The last time I performed it, my father was there. When I was done, he walked over and hugged me, saying “I am sorry that happened to you.” I do not know that this story is truly mine, I do not know that I was Alison Balfour, but I have my suspicions. One thing I do know, is that if I was not she, then we shared similar stories, for the writing of her tale was like remembering a dream, a very unpleasant dream.
I wrote & performed during the bardic year of my Druid training. It is based on the historical details of a woman (Alison Balfour) who was convicted of Witchcraft in Scotland in 1594. I share this story now, as we once again live in a time, when people are persecuted for their beliefs and their spiritual practices. I am ever thankful to live in a time when I do not have to hide my abilities for fear of persecution, but I have not forgotten, and I do not turn a blind eye on the persecution of others.
And so the story begins…
As many of you know already, I stand before you a self confessed Witch. Many moons and many faces I have worn since the days of the fire, but memories born in flame are hard to forget.
The Earl of Orkney, Patrick Stewart or “Black Patty” as he was so often called by the people of the land, was a tyrant…a greedy, arrogant son of a bastard. His father having been the illegitimate son of King James the fifth. He was a despised man, and it came as no surprise to me, that someone had tried to poison him. The word of importance here is ‘tried’.
The failed attempt at poisoning “Black Patty” was blamed on his brother John Stewart, the Master of Orkney. As you could not come right out and blame a noblemen…and someone must be brought in for questioning in the affair, his servant, Thomas Paplay was brought in. Now I do not blame poor Tom for what came next, as he was a simple man used as a pawn.
For 11 days Tom held out to their torture, even though they crushed his arms in “Caspies Claws”. Then in his defeat he named me a Witch, and a conspirator in the poisoning of “Black Patty”. It was no secret that I knew the ways of medicine, and as rumor had it….magic. They came and dragged me from my home, away from my aged husband and children and commenced to working my confession out of me.
Henry Colville, the Parson of Orphir…that vile excuse for a man of God, was called upon to “question” me. They had found a piece of wax in my home….wax , such a funny thing