Traditional Cornish Witches

May 3, 2017

Cornwall was indeed home to many folk-magic practitioners, a tradition that reached a climax in the 19thC. Such practitioners offered a range of services mostly involving the work of healing, curse lifting, exorcising of evil spirits, protection, love and the restoring of lost or stolen property. Clients were often provided with magical substances in the form of small bags of earth or prepared powders. Written charms are also a common feature of Cornish folk-magic, intricately folded and sewn shut inside small square bags.

Some Cornish practitioners achieved a certain degree of fame, two of the most notable perhaps being Tamsin Blight and Granny Boswell. Tamsin Blight, or Tammy Blee as she would have been known, lived from 1798 to 1856 and was perhaps the most famous historical practitioner in Cornwall. Plying her trade within the Helston area, she earned a well respected and feared reputation, for Traditional Cornish Witches have always maintained the ability to cure and to curse. Clients were known to have travelled great distances for a consultation with her, and at certain times people would queue outside her small house in considerable numbers to purchase new charms or have old ones re-empowered, particularly in the springtime when, according to Cornish tradition, a Witch’s Powers are renewed. We know that she would provide the traditional written and sealed charm bags, as well as small bags of grave earth, bones and teeth, as well as magical powders, most notably ‘Witch powder’. She also had a strong reputation for removing curses and healing, working with not only people but cattle and horses. Her powers of sight were also held in high repute for she would be consulted on the whereabouts of lost or stolen money and the identity of malevolent Witches and would work with spirits, making use of hallucinogenic substances, to aid her visions and communications. She had a husband, Jemmy Thomas, who also claimed the powers of a Witch but for the most part enjoyed a fluctuating magical reputation for magic, although his obituary celebrated his abilities in providing cures for people and animals and taming the unruly behaviour of cattle and of horses, a skill traditional among Cunning men across Britain.

Gemma Gary
Traditional Witchcraft – A Cornish Book of Ways

One Response to “Traditional Cornish Witches”

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