Thann, Alsace and L’œil de la Sorcière (The Witch’s Eye)

The little town of Thann lies on the eastern slopes of the Vosges, in the département of Haut-Rhin (Alsace). A historic town which once belonged to the Habsburgs in the Middle-Ages, it is renown for its remarkable Gothic church and the Rangen vineyard and, in fact, it is also the southern gate to the Alsace Wine Route. According to the legend, the town originated from a miracle attributed to St. Theobald, the Bishop of Gubbio (Umbria, Italy). In 1160, Ubald (or Theobald) saw his death coming soon and promised his…

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A short story of English Witchcraft Acts

From 1541 to 1951, England had laws strictly prohibiting the practice of witchcraft. During the early years it was a crime punishable by death and the forfeiture of goods and chattels. Put into effect on June 1, 1653, the laws mandated the outlawing of any kind of witchcraft-related activities. However, the 1653 Witchcraft Laws were not the first to appear in the English judicial system, as in 1542, King Henry VIII passed a piece of legislation that made witchcraft a felony, punishable by death. Henry VIII’s Act was the first…

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The grave of Mary Nasson, the Witch of York ~

Like all states, also Maine has it’s weird and paranormal events throughout history. When the Spaniards came into the Southwest had the very first Thanksgiving (recorded), some 35 years or more before the Pilgrims’ landed on Plymouth rock. This is a historical fact that all of Far West Texas and New Mexico residents hold in highest esteem. Be that as it may be, the English Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. Actually, the Pilgrim’s never even referred to the rock and it was not mentioned until about 1715 and…

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February 17: International Cat’s day

In Norse mythology, Freyja is a goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, sex, war, gold, and seiðr, a type of magic practiced in Norse society during the Late Scandinavian Iron Age relating to telling and shaping of the future. She was also associated with war and death, and It was said that after a battle, she would lead a band of Valkyries to gather the fallen warriors—or half of them, at least. She would take her share of the dead to Folkvang, her hall in the home of the gods,…

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Catemaco: the witchcraft capital of Mexico

We are in Catemaco, in eastern Mexico. Built on the shores of the eponymous lake, the town has a long history of fishing, even though nowadays, the town’s main economic activity is tourism. In the 1970s, tourism to Catemaco spiked massively owing to the fame of Gonzalo Aguirre, a renowned sorcerer who lived and practiced in the region. During his lifetime, Aguirre performed rituals for politicians, actors, and business leaders. He also organized a witchcraft convention that brought together the country’s top shamans for a black mass. After his death,…

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Elizabeth: the “Witch” of Union-Udell Cemetery, Ypsilanti – Michigan

For many, cemeteries are macabre enough without any paranormal activity or ghost sightings. So here’s a Michigan graveyard that is said to be one of the most haunted in this state… The Union-Udell Cemetery in Ypsilanti, home to a number of headstones dating back to the mid-1830’s, is an extensive graveyard just off Textile Road, south of Ford Lake and southwest of Willow Run Airport. Apparently, It is the final resting place of a witch that still today haunts the cemetery. This supposed witch’s name was Elizabeth, but there’s nothing…

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The witches of Benevento and their walnut tree Sabbats

We are in Italy. When the Romans conquered the area in the 3rd century B.C. they changed its original name Maleventum (meaning “bad event”) into Beneventum (“good event”) but, name apart, it was a place of crossroads. The city stood in fact where the Appian Way forked and the Sabato and Calore rivers came together and, interestingly, crossroads (in italian “crocevia”) were the special domain of the goddess Trivia, protector of witches, with word Tri-via that means “three roads”. The legend of the witches of Benevento dates back to the…

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The fascinating story of Nocino, the witches’ liqueur.

Patron saints. Every Italian town has one and a local public holiday for celebrating their heavenly protector. In some italian regions, San Giovanni Battista or John the Baptist, is venerated with evening bonfires or fireworks and the night between 23 and 24 June, is also linked to the preparation of a culinary specialty handed down from ancient times: the harvesting of green walnuts to make the liqueur nocino. Many families still preserve the “secret family recipe” of nocino, a liqueur made from green walnuts, often enriched with those particular herbs…

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#May 25, 1904: The revenge of the witch of Yazoo

Urban legends are fascinating bits of history that often contain at least some kernel of truth. In Yazoo, located north of Jackson, in the western part of Mississippi, there’s a strange legend which may have more truth to it than skeptics would like to believe. According to legend, an old witch lived on the banks of the Yazoo River where she lured fishermen into her hut, tortured and killed them. When word finally got around to law enforcement, the local sheriff came looking for the missing men and he found…

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Malleus Maleficarum: the sacred text used to identify witches

Between 1227 and 1235, the Inquisition against witches and heretics was established with a series of papal decrees: Pope Innocent’s bull Ad Extirpanda of 1252 authorized the use of torture to extort confessions of witchcraft by suspected women. From 1257 to 1816 the Inquisition tortured and burned millions of innocent people at the stake accused of witchcraft and heresy against religious dogmas and judged, often without trial and in secret, with terrible torture. If they confessed, they were found guilty and they were considered witches, if they didn’t, they were…

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The curious history of the Milan area that remained immune to the plague: an eccentric marquis, a witch or simply coal?

Before 1630 Milan had over one hundred thousand inhabitants. In 1632 there were forty-seven thousand. In the middle there was the most violent plague epidemic in the history of the city. In the peak period, the so-called “black death” killed nearly 1000 people a day. The Italian Plague of 1629–1631 was a series of outbreaks of bubonic plague which ravaged northern and central Italy. Often referred to as the Great Plague of Milan, it claimed possibly one million lives, or about 25% of the population. Historically, it seems that German…

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The last execution in Iceland: a mysterious murder case that’s intrigued a country for nearly 200 years

For centuries, some small farms near the water on Iceland’s Vatnsnes peninsula are scattered among the grassy fields and rocky hills, more or less content to be living at the edge of the world. Cherry on the cake, the peninsula is known for a black basalt rock formation that’s said to be a petrified troll, and for the colonies of seals that come to sun themselves on the beach. On current days, this surreal zone is still almost as peaceful—and lonely—as it was the night in March 1828 when a…

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The truth behind the haunted house that fascinates all Bologna – Italy

Are you familiar with the classic abandoned houses, dark and falling apart? Those houses that seem a set of a horror movie? In short, the houses in the middle of the woods where in horror movies a group of idiotic students goes to take refuge for some idiotic bet, or to spend an “exciting” weekend. So, the villa located in Casalecchio, a municipality very close to Bologna, Italy, is exactly like that. The only difference compared to traditional horror movies is that this villa is not isolated, but in close…

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La Giubiana: a curious tradition linked to the last Thursday of January in Northern Italy

A great fire that will illuminate the darkness, with the hope that it will burn well and quickly so as to drive away the winter and propitiate the year that has just begun. The traditional ceremony, which this year falls just today, on January 30th, includes a large bonfire where a straw puppet dressed in rags (the Giubiana) is burned, which represents the malaise of winter and the troubles of the past year. The Giübiana, or feast of Giobia is a traditional recurrence very popular in northern Italy, especially in…

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Sostila, the uninhabited village where the road don’t go

Of countries without roads, in Italy, are few left: one of these is Sostila in Val Fabiolo, a small picturesque valley out of time in Valtellina, between Morbegno and Sondrio. The village has remained isolated in time and space, pulsating with peasant life until a few decades ago. Today it is uninhabited: if in 1928 it had about 120 inhabitants, already in the early 50s the number has tragically halved, up to a total of 14 inhabitants in the early 60s. There was the school until 1958, while the church…

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Scotland: the curse of the Paisley witches.

We are in Paisley, Scotland. Here, any tragic events and misfortunes in the town over the last 300 years, they say, were caused by a curse. In the middle of a busy intersection sits a largely unremarkable circle of cobblestones surrounding a steel horseshoe centered within an anonymous circular bronze plaque. A person almost certainly wouldn’t notice it if they didn’t know it was there, but this modest memorial marks the final resting place of seven people convicted and put to death on charges of witchcraft. As story goes, It…

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Steilneset Memorial: a suggestive monument to the victims of the 17th century Norwegian witch trials

On the stark, barren coast of the Barents Sea in Vardø, Norway, there are pair of modern but impact structures known collectively as the Steilneset Memorial which honors the memories of the dozens of people killed during the 17th-century Vardø witch trials. In the seventeenth century, a series of witch trials occurred in Norway, of which the Vardø witch trials were among the most brutal. Over a hundred people were tried for witchcraft, with 77 women and 14 men being burned at the stake. The northern district of Finnmark, within…

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Naples, Italy: in November the first Black Cat Museum opens.

Who does not remember “Tournée Du Chat Noir”, one of the most famous nineteenth century posters that advertised the Parisian coffee house of the same name? Even today the poster created by the Swiss-born artist Theophile Steiner runs in the form of posters in the homes of some people and is depict on many souvenirs like magnets or postcards, bags, and not only in French Capital. The success of the poster and its passage through the centuries is largely due to the magnetism of the feline, which in its darker…

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Triora: the Italian Village of the Terrifying trial to the Witches.

Triora is a medieval village once a crossroads of considerable importance for trade between Italy and France. In 1587, bad weather and pitiful crops led to a famine, and the desperate residents of Triora, exhausted by the circumstances, needed to find a scapegoat for the errors committed by the landowners, who were the real culprits of the lack of food. Soon they became convinced that only the work of witches could bring such misfortune, and the scapegoat was individuated by a really terrific witch hunt. The Inquisitor of Genoa and…

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Bolivia’s Witch Market – Mercado de las Brujas

If we are on Calle Jiminez and Linares between Sagarnaga and Santa Cruz in, it’s impossible not visit the Witches’ Market of La Paz, Bolivia, which is located right in a lively tourist area. The cobbled street of Calle Linares hosts a crowded line of unusual stores collectively known as El Mercado de las Brujas, The Witches’ Market, located just in downtown La Paz, and it sums up Bolivia’s strangeness quite well. Bolivia is where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and revolutionary Che Guevara all met their fate, or…

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Maggie Wall’s Memorial: a misterious Witch memorial in Scotland.

We are outside of a small village of Dunning, located in the former parklands of Duncrub Castle, where there is a misterious monument. It’s a collection of stones about 6 meters high, topped with a cross and decorated with gifts left by visitors, like pennies, feathers, shells, fluffy stuffed animals, and tiny tea candles. Looking at it from a distance, it seems a sort of battle memorial, and seen close up, the monument quickly tells its story: the stones records the words in stark white lettering: “Maggie Wall burnt here…

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