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SOCIETY OF THE HORSEMAN’S WORD
1st 2009 184pp Society of Esoteric Endeavour hardback in dustwrapper. Frontis. & illustrations.
This clandestine esoteric society flourished amongst ploughmen in Scotland from the end of the 18th Century until the early 20th. Its members were believed to have supernatural control over horses, and also women and were also associated with witchcraft. This book takes the reader on a journey into the mysteries of the brotherhood. We learn from the disapproving pen of the one Scottish ploughman who left a substantial written record that his work mates drank hard, played hard and chased women. A ranting, hostile exposure is reproduced which is actually really instructive, providing what appears to be a 17th Century version of the ritual, very different from the full version. Then follows some surprisingly informative newspaper accounts written by members, an early (ranting but useful) exposure, an eyewitness account, relevant folksongs sung by the ploughmen and then the ceremony and lore of the Society.
The ceremony, which has never been previously published, is a surprise, as are the teachings of the Society. The ritual shows a transformation of freemasonry to the nature of ploughing with horses. The legend of Solomon's temple is replaced with references to Hercules and other figures from Greek mythology as well as Gabriel, Lucifer and Old Nick, the classical references sometimes being very well informed. Also incorporated are folk traditions about the domestication of horses. It could be an extreme experience, being very rough, physically arduous and potentially very scary, involving an encounter with the Devil and mock execution. In the earliest form of the ritual Adam, after the fall, is given as the originator of ploughing, an important gives Cain and in the secret rituals and teachings it is Tubal Cain who, it is said, was the first horseman though he, we are told, was instructed by a woman! An appendix explores the nature and significance of Tubal Cain and his relevance to ploughmen, finding expressions of rebellion against the status quo. Whilst one comes to understand why the horseman's word was associated with control of horses and power over women, true mysteries emerge. £25.00
CUNNING FOLK & FAMILIAR SPIRITS
This book contains the first comprehensive examination of popular familiar belief in early modern Britain. It provides an in-depth analysis of the correlation between early modern British magic and tribal shamanism, examines the experiential dimension of popular magic and witchcraft in early modern Britain, and explores the links between British fairy beliefs and witch beliefs. In the hundreds of confessions relating to witchcraft and sorcery trials in early modern Britain there are detailed descriptions of intimate working relationships between popular magical practitioners and familiar spirits of either human or animal form. Until recently historians often dismissed these descriptions as elaborate fictions created by judicial interrogators eager to find evidence of stereotypical pacts with the Devil. Although this paradigm is now routinely questioned, and most historians acknowledge that there was a folkloric component to familiar lore in the period, these beliefs, and the experiences reportedly associated with them, remain substantially unexplored. This book examines the folkloric roots of familiar lore from historical, anthropological and comparative religious perspectives. It argues that beliefs about witches’ familiars were rooted in beliefs surrounding the use of fairy familiars by beneficent magical practitioners or ‘cunning folk’, and corroborates this through a comparative analysis of familiar beliefs found in traditional Native American and Siberian shamanism. The author explores the experiential dimension of familiar lore by drawing parallels between early modern familiar encounters and visionary mysticism as it appears in both tribal shamanism and medieval European contemplative traditions. These perspectives challenge the reductionist view of popular magic in early modern Britain often presented by historians.
TRADE PAPERBACK £22.50
THE VISIONS OF ISOBEL GOWDIE
The confessions of Isobel Gowdie are widely recognised as the most extraordinary on record in Britain. Their descriptive power and vivid imagery have attracted considerable interest on both academic and popular levels. Among historians, the confessions are celebrated for providing a unique insight into the way fairy beliefs and witch beliefs interacted in the early modern mind; more controversially, they are also cited as evidence for the existence of Shamanistic visionary traditions, of pre-Christian origin, in Scotland in this period. On a popular level the confessions of Isobel Gowdie have, above any other British witch-trial records, influenced the formation of the ritual traditions of Wicca. The author’s discovery of the original trial records (currently being authenticated by the National Archives of Scotland), deemed lost for nearly 200 years, provides a starting point for an interdisciplinary look at the confessions and the woman behind them. Using historical, psychological, comparative religious and anthropological perspectives this book sets out to separate the voice of Isobel Gowdie from that of her interrogators, and to determine the experiences and beliefs which may have generated her confessions. The book explores: How far did those accused of witchcraft self-consciously practice harmful magic? Did they really believe themselves to have made a Pact with an envisioned Devil? Did they ever participate in ecstatic cult rituals? The author argues that close analysis of Isobel’s testimony supports the view that in seventeenth-century Britain popular spirituality was shaped by a deep interaction between Christian teachings and shamanistic visionary traditions, of pre-Christian origin. These findings confirm the value of witchcraft confessions as unique windows into the complexities of the early modern religious imagination.
TRADE PAPERBACK £35.00
THE CUNNING MAN’S HANDBOOK
1st 2014 555pp Avalonia trade p/b. Illus.
The Cunning Man’s Handbook is a monumental work of phenomenal scope and scholarship, a comprehensive and challenging exploration of the practices and beliefs of Cunning Folk in Britain and America during their heyday from 1550-1900. Exploring the social and theological milieu of the period, the author demonstrates the essentially Christian nature of Cunning practices, and presents an illuminating discourse on the concept of magic and how it was perceived as working.
Operating at the boundaries of the law and society, between medicine and magic, Cunning Men and Women occupied a liminal role as healers, charmers and magicians. Drawing from a huge range of sources, the range of services offered by Cunning Folk is thoroughly expounded, from divination through astrology and geomancy to dream interpretation, from charms, spells and curses to conjurations and treasure hunting. As Jim Baker states, “The focus here is on the practice of folk magic and divination for access to the preternatural”.
The evolution of Cunning practices as a living tradition over the three hundred fifty year span is explored in depth, illustrating their practical and contemporary nature. The analogous practices of African-American conjure and root work are also discussed to offer insights into oral fragments of Cunning practices lost to history and present another example of how modernity modifies tradition. Referring to dozens of Cunning Men and Women and their practices, this work offers a unique glimpse into magical history, and the opportunity to reclaim the essence of Cunning Magic. £29.99
The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic
1st 2015 304pp park Street Press trade p/b.
Details how early modern theologians demonised psychedelic folk magic into “witches' ointments”. Shares dozens of psychoactive formulae and recipes gleaned from rare manuscripts from university collections all over the world as well as the practices and magical incantations necessary for their preparation. Examines the practices of mediaeval witches like Matteuccia di Francisco, who used hallucinogenic drugs in her love potions and herbal preparations. In the mediaeval period preparations with hallucinogenic herbs were part of the practice of veneficium or poison magic. This collection of magical arts used poisons, herbs and rituals to bewitch, heal, prophesy, infect and murder. In the form of psyche-magical ointments, poison magic could trigger powerful hallucinations and surrealistic dreams that enabled direct experience of the Divine. Smeared on the skin, these entheogenic ointments were said to enable witches to commune with various local goddesses, bastardised by the Church as trips to the Sabbat - clandestine meetings with Satan to learn magic and participate in demonic orgies. Examining trial records and the pharmacopoeia of witches, alchemists, folk healers and heretics of the 15th century, Thomas Hatsis details how a range of ideas from folk drugs to ecclesiastical fears over medicine women merged to form the classical “witch” stereotype and what history has called the “witches' ointment.” Exploring the untold history of the witches' ointment and mediaeval hallucinogen use, Hatsis reveals how the Church transformed folk drug practices, specifically entheogenic ones, into satanic experiences. £14.99
MASKS AND MUMMING IN THE NORDIC AREA
1st 2007 840pp Gustavus Adolphus trade p/b. Illus. Paper wraps.
Masks and Mumming in the Nordic Area is the first detaliled introduction to the costume and disguise traditions of the Nordic area past and present. It not only analyses the nature, history and development of these customs, but also presents a number of case studies demonstrating different ways of dealing with this material. The combined work of 23 scholars from the fields of drama, folkloristics, cultural studies and ethnology, it hopes to open new doors into a field of folkloristics that has been neglected for decades. Massive volume with much interesting material. £40.00
|New Books Core Catalogue|
|Three Hands Press|
|Aleister Crowley & Related|