie how to create a clay doll to punish Robert Assherton for his abuse, even though Bess warns Annie not to tell her mother she does, and Bess agrees to teach Anne the craft of cunning. Up until then Bess had only used her powers for curing and blessing and she feels the strongest yet in her powers. What do your powers of foresight tell you, did she do the right thing or not.

 


I am not sure whether or not Bess did the right thing.  Based on what Tibb has said about choosing one path or another, I think she has made a mistake by crossing over to the other path, the dark side.  However, how could she stand by and let her friend's child be abused?  It wouldn't be right to let that go on either.  In addition, it seems as though Bess tried to take a precaution by having Annie and Anne perform their own spells.  I ended the section of reading feeling evil was on the horizon, for everyone.


 

Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. ~Barbara Tuchman
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coffee_luvr
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

 


dhaupt wrote:

 

 

 
2. Bess first sees Tibb her “familiar” at the age of 50, she remembers her grand-dad using blessings to cure horses – in your opinion if Bess and her family hadn’t been in such dire straights can you still see her becoming a cunning woman

 

My first thought was no, if Bess and her family had not been in such dire straights she would not make the same choices she did.  However, if you believe that this "skill"  is passed down within the family, then regardless of her situation, she would still have been a cunning woman.

 

 

 

Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. ~Barbara Tuchman
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coffee_luvr
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

 


dhaupt wrote:

 


Fozzie wrote:

dhaupt wrote:

 

6. Jamie is not right, Liza blames her practice of cunning and John blames Anne, who ever is to blame one thing that surprised me was the love shown to this obviously mentally handicapped child by his family – did it surprise you too – tell us why or why not

 


It didn't surprise me because Liza was physically imperfect too, with her squint eyes.  However, upon reading your question, I recalled that I had heard of children who "weren't right" being left for dead in the past, so I guess I should have been surprised!


Yes Laura, that's what I meant because so many "imperfect" children were left to die in our past history.

 


I think that if Bess had not been around throughout his life, Jamie would not have had the same love and care. 

 

Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. ~Barbara Tuchman
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coffee_luvr
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

 


dhaupt wrote:

 


Peppermill wrote:

3. We all know the story of Henry VIII and how he reformed the religion in England, are you up to speed on your history or are you like me and were surprised to see that it really wasn’t in full force until the reign of Elizabeth I.

 

I have long been an aficionada of Queen Elizabeth I, with a long hiatus since I have read much about her reign.  But, I did just recently watch several films and was reminded of the back and forth in religious loyalties, especially since Henry VII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was from (Catholic) Spain and transmitted her upbringing to their daughter Mary I, who restored Catholicism to England.  The films emphasized the both the political and religious fears associated with Mary, Queen of Scots, possibly claiming the throne, leading eventually to her execution despite Elizabeth's vacillating orders.  Although belonging to an earlier time, T.S. Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral" has long been a set piece for me about the struggles between secular and relgious power.  Also, I recently listened to Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel's view of Cromwell's perspectives on the period.  When we visited Amsterdam, we saw the "house chapels" where Catholic worship continued long after officially banned.  So, while I was not surprised to find the adherents to the "old religion", I was intrigued by the aspects described as being especially missed by the "ordinary" people, from the roodscreen to the festivals to the veneration of the saints to the assumptions about purgatory (and the poor) versus the elect.  


 

Pepper, thank you for all the suggestions you just gave me on updating my history of this time.

I don't know about you or the rest of the panel here, but while I was in school I abhorred history and it's only been recently that it's really started to intrigue me to the point of searching out more about what I missed as a teen.


I too was not a fan of history in high school, but after studying art and architecture in college, I found my interest was greatly increased in history.  The customs, impact of wars, culture, etc. all affected the arts and architecture and made me want to learn more.  Although I still am not a fan of non-fiction, I find I am usually drawn to "historical fiction" more strongly than any other genre. I first became very interested in the Tudor period after reading The Lady in the Tower .


 

Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. ~Barbara Tuchman
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Mary_Sharratt
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

Mountain Muse and Peppermill,

 

The actual spells and incantations are cited in the trial transcripts, The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster, which is available free online. You can download it and read it at your leisure, though you have to plow through 17th century spellings and so on. If you go to my website, www.marysharratt.com, there's a link to The Wonderfull Discoverie.

 

The English Reformation was a special situation, different from what happened on the Continent. The Reformation happened for very good reasons and the corruption in Rome was very well documented. However, England was a very long way from Rome and there was no evidence of major corruption in the Catholic Church in England at this time. People wanted reform with a small "R" and it was happening--Cardinal Wolsey was already downsizing the monasteries. When the English Reformation occured, there was huge popular resistance to it, especially in the North. The Pilgrimage of Grace, a huge popular army that rose up to resist the dissolution of the monasteries, could have brought down Henry VIII. The whole rhythm of life changed in one generation--all the feast days and holidays that were the only respite that poor people had vanished and the alms they had come to expect from the wealthy were replaced with a harsh work ethic. The beautiful images were taken from the churches in a time when most of the population couldn't read so the images to them were more powerful than the scriptures they couldn't read. So it was a huge loss for common, illiterate, impoverished people who didn't stand to gain a whole lot from this reformed faith. Also the rituals the Church had given them to protect them from all this perceived lurking evil and harm were now forbidden but people were still as deeply superstitious as before, so accusations of witchcraft were more common after the Reformation.

 

In Continental Europe itself, the worst witchcraft persecutions took place at the faultlines of the Reformation, at the places where Catholic and Protestant regions bordered each other. As each faith seeked to rigidly enforce their own orthodoxy, hysterical accusations of witchcraft were most likely to erupt and individuals were blamed for calamities such as crop failure.

 

In areas like Spain where the Catholic Church remained uncontested by Protestants, there were interestingly hardly any witch trials, although the Inquisition did unspeakable things to Spanish Muslims and Jews. 

 

So it's a very complicated time in history.

 

I recommend Eamon Duffy's The Stripping of the Altars as a great look into the English Reformation and its impact on social history.  

 

 

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Peppermill
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

[ Edited ]

Mary -- thanks for your wonderful post!

 

If "daylight gate" is twilight, is "morning gate" dawn?

 

Saw Boris Gudunov simulcast today (wonderful), and there was mention of famine across Russia in the early 1600's.  Made me wonder if the same weather pattern extended into England.  Also, how much trading -- import and export -- of food was going on in that period.

 

As you may know, until the 1800's, the majority of the earth's population was engaged in agriculture.  Now, at least the U.S., less than three percent of the population grows the food for the remainder.  It may actually be less; I haven't looked at the numbers for several years.

 

Pepper

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Mary_Sharratt
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

Hi Peppermill!

 

Daylight gate is dialect.

 

"Morning gate" must be something I made up. I don't think it's dialect. :smileyhappy:

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Mountain_Muse
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

 

Well Mary,
Even if you made up "Morning Gate", it fit in so well with the dialect and script, that we bought it -- hook, line and sinker. :-)  The burr of their dialect rings in my ear as I read the story, in fact, I oft found myself reading some of the passages out loud.
Mtn Muse

Mary_Sharratt wrote:

Hi Peppermill!

 

Daylight gate is dialect.

 

"Morning gate" must be something I made up. I don't think it's dialect. :smileyhappy:


 

A really good book is much like an artichoke. As you peel back each page of the of the book, you get closer and closer to the succulent heart of the story.
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dhaupt
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

Mary, thank you for your post and a more insightful look at England's history of the time. I have downloaded the item and hope to dive into it sometime in the near future.

 

The rest of you might be interested in the novel that Mary is working on now you can also use the link to her website to find out more about it. It's also going to be another wonderful history lesson.