Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Talking of witches....

Here is more old yarns from Dorset about witch craft...
'At Shipton one day, while a chimney sweep was engaged at work he bought
 from a chimney a  bullocks heart, stuffed with pins, the strangest thing being, 
not that the heart should get up a chimney at all but that the pins were all stuck 
in the wrong way, that is, they were pointing outward, like the prickles of a hedgehog.'
( I mentioned the use of bullocks hearts in my novel The Lavender Witch)

There were two old spinster sisters called Ridout who lived in a cottage below 
the churchyard at Sturminster Newton. They earned a living making rush mats 
and hassocks. They associated with no one and were avoided by all as having 
the evil eye. They practiced charms, hanging a bottle up the chimney with 
frogs entrails and a bullocks heart stuck with pins. They had a peculiar aversion
 to the village schoolmaster who they thought had bewitched them. The only remedy 
to break the spell by drawing a little of his blood. This they accomplished by 
scratching him with a pin when they met him in the street. They were both 
found dead later in the snow by Hayden Farm and their graves were marked 
with two crosses, which could still be seen up until the late1930's

When the bullocks heart dries up and falls down  into the fireplace, the witch 
was supposed to become powerless to harm her victim again. This method of 
counteracting the evil eye was very popular in country areas, along with urine filled 
bottles and shoes; even a walled up cat has been found in a bid to protect 
the house against witchcraft.

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