Wednesday 13 November 2019

The Witch Tamsin and a Story of Witchcraft

Living in Cornwall there are many legends and stories of witchcraft. One of the most famous of Cornish witches was Tamsin Blight (1798-1856) the lady in the photo above. She was also known as Tammy Blee or the White Witch of Helston.

Blight commenced her craft around 1830. She soon built a reputation of being able to remove spells, which had been cast by other witches. People, especially farmers, would consult her for cures for their animals or themselves.

One of the most quoted stories about her is known as The Ghost of Stythians. This is where she attempted to conjure up the spirit of an old woman in St. Stythians graveyard. This was carried out to discover where a large sum of cash was hidden, by the deceased, that a relative claimed was rightfully his.

ollowing is a description of her actions as described in an 1870 book, Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall. The author was William Bottrell.

St Stythians (St Stithians) Church, Cornwall
Stithians / Stythians Church, Cornwall

She marked out a circle by drawing her staff on the ground three times round the man, at the same time mumbling her unknown tongue.

This done, she said, "Now mind, for your life, that you don't move out of this charmed ring which I have made to protect ye, and if you are still determined I will now begin and summon the spirit." 

The witch, holding out her staff towards the spot where the old woman was buried, began her incantation, or citation, with long, strange words, slowly pronounced. Then she continued in a louder tone, "Spirit of Jane Hendy, in the name of all the powers above and below, I summon thee to arise from thy grave and to appear before me and this man! By the spirits of fire, air, earth, and water, I summon thee to arise! Come hither, appear, and speak to this man! Come!" 

This she said three times, rising her voice at each repetition until it ended in a shriek. 

The witch paused. All was silent for a moment, and then were heard, most fearful, because unusual, sounds, which more than any other earthly noise resembled the crashing or rending of wood and stones, mingled with painful moans, groans, and shrieks, which seemed to come from the old woman's grave. The witch, stretching out her arms, her red cloak and grey hair streaming back on the wind, pointed with her staff towards the place whence these frightful sounds proceeded, and said, "Behold, it cometh; be thou prepared!" 

The book mentioned is available to be read on the Internet for free here.

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