With Halloween here, our thoughts naturally turn to all things spooky and I thought it might be interesting to find out more about some real life witches and warlocks. There have been some pretty notorious people branded as witches and wizards throughout the ages and trust me, they didn’t get their education at Hogwarts! Let’s venture together into the strange and weird world of real life witches and warlocks.
1. Agnes Waterhouse
To start off this list of real life witches is Mother Waterhouse, perhaps the most famous witch to have ever lived. She, along with two companions, was accused of partnering with the Devil himself, cursing people with black magic and even murdering with magic. However what made the case so intriguing is that for once it wasn’t the Church accusing Agnes of her crimes – she was sentenced to death by hanging by a secular court. Agnes herself never denied what she was accused of, even going as far as to claim that she had spoken to the Devil and he had told her there was no point in arguing against the verdict, for she was condemned to die.
2. Tamsin Blight
Witches were often also healers throughout the ages, and in 19th-century England, Tamsin Blight was no exception. She was a hedge witch, and was married to a wizard by the name of James Thomas. One story tells us that Tamsin once cursed a cobbler who refused to mend her shoes because she had fallen behind on her payments – the whole community believed strongly in Tamsin’s powers and decided to avoid him until he left the Cornish village.
3. Abramelin the Mage
Although we don’t know many details of Abramelin The Mage, we know he was one of the real life warlocks who had many thousands of followers. He wrote a book in the 15th century about how best to command evil spirits linked to the Devil, to carry out his bidding.
4. Angela De La Barthe
Some of the many things Angela was accused of were sleeping with an incubus (a male demon), giving birth to a creature which was half snake and half wolf, and causing local children to mysteriously disappear. While it’s doubtful that Angela committed any of these acts, the local Catholic Church believed her to be guilty and like many other spinster women was condemned to death. The reality is that she was probably just a strange lady who some believe suffered from mental health problems and thus was marginalized by the community; in the 13th century, when Angela lived, however, such behavior was attributed to witchcraft.
5. Laurie Cabot
While many real life witches and warlocks on this list may be obscure to many people, Laurie Cabot is much more widely-known nowadays. She was born in California but moved to New England to pursue her magical fascination. She studied for over a year and moved to Salem. Laurie’s cat was stuck up a tree, and it was only after she told the local fire fighters that she was a witch – bearing in mind in 1970s Salem the word witch was still very powerful – that the cat was rescued. Her cover was then blown, and she was propelled into the national spotlight. Her shop became instantly popular with people from across the country coming to visit this modern-day witch. She is known today as the official witch of Salem, a name conferred on her by the Governor due to her work for the local community. Unlike many of those who preceded her, Laurie has started that she will never perform dark magic such as curses. She sees herself as combining astrology with magic and has since had a profound impact on the Wicca religion.
6. Raymond Buckland
Sometimes known as the “Father of American Wicca”, Raymond has been practicing witchcraft since the 1960s. While he once took a more active role in the progression of the religion, he now lives in rural Ohio taking a backseat by writing magic-related books.
7. Dame Alice Kyteler
Ireland was a country which rejected witch hunts for many years – unlike its close neighbors, Ireland was a safe haven for those practicing the art. Eventually however, people like Dame Alice started to be persecuted in Ireland. When Alice’s fourth husband unexpectedly died, the man’s children had her accused of witchcraft. Alice was a powerful woman and was able to escape the authorities – many believe she fled to England using her power and money, but one thing is for sure: she was never captured and remains a famous Irish witch to this day.
To be honest, I thought the stories of real life witches and warlocks would be far more interesting. Maybe it’s because all the “interesting” stories are simply that – deemed to be fictitious and therefore the protagonists never get labeled as real life witches. So, what do you think? Are there real life witches and warlocks?