We are in the time of year when the witch receives an enormous amount of attention but in yesterday’s Brittany the witch had no impact on Hallowe’en at all. On the eve of All Saint’s Day, the dead were believed to return to their former homes and in expectation of this, the fire would be kept burning overnight by a large log known as the ‘log of the dead’ and the table would be set with a few pancakes and a little milk for the dead to feast on. The souls of the dead were not feared but welcomed as the old friends they had been in life and Brittany’s witches would likely have been as absorbed in preparing for those nocturnal visits as anyone else. So, if the region’s witches were not a feature of Hallowe’en celebrations, what were they?
The Jesuit missions to Brittany in the 17th century…
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