Anna Göldin was the last to be sentenced in Europe as a witch. She died decapitated on 13 June 1782 in Glarus, Switzerland.
Forty-six years old, she worked as a maid for a renowned physicist, Johann Jakob Tschudi, a married man and the father of five girls. He accused her of putting needles in his daughter’s bowl of milk and bread after his daughter fell ill. The alleged witch ran away, but she was eventually imprisoned by the authorities and subjected to torture.
In her confession, she admitted to seeing the Devil in the form of a black dog, who presumably ordered her to mistreat the girl.
In 2006, a journalist uncovered previously unpublished evidence and the truth was revealed: Anna threatened to reveal that Johann Jakob Tschudi had been sexually attacking her. He accused her of witchcraft to shut her up. In 2008, the Swiss parliament found Anna Göldin not guilty of witchcraft.
Mother Shipton was a feared and highly regarded English prophetess of the 16th century. Born to a mother who was also suspected to be a witch, Mother Shipton was described as hideously ugly and disfigured—so much so that the locals called her “Hag Face” and believed her father to be the Devil.
Despite her unfortunate appearance, she was said to have been England’s greatest clairvoyant and was often compared to her male contemporary Nostradamus. According to legend, she had predicted the Spanish Armada, the Great Plague of London, the Great Fire of London, the execution of Mary Queen of Scots, and some even speculate, the Internet: “around the world thoughts shall fly in the twinkling of an eye.”
Mother Shipton did not die by fire or sword like so many accused witches before and after her. Instead, she died a peaceful death and is said to have been buried on unholy ground on the outer edges of York around 1561.
You can visit Mother Shipton’s Cave in North Yorkshire, England.
Learn about four other real witches from history at Biography.com — Bewitched: 5 Real Witches in History.
A ghostly, jazzy interlude, a witch, and an inside-out dragon make this Betty Boop cartoon a gem to watch!
Image from Dr. Roy Booth: A Witches’ Sabbath.
Scrying (also called crystal gazing, crystal seeing, seeing, or peeping) is the ancient act of divination for the purpose of clairvoyance. It is usually achieved by concentrating on or staring at an object having a shiny surface until a vision appears.
A formerly widespread tradition held that young women, gazing into a mirror in a darkened room (often on Halloween) could catch a glimpse of their future husband’s face in the mirror or a skull personifying Death, if their fate was to die before they married.
Visit Occult World: Scrying to learn more about this ancient art of divination, including how to do it yourself.
Petronella de Meath was the first woman in Ireland to be burned for heresy in 1324.
She was the hand-maiden of Dame Alice Kyteler, the famous witch of Kilkenny. Dame Alice was married four times, and each husband died. On the death of her last husband, Sir John le Poer, Alice’s children accused her of using poison and sorcery to kill him. They brought their case before the Bishop of Ossory, Richard de Ledrede, in 1324 in the hope that their mother would be arrested and they would gain her fortune. It was ordered that Alice be burned at the stake.
Unfortunately for Petronella, Alice fled. This left a large, baying crowd standing outside Kilkenny City’s Tholsel. To satisfy the crowd, Petronella was made to take Alice’s place. She was burned alive and that would be the end of Petronella de Meath, the first woman in Ireland burned for heresy, a claim that should have fell to Dame Alice.