A few days ago I had the opportunity to bring the past alive by producing a voice recording of what has been referred to as the Leverton Charm.
Listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4Q1jNzuZTk&feature=youtube_gdata
Although many Witch Bottles have been unearthed over the years, it’s rare to find Instructions For Use, or in this case, how to construct your own personal charm. Although the Wisewoman or Conjurer can easily construct a charm, in some circumstances it is so much more powerful for the client to produce their own under instruction, especially if the ingredients require a contact item and/or body fluid of the client.
The Leverton Charm was first discovered, according to the Archives & Cornish Studies Service, in amongst miscellaneous documents contained in a bundle of deeds of the Leverton family based in St Merryn, Cornwall. Little else was known until I consulted with Jason Semmens who was able to provide me with more of a possible background as he followed this lead back in 2000 when he was researching for his article on Witch Bottles (Semmens, Jason., ‘The Usage of Witch-Bottles and Apotropaic Charms in Cornwall’ Old Cornwall 12, No. 6 (2000) pp. 25 – 30)
“In fact the charm contains its own clues as to its dating, as it refers to Saturday 17 September which can only have fallen in specific years. As the handwriting is of early 18th century date, I concluded that this probably unique instruction for the manufacture of a witch-bottle appears to have been given to a heavily pregnant Thomasine Leverton of St Merryn in 1701 by a now unknown local conjuror to whom she had probably resorted after becoming ill, her pregnancy no doubt causing her anxiety. She gave birth to a daughter 2 months after the charm was written.”
The Charm for Thamson Leverton document is at present on display at the Cornish Studies Library in Redruth, Cornwall. It forms part of a fascinating exhibition which runs from 10th October – 2nd November 2013. I highly recommend attending this if you can as the exhibits are fascinating, and include items from the Museum of Witchcraft and Saveock Water Archaeology
Laetitia and me attended the opening night where Jason Semmens gave his talk on Witch Trials in Cornwall. The talk was very informative and focused on the 15th – 17th Century, and although there was very little evidence or incidence of recorded convictions, what activity there was appeared to cluster around the West Penwith peninsular – no surprises there then! 😉 I found it to be an excellent starting point as Jason’s next talk in March will concentrate on the 18th – 20th Century with particular emphasis on the renowned Cornish Wisewoman, Tamsyn Blight. If the questions after were anything to go by, then there will be an excellent turnout of interested parties for the next talk as well!
It’s thrilling to be able to work with professional people who work with the past in this way and it reminds me what a privilege it is to be able to continue a craft that has been utilised by so many country folk over the centuries – now that’s what I call being part of the ‘Old Ways’. 🙂