**NOTE: This print is temporarily out of stock, but you can pre-order now. It will be back in stock before the 18th of June. Thanks for your patience!**
Limited edition fine art print
Printed on Canson infinity Rag Photographique Duo
A2 (420 x 594mm)*
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Elizabeth Clarke was the first English woman interrogated by the so-called 'Witchfinder General', Matthew Hopkins, in 1645. After multiple nights of sleep deprivation and coercion she eventually confessed to being a witch and was later hanged. Hopkins claimed that he had seen Elizabeth summoning her familiar spirits, imps in animal form. Among these familiars was a greyhound named Vinegar Tom, described as having long legs and horns and appeared to have the ability to shapeshift into a boy. Her other familiars, supposedly witnessed appearing to her during the night, were Holt, Sacke and Sugar, Pyewackett, Pecke-in-the-Crown, Newes and Elemauzer, names which, according to Hopkins, "no mortal could invent".
I've always been fascinated by the idea of the 'familiar'. It's most likely that they were just pets that kept these old women company as they often had affectionate names like 'Dainty' and 'Pretty'. The sinister associations came with the accusations of witchcraft, when these pets were transformed, in people's imaginations, into demonic spirits assisting the 'witch' in her suspected evil doings.
The existence of familiar spirits has a long and varied history. They are described in detail by the accused witches in the witch trial records, mostly in forced confessions. It seemed to suit the interrogator's narrative that these women were assisted by creatures in the guise of a Devil. Familiars also appear in folklore and fairytales, for example in Puss in boots and the Princess and the Frog. There are also theories that they may have been part of an ancient shamanistic faith in Europe, similar to the Native American shaman's animal spirits, assisting the shaman in spiritual rituals.
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*Note: These prints are shipped in postal tubes.