Ideas concerning witchcraft are rather attenuated at present, although their existence may still be observed.
578. Some people believe that a wish expressed very solemnly or under special circumstances, such as by a dying person, will be effective against supposed wrong-doers. This is somewhat of the nature of a curse. For instance, a man who was dying of consumption wished for a cane belonging to his father. The younger brother, who had possession of it, refused to give it up. The sick man then remarked that the brother might keep the cane, but that he might need it before long.
579. Burning salt will drive witches out of the house. (M.) 579. Burning salt will drive witches out of the house. (M.)
580. A crabbed, sour-dispositioned old woman is still sometimes referred to as an old witch.
581. The seventh son of the seventh son is supposed to be able to tell fortunes and to perform cures of various kinds. This applies equally to the seventh daughter of the seventh son. It is also held that the seventh son or child is supernaturally gifted.
582. Mrs. Richard Hutchison told of a male relative of hers who was said to have been bewitched by an old woman living in the neighborhood. The old woman was supposed to have had a spite against the man, and made him want to kill his wife, who could not escape him, no matter where she might go. Nothing could be done to rid him of his murder mania. At last it became known that the old woman had bewitched him. So she was sent for and ordered to say, “God bless you!” She kept saying, “My God bless you!” but this did the man no good, as the old woman’s god or deity was the Devil. The people finally threatened to string her up to a tree if she did not say, “God bless you!” When she said it at last, the man became as usual.
583. A woman living in the country, a short distance from Toronto, one day saw a cat coming towards the house through the grass. As she noticed that the cat’s face resembled that of a neighbor woman, she tried to catch it, but was unable to do so. Had she cut its paw, or hurt it in any way, her neighbor – so she believed – would have been injured in a similar manner. The cat after a while went into the stable, and walked in and out of the stalls “just like a soldier.” The people tried to hit it with sticks, but it got out of the way every time. (Informant is said to have been of Highland-Scotch descent.)
584. Another item, presumably of Scotch origin, is to the effect that a woman took sweepings from her steps and threw them on those of her mother-in-law to prevent the latter from doing her an injury.
585. Some people always sweep in, never out of the door.
586. A practice attributed to Irish sources is that of pointing the scissors at people, either when they are looking or when not looking; this is done to injure an enemy
The beliefs under Nos. 587-591 (recorded by the Rev. Solomon Snider of Norwich, Oxford County, Ontario, in “The Globe,” Toronto, 1898-1900, were current between 1840and 1850. 587. “Witches were a terror to old and young, and not without reason when it was found what they could do. What quantities of soap-grease were wasted in the vain attempt to make soap! How many hours were spent over the churn, while the butter wouldn’t come! . . . How much bread sponge had to be thrown into the swill- barrel because it wouldn’t rise! . . . Manes of horses would be found in the morning braided up and fastened together as stirrups for the witches or fairies who had ridden them through the night.
588. “A man’s cows got lean and lost relish for their food and would yield no milk; but when an old woman marked crosses on their horns and foreheads, they were themselves again. They were held to have been ‘witched.’
589. “Again, an old man declared he was taken out every night by the witches and bridled and ridden like a horse; and he would show all the signs of being completely exhausted in the morning, and would exhibit the sores at the corners of his mouth where he had been un- mercifully jerked by the bit. He so fully believed all this, that he walked fifty miles to consult a ‘witch doctor,’ who delivered him from his tormentors.
590. “An old soldier, who lived alone in a little log cabin, died very suddenly in the presence of some young men whom he had just been diverting with tales of his former exploits. One of themran to the house of Mrs. S – , who was found with a pot fiercely boiling, in which were three pigs’ livers all stuck full of pins and needles. In reply to the news that ‘old Uncle Simon was dead,’ she said: ‘Served him right. Why didn’t he let my pigs alone?’ It was a case of ‘tit for tat.’ He had bewitched her pigs, and she, with the help of the murdered pigs’ livers, had compassed his death.
591. ” Once more: An old woman said to her husband one day: ‘The butter won’t come.’ He at once cast a silver bullet for his rifle (lead won’t kill a witch), and fired it into the churn. The butter was all right; but not so an old wife of the neighborhood, who had be- witched the butter. She went hobbling around for months, suffering silently from a concealed bullet wound.” The following story, which confirms some of the notions contributed by the Rev. S. Snider, was obtained from John Jamieson, Jr., an Iroquois residing on the Six-Nation reserve, in Brant County, and deals with beliefs –evidently European –current in that locality some thirty or forty years ago:
592. A blacksmith living along the stone road between Brantford and Langford had an apprentice who gradually began to get very ill. One day he told the blacksmith that he was going away. “What’s the matter?” asked his employer. “Nothing,” he replied, “except that you do not use me very well.” ” How’s that?” asked the blacksmith. “Well, I am kept awake every night working,” said he. The blacksmith decided to take the young man to sleep near him, the wife of the latter sleeping in another room. In the middle of the night the blacksmith heard something knocking. He went to the door, and saw there a man with a fine-looking mare. “I’ll give you five dollars if you will shoe my horse,” said his visitor, “as I have to drive twenty miles.” The blacksmith said, “No! I have worked hard all day, and I want to rest.”-“Shoe the front feet, and I’ll give you five dollars for your trouble,” said the man; “I do not want to drive on the gravel without shoes.” The blacksmith at last consented; but the mare was very restless, and kept following him around, while the thought kept occurring to him that he had seen the mare before. The customer paid his bill and departed. In the morn- ing the blacksmith asked his assistant how he had slept. “Oh! all right,” said he. The hired girl got the breakfast, and went to call the blacksmith’s wife; but the latter remained in her apartment weeping, her hands hidden in her clothes, and would give no answer. The blacksmith finally entered, and asked her what was the matter. She showed him her hands with horseshoes nailed on them, and said, “I did not think you would do such a thing.”
593. I have frequently heard of a red-hot horseshoe being put into the churning when the butter would not come. The avowed reason was to remove the spell which a witch had put on the cream. (Boyle.)
594. An old Irish woman of the neighborhood, when she has any bad luck, such as her hens not laying, or any farm stock not prospering, obtains something belonging to the person she suspects of “evil’ and, after sticking it full of pins, burns it. She claims that she always hears of this person’s illness at once.
Witch of Plum Hollow