The Visions of Isobel Gowdie: Magic, Witchcraft and Dark Shamanism in Seventeenth-Century Scotland by Emma Wilby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Following the author’s rediscovery of the original confession transcripts, Wilby reappraises documents so strange and perplexing that authors such as Katharine Briggs labelled them as 'strange, mad outpourings'.
Wilby conducts an in-depth analysis of the content of Isobel’s testimony, taking an interdisciplinary approach. She separates Isobel’s voice and beliefs from those of her interrogators and fuses together a hypothesis based on ‘dark’ shamanism, false-memory generation and mutual-dream experience, along with literature on marriage-covenant mysticism and protection-charm traditions in order to show how Isobel’s confessions might have reflected an actual self-identification as a practitioner of harmful magic.
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