Institute of English StudiesUniversity of Warsaw

Anglica. An International Journal of English Studies 28/1, Rutkowski

Anglica. An International Journal of English Studies 28/1

Paweł Rutkowski
Animal Transformation in Early Modern English Witchcraft Pamphlets
Anglica. An International Journal of English Studies 28/1: 21-34


Animal metamorphosis was a traditional component of witchcraft beliefs during the European early modern witch-hunts, during which it was taken for granted that witches could and did turn into animals regularly in order to easier do evil. It must be noted, however, that the witch-turned-animal motif was much less common in England, where witches did possess the shape-shifting abilities but relatively rarely used them. A likely reason for the difference, explored in the present paper, was the specifically English belief that most witches were accompanied and served by familiar spirits, petty demons that customarily assumed the shape of animals. It seems that the ubiquity of such demonic shape-shifters effectively satisfied the demand for magical transformations in the English witchcraft lore.

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