Hi guys! I’ve been so looking forward towards this blog tour of Widdershins. I’ve already reviewed the book in May. Click here to go to the post of the review. Today I have a guest post by the author of the book, Helen Steadman. Feel free to check it out and let me know what you think of it. ♥
Waking was used, and as the name suggests, the accused witch would be prevented from sleeping. In theory, this would prevent the devil or his imps from suckling the witch; in practice, it ensured the accused would be exhausted and more willing to confess to anything in order to get some sleep.
The accused were also walked, often as part of ‘waking’. This prevented them from sleeping, but also acted as a form of torture, walking barefoot for hours on hard floors would create enormous discomfort that would encourage confession.
Pricking was used as a definitive test for witchcraft. First, the accused would be closely examined for any sign of the devil’s mark or a likely teat for him to suckle. In reality, these might have been moles, warts, skin tags, birth marks or scars. Anything resembling a third nipple, irrespective of where it was found on the body, would then be pricked with a special blade or bodkin. When the devil’s mark was pricked, if the accused felt pain and bled, then innocence was declared. But if no pain was felt and no blood flowed, the accused would be found guilty of witchcraft and executed accordingly.
There are many theories attached to witch pricking. The lack of pain or blood might be to do with the witch pricker targeting parts of the body that are insensate to pricking. There is also evidence of witch finders forcing people to bend double, making the blood rush to their heads, which might make a mole on the leg less likely to bleed. It seems that this technique was favoured by the Newcastle witch-finder.
Another explanation (and one which I prefer and use in my forthcoming novel, Pushed by Angels) is that witch prickers used doctored blades where the blade could retract into the handle (as with the middle pricker in the image above). In this way, the witch finder was free to choose which witch to find guilty and which witch to set free.
Image from http://shanmonster.net/witch/traits/mark.html (public domain)
More about the book and author:
Author: Helen Steadman
Publication: July 1st 2017 by Impress Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
‘Did all women have something of the witch about them?’
Jane Chandler is an apprentice healer. From childhood, she and her mother have used herbs to cure the sick. But Jane will soon learn that her sheltered life in a small village is not safe from the troubles of the wider world.
From his father’s beatings to his uncle’s raging sermons, John Sharpe is beset by bad fortune. Fighting through personal tragedy, he finds his purpose: to become a witch-finder and save innocents from the scourge of witchcraft.
Inspired by true events, Widdershins tells the story of the women who were persecuted and the men who condemned them.
Helen Steadman lives in the foothills of the North Pennines, and she particularly enjoys researching and writing about the history of the north east of England. Following her MA in creative writing at Manchester Met, Helen is now completing a PhD in English at the University of Aberdeen. When she s not studying or writing, Helen critiques, edits and proofreads other writers work, and she is a professional member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders.
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