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 Isobel Gowdie

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Faerielass
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PostSubject: Isobel Gowdie    Fri May 04, 2012 10:49 pm

Born Believed to be 1632
Auldearn, Scotland

Died Convicted of Witchcraft in 1662, execution unrecorded

Isobel Gowdie was a Scottish woman who was tried for witchcraft in 1662. Her detailed confession, apparently achieved without the use of torture, offers one of the most detailed looks at European witchcraft folklore at the end of the era of witch-hunts.

A young housewife living at Auldearn, Highland, Scotland, her confession painted a wild word-picture about the deeds of her coven. They were claimed to have the ability to transform themselves into animals; to turn into a hare, she would say:

I shall go into a hare,
With sorrow and sych and meickle care;
And I shall go in the Devil's name,
Ay while I come home again.
(sych: such; meickle: great)

To change back, she would say:

Hare, hare, God send thee care.
I am in a hare's likeness now,
But I shall be in a woman's likeness even now.
She allegedly was entertained by the Queen of the Fairies, also known as the Queen of Elphame, in her home "under the hills".

It is unclear whether Gowdie's confession is the result of psychosis, whether she had fallen under suspicion of witchcraft and sought leniency by confessing, or was she simply much smarter than her inquisitors. It is also unclear whether there was some truth to her remarkable confessions. Her confession was not consistent with the folklore and records of the trials of witches, and it was more detailed than most. There is no record of her being executed.

Isobel Gowdie and her magic have been remembered in a number of later works of culture. She has appeared as a character in several novels, such as the biographical novels The Devil's Mistress by novelist and occultist J. W. Brodie-Innes, Isobel by Jane Parkhurst, the fantasy novel Night Plague by Graham Masterton, and Noches Paganas: Cuentos Narrados junto al Fuego del Sabbath by Luis G. Abbadie;

Isobel Gowdie is also the subject of songs by Creeping Myrtle and Alex Harvey. Maddy Prior's song The Fabled Hare is based upon the spell quoted above. The Inkubus Sukkubus song Woman to Hare, from the album Vampyre Erotica is based on Isobel's statement, and quotes her words at the end of the lyrics. The Confession of Isobel Gowdie is a work for symphony orchestra by the Scottish composer James MacMillan.

Furthermore, some of her own literary works have been included in Oxford University Press's Early Modern Women Poets: 1520–1700: An Anthology, as well as World Poetry: An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity to Our Time.

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