Witchcraft & The Humane Fishermen of Staithes


fishermenStaithes had a very practical way of dealing with their local witches. If a coble or fishing smack had a run of bad luck, the fishermen took it for granted that a local witch was responsible. The owners of the unlucky boats gathered together at midnight, killed a pigeon, took out its heart, stuck the heart full of pins and burned it over a charcoal fire.

When the heart had been reduced to ashes, they all waited to see who would come to the door. Whoever it was, would be the witch who had ill-wished their boats. She would have been drawn to the house by the power of the spell they had cast.

When she arrived, instead of setting about her they gave her a small gift to gain her good will. Then, when the boats had better luck, it showed that the witch had appreciated their gift. Not many Yorkshire folk tackled their witches in such a humane way.

Source – Witches in Old North Yorkshire. Mary Williams. 1987


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