Re-examines the evidence of the Scottish witchcraft trials for beliefs associated by scholars with “elf shot.” Some supposed evidence for elf-shot is dismissed, but other material illuminates the interplay between illness, healing and fairy-lore in early modern Scotland, and the relationship of these beliefs to witchcraft itself.  In this article, I avoid a specific definition of “elf-shot” as a scholarly term; what I am studying is the association between fairies, illness, projectiles and their necessary concomitant, healing, in the Scottish witchcraft trials. Projectiles themselves are a complex issue. The concept of harm being supernaturally inflicted by projectiles—whether physical or metaphysical, or even metaphorical—is widespread (Honko1959). As to how such projectiles might have been envisaged in early modern Soctland, I wish simply to assess the evidence of the sources. Having limited mysources primarily to Scottish witchcraft trials, I hope that comparison of my findings with later Scottish evidence, English evidence, or with folklore from elsewhere in Europe, will not be compromised by circular argumentation.

 

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Elves, Fairies in the Scottish Witchcraft Trials - Alaric Hall

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