Fighting Fairy Woman of Bodmin
Joan’s skills and gifts included clairvoyance, divination and healing. She was said to use articles of clothing taken from the sick individual and attach them to a tree or holy well near Joan’s home. The sickness was believed to dissipate with the disintegrating cloth.
In the last years of her relatively short life, Joan suffered from an abscessed tooth. Not able to heal herself or obtain relief in any manner, she became half-crazed with the pain.
She was very violent and aggressive, and exhibited abnormal strength for someone so small in stature. The townspeople began to wonder if Joan was possessed by a demon.
After an incident of public brawling, Joan was imprisoned in Bodmin Jail where she died of pneumonia at the age of 38 in 1813. This was the same year that Elizabeth Osborne was hanged at the gaol on September 6 for setting fire to a mow of corn.
Joan’s remains were treated with considerable disrespect after her death, including the removal and theft of parts of her body, possibly for use in séances.
Eventually, Joan’s skeleton found its way to the Witchcraft Museum in Boscastle, Cornwall, where it was on display until 1998.
A forensic examination determined that the skeleton on display was from an undernourished, small, slim female person in her late 30s. She smoked a considerable amount of tobacco using a clay pipe. The main staple of her diet was stone ground flour.
The skeleton had very long arms with small hands and “bird-like claw fingers” exhibiting no signs of arthritis. The water source of the individual was very high in natural fluoride.
Scarlett’s holy well located near what was once Joan’s home was analyzed and determined to be very rich in fluorides and other minerals.
The findings most fascinating to me about the skeleton were the presence of a horrendous abscess in a right wisdom tooth as well as the missing bones from the right hand, both feet and right patella.
In 1998, poltergeist and paranormal activity taking place at the Museum of Witchcraft impelled Graham King, curator, to contact a professional witch from Land’s End, Cassandra Latham, to help him find out what was going on.
Latham was able to make contact with Joan Wytte, who made it clear that she no longer wanted to be on public display. She wanted a proper burial.
Following a respectful ceremony, Wytte was laid to rest in Minster Wood. Her headstone reads “Joan Wytte. Born 1775. Died 1813 in Bodmin Gaol. Buried 1998. No Longer Abused.”
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