Monday, 29 November 2010


(pp 56)... " The female sex has been always most concerned in the crime of Christian witchcraft.  What was the cause of this general addiction, in the popular belief, of that sex, it is interesting to inquire.   In the east now, and in Greece of the age of Simonides or Euripides, or at least in the Ionic States, women are an inferior order of beings, not only on account of their weaker natural facilities and social position, but also in respect of their natural inclination to every sort of wickedness.  And if they did not act the part of a Christian witch, they were skilled in the practice of toxicology.  With the Latin race and many European peoples, the female sex held a better position, and it may appear inconsistent that in Christendom, where the Godess-Mother was almost the highest object of veneration, woman should be degraded into a slave of Satan.  By the northern nations they were supposed to be gifted with supernatural power; and the universal powers of the Italian hag have been already noticed.  But the Church, which allowed no miracle to be legitimate out of the pale, and yet could not deny the fact of the miraculous without, was obliged to assert it to be of diabolic origin.  Thus the priestess of antiquity became a witch.  This is the historical account. "...

(pp 57)... "  Their magical or pharmaceutical attributes might be derived from savage life, where the men are almost exclusively occupied either in war or in the chase: everything unconnected with these active or necessary pursuits is despised as unbecoming to the superior nature of the male sex.   To the female portion of the community are abandoned domestic employments, preparation of food, the selection and mixture of medicinal herbs, and all the mysteries of the medical art. how important occupations like these, by ignorance and interest, might be raised into something more than natural skill, is easy to be conjectured.  That so extraordinary an attribute would often be abused is agreeable to experience. "...

Source: The superstition of Witchcraft, by Howard Williams; Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts & Green, 1865

Sunday, 28 November 2010

28.11.2010 bis

The Fourth Witch from the tale of The Horned Women
photographic documentation (wood)

Photos by Martin Siegrist


The Horned Women

A RICH woman sat up late one night carding and preparing wool, while all the family and servants were asleep. Suddenly a knock was given at the door, and a voice called, "Open! open!"
"Who is there?" said the woman of the house.
"I am the Witch of one Horn," was answered.
The mistress, supposing that one of her neighbours had called and required assistance, opened the door, and a woman entered, having in her hand a pair of wool-carders, and bearing a horn on her forehead, as if growing there. She sat down by the fire in silence, and began to card the wool with violent haste. Suddenly she paused, and said aloud: "Where are the women? they delay too long."
Then a second knock came to the door, and a voice called as before, "Open! open!"
The mistress felt herself obliged to rise and open to the call, and immediately a second witch entered, having two horns on her forehead, and in her hand a wheel for spinning wool.
"Give me place," she said; "I am the Witch of the two horns," and she began to spin as quick as lightning.
And so the knocks went on, and the call was heard, and the witches entered, until at last twelve women sat round the fire—the first with one horn, the last with twelve horns.
And they carded the thread, and turned their spinning wheels, and wound and wove, all singing together an ancient rhyme, but no word did they speak to the mistress of the house. Strange to hear, and frightful to look upon, were these twelve women, with their horns and their wheels and the mistress felt near to death, and she tried to rise that she might call for help, but she could not move, nor could she utter a word or a cry, for the spell of the witches was upon her.
Then one of them called to her in Irish, and said, "Rise, woman, and make us a cake."
Then the mistress searched for a vessel to bring water from the well that she might mix the meal and make the cake, but she could find none.
And they said to her, "Take a sieve and bring water in it."
And she took the sieve and went to the well; but the water poured from it, and she could fetch none for the cake, and she sat down by the well and wept.
Then a voice came by her and said, "Take yellow clay and moss, and bind them together, and plaster the sieve so that it will hold."
This she did, and the sieve held the water for the cake and the voice said again:
"Return, and when thou comest to the north angle of the house, cry aloud three times and say, 'The mountain of the Fenian women and the sky over it is all on fire.' "
And she did so.
When the witches inside heard the call, a great and terrible cry broke from their lips, and they rushed forth with wild lamentations and shrieks, and fled away to Slievenamon, where was their chief abode. But the Spirit of the Well bade the mistress of the house to enter and prepare her home against the enchantments of the witches if they returned again.
And first, to break their spells, she sprinkled the water in which she had washed her child's feet, the feet-water, outside the door on the threshold; secondly, she took the cake which in her absence the witches had made of meal mixed with the blood drawn from the sleeping family, and she broke the cake in bits, and placed a bit in the mouth of each sleeper, and they were restored; and she took the cloth they had woven, and placed it half in and half out of the chest with the padlock; and lastly, she secured the door with a great crossbeam fastened in the jambs, so that the witches could not enter, and having done these things she waited.
Not long were the witches in coming back, and they raged and called for vengeance.
"Open! open!" they screamed; "open, feet-water!"
"I cannot," said the feet-water; "I am scattered on the ground, and my path is down to the Lough."
"Open, open, wood and trees and beam!" they cried to the door.
"I cannot," said the door, "for the beam is fixed in the jambs and I have no power to move."
"Open, open, cake that we have made and mingled with blood!" they cried again.
"I cannot," said the cake, "for I am broken and bruised, and my blood is on the lips of the sleeping children."
Then the witches rushed through the air with great cries, and fled back to Slievenamon, uttering strange curses on the Spirit of the Well, who had wished their ruin; but the woman and the house were left in peace, and a mantle dropped by one of the witches in her flight was kept hung up by the mistress in memory of that night; and this mantle was kept by the same family from generation to generation for five hundred years after.

Source: Celtic Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs, 1892:

Monday, 22 November 2010


(pp 5) ... The belief in the infernal art of witchcraft is perhaps the most horrid, as it certainly is the most absurd, phenomenon in the religious history of the world. Of the millions of victims sacrificed on the alters of religion this particular delusion can claim a considerable proportion. By a moderate computation, nine millions have been burned of hanged since the establishment of Christianity. ...

(pp 213/214)...  It might be possible to from an imperfect estimate of how many thousands were sacrificed in the Jacobian persecution in Scotland alone from existing historical records, which would express, however, but a small proportion of the actual number: and parish registers may still attest the quantity of fuel provided at a considerable expense, and the number of the fires. By a moderate computation an average number of two hundred annually, making a total of eight thousand, are reckoned to have been burned in the last forty years of the sixteenth century.
    In England, from 1603 to 1680, seventy thousand persons are said to have been executed; and during the fifteen hundred years elapsed since the triumph of the Christian religion, millions are reckoned to have been sacrificed on the bloody alters of the Christian Moloch. ...

Source: The superstition of Witchcraft, by Howard Williams; Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts & Green, 1865

Addendum 22.11.2010

From today, 
I am introducing two new labels for this on-line archive of my research and work.

As my research progresses into folklore and popular beliefs, I often bump into parts where myth touches history. 
I am creating this label to include these finds, as well as to include my own writing. 

ThisComfort Zone
I have worked with the word combination ThisComfort Zone since 2004. It's a play on words that both points to and challenges the comfort zone. The work included under this label is provoking and uncomfortable: it's out of the comfort zone and facing the discomfort of many issues raised by my research. 

The works under the ThisComfort Zone label may prove to be disturbing to some viewers. 

Friday, 19 November 2010


apotropaic: "...for which it was put on the lips of Roman newborns..."
photographic documentation  (salt)

Photo by Martin Siegrist

Tuesday, 16 November 2010


Here in Europe it used to be thought that the maleficent powers of witches and wizards resided in their hair, and that nothing could make any impression on those miscreants as long as they kept their hair on. Hence in France it was customary to shave the whole bodies of persons charged with sorcery before handing them over to the torturer. Millaeus witnessed the torture of some persons at Toulouse, from whom no confession could be wrung until they were stripped and completely shaven, when they readily acknowledged the truth of the charge.   A woman also, who apparently led a pious life, was put to the torture on suspicion of witchcraft, and bore her agonies with incredible constancy, until complete depilation drove her to admit her guilt.  The noted inquisitor Sprenger contented himself with shaving the head of the suspected witch or wizard; but his more thoroughgoing colleague Cumanus shaved the whole bodies of forty-seven women before committing them all to flames.  He had high authority for this rigorous scrutiny, since Satan himself, in a sermon preached from the pulpit of North Berwick church, comforted his many servants by assuring them that no harm could befall them " sa lang as their hair wes on,  and sould newir latt ane teir fall fra thair ene. "

Source: The Golden Bough, a study in magic and religion, by Sir James George Frazer, first published 1922; pp680, Wordsworth Editions Ltd. 1993

Thursday, 11 November 2010

11.11.2010 Bis

SALT-SILVER, One penny paid at the feast day of St. Martin, by the tenants of some manors, as a commutation for the service of carying their lord's Salt from market to his larder. Paroch. Antiq. 496.

Source: The Law-Dictionary: explaining the rise, progress, and present state, of the English law (etc. etc.) Vol. VI. Giles Jacob & T.E. Tomlins, Printed for, and published by I. Riley, New-york; and by P. Byrne, Philadelphia. Fry and Kammerer, Printers. 1811


St. Martin's Salt
Photographic documentation
16.30h - 16.40h

Photos by Martin Siegrist

Monday, 8 November 2010


life; immortality; imperishability; continuity; friendship, wisdom and knowledge (sal sapientiae); soul.
Later also sybmolised values, sharpness and wit.
Greco-Roman: Salt has played a significant role in making sacrifices, and was apotropaic, for which it was put on the lips of Roman newborns of eight days in order to deter evil spirits, hence probably the origin of giving salt to the Christian catechumen before baptism.

Source: Ilustrovana Enciklopedija Tradicionalnih Simbola, pp152. Dz. K. Kuper, Prosveta-Nolit, Beograd, 1986 – 
Original title: An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols, by Jean Campbell Cooper, Thames and Hudson, 1978, London
(this quote is a direct translation back into English form the Serbian.)

Sunday, 7 November 2010


    Salt has long been used as a symbol of purity and as a substance to ward away evil spirits. In Christianity, salt is associated with eternity and divine protection. Salt and holy water are used in baptisms and to bless the church sites, as well as to protect unbaptized babies prior to baptism and the dead in their journey from earth to the next world.
    Witches and demons were traditionally said to be repelled by the presence of salt. It is thus used as protection against witchcraft. The evil eye, and it has the power to break evil spells. When trying to conjure demons or spirits, it is recommended that one avoids salt as it can interfere with the connection. Salt has been utilized in regard to those accused or suspected of being witches. It was a form of torture to feed the accused heavy doses of salt. Women have been suspected of being witches on the mere fact that they complained of their food being overly salted.
    When one spills, borrows, or runs out of salt, it is considered unlucky and is said to make one susceptible to the powers of the Devil. It is possible to negate this situation by pinching salt in the right hand and tossing it over the left shoulder.

Source: Witchcraft today: an encyclopedia of Wiccan and neopagan traditions, by James R. Lewis,

Monday, 1 November 2010



29:1 · The wheel cross, sun cross, Odin's cross or Woden's cross. Nordic Odin and Teutonic Wuotan or Woden was the supreme god of the Nordic religion before Christianity. Odin was the god of art, culture, warfare, and the dead; depicted as an old, one-eyed man with two ravens as his intelligence agents and messengers. 
    The structure 2901 is one of the first non-pictorial graphs to appear when humankind was on the threshold of the Bronze Age. It is common on rock carvings. It appears in ancient Egypt, China, pre-Columbian America, and the Near East. From the facts available it seems as if 2901is associated with the wheel, not so much with its invention as with its revolutionary effect on the existing society. In ancient China this sign was associated with thunder, power, energy,head, and respect. 


31.10.2010 Circle Cross

Fire Drawings:
Circle Cross
Photographic documentation of drawings made in space using the red end of a fiery stick

31.10.2010 Fire Drawings

Fire Drawings
Photographic documentation of drawings made in space using the red end of a fiery stick
20.28h - 20.36h

Habsburg(by Martin Siegrist)

Archetypes, by G. B. :
Old Man; 
Fierce Dragon;

..."the red end of a fiery stick is waved about in mystic figures in the air "...

Sunday, 31 October 2010


Sir William Dugdale (Life, Diary, and Correspondence of Sir W. Dugdale, edited by W. Hamper, 1827, p. 104) tells us that formerly, on Halloween, the master of the family used to carry a bunch of straw, fired, about his corn, saying:

"Fire and red low
              Light on my teen now."

This fire-straw, says a correspondent of N. & Q. (3rd S. vol. i. p. 316), was meant to ward off witchcraft, and so preserve the corn from being spoiled.  In Scotland, on Halloween, the red end of a fiery stick is waved about in mystic figures in the air to accomplish for the person the same spell.  Red appears to be a colour peculiarly obnoxious to witches.  One Halloween rhyme enjoins the employment of:

"Rowan tree and red thread, 
                   To gar the witches dance their dead ;"

i.e., dance till they fall down and expire.  The berries of the rowan-tree (mountain-ash) are of a brilliant red.  The point of the fiery stick waved rapidly takes the appearance of a  "red thread."

Source: British Popular Customs Present and Past, Illustrating the Social and Domestic Manners of the People, Arranged according to the Calendar of the Year, by the Rev. T. F. Thiselton-Dyer, M.A. Pembroke College, Oxon. London, George Bell & Sons, 1900

Friday, 29 October 2010


Shetland.    A  Shetlandic  proverb  remarkable  for  the  reiteration  of  the  word  " cood. "

A man considering himself unjustly blamed for not doing what he considered had been beyond his power, and so feeling aggrieved replied : 

" Foo cooda quin a coodna?
                 Cooda dae mair or a cood, cooda ?"

(Eng. " How could I when I could not ?  Could I do more than I could, could I ? ")

Communicated to Mr. Black by Mr. A. K. WILLIAMSON, a native of Shetland.

Source: Country Folk-Lore Vol. III, Examples of printed folk-lore concerning the Orkney & Shetland Islands, collected by G. F. Black and edited by Northcote W. Thomas; published for the Folk-Lore Society by David Nutt, 57-59 Long Acre, London, 1903

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

26.10.2010 bis

Work in progress:
"Keeping my Mother Warm, with my Fathers Patience"

Process Documentation photograph
April 1st, 2010

My mother is a breast cancer survivor. 

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, and went through a successful removal operation, followed by one month of radiotherapy. Subsequent controls shower her to be "clean".
Yet, the consequences of having had breast cancer are enormous, and the physical and psychological distresses have left many wounds that are unwilling to heal. 
To this day, my mother suffers the consequences of being a breast cancer survivor, of being treated by many professional yet insensitive doctors, whose attitude and harsh words during her treatment have contributed to weakening her resolve to heal. 

For her family, the hardest aspect to accept is our apparent inability to help her heal - we still haven't given up.
My Father was her main caregiver. 

In November 2008, I started knitting a red scarf, with the aim to keep my mother warm: not with the scarf itself, but with the intention that goes into each stitch. Both my sister and my mother have contributed a few rows to this continuing work. 
It takes incredible amounts of patience to care, to heal, and to knit, patience my Father had in abundance. 
Thus I try to keep my mother warm, with my Fathers patience. 


Thousands March for Women's Day Off

Words by Paul Nikolov
Despite daunting weather conditions, an estimated 50,000 people took part in the Women's Day Off demonstration yesterday.

Some 50,000 people marched from Hallgrímskirkja to the foot of Arnarhóll in a show of solidarity and protest at the gender wage gap and other inequalities that still exist in the workplace between men and women. Women were encouraged to leave their jobs at 14:25 yesterday, to bring attention to the fact that a woman is still not paid for a full day's work. The gender gap varies from industry to industry, but the average in 2009 was about 10% in the capital area, and as high as 40% in the countryside, making the national average about 19.5%.

The first Women's Day Off was held in 1975, where women across the country were encouraged to leave their jobs early. Over time, the event has gathered more steam. Today, even the mayor of Reykjavík himself has encouraged the event, telling reporters last week, "In the fight against gender inequality, it is very important that the many voices of the women who work for the city of Reykjavík are heard and seen in this symbolic fashion."


The Red Thread
Monday, 25.10.2010 
Reykjavìk, Iceland
Mobile phone photographs
Rakel Sverrisdòttir

The Red Thread is a collaborative knitting project: a 225m long, red scarf, knitted by many hands. On Monday, 25th October 2010, The Red Thread was carried by women along the streets of Reykjavìk, as part of a protest march whose aim was to heighten awareness of violence against women. The Red Thread was drawn and wrapped between two official buildings(the Supreme Court and lower court)before being cut up and sold in pieces.

Information and Photographs courtesy Rakel Sverrisdòttir

Saturday, 16 October 2010



... The alder tree is a famous old magical tree apotropaic against witchcraft and the Devil. its twigs are out into the fields and stables by peasants as protection agains the Devil; the tree itself is devilish. (...) It is devilish because it generally grows in dark places in the woods or in marshland. As its wood is useless for mankind, it is assumed to belong to witches and demons. Alder wood quickly turns red, and this, it is said, is because the Devil uses it to beat up his grandmother, that is, his wife. So in folklore it is sometimes red. On the other hand, as always with this strange double aspect of apotropaic symbols, with alder twigs one can oneself beat up the Devil. He beats his wife with it, so you can use it to beat him. ...

Source: Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales, Revised Edition, by Marie-Louise von Franz; Shambhala, Boston&London, 1995; pg 320

From my Black Book:

dream in March 2010

... At certain point, there was understanding there will soon, within hours, be a war in the entire universe, triggered by warring factions on Earth (jihad). A cosmic change/shift causing great change and chaos on Earth. Stars turned into rings and some exploded. The powers that were kept locked in castles (energies) were about to be let lose. I ran to the basement, and started making a fetish that would avert the worst of the evil and fear, using branches, bundling them together. Binding them in red wool, I hung them on an ironing board. 

Further, from a dream in August 2010

Having diligently collected and wrapped individual branches in red wool, resulting in my work "Fetish", two nights prior to leaving for Iceland, I have the following dream:
I am instructed to take the red branches, to place them on a specific spot on a gravel road. The instructions are simple and clear.

The day before I leave for Iceland, I take the red branches to the specific place from my dream, resulting in the performance "Fetish".

Performance documentation
August 12th 2010

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

13.10.2010 Wearing Horns

Wearing Horns
15.27 / 15.35

13.10.2010 bis

Research on horns - deer


# 701: Deer were always considered magical creatures. The extrusion of horn from their heads was a symbol of powerful life force. Horned deer were the animal prototypes of the Horned God. Medieval wizards expressly preferred parchment made of deer skin for the writing of their letter amulets. Durham cathedral was founded on the site of an ancient deer shrine. Its name was originally Duirholm, the Meadow of the Deer. It was a pagan pilgrimage center for at least four centuries. - # 161: In Celtic tradition deer are frequently the means of taking souls to the otherworld. There are Celtic, Irish and Gaelic goddesses associated with them, such as Flidass, Goddess of Venery, who has a chariot drawn by deer. They are supernatural animals of the fairy world and are fairy cattle and messengers. Stag hunts often end in some supernatural situation. Deer skin and antlers were used as ritual ornaments and vestments.
# 454: The Deer is one of the foremost transformatory beasts in British mythology, especially in its form of the White Doe or White Stag, which is frequently an otherworldly messenger which hunters encounter, leading them ever deeper into the forest to unknown wonders. From the WhiteStag encountered by Pwyll to the White Hart which Galahad sees, betokening Christ, pagan and folklore traditions have asserted the beauty and mystical grace of this creature. Sadbh was enchanted into the form of a doe. Gilfaethwy, while Gwydion was changed into a stag. The human antlered figure has been a potent image from primeval times onwards, from the shaman-hunter and the Wild Huntsman in his form of Cernunnos, to the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance which is still danced every September - the time when the deer are in rut.



Research on the use of horns against evil/the evil eye

..We have seen how completely Isis, Artemis, and Diana were identical, and hence all three are habitually represented with the horned crescent, as their particular accompaniment or symbol: and further by the cow's head or cow's horns so often seen.

...Diana was called the "Mother of the World," strangely like the title given to the Babylonian Ishtar. The Egyptian priests styled the moon, whose personification was Isis, "The Mother of the Universe.
Domestic cattle were supposed to be under the special protection of Diana, hence we may well trace the extreme prevalence of amulets, symbolic of her attributes, upon horses. Diana was also identified through Artemis with the Greek Ilithya, the servant of Hera, and goddess of birth. She also was originally a moon-goddess, and the moon was always believed to exercise great influence on growth in general, but especially of children; so the attributes of Ilithya were passed on along with her moon-symbol, and consequently all those deities, ancient or modern, whose principal sign is the crescent, are looked upon as the special protectors of women and children against malign influence. The wearing of the crescent is a visible worship of the powerful being whose symbol it is, whether known as Isis, Parvati, Devaki, Kali, Bhavani, Artemis, Athena, Minerva, Diana or Madonna, who are all, as shown before, unam eandemque.

...Having sketched briefly the cult which may be called Isis-Diana worship, whose principal attributes were symbolised by the horned moon, we arrive at the conclusion that, to-day, horns, in one form or another, are of all objects the most common as amulets against the evil eye, whether affecting man or beast; so much so that it has at last come to be fully believed by Neapolitans that, in default of a horn of some shape in the concrete, the mere utterance of the word corno or corna is an effectual protection.

...Besides those borne on the helmet by Greeks and others, horns were worn as amulets by man and beast; so they are to this day.


Monday, 4 October 2010

02.10.2010 bis

Protective Charm
Performance Documentation
Villnachern - CH

Photographs curtesy Martin Siegrist

Sunday, 3 October 2010


Protective Charm
Performance (17h local time, duration: 55 minutes)
Villnachern - CH
Transmitted via Skype to
Rakel Sverrisdòttir
as part of her Open Studio, 

Lyngás 7, 
210 Garðabær (Gardabaer)

Photographs curtesy Rakel Sverrisdòttir

The performance is based on the current research by The Red Earth Society on the common

and subjective elements in various folk beliefs regarding evil manifestations and measures 

to be taken against such manifestations.

Based on the folk beliefs outlined in the following source:

Most human cultures across the planet, including that of the Slavic, tend to use red for the same basic and original intention. Red is the same colour of blood and therefore since the beginning of human culture it has come to be associated literally with the lifeblood and through association, with that of the lifeforce.”

In the broad geographical and cultural area that made up the homeland of the Slavs, red was very much used in the tradition of protection, particularly against various human diseases and ailments. Clothing very often contained borders at collar, sleeve and ankle areas which were often heavily embroidered, with red being the predominant colour. This was originally believed to stop, or at least give partial protection, against evil spirits in the shape of some of the most rampant and vociferous diseases that regularly swept through Europe. The borders were meant to stop these malevolent spirit diseases from entering the body at what were considered particularly vulnerable points, mainly at the extremities of the body.”
One of the interesting added uses of red in Western Slavic culture as opposed to that of Russian Slavs, while still following the general idea of protection against illness and misfortune, dealt with some of the more specific details of protection against individual witches and witchcraft in general.”