Supernatural Help: Cunning Folk

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"For the peasant, the world of everyday reality was one in which magicians, "cunning folk," sorcerers, and witches all possessed magical powers which could be marshalled for either good or evil ends. It was the use of those powers to inflict harm that was the essential element in the popular meaning of witchcraft."

~ (Schwartz, 4)

 
There is much debate over the role of Cunning Folk during the witching years and the total that were actually prosecuted as witches. Some historians barely recognize their significance in this respect, while others believe they were highly significant. In any event, the Cunning Folk were those that were consulted when witches were being prosecuted. They were the ones the people went to in times of sickness and need. They were the healers, the midwives, and the ones people went to for guidance. If not significant in the prosecution of witchcraft, the Cunning Folk were certainly significant in their contributions to the popular beliefs of the time period.

Untitled, 1567. http://www.goth.net/~shanmonster/witch/misogyny.html (12/16/99)

           

Midwives- Women who assisted in childbirth, they often took on the role of caregiver and healer in the time of a women's pregnancy. They were revered by the people as "wise women".

Healers- Men and women who aided the sick and needy. Despite the sometimes apparent disbelief in their powers, they were highly respected and appeared to help many. They also assisted in the task of "witch hunting" and pinpointing supernatural opponents.
 


 

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