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Join Aerinn Hodges and Dr Alexander Cummins as they present a celebration and excavation of the life and legacy of the early modern English unsung grimoirist, magician, and speculatrix Anne Bodenham, ‘the cunning woman of Wiltshire’, who eventually met her death in 1653 at the wrong end of a witchcraft accusation.
In this special two-headed class, contemporary cunning-folk Aerinn Hodges and Dr Alexander Cummins will explore the twofold considerations of Anne as painted by her contemporaries:
- Anne the Cunning Woman: a professional magician with a successful practice in service to her community: teaching children to read; identifying thieves; breaking curses; and prescribing planetary prayers, charms, and other remediations for their ills.
- Anne the Witch: taught magic by the Devil himself when book-learning would take her no further; who conjured ragged spirits from her diabolical tome inked in blood; who practised the despised “Old Religion”, who cursed the hangman ‘to the last’ and insisted she be buried at the gallows.
- Where these two paths meet, we will encounter Anne in her fullness, a strong, passionate woman and former student of infamous necromancer Dr John Lambe, who boasted she knew better than the best doctors and had more in her art than the seventeenth-century’s most famous astrologer William Lilly.
- This class will thus explore the historical and magical realities of the figure of the Witch and of the Wise-Woman by charting some of these tensions of gender, religion, class, and folk belief. This presentation will challenge some outdated assumptions about what grimoiric magic and cunning medicine actually looked like in early modern England and, in doing so, will ultimately seek to honour the “grancestors” of the Cunning Dead who may yet come forth to offer their guidance for we living service magicians, seers, and wise-ones-in-training.