A Mediaeval Witch has shared some of the secrets of her work as the village wise woman in the run up to this year’s Loxwood Joust.
Nanny Obz is the latest of the event’s colourful characters to be interviewed as part of a series ahead of the family festival on August 6&7, and 13&14.
For full details visit www.loxwoodjoust.co.uk
Information on Mediaeval Witches
A witch’s role in Medieval England would have been that of the village wise woman. She helped birth babies, healed the sick with herbs and muttered incantations, she may have practised a little divination by casting the runes or even bits of twig.
A witch dispensed advice and was able to use astrology to help the querent. She was often well versed in astronomy as at the time, the two sciences were considered to be inseparable. She could make love potions and on occasions, if the need arose, curse someone’s enemy.
Witches were often indistinguishable from common folk as later in the era, to be a recognisable witch was punishable. So the witch could be the person in the hovel next door and not necessarily a batty, toothless, wild haired old woman, clad in rags, who lived alone and had many cats.
Witches were mainly women, but it was not unknown for a man to be one too.
Nanny Obz, a Mediaeval Witch
How did you get into witchcraft?
I were born with a natural flair for it, me old Ma told me I entered this World with a wrinkled angry face like a wise old Grandmother. I also arrived with a squint (Handy for seeing into the other realms) She said I were prophesying before the age of three, Seemed natural to learn the Arts soon as I could read. (This is actually all TRUE!!!! lol).
How long have you been a witch for?
Well tis 45 year since me birth, so oi suppose THAT long.
What is you most used spell ingredient?
That I couldn’t tell ee, some things is best kept to those of us what knows.
What can the runes tell you - can they see into the future / predict the future?
Every man and woman knows what’s best for ‘em, I merely helps ‘em to find the truth within themselves by casting the stones.
How easy is it to have the powers to communicate and understand what nature is saying to you?
Tis easier for my sister than me, but we both goes about it in our different ways, I works with the heavens, and she with the spirits of the wylde woods.
What is the most interesting challenge you have had as a witch?
Because of my long dark hair, pointed chin, warts and slightly crossed eyes, I finds it hard to blend into the crowd on market day, even if I dresses up and pretends to be a LADY, some bogger always knows I is a witch.
Are there any areas of witchcraft that you would avoid?
I tries to avoid the DARK ARTS, curses and what have ‘ee, but sometimes tis difficult, folk often need a little boot up the backside to learn ‘em proper.
Can you cure most ailments?
How can I tell if you are a real witch and not just tricking me?
Well I has a birthmark on my left thigh in the shape of a “W” I could show ‘ee (In private) Folks would say the DEVIL has marked me as his own, but I aint having that.... (Again, all true).
What is the most important thing to remember as a witch?
Harm none, tis that simple.
Do witches get together for meetings / are all witches in a coven?
Most witches are terribly lonely figures, preferring to practise alone, but occasionally we gets together, not to cast spells you understand, but to drink ale and mead and have a laugh.
What is your favorite spell?
I always likes doing love potions.
Are witch powers passed down generation to generation or can anyone learn them?
Well it helps to be born a witch, but with careful study and interest yes, anyone can do it.
How many witches are there in mediaeval England?
Ooh I couldn’t say...probably at least a few in every Parish.
Facts you did not know about Witches
1 - They can walk backwards without falling over (most of the time).
2 - They can float on water in a sieve.
3 - All witches are a bit cross eyed (one eye needs to be in the ‘other realm’).
4 - Cats are their preferred pets or familiars, but anything will do, I knew a wise woman who kept a pet pebble from the beach, it was her best friend.
5 - Witches can’t drink cows’ milk (it has a tendency to curdle in their presence) they prefer goats’ milk, which tastes rank anyway.
6 - Witches love to sing, the louder and more out of tune, the better.
7 - A witch’s cauldron is not just for spells; most give it a quick wipe between potions and then make the supper in it.
8 - Witches don’t have to be just women, in fact, a male witch is called a witch…… NOT a wizard or warlock!
For more stories on the Loxwood Joust: