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In remembrance of the Scottish Witch Hunts

The Weaving Creative Threads Event at the Scottish Storytelling Centre features an evocative blend of artists, storytellers, singers, and speakers gathering to remember Scotland's accused witches.

In remembrance of the Scottish Witch Hunts

About In remembrance of the Scottish Witch Hunts

This day also includes an exhibition and a cauldron of workshops. It is the main event of an artistic grass-roots reclamation and remembrance of the 4th of June, the historical date of the Witchcraft Act of 1563. This event is not for profit, after costs, all the money will go to fund a living, breathing, Witches Memorial Grove in the Caledonian Forest. We hope you will join us on a day that honours Scottish cultural creativity and highlights that art in all its eclectic forms, can be a powerful plaid of remembrance for the daughters and sons of Scotland who suffered for the crime of witchcraft.

Rowan Morrison is a storyteller and author who established the Creative Coven to bring together creatives whose work was inspired by the Scottish Witch Hunts. In collaboration with Karen Strang, they have produced innovative sold-out performances, art, and workshops. Their mission is to explore the historical persecution of the Scottish witch hunts through the evocative and emotive power of the arts. Rowan has given voice to the accused witches of Scotland through oral and written stories, songs, performance art, and memorial events. During her workshop, she will support you in reclaiming the magic of your voice, so its medicine can begin to heal the legacy of the burning times. Through the ancient practice of keening, you will sound out your sorrow for the accused witches of Scotland.

Karen Strang is an award-winning visual artist who graduated from the Glasgow School of Art and studied further at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Over the years, she has created many powerful works of art that were inspired by the Scottish witch hunts and has painted live images of persecution as a performance artist. This award-winning painter will give an innovative talk about how the Scottish witch trials have inspired her paintings to create witches as works of art. Karen will explore women painters in the time of the Scottish witch trials and the alchemical use of natural materials in the creation process, as an act of magic.

Katy Bremner is an artist and basket weaver. She studied contemporary art in Glasgow and combined traditional willow basketry techniques to make more experimental pieces. Her interest in the witch trials grew as she moved to Fife where it was impossible to ignore the rich history and folklore present on her doorstep. Throughout history, poppets made from natural materials have been used in acts of sympathetic magic with the intent to curse, cure, or protect against baneful witchcraft. In her workshop, Katy will show you how to create a folk magic poppet made from soft rush, that is similar to a traditional Brideóg effigy. Harm to none!

Jane Mather is a storyteller and woodland leader with a background in community work. She is a guardian of a healing well and shares traditional Scottish stories and legends that evoke wild landscapes and inspire nature connection. Jane's recent work focuses on themes of remembrance and weaving traditional stories into new narratives. Jane’s performance weaves together two tales of transformation from the wild north edge of Scotland. The first tells of an 18th-century Caithness witch trial following a plague of cats in Scrabster, the second is a poignant faerie tale from Sutherland about a witch’s romance. Jane will also host a creative workshop, to explore the many faces of the witch in Scottish folklore. Create new writing inspired by folk tales, and weave individual charms of remembrance to commemorate the thousands of innocents accused and executed under the Witchcraft Act of 1563.

Lindsey Gibb is a performance storyteller based in Highland Perthshire, specialising in history, the environment, and local folklore. In 2023 she researched and performed ‘The Lost Witches of Dunkeld’, sharing stories of the accused witches of the area. She has performed nationally and internationally and is a co-author of Perthshire Folk Tales. Lindsey’s performance takes you on a journey to Perthshire to meet Margaret Fleming, Countess of Atholl, Dunkeld’s Issobell Douglas, and Margaret Stewart who fought back against their accusers. You will hear about the Great Witch Gathering and the role the powerful Earls of Atholl played in the trials. This is not the story you expect!

Helen Wright has a degree in Fine Art Sculpture and worked as an Art and Design teacher. After moving to Auldearn in 2006, she became aware that there was no public memorial to Isobel Gowdie. In 2021, Helen put that right when she created an innovative mural on a public-facing wall that depicted the story of the Witch of Auldearn. During her workshop, Helen will talk about the inspiration that she drew from Isobel Gowdie, not just to create her work of community art but also the poetry she has written in remembrance of the Witch of Auldearn. Helen will support participants in drawing from this deep well so they can create memorials in the written word.

Joss Cameron is a traditional Scottish folk singer, researcher, artist, and award-winning songwriter born in Edinburgh and holds a First-Class BA (Hons) in Music Performance. She has a passion for promoting Scotland's rich culture, heritage, and traditions and holds courses and workshops as well as touring regularly. Amy Dudley is a multi-instrumentalist who plays the piano, clarsach, and harmonium. She is an award-winning composer from Galloway who holds a BA (Hons) in Music Composition. She produces performances and regularly tours the country. Amy specialises in singing neo-classic, folk, and alternative modern music. Together they will sing some of their Songs from the Witches Sabbat. Their haunting vocal harmonies will stir your soul, take you back to a dark time in history, and leave you in no doubt about the depth and richness of Scotland's magical song heritage.

Scott Richardson Reid is an independent researcher, published Author, activist, and Scottish folk magic practitioner. Scott has several master’s degrees in research and related subjects informing his exploration of Scottish Folklore, customs, practices, and traditions to explore their relevance to us today and to inform a tradition based on historical and social reality. In his presentation, Scott will take a journey through Scottish elite beliefs and everyday folk magic. Exploring witchcraft trial records, and cultural testimony, and comparing them with domestic folk magic and lifeways. In scrutinising an elite-working class discourse we explore power differences still echoing in today’s Scotland and the diaspora.

Mairi Kidd is Head of Literature, Languages, and Publishing at Creative Scotland and has an MA in Celtic Studies. She is CEO of Moat Brae, Scotland's National Centre for Children's Books and has worked with the Scottish Government, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, and local authorities. Mairi contributes to BBC Radio nan Gàidheal’s books coverage and writes for broadcasts. Mairi’s book, a weaving of fiction and fact was inspired by women who lived under the shadow of witch persecution. Her presentation invites us to explore the forces at work in one of the darkest episodes of Scotland's history and consider their echoes in the present day.

Please note, that there might be a change to the programme that is out of our control and refunds will only be issued in the case of event cancellation.

BRING ALONG A NOTEPAD AND PENCIL ON THE DAY!

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