RevieW s 291 MICHAEL OSTLING, ED. Fairies, Demons, and Nature Spirits:‘Small Gods’ at the Mar- gins of Christendom. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. Pp. 366. During a visit to my hometown last Christmas, I was asked by a friend if I had heard anything about something called an “Albatwitch” in my reading on the folklore and religion of the Pennsylvania Dutch. This friend of mine had a coworker who had described a tradition in her own hometown where newlyweds are woken up at midnight for an “Albatwitch hunt,” a kind of harmless hazing like the (much more common) tradition of “snipe hunts,” in which the presumably very confused and tired newlyweds would be made to chase nondescript beings called Albatwitches through the woods and ﬁelds at the midnight hour. I had, in fact, heard of Albatwitches, but only in books, so I was delighted to hear that this particular legendary “small god” was alive and well in central Pennsylvania, even if it was only (apparently) to be hunted by half- sleeping newlyweds. These beings called “small gods” are the focus of Michael Ostling’s edited collection in Palgrave’s admirable series, Historical Studies in Witchcraft and Magic, edited by Jonathan Barry, Willem
Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Dec 10, 2020
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