witch ladder


witch ladder
   In 1886, during repairs to an old house in Wellington (Somerset), a blocked-off roof space was found to contain broomsticks and a length of rope interwoven with goose and rook feathers. The workmen who found it called it 'a witches' ladder', but other local informants thought it was used in *curs-ing, and would have been hidden in the victim's house. Sabine *Baring-Gould describes this procedure in his novel Curgenven (1893), but the details are probably his invention. Other informants, in the early 20th century, said the object must have been a 'wishing rope', or that the maker would have hung it outside, either 'to draw the milk from her neighbours' cowsheds' or to summon someone magically (Tongue, 1965: 67-8).
   ■ Abraham Colles, Folk-Lore Journal 5 (1887), 1-3, and correspondence, 81-4, 257-9, 354-6.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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