The Pendle Witches

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It is the most famous witch trial of the 17th century, the case of the Pendle Witches. Twelve women were accused of witchcraft, and while one died, eleven went to trial. One was tried and found guilty at York while ten of the ‘witches’ were tried at Lancaster. Only one woman was found not guilty.

Six of the eleven ‘witches’ on trial came from two rival families in Pendle. Elizabeth Southerns (Old Demdike) and Anne Whittle (Mother Chattox) were the old, poverty stricken matriarchs of the Demdike and Chattox families respectively. For over fifty years, Old Demdike had been known as a witch and in the 17th century, it was an accepted part of village life that some village healers practised magic and dealt in herbs and medicines.

The 17th century was also a time when witchcraft was not only feared but also fascinated. King James I was greatly interested in witchcraft even before he became King of England in 1603. One of King James’s literary works, Daemonologie, instructed readers to condemn and prosecute both supporters and practitioners of witchcraft. As the scepticism of the King was heightened, the feelings of unrest and fear over witchcraft became familiar with his people.

The story of the Pendle Witches began with the altercation between one of the accused ‘witches’, Alizon Device, and John Law, a pedlar. While travelling, Alizon passed John Law on the road and asked for some pins though Law refused her request. It is said that Alizon cursed John Law and a short while after he suffered a stroke, for which he blamed Alizon and her mystical powers. When the incident was brought to trial, Alizon Device confessed that she had instructed the Devil to blame John Law. After further questioning, Alizon divulged that her grandmother, Old Demdike, and members of the rival Chattox family regularly practiced witchcraft. The two families had been feuding for years and for the Chattox family, Alizon’s accusations were just an act of revenge.

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The trials of the Pendle Witches were held at Lancaster Castle on 17th and 19th August 1612. The dark, damp and dirty dungeon where the ‘witches’ were held were too much for Old Demdike to bear and she died before she could be brought to trial. One of the most surprising things about the Pendle Witch trials was the principal supplier of evidence. Jennet Device was only nine years old and usually wouldn’t have been allowed to testify in a trial because of her age. Under King James I’s system, all standard rules were suspended when giving evidence in a witch trial. Jennet gave evidence against her mother, sister and brother. It was reported that when the young girl spoke against her mother, Elizabeth, the accused witch had to be dragged from court screaming and cursing her daughter.

Alizon Device, Elizabeth Device, James Device, Anne Whittle, Anne Redferne, Alice Nutter, Katherine Hewitt, John Bulcock and Jane Bulcock were all found guilty at Lancaster. They were hanged at Gallows Hill on 20th August 1612. Elizabeth Southern lost her life while awaiting trial, and Alice Grey was found not guilty.

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In the present day, Pendle Hill hosts a Halloween hilltop gathering every year and in the Borough of Pendle, the witches have become the inspiration for its tourism and heritage industries.

So this Halloween, why not pay a visit to Pendle Hill and relive the sorcery and paranormal goings-on that occurred there over 400 years ago. You’re sure to be in for a spooky surprise!

A Groovy Kind of Love – Phil Collins

Phil Collins, born 31 January, 1951 in London, England.  He started as a drummer for Genesis, and when Peter Gabriel left the band, he took lead vocals.

Let’s face it.  He can’t sing.  Well, he can, but he’s certainly not got the best voice.  However, ever since before I came in to this world, I was addicted to the sounds and voice of Genesis, and later, Phil Collins.

Their music was constantly playing whilst I was in my mothers’ womb, and right up until now, my dad still plays their music loudly.

If I had to pick just one song, that ever has existed, to be my favourite, it would have to be Phil Collins’ version of “Groovy Kind of Love”.  It literally gives me goosebumps, and more often than not, a tear to my eye, and I don’t even know why.

Here’s the lyrics – the video is below.

When I’m feeling blue, all I have to do
Is take a look at you, then I’m not so blue
When you’re close to me, I can feel your heart beat
I can hear you breathing near my ear
Wouldn’t you agree, baby you and me got a groovy kind of love

Anytime you want to you can turn me onto
Anything you want to, anytime at all
When I kiss your lips, ooh I start to shiver
Can’t control the quivering inside
Wouldn’t you agree, baby you and me got a groovy kind of love, oh

When I’m feeling blue, all I have to do
Is take a look at you, then I’m not so blue
When I’m in your arms, nothing seems to matter
My whole world could shatter, I don’t care
Wouldn’t you agree, baby you and me got a groovy kind of love
We got a groovy kind of love
We got a groovy kind of love, oh
We got a groovy kind of love

The Tale of Arachne

Many, many years ago, just outside the ancient city of Athens, there lived a young girl named Arachne.

Arachne was born to a poor family.  Her father was a shepherd, and her mother stayed at home to care for Arachne’s younger brothers and sisters.

Even with their misfortunes, the family was well known throughout the lands, as rumours of the eldest daughters’ beauty had spread.  From the poorest to the richest, even the great Gods on Mount Olympus admired the unusual golden haired Arachne.

One day, the King had called for all maidens of the land to attend the palace.  His Queen was expecting their first child, and they were searching for someone who was able to stitch a fine lace sheet for the upcoming royal.

The maidens in and out of the palace over the coming weeks seemed to be endless.  Young girls, from all walks of life, lined the dusty roads surrounding the city.  There were ladies born in to riches, adorned with gold and jewel-encrusted dresses, and there were ladies who were not so lucky, wearing nothing but a grey sheeting to cover their modesty.  All ladies were turned away from the palace, only given moments to try their utmost to stitch the most beautiful lace sheet for the unborn child.

When Arachne was called to the palace, her mother pulled out a carefully wrapped parcel from under her bed.  The paper had browned, and fell apart in her gentle hands.  She handed the package to Arachne, and exclaimed that the dress within the paper was given to her by her mother.  She had saved and salvaged as much material as she could, and had created this as a wedding gift to Arachne’s mother.

It wasn’t much to look at.  Pale blue, laced with silver thread.  But her mother thought that this dress would bring out the sparkle in her eyes.

The following morning, Arachne was up before the sheep as she headed down to the river to bathe.  It was moments after she had completed dressing, that the sun displayed its’ full face.  She fastened her sandals, and made her way by foot to the palace gates.

Already ahead of her, streams  of maidens were being escorted from the palace.  She thought, “these ladies look to have skills that I can only dream of.  How would I succeed, if those cannot?”

It was just before lunch, and the King and Queen were ready to see the final few before they dined.  Arachne was among this crowd.

Arachne was called in to the throne room.  She was instructed to keep her head down, and to bow when she reached the stool.  Only when the King invited her, would she sit on the stool and demonstrate her sewing.

She obeyed the instruction, and the King asked her to sit.  She reached for the plain, cotton sheet, and began to stitch with the needle and thread that had been provided.  She hadn’t been sewing for more than a few minutes, when she realised that both the King and Queen, and a third person were standing beside her in astonishment.  The piece Arachne had created, in such a short amount of time, had already exceeded the samples that all the other maidens had sewn – both in size, and in delicacy.

“This,” the King said, “is exactly what we want for the future Prince or Princess.  This sheet is sure to make the Gods envious…”

Arachne looked up slowly.  The person who was standing beside the King and Queen was the younger brother of the Queen.  He smiled at Arachne, and feeling her cheeks blush, she quickly looked away.

“You, girl.  What is your name?” the Queen asked.

“Arachne.” she answered shyly.

“Arachne, you shall do the lacing for my child.  I bid that you should return to your homestead to gift your family with the payment that you shall be given – with an escort, of course, and then you shall return to us on the morrow, to begin.”  The Queen nodded at her younger brother, then quickly walked away.

Arachne stood, and bowed on the King and Queens’ retreat to dine, and she looked to the brother to guide her.  “Make haste.  We have a lot of travelling to do”, he said with a smile.

The journey home seemed to disappear before her eyes.  She was seated in a carriage, pulled by two black horses, with an escort of the young Prince and eight soldiers.  It was barely evening when they arrived at the wooden house.

Meanwhile, word had spread of Arachne’s achievement, and Mount Olympus seemed a little quieter than normal.  Most of the Gods were in their temples, being worshipped by their followers, but one was not herself.

Known for her beauty, love and jealousy, Aphrodite could not settle.  Her temple lay bare as she paced the marbled floor of the Acropolis, waiting for Zeus to return.

The young Prince was a rose among the thorns of men.  From his muscular frame, to his chiselled jaw, Aphrodite wanted this man for himself, but she saw the gleam in his eye when he looked at Arachne, and this, she would not allow.  But what is a Goddess to do when the other Gods admire a mortal?  She paced faster and faster, conjuring a plan.

It was dark, and all at Arachne’s house, including the guests, were heading to bed.  However, Arachne could not sleep.  She worried that she would not be able to accommodate the King and Queens’ wishes by stitching the lace.  She lay awake, and starred out of the window.  It was then that she noticed a glow from outside her door…

Arachne pulled her door ajar, and crept through the sleeping soldiers to where the light was coming from.  The glow was coming from the kitchen…  She looked around, and noticed that the Prince had not gone to bed, and was sitting in a wooden rocking chair, next to the window.

“Your Majesty…”  Arachne began.

“It’s late, Arachne.  Surely you should be trying to sleep..?”, he replied.

“Yes, your Majesty,” she continued.  “I am just getting a glass of water.  Goodnight.”

The Prince acknowledged, and smiled, turning back to the window.

When in the kitchen, the glow that had led her there had gone.  She couldn’t understand it.  She looked around, and then went to the window to glance out.  Nothing.  However, when she turned back around, the light was there – in the room with her.  It seemed to be sitting in a chair, next to the table.

Arachne couldn’t explain it, but the glow seemed to form in to a woman…  Then she realised.  This was no ordinary woman.  This beauty, sitting before her, was none other than the Goddess, Aphrodite.

Arachne dropped to her knees immediately.  She didn’t know what to do…

Aphrodite smiled, “I am glad you know who I am, Arachne.  Now we don’t have to do the formalities”.

She couldn’t understand why she was in a God’s presence.  Surely this was nothing to do with the King insulting the Gods earlier…

Aphrodite smiled again, and stood.  “Listen, Arachne.  We have a problem.  You see, not only does the King think that you can outshine my skills in lacing, but it seems that you have also caught the eye of the Prince.  Now, my dear, neither of these can be, as you are a mere mortal.”

“Your Grace…”  Arachne started, but Aphrodite interrupted.

“Let’s not try to bargain.  I have a proposal to make to you.  A small competition, if you will.  It’s simple, really.  You win, and I will bless the marriage of you and the Prince.  You will both live happily ever after, with all the riches bestowed on you.  You will have several, strong sons, and a daughter to carry your beauty.  You will never want for nothing.  I shall even bless your family with the riches to see them to the end of days.  If I win, well…  Let’s just say that it’s in your best interest to win”.

Arachne tried to renounce the proposal, to say that she wanted nothing.  Aphrodite again replied, “but my sweetest Arachne…  You seem to think that you have a choice…”

Before Arachne’s eyes, two plain cotton sheets, several thread bobbins and needles had appeared.

“We have until the sun comes up to sew the most beautiful sheet that has ever been.  That doesn’t give you very long…  Helios (the sun God) is due to draw his bow within the hour, so I suggest we begin”, Aphrodite smirked.

Within seconds, both God and mortal were sewing.  Snips of thread, and several pricked fingers, and the sun was rising.  Aphrodite smiled once again, and took both stitched sheets and hung them against the window.  “Just one moment…” she said.

A glow appeared again…  This time, the glow faded in to a man.  Arachne dropped to her knees once more.  Eros, the God of love, lust and desire was set before her.

“Eros, by the powers of all beauty, which of these two sheets would you say holds the most beauty?”, Aphrodite asked.

“Now that is simple,” replied the deity, “the one with the beauty is the one that you have created, my dear sister, but the one with the love – and this is the desire, is the sheet to the left, that Arachne has stitched.  I am sorry, sister, but Arachne has won the round.”

As quick as he appeared, Eros had gone.  Arachne sighed with relief, as she had won the competition that was set before her, by a God.  However, it wasn’t that easy.  Aphrodite turned to face the young maiden, and her eyes glowed green…

“You may have won my competition, Arachne, but you will never have the heart and love of the Prince, or the King and Queen.  Good luck in spinning your lacework…”  Smoke appeared around Aphrodite, and in a flash, she had also gone.

For a moment, Arachne thought that it was over.  That she was safe.

The kitchen door swung open, and in walked the Prince, with Arachne’s mother, chatting and laughing.

Arachne reached out for her mother, but then she realised something was wrong.  She heard a whisper, “for lacing so beautiful, there is only one thing I could bless you with; and that is to forever spin your lace.”

Aphrodite had turned Arachne in to a spider, and she would forever spin her lace.

To write, or not to write…

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Edit:  After posting this, I take back what I wrote.  I don’t like my writing after all, ha ha.

To vlog, or not to vlog…

I’ve seen lots of V-logs all over the place.  People just video logging a diary, reviews, thoughts, baking…  I’ve thought about doing it myself for quite a long time now, but I never follow through and do it.

I guess I just don’t know what to vlog about.

Let’s start from the very beginning.  How do you say it?  Is it vlogging, or V-logging?!

Hmmm…  I guess I need to try it at one point.  I’m used to recording and editing videos / pictures into a video clip, and posting them to youtube, but I’m coming back to the same point…  What would I vlog about?!

Do any of you v-log?  Do you have a theme for what you do, or is it random?  Where do you get your inspiration from?