In the wilder, and more remote parts of the country, such as Dartmoor and its borderlands, are corners where the remnants of folklore and traces of age-old witchcraft still linger. Nor are these anything but genuine. Only by personal contact and the traditional “word of mouth” is such lore still passed on and – sometimes – brought to light.
Walking on Dartmoor, and talking and lecturing, often to small, more or less isolated communities during the course of many years, have afforded the author quiet opportunities of gathering, piecing together and recording some of these fascinating fragments.
Most people have heard of pixies. Black witchcraft is a power many have heard spoken about, even if they have not actually experienced it themselves. Folklore which has accumulated round strange natural landmarks – stone circles and silent pools – is familiar, but not so universally known are the Wish Hounds; the Hairy Hands that guide motorists to destruction; and the White Bird of Oxenham,
All these things are not necessarily of the past. The growth of folklore is more continuous than might be supposed. Its tendrils, though slender, keep a firm hold upon the present. Here some attempt has been made to trace its course through the centuries into our own time where it sometimes reappears surprisingly in a new guise.
Not the least interesting part of this research has been the discovering of the number of people of all walks of life who are fascinated by folklore and witchcraft; it is, indeed, in response to many requests for “a book about it all” that the present one has been written.