Isobel Gowdie was tried for witchcraft in Scotland in 1662. Her confessions are wildly descriptive, vivid and detailed. For this reason they are famed among scholars and laypeople alike. They offer academics insight into the way fairy beliefs, demonology and witch beliefs were interwoven. They also gave the formulators of Gardnerian Craft, in the earlier 20th century, a body of material to draw upon for inspiration. Emma Wilby uses the trial records to try to tease out experiences and beliefs which may have generated her confessions, making a case for Scottish shamanistic, animistic practices in Gowdie's lifetime. Of books published on the history of witchcraft in the past 20 years, this is possibly the most popular among witchcraft practitioners in the UK. The material is compelling, and Wilby's argument is alluring.


Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2013 (2010). Paperback, 604 pages. New.


Visions of Isobel Gowdie - Emma Wilby