“Making Witches: Newfoundland Traditions of Spells and Counterspells” by Barbara Rieti

"Making Witches: Newfoundland Traditions of Spells and Counterspells" by Barbara Rieti

"There is a little-known tradition of witch lore in Newfoundland culture. Those believed to have the power to influence the fortunes of others are not mythological characters but neighbours, relations, or even friends. Drawing from her own interviews and a wealth of material from the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive, Barbara Rieti explores the range and depth of Newfoundland witch tradition, looking at why certain people acquired reputations as witches, and why others considered themselves bewitched. The tales that emerge — despite their seemingly fantastic elements of spells and black heart books, hags, and healing charms — concern everyday affairs and reveal the intense social interdependence central to outport life. Frequently featuring women, they provide fascinating new perspectives on female coping strategies in a volatile economy. By addressing the perennial human issues at the heart of witchcraft — construction of enmity and intertwined fate — these narrative accounts also illuminate older witch beliefs revealed in witchcraft trial documents. Making Witches shows that in storytelling communities with a rich legacy of witch lore, witch tradition has endured well into the twentieth century."