What if the Lancashire Witches were actually guilty of practicing magic? Joyce Froome’s book, Wicked Enchantments: a history of the Pendle Witches & their magic (Lancaster: Carnegie,2010) explores this possibility from the prespective of the two teenagers involved, James and Alizon Device.
Froome’s website describes her methodology. She uses “quotations from a wealth of original sources, such as trial records and books of magic,” alongside “photographs of magical artifacts.”
This unique compilation – based on the sound scholarly research of an assistant curator at the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall – focuses on the seventeenth-century rituals and spells that the poor cunning folk of Pendle may have used to eek out a living: love potions, healing tonics, protection charms, curses, good-luck talismans, fertility magic, and fortune-telling paraphernalia. In addition to multiple illustrations, there are also photographs of a modern family recreating many of the ancient rituals.
The only negative comment I have is that the binding of my book fell apart from frequent reading! But aside from this, Wicked Enchantments is a fascinating, well-documented, alternative portrayal of the Device family. Their spells are clearly explained. And I fully concur with Froome’s conclusion that centuries later “there were still cunning folk around Pendle Hill . . . . Magic had survived both demonisation and ridicule” (310).
Wicked Enchantments could have become a dry, intellectual, historical examination, were it not for the clever organization, and Froome’s subtle humor shining through the pages.
I love her opening warning: “You are strongly advised NOT to attempt any of the spells described in this book – particularly the one that involves removing a tooth from a live wolf” (iv). Reader beware!
More information is available at Joyce Froome’s website: http://www.joycefroome.com/wicked_enchantments.htm
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