A witch’s oak chest was recently sold, and its authenticity can be vouched
for by some of the old residents of
The old dame’s name was Elizabeth Swann, but she was familiarly known, and
feared, by the inhabitants as Old Betty, her ostensible business
being that of a "letter writer for town and country."
It was in the early part of the nineteenth century that she was reputed to
have begun practising
witchcraft. The townspeople
passing her house at night often heard her in communion, as they believed,
with the Evil One.
She used to claim supernatural power, and said she obtained her knowledge of
the occult from this chest, in which she kept her charms, and that it formerly
belonged to her maternal grandmother, who was the daughter of a Kidderminster
weaver. One morning the old witch was missing, and on her hut being entered
she was found burnt to a cinder, the local tradition being that she had
suffered an embrace from the Evil One.
An image of Elizabeth Swann's witchcraft chest no long exists.
It is difficult to determine the size or shape of the chest.
I can imagine that witchcraft chest had many drawers of differing
sizes in which to store various gems, personal belongings and
apothecary jars. There may even be secret compartments holding the
more important objects required to practice the black arts.
The belief in witchcraft and the practice of it varies across cultures and time periods, it's not something that can be confirmed or denied based on historical facts. It's important to remember that the concept of witchcraft has long been associated with superstition and misinformation, and it's important to approach such claims with a critical and skeptical mindset.
The claims of Elizabeth Swann being an actual practicing witch
is one that I have my doubts about. Townsfolk often like making
us stories of people they don't like. I may be that Elizabeth Swann
just didn't like hanging out with people in the town and kept
to herself. The rumour that a witch was burnt to a cinder are
also difficult to understand. Was Elizbeth Swann's death a cold-blooded
murder that remains ignored to this day? We will never
It will be interesting to see if the witchcraft power still
embraced the witchcraft chest. The witchcraft power will color
the chest like an occult aura. The strength of the aura will
really depend on Elizabeth Swann's grasp of witchcraft and how
strongly she felt connected with the chest. If the chest was really
the source of Elizabeth Swann's knowledge of the occult then
this connection may be very strong. I imagine that a strong
violet aura would grip the chest's outside edges and a vivid
yellow-red coloring will cover the drawers with the fiercest
contents of desire.
It is said that if a tree comes between you and a curse, the curse goes into the tree and grows into a knot. And you are saved.
I am made to wonder about what knots came about from this chest.
No one likes a curse. Much less to be the receiver of a curse.
So consider the next time you see a knot in wood.
There was a curse given and a curse avoided.
Every knot has a history.
About this article
This article is a reprint of an existing article, published in
The House, September 1902.
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