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bibliomancy The use of the Bible for divination. The Bible served as an important instrument of magical divination, particularly during medieval and Reformation times in Britain and parts of Europe. It was believed that the Bible, opened at random, would reveal one's fortunes or answer questions. Bibles laid on a child's head would induce sleep. Reading from the Bible to a pregnant woman would give her a safe delivery. Persons accused of wiTCHCRAFT and sORCERY were weighed against the great Bible in the local church. If the accused weighed less than the Bible, she or he was innocent. A method of Bibliomancy to determine guilt in a crime was the "key and book" method, still used in some rural parts of Britain as late as the 19th century. In that procedure, a key was placed randomly within the pages of the Bible. The names of the suspects were written on small pieces of paper and inserted up the hollow end of the key. When the paper bearing the name of the guilty party was inserted, the Bible would fall out of the grasp of the person holding it.

Biddy Early (1798-1874) Irish seer and healer, often described as a witch. Most of what is known about Biddy

Early has been collected from oral tradition, and many of the stories about her have numerous variations. Nonetheless, Biddy seemed to have possessed real powers, and many people from all over Ireland and even England came to her for cures. She was widely believed to be "of the fairies."

She was born Biddy O'Connor. Her birthplace is accepted as Faha, but Carrowroe is also given. She was of a farming family, small in stature and described as good-looking throughout her life. When she was 16 or 17 years of age, Biddy left her home to work as a serving girl in either Feakle or Ayle. She entered into her first marriage in 1817 to Pat Malley, who later died. She married Tom Flannery in the 1840s, and they had one son, also named Tom.

Biddy's powers were credited to a mysterious dark bottle that had been given to her either by husband Tom after his death or by the fairies, via her son prior to his own death. She was instructed that by looking into the bottle with one eye and keeping the other eye open, she would be able to see what ailed people and view the future. In exchange for this ability, she was never to charge money for her services, or she would lose the powers. She could accept gifts, however, but was to give away whatever was left over from her own needs. She was not to allow others to look into the bottle, or else they would either die or go mad.

One of the first stories about Biddy concerns a mean-tempered landlord who set about to evict her and others from their homes. Biddy agreed to go, but told the landlord he would never leave his home. A fire subsequently broke out in the landlord's home and he perished in it.

After the landlord disaster, Biddy moved to Kilbarron. At this point in her life, she already was in possession of the mysterious bottle. A man offered to move her possessions in exchange for a look inside the bottle. Biddy agreed. He did, and went mad.

Biddy lived the rest of her life in Kilbarron. Her various husbands were tenant farmers; some allegedly died of drink. She spooked people who came to visit her by announcing their names, the purpose of their visit, and their specific ailment or problem before they ever said a word.

She was sought out for three primary reasons: to cure human ailments, to cure animal ailments (farm animals often meant the difference between starvation and comfort for a family) and to relieve fairy molestations. In terms of the last reason, people would be made ill or otherwise troubled by the fairies for inadvertently disturbing their invisible forts, paths or nighttime play areas. Biddy could see these and prescribe remedial action. Sometimes, she said, she would receive a terrible "gruelling" from the fairies for her help to humans.

Biddy could also know when someone had been made ill by an unhappy ghost or evil spirit or by another witch.

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