Visions of Isobel Gowdie

Wilby, Emma

Published by Sussex Academic Press
ISBN 10: 184519179X / ISBN 13: 9781845191795
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The confessions of Isobel Gowdie are widely recognised as the most extraordinary on record in Britain. Using historical, psychological, comparative religious and anthropological perspectives, this book sets out to separate the voice of Isobel Gowdie from that of her interrogators. Num Pages: 604 pages, b/w illus. BIC Classification: HRLK; HRQX5; JHMC. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 252 x 181 x 40. Weight in Grams: 1236. . 2010. Hardcover. . . . . Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: The witchcraft confessions given by Isobel Gowdie (in Auldearn, Scotland in 1662)are widely celebrated as the most extraordinary on record in Britain. Their descriptive power, vivid imagery, and contentious subject matter have attracted considerable interest on both academic and popular levels. This book,written by Emma Wilby, author of the critically acclaimed Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits, provides the first full-length examination of the confessions and the life and character of the woman behind them. The author's discovery of the original trial records, deemed lost for nearly 200 years, provides a starting point for an interdisciplinary endeavor to separate Isobel's voice from that of her interrogators, to identify the beliefs and experiences that informed her testimony, and to analyze why her confessions differ so markedly from those of other witchcraft suspects from the period. In the course of these enquiries, the author develops wider hypotheses relevant to the study of early modern witchcraft as a whole, bringing together for the first time recent research into Amazonian 'dark' shamanism, false-memory generation, and mutual-dream experience, along with literature on marriage-covenant mysticism and protection-charm traditions. Emma Wilby concludes that close analysis of Isobel's confessions supports the still-controversial hypothesis that in 17th-Century Scotland, as in other parts of Europe in this period, popular spirituality was shaped through a deep interaction between church teachings and shamanistic traditions of pre-Christian origin. She also extends this thesis beyond its normal association with beneficent magic and overtly folkloric themes to speculate that some of Europe's more malevolent and demonological witch-narratives may also have emerged out of visionary rites underpinned by cogent shamanistic rationales.

About the Author:

Emma Wilby is an honorary fellow in history at the University of Exeter and the author of Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits.

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Title: Visions of Isobel Gowdie
Publisher: Sussex Academic Press
Book Condition: New

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Book Description Sussex Academic Press, United Kingdom, 2010. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The confessions of Isobel Gowdie are widely recognised as the most extraordinary on record in Britain. Their descriptive power and vivid imagery have attracted considerable interest on both academic and popular levels. Among historians, the confessions are celebrated for providing a unique insight into the way fairy beliefs and witch beliefs interacted in the early modern mind; more controversially, they are also cited as evidence for the existence of Shamanistic visionary traditions, of pre-Christian origin, in Scotland in this period. On a popular level the confessions of Isobel Gowdie have, above any other British witch-trial records, influenced the formation of the ritual traditions of Wicca. The authors discovery of the original trial records (currently being authenticated by the National Archives of Scotland), deemed lost for nearly 200 years, provides a starting point for an interdisciplinary look at the confessions and the woman behind them. Using historical, psychological, comparative religious and anthropological perspectives this book sets out to separate the voice of Isobel Gowdie from that of her interrogators, and to determine the experiences and beliefs which may have generated her confessions. The book explores: How far did those accused of witchcraft self-consciously practice harmful magic? Did they really believe themselves to have made a Pact with an envisioned Devil? Did they ever participate in ecstatic cult rituals? The author argues that close analysis of Isobels testimony supports the view that in seventeenth-century Britain popular spirituality was shaped by a deep interaction between Christian teachings and shamanistic visionary traditions, of pre-Christian origin. These findings confirm the value of witchcraft confessions as unique windows into the complexities of the early modern religious imagination. Bookseller Inventory # AAG9781845191795

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Emma Wilby
Published by Sussex Academic Press, United Kingdom (2010)
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Book Description Sussex Academic Press, United Kingdom, 2010. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The confessions of Isobel Gowdie are widely recognised as the most extraordinary on record in Britain. Their descriptive power and vivid imagery have attracted considerable interest on both academic and popular levels. Among historians, the confessions are celebrated for providing a unique insight into the way fairy beliefs and witch beliefs interacted in the early modern mind; more controversially, they are also cited as evidence for the existence of Shamanistic visionary traditions, of pre-Christian origin, in Scotland in this period. On a popular level the confessions of Isobel Gowdie have, above any other British witch-trial records, influenced the formation of the ritual traditions of Wicca. The authors discovery of the original trial records (currently being authenticated by the National Archives of Scotland), deemed lost for nearly 200 years, provides a starting point for an interdisciplinary look at the confessions and the woman behind them. Using historical, psychological, comparative religious and anthropological perspectives this book sets out to separate the voice of Isobel Gowdie from that of her interrogators, and to determine the experiences and beliefs which may have generated her confessions. The book explores: How far did those accused of witchcraft self-consciously practice harmful magic? Did they really believe themselves to have made a Pact with an envisioned Devil? Did they ever participate in ecstatic cult rituals? The author argues that close analysis of Isobels testimony supports the view that in seventeenth-century Britain popular spirituality was shaped by a deep interaction between Christian teachings and shamanistic visionary traditions, of pre-Christian origin. These findings confirm the value of witchcraft confessions as unique windows into the complexities of the early modern religious imagination. Bookseller Inventory # AAG9781845191795

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