WITCH HUNTS




In the year of 1320, the church, at the request of Pope John XXII,
declared witchcraft and the Old Religion of the Pagans as a heretical movement
and a hostile threat to the church. The church soon made people
believe that women were inclined toward evil
witchcraft and the devil.

Calvin and Knox believed that to deny witchcraft
was to deny the authority of the bible

"The giving up of witchcraft is in effect the
giving up of the bible" John Wesley, 18th century
The most influential piece of propaganda was commissioned
by Pope Innocent VIII in 1448.
He had assigned the Dominican monks
Henrich Kraemer and Jacob Spienger to publish a manual
for the witch hunters. Malleus Malificarun ("The Witches Hammer")
appeared two years later. This manual was used for the next 250 years.
Between 1400 and 1700 at least 100,000 people were killed because of witchcraft.
People soon came to believe that witches were out to wreak havoc on towns and injure
their neighbors. Christians believed that the witches twisted the
Catholic mass at their meetings.
Another belief was that the devil would make appearances at their Sabbats
to dance and have sex with the witches. Before the Sabbats, witches were said
to be fond of Christian infants as an appetizer.

Soon, everything was blamed on witchcraft.
Since the devil created all of the ills, his agents witches were to blame.
Witches were thought to have as much,
if not more, power than Christ.
They were said to have the powers to raise the dead,
turn water into wine, control the weather, fly,
and know the past and future.

Common victims of witchcraft accusations were women resembling a crones.
Any woman who attracted attention was suspected of witchcraft;
either due to beauty or because of a noticeable
oddness or unique feature.
Midwives were also targets of being accused of dabbling
in witchcraft. A Scottish woman was accused of being a witch
because she was seen stroking a cat at the same
time a nearby batch of beer went sour.

Soon, the village healers, who were more
helpful then the expensive doctors,
began to take on the image of the witch.

The people were so blind to accuse them because
the healers were the ones who helped so many
and kept the morale of the village through much love, care and wisdom.
Now they were "witches". Simple mistranslation and misunderstanding
is responsible for the scorn of witchcraft.

"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." was believed
to justify the persecution of witches. Witch is
Hebrew meaning a prisoner, not the followers of the devil.

Many women were tortured, often sexually raped
and executed. Once accused of witchcraft, it was
virtually impossible to escape conviction. The people of
Toulouse were convinced that inquisitor Foulques de St. Gourge
accused women for no other reason than to sexually abuse them.

Once a witch was executed, the estate was collected
by the church. The more witches and the wealthier
the witch meant more money for the church.

Torturers, executioners and other functionaries benefitted
as well. Costs of torturing, imprisoning, and executing
the accused came from the victim's own purse. Selling
charms and amulets against the influence of witchcraft
also brought in more money. Anyone
who did not buy such things would surely fall under suspicion.

Witchcraft in England was made an illegal offense
in 1541. In 1604, a law declaring capital punishment for
Pagans was adopted. Forty years later American
colonies made death the penalty for the "crimes of witchcraft".
By the late 17th century the remaining followers
of the Old Religion had turned into a secret underground.




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