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Quiz: Would you have been persecuted for witchcraft 400 years ago?

Quiz by Tobsha Lerner

would you have been a witch

Bestselling novelist and former journalist Tobsha Learner,  has researched the role magic and astrology  has played through history for her fantastic new book The Magick of Master Lilly (Little Brown), exploring the fascinating life of Master William Lilly – one of the most famous astrologers in British history. Tobsha has put together a fun quiz to explore whether you would have been defined as a witch in times gone by.

For centuries women have been persecuted for being witches. This peaked in the mid 17th century during the civil war when an ambitious young shipping clerk Matthew Hopkins saw a way of furthering his career by proclaiming himself the Witchfinder general. He prosecuted and executed at least three hundred women (and some men) over a period of three years torturing them into confession and interpreting birth deformities as ‘marks of the devil’. Many of these women were simply guilty of being pagans (practising pre-Christian worship) herbalists, midwives, too economically successful or simply irritating eccentric elderly neighbours. The Witchcraft Act was finally repealed in 1951.


So, if you lived back then, would you have been arrested for practising the dark arts?

The Witch Quiz

You’re in a land dispute with your neighbour and four of his goats die suddenly in mysterious circumstances. Do you:


  1. Drop the land dispute and send them four new goats and a bale of your own hay.
  2. Insist they test the water in the well on their land to see whether it is poisoned.
  3. Pull up the secret crop of belladonna you’ve been cultivating and burn it.
  4. Set a trap for a fox or better still a wolf or perhaps even the neighbour himself.


You have a mole under your left breast that looks like a third nipple. Do you:


  1. Make sure that that’s the only oddity on your body, count your toes, pluck your chin and give the cat and that pet toad away to the local priest along with a fat donation to the parish.
  2. Boast to your neighbours that you’re special then set up a stall to charge for a peek?
  3. Keep it hidden even from your own husband and take up religion in a big way.
  4. Get Rubens to paint a picture of it and send it to Matthew Hopkins in a misguided act of defiance.


You’ve just built a shrine in your backyard to the pagan god Thunor just like your mother and grandmother did to ensure a good harvest but suddenly a local band of puritans start accusing you of satanic worship. Do you:


  1. Swap the goat out for a hare and lay a sheaf of corn on it, then claim the shrine is to Saint Michael.
  2. Denounce your mother and grandmother and join a nunnery.
  3. Sacrifice a goat on the shrine and dance around it naked with a couple of your girlfriends after one too many cups of mead.


Mostly As: You are a pragmatic survivalist, and will avoid persecution.


Mostly Bs: You will be arrested but immortalised for your defiance.


Mostly Cs:  No-one will even suspect, even if you are a witch!


Mostly Ds: There will be a warrant out for your arrest but you’ll escape.



Tobsha Learner’s new historical thriller The Magick of Master Lilly is out now, published by Little, Brown Book Group, and priced at £8.99 in paperback and £7.99 in e-book. For more information visit tobsha.com



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