Happy Beltane to you all!
Widdershins was inspired by the seventeenth-century witch trials in Newcastle when sixteen people were executed on the same day for witchcraft. Of course, there’s a huge question mark over whether they were witches, or whether they were falsely accused…
As well as covering the harrowing ordeal of the witch trials, the novel also showcases some of the prevailing customs in seventeenth-century England. In Widdershins, the locals celebrate Beltane in fine style. But not everyone is so keen on celebrating the old pagan traditions, and Reverend Foster warns the villagers before the festivities begin:
‘Take heed of my warnings ahead of the Beltane celebrations. There is magic in the air and too much licence. The old custom was to make the fields fertile, but many bairns are born ten moons from Beltane.’ (From ‘Ten Moons’ in Widdershins)
In the best tradition of English villagers, they refuse to heed his warning, and have a high old time jumping bonfires, rolling firewheels, eating the carline cake and carrying out a few fertility rites. But it’s not all fun and games, and there’s a darker side to the merrymaking.
So, if you’d like to know more about how cake can kill you at Beltane, as well as finding out about herbal remedies, English folklore and country traditions, treat yourself to a copy of Widdershinsat https://goo.gl/xZ9jiY
Happy reading and best wishes, Helen