In Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex and Politics, witch, activist and writer Starhawk, reminds us that ‘witch-hunts’ are not simply ‘in the past’, something that happened in another time, but are a form of violent subjugation which continues to shape and be practiced in the present. For Starhawk, and other
feminist writers such as Silvia Federici (2004), ‘the wonderful discovery of witches’ (Thomas Potts, 1612) is intimately bound up with the epochal shift to capitalist societies, including the enclosure of land for capitalist exploitation and the subjugation of women and the poor.
As we know from the range of publicity which surrounds us, 2012 marks the 400th anniversary of the Pendle Witch trials. Everywhere, plays, art works, conferences and ‘witch-tourism’ remind of us these terrible events. Yet what are we doing when we ‘remember’ the murder of these women and men in
Lancaster? Is there a risk that we are reworking this history in ways which ‘enclose’ and ‘capture’ it in the past? Does this reworking also capitalise on their deaths as forms of heritage and tourism to be consumed ‘for pleasure’ in the present?