Sunday, March 13, 2011

Witchcraft traditions in Maryland - Dorchester County

I ran across this passage from History of Dorchester County, Maryland by Elias Jones.
The book was published in 1902.

Dorchester County  is located on Maryland's Eastern Shore. I am not aware of any witch trial originating out of the county, but would be happy to be corrected if wrong. It is of interest that the author advises the use of witchcraft to kill a witch. Of course, the author may not have been completely serious.

A broomstick laid across the doorway will prevent a witch from entering the house.

If a witch sits down in a chair in which is sticking or is afterwards stuck a fork, she cannot rise as long as the fork stays there. An example of this was tested at the "Dr. Johnson" place in "Lakes" with old "Suf," who was said to be a witch.

A witch can take a horse from a locked stable and ride it all night; the evidence of this being the foaming sweat on the horse and the witchknots tied in its tail and mane, often seen the next morning.

A witch can turn people into horses and ride on them. One man in Dorchester County died from the effects of such a trip, the clay being found under his finger and toe nails. He had refused to let the witch have his horse to ride, so she rode the owner instead.

If a witch is about to turn a sleeping person into a horse and the sleeper awakes in time, seizes the witch and holds her without speaking until daybreak, she will assume her proper form.

A witch can also turn herself into any animal she pleases for hunter's dogs often trail and tree witches at night that take the form of some animal to avoid detection.

To kill a witch, draw a picture of her and shoot at it with pieces of silver instead of lead, bullets or shot; just where the picture is shot the witch will be wounded; if in vital parts of the body, she will die from the effects.

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