On the trail of a witch

Morayshire, Scotland: golf links, 2018, farm town 1660


On the trail of a witch

Leafing through my grandfather’s book about the Presbyterian ministers in our family, I came across some “Covenanters.” Who/what were Covenanters? I found that in 17thcentury Scotland they were key players in the fight for religious freedom and against the notion of king as head of church.

And then I discovered that the area in Scotland where the Covenanters were most concentrated, in Morayshire, was also where the most witch trials were held. And it so happened that one of the best-known witches in Scottish history, Isobel Gowdie, lived on the estate of John Hay (my birth name, Hayes, was originally Hay.)

Whoee!… Presbyterians and a witch. This was my kind of story. I was a Starhawk (a Wiccan) fan in the 70s and became a Presbyterian minister in the 80s. I hadn’t thought I’d write a historical novel, much less one about a 17thcentury witch in Scotland, but I was drawn in to the story of Isobel.

Just think. Here, where people play golf today, Isobel, a peasant woman, lived in a mud hut, concocted magical potions, and communicated with fairies, all in the face of my zealous Presbyterian ancestors.

I’m off to Scotland next week to get a feel for the land, talk with local historians, and flesh out the first draft of my novel, BITTER MAGIC.

Follow my blog to come with me!


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