November 04, 2008

Witches and Doughnuts - A Winning Combination


This little piece of lore screams out "Massachusetts!!!", since it combines doughnuts and witchcraft. It comes from George Lyman Kittredge's Witchcraft in Old and New England.

According to a the February 6, 1919 issue of the Boston Herald, a Cape Cod man was cursed by a local elderly witch after he stole some of her doughnuts. She devised a magic bridle, and rode him in his dreams like a horse until he was exhausted. Kittredge claims he heard a similar story himself from a Truro native in 1888. If the story comes from two separate sources, it must be true!

There's a similar story from Kittery, Maine about a group of witches (and their familiars) who rode a fisherman like a horse after he refused to give one of them a piece of halibut. The bridle was made of horse hair, yew bark, and tow rope, and was found years later inside the walls of an old house that was being torn down. It was burned by the workmen who discovered it. (This story comes from Herbert Sylvester's Maine Pioneer Settlements: Old York, quoted in A Treasury of New England Folklore, edited by B.A. Botkin.)

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