DWP: August 18

Two black handprints show up on a crumpled white surface, spotlit in torchlight.

Today marks 408 years since the Pendle witch trials in Lancashire, in which ten people were hung for witchcraft. During the trials, nine-year-old Jennet Device gave evidence against her own mother, saying that she had seen Elizabeth having conversations with her familiar; a brown dog called Ball. Some of the accused did believe they had powers of witchcraft, and the trials were largely two families accusing each other. The situation was exacerbated by secret and illegal Catholic activity meaning some people couldn’t tell the truth of their whereabouts and were already taking part in banned rites.

Today’s prompt is either to imagine your familiar – whatever creature you feel takes care of your secrets, for good or ill – and write your conversation, a description of it or a spell performed in collaboration with it; or to write directly to one of the Pendle witches and perhaps have a conversation with them across 400 years.

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