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Were the Witch Trials and Burnings for No Good Reason?

In research on the topic of witchcraft of the early modern era, little attention in given to those deemed witches. Feminist versions of the witch trials hold that the accused were often merely mid-wives and healers of peasant society who were burned for “no good reason” or because of poorly explained “hysteria.” Others claim it was indiscriminate prosecution of pagans or an earlier version of the shadow language term “satanic panic”.

The gimmick being employed up to the present day (including Pedogate) involves acting incredulous and slinging neuro-lingustic programming terms like “moral panic” or “ignorant haters” at those who question accepted narratives. In fact, the entire Wikipedia page on Satanism is filed with whitewashed, moral-panic accusations, canards and doth-protest-too-loudly ad hominems against those exposing the iterations of the concept of Satanism, admitted witchcraft or other forms of skulduggery.

In Defense of Carl Raschke’s ‘True Story of How Satanism is Terrorizing Our Communities’

Generally, this is a pervert justice warrior (PJW), very low-value narrative that dismisses attempts to reveal and counter Satanism, or just flat out evil as discrimination, hatred and prejudice. It is astonishing how frequently this scam is incorporated any time the awakened are asked to deny their lying eyes about the slime creatures crawling under the rocks.

No, not much attention has been given to the behavior of accused witches. The term “witchhunt” used in current vernacular implies persecution for no valid reason. But was that the case with accused witches of that period?

The reasons the church and authorities focused attention on these individuals seems centered around Maleficium (hexic activities), which is causing harm by supernatural means. The modern version of this is psychological gangstalking.

It was no novelty for peasants and people of higher rank to suspect their neighbors of harming them by occult means. In the witch-burning era, there were groups of conjurers (grifters) preying upon the vulnerable. As far back as the sixth century, the Visigoths made laws to deal with tempestarii (storm makers) who were touring the countryside and intimidating the peasants. People were paying them to spare their fields and blast the next man’s instead.

White-magic witches, called berandantes, marketed themselves as hex and curse removal specialists and conjurers of good fortune. Black magic witches were available as poisoners and disrupters. Poisoning was common practice in those days and is today as well under the cover of Pharma.

Alchemists and Early Modern-Era Organized Poisoning

Black magic witches laid curses aka damage charms on people, in a gangstalking mode. There was an underbelly of criminal parasites operating in the witch-fear business. Many thought of the benandante as good witches, who healed and protected the crops by going out on the Ember days to fight bad witches.

Most of both witch factions were lowlife swindlers, medical quacks and extortionists. That was a social reality. One white magic poser was burned in Nuremburg for false allegations against black magicians, and of selling magic wraps against sorcery. The drama in these cases can get very twisted.

Resistance toward the benandante grew due to the financial burden and anti-social rackets they placed on the community. When a desperate person desired for a loved one to be healed, the benandante may agree to heal them but only if provided some sort of payment. Of course, even with payment — since the white witches were often quacks — the person was likely not “healed.” As such, the benandante began being viewed as “clever swindlers.” In the documentation of accusations against witches (aka conjurers), it’s maleficium that predominates. Keep in mind that this was an era when criminals were hung for simple theft.

Sometimes, participating in-groups or sects engaged in Bacchic-type orgies, or devil worship, or a form of degenerate ultra-rebellion.

See “Vicious Serial Killer Israel Keyes and the Insane Clown Posse

Rome’s Own Version of an ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ Cult: Bacchanalia Runs Amok

Heresy in and of itself was problematic during this period — but when fused with sorcery and perceived evil doings, it was a red flag and threatened the social order. Many ultra-rebellionist discordians, who rejected social and religious norms, went over to the dark side. The eccentric weirdness was noted, and these individuals sometimes self-identified as witches.

Martin Le Franc’s “The Defender of Ladies” describes the witches’ sabbath. It states, “Ten thousand old women in a troop were there, as in a great assembly in the shapes of cats or goats … pleased themselves in dancing, others still in banqueting and booze.”

Burning was also used as a form of eugenics to eliminate the criminally mentally ill, as well as ultra-rebellionists, vagrants and indigents. Those with a “malignant spirit” (demons) were targeted, and this included those with schizophrenia, disassociative identity disorder, hysteria and epilepsy. And it included nasty, mean, mentally unbalanced people. Not all accused witches were women. In Russia, the large majority of the condemned were male.

They also practiced necromancy. The “Oxford English Dictionary’s” first recorded the word “necromancy” in 1456. It’s the “practice of magic involving communication with the deceased – either by summoning their spirit as an apparition or raising them bodily – for the purpose of divination, imparting the means to foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge, to bring someone back from the dead, or to use the deceased as a weapon.”

Since the first century, tales of witches using necromancy for power and insight have appeared in the lore of multiple cultures. Even medieval scholars and clerics believed necromancy could help them achieve many feats, including manipulating the minds of others.

Sometimes making a blood sacrifice alongside desired food and drink would encourage the entity to feed off of those offerings instead of the necromancer’s soul. It became a thin line between necromancy and Jeffrey Dahmer like necrophilia.

Necromancers addressed the dead in “a mixture of high-pitch squeaking and low droning” that was comparable to the trance-state mutterings of shamans.

Were Witches Mostly Just Depraved Criminals?

The necromancer might also surround himself or herself with morbid aspects of death, which often included wearing the deceased’s clothing and consuming foods that symbolized lifelessness and decay, such as unleavened black bread and unfermented grape juice. Some also engaged in necrophilia, with the belief that sex and sexual secretions could reanimate the dead. Some necromancers even went so far as to take part in the mutilation and consumption of corpses. These ceremonies could carry on for hours, days or even weeks leading up to the eventual summoning of spirits. These went on in melancholy places, cemeteries and near battlefields or conflict zones.

All of these morbid practices were just a warm up for the eventual summoning of the spirit. To raise a physical body from the other side, the process had to occur within one year of the death, otherwise the necromancer would only be able to evoke the ghost, not the real person.

The witch-burning era was rife with warfare. The peak of burnings was during the 30 Years War (1618-1648) in Germany and Central Europe. The necromancer witches were very interested in the “restless dead,” or those who did not receive a proper burial or who died violently or too young, and who were believed to be readily accessible for necromantic rites. Necromancers preferred to summon the recently departed based on the premise that their revelations were spoken more clearly.

As a result, battlefields and wrecked towns during the 30 Years War were a boon to necromancers, who could easily recover body parts of the restless dead for their magical workings. Body snatching occurred on a vast scale. And looting the possessions of the fallen was also a prime preoccupation for zombified people otherwise impoverished and debauched by the economic breakdowns and desolation of war.

There were also incredible numbers of civilians and soldiers left dead to be defiled, snatched and looted in the 30 Years War. Such behavior was frowned upon in villages and considered a severe sin by church authorities. An apprehended perp could be burned as necromancer witch. Stripping and looting dead bodies who fought and fell for their side angered both the Protestant and Catholic factions to no end.

Smithsonian magazine in an article on a recent mass grave excavation at a battle site:

Figuring out just who the soldiers were has proved particularly difficult because it is believed the inhabitants of the Lutzen area did a thorough job of stripping the corpses of any clothing or identifying marks. Impoverished by the long-running war, Gannon reports the locals likely had little reverence for the 9,000 soldiers that died on both sides of the conflict. Killgrove reports that even the body of Sweden’s king Adolphus, whose forces had won the battle, was stripped of clothing and jewelry by the time he was found several hours after the end of the fighting.

This activity dissipated once peace was restored in 1648 and after a number of bad actors in the death business had been executed. The greatest concentration of witch burning and civilian war casualties very much overlap as seen in red on the second map below.

The witch trials were greater and more frequent in Germany and Switzerland, where religious contests and war were the most heated. More than 40 percent of Europeans executed for witchcraft were in Germany. In Catholic strongholds — where Inquisitors were busily persecuting “heretics” — witches were mostly ignored. The Spanish Inquisition executed no more than two dozen alleged witches; Portugal put to death around seven.

Percentage of civilian deaths in conflict zones
Areas in red indicate high numbers of recorded witch burnings.

In the eyes of most Christians, bringing back non-living spirits was nothing short of demon-summoning. They believed that regardless of any perceived benefit, raising the dead flew in the face of God’s authority and only led to suffering. The medieval world typically believed the resurrection of the dead required God’s help, thereby labeling all other kinds of divination as “demon magic.”

With these bizarre-acting, ghoulish people in operation and the value of life diminished, there was heightened awareness of evil within the culture. And it’s no small wonder that the Reformation and Counter-Reformation conflict became a catalyst for the witch hunt by increasing the fear of Satan.

Early modern Europeans believed “the danger that Satan presented to a person was both physical and spiritual. Everyone, even the holiest individual, could be deceived and ensnared by the cunning treachery of Satan.”

An estimated 40,000 to 60,000 burned during the peak of the Thirty Year War and Counter Reformation period

Winter Watch Takeaway

One study found that witchcraft beliefs are associated with the acceleration of antisocial attitudes and lower levels of trust in society. It wasn’t just scapegoating poor innocent pagan witches. The more extreme and twisted behaviors of witches came from the famine, deprivations and wars of that era, as did the reactions against the witches. This was a cauldron and a prime example of the nature of war and murderous conditions in which all sorts of criminal behavior emerged from many parties. Net-net, then as now, it represents a low-point in the human spirit of these impacted locales.

25 Comments on Were the Witch Trials and Burnings for No Good Reason?

  1. Ever notice the ((( World Community ))) never hardly bothers with the victimization of the practice of “VooDoo” and other African or non-white religions???!!!

    It seems they only care about trashing anything “White”. I just caught a segment on BBC world where they were heralding the “Aztecs” and implying we have misunderstood their advanced civilization measures.

          • The best first hand account (and very good read) on this part of Mexican history is the book by conquistador Diaz de Castillo, “The Conquest of Mexico”. Shows the cruelty of both sides, but also the goodness of the indios once they rid themselves of paganism and became cristians.

        • Casteneda’s books WERE fiction (they are even listed as fiction) but they were very interesting to read, especially Tales of Power and The Eagle’s Gift. These fiction books however WERE based on actual events. And didn’t Casteneda (spelling?) have his own cult in Pahrump, Nevada? One thing is for sure–NEVER consume jimsonweed aka devil’s claw aka Datura…stuff could kill you (nearly killed a friend of mine when his wife cooked some not knowing how dangerous it was.) That was one aspect of Cateneda’s novels I’ll never understand…didn’t they have psychedelic experiences with jimsonweed? Wow! (Datura, BTW, grows like crazy in the Southwest where I live, and northern Mexico. Yaqui’s used it like crazy!)

          After 70 CE, the Jews were scattered all over the world and ROME and SPAIN was the destination for thousands of these ORAL TAUGHT/TALMUDIC JEWS.
          Jesus of Nazareth asks Oral Tradition/Talmudic Jews:
          Why is my language not clear to you Talmudic Jews?
          It’s because you are unable to hear what I say.
          YOU BELONG TO YOUR FATHER, the DEVIL, and you want to carry out YOUR FATHER’S desires.
          The reason you do not hear is that YOU DO NOT BELONG TO GOD.”
          He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is NO TRUTH IN HIM. When he lies, he speaks his NATIVE LANGUAGE, for he is a LIAR and THE FATHER OF LIES.
          Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!
          Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?
          If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?
          Whoever belongs to God hears what God says.
          The reason you do not hear is that YOU DO NOT BELONG TO GOD.”
          John 8:43-47

          Sooooooooooo, we are dealing with demonic possessed Jews ever since.
          The History of Spain shows their activities and how they take control of EVERY place they land. They were forced to convert to CHRISTIANITY/ROMAN CATHOLICISM and became the “New Conversos” and soon began to take control of Roman Catholicism in Spain and did deals with the Muslims.

          {DNA Reveals the Hidden Jewish Ancestry of Latin Americans …

          A new study examining the DNA of thousands of Latin Americans reveals the extent of their likely Sephardic Jewish ancestry, more widespread than previously thought and more pronounced than in…
          Now we have the History of Catholicism & Protestantism and the Jewish controlling interests of these sects. As they spread into the New World, they brought their Talmudic Jewish beliefs with them.
          Over 95% of Catholics did not have a BIBLE for 1500 years and were brainwashed the 5% of the CLERGY. Luther was backed by Jews in the beginning of the REFORMATION, but when he began to study the Jewish Talmud, he totally rejected and wrote his book, THE JEWS AND THEIR LIES.

          Esoterism Essays History Zionism
          · Auteur / Author: Youssef Hindi
          · 05/12/2017
          Far from claims made by critics of the conciliar Church, the Vatican submitted to modernity and Judaism neither after a council, nor over a century. The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) punctuated a silent, secretive, multi-secular war… The first attempts by Kabbalistic rabbis to turn the Church into an advocate of Judaism, which date back to the Middle Ages, happened by way of their approximation to the high clergy, and even to the cardinals and popes.[i]
          [i] Youssef Hindi, La mystique de la laïcité, Sigest, 2017.

          This is like when a CANCER has spread all over the body!
          At first it is not noticed and then slowly spreads and breaks down the body’s defenses.
          Now LUTHER is attacked by the JEWISH/CATHOLIC clergy.
          All a long MOST Jews are living self controlled GHETTOS, where the RABBI is a “god”. No Jew can question his word. When the Jews got EMANCIPATION, the Sluice Gates were opened and they spread all over the WORLD. The FILTH of the Talmud, that they were BRAINWASHED with, spread into books and later the media.

          Exodus 22:18
          “You shall not permit a sorceress/witch to live.
          Acts 19:19
          And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver.
          The official unabridged Soncino Edition of the Talmud published in 1935 was “Translated into English with Notes, Glossary and Indices” by such eminent Talmudic scholars as Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Rabbi Dr. Samuel Daiches, Rabbi Dr. Israel W. Slotki, M.A., Litt.D., The Reverend Dr. A. Cohen, M.A.’, Ph.D., Maurice Simon, M.A., and the Very Reverend The Chief Rabbi Dr. J.H. Hertz wrote the “Foreword” for the Soncino Edition of the Talmud. The Very Reverend Rabbi Hertz was at the time the Chief Rabbi of England.
          The world’s leading authorities on the Talmud confirm that the official unabridged Soncino Edition of the Talmud translated into English follows the original texts with great exactness. It is almost a word-for-word translation of the original texts. In his famous classic “The History of the Talmud,” Michael Rodkinson, the leading authority on the Talmud, in collaboration with the celebrated Reverend Dr. Isaac M. Wise states:

          “THE JEWISH TALMUD IS ONE OF THE WONDERS OF THE WORLD. During the twenty centuries of its existence…IT SURVIVED IN ITS ENTIRETY, and not only has the power of its foes FAILED TO DESTROY EVEN A SINGLE LINE, but it has not even been able materially to weaken its influence for any length of time.
          The Talmud, then, is the written form of that which, in the time of Jesus, was called the Traditions of the Elders, and to which he makes frequent allusions.
          — Rabbi Michael L. Rodkinson (1)
          Or consider this from The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, in the entry

          The Jewish religion as it is today traces its descent, without a break, through all the centuries, from the Pharisees.
          Their leading ideas and methods found expression in a literature of enormous extent, of which a very great deal is still in existence. The Talmud is the largest and most important single member of that literature, and round it are gathered a number of Midrashim, partly legal (Halachic) and partly works of edification (Haggadic). This literature, in its oldest elements, goes back to a time before the beginning of the Common Era, and comes down into the Middle Ages. Through it all run the lines of thought which were first drawn by the Pharisees, and the study of it is essential for any real understanding of Pharisaism.
          — R. Travers Herford for the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia. (2)

          Rabbi Dr. Louis Finkelstein, Instructor of Talmud, and later president of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, writes:
          Pharisaism became Talmudism, Talmudism became Medieval Rabbinism, and Medieval Rabbinism became Modern Rabbinism. But throughout these changes of name, inevitable adaptation of custom, and adjustment of Law, the spirit of the ancient Pharisee survives unaltered. When the Jew reads his prayers, he is reciting formulae prepared by pre-Maccabean scholars; when he dons the cloak prescribed for the Day of Atonement and Passover Eve, he is wearing the festival garment of ancient Jerusalem; when he studies the Talmud, he is actually repeating the arguments used in the Palestinian academies.
          — Rabbi Dr. Finkelstein (3)

          With this bit of history, we can begin to see the influencing power of JUDAISM in CHRISTIANITY and as the TALMUD spreads its VILE teaches, we find HOLLYWOOD teaching:

          SANHEDRIN, 55b-55a: “What is meant by this? – Rab said: Pederasty with a child below nine years of age is not deemed as pederasty with a child above that. Samuel said: Pederasty with a child below three years is not treated as with a child above that (2) What is the basis of their dispute? – Rab maintains that only he who is able to engage in sexual intercourse, may, as the passive subject of pederasty throw guilt (upon the actual offender); whilst he who is unable to engage in sexual intercourse cannot be a passive subject of pederasty (in that respect) (3). But Samuel maintains: Scriptures writes, (And thou shalt not lie with mankind) as with the lyings of a woman (4). It has been taught in accordance with Rab: Pederasty at the age of nine years and a day; (55a) (he) who commits bestiality, whether naturally or unnaturally: or a woman who causes herself to be bestiality abused, whether naturally or unnaturally, is liable to punishment (5).”
          This “divine truth” which “a whole people venerate” of which “not a single letter of it is missing” and today “is flourishing to such a degree as cannot be found in its history” is illustrated by the additional verbatim quotations which follow:

          SANHEDRIN, 69b “Our rabbis taught: If a woman sported lewdly with her young son (a minor), and he committed the first stage of cohabitation with her, -Beth Shammai says, he thereby renders her unfit for the priesthood (1). Beth Hillel declares her fit…All agree that the connection of a boy nine years and a day is a real connection; whilst that of one less than eight years is not (2); their dispute refers only to one who is eight years old.

          KETHUBOTH, 11a-11b. “Rabba said, It means (5) this: When a grown up man has intercourse with a little girl it is nothing, for when the girl is less than this (6), it is as if one puts the finger in the eye (7), but when a small boy has intercourse with a grown up woman, he makes her as a girl who is injured by a piece of wood' ".
          (footnotes) "(5). Lit.,
          says’. (6) Lit., `here’, that is, less than three years old. (7) Tears come to the eyes again and again, so does virginity come back to the little girl under three years.”

          KETHUBOTH, 11a-11b. “Rab Judah said that Rab said: A small boy who has intercourse with a grown up woman makes her (as though she were ) injured by a piece of wood (1). Although the intercourse of a small boy is not regarded as a sexual act, nevertheless the woman is injured by it as by a piece of wood(a dildo).”
          (footnotes) “(1) Although the intercourse of a small boy is not regarded as a sexual act, nevertheless the woman is injured by it as by a piece of wood.”

          We are dealing with demonic possessed people of all branches of JUDAISM/CATHOLICISM/PROTESTANTISM etc!


  2. Catholics controlled all four of the major centers of witch-burnings during the 30 Years War:

    From Wikipedia:

    “The Bamberg witch trials, which took place in Bamberg in 1626–1631, were one of a series of mass witch trials in southern Germany, contemporary with the Würzburg witch trials and others. Over an extended period these trial resulted in the executions of around 1,000 people. It belonged to the largest witch trials in history, among the largest during the Thirty Years’ War, and one of the four largest witch trials in Germany alongside the Trier witch trials, the Fulda witch trials, and the Würzburg witch trial.[1]”

    Every one of those cities’ witch burning leaders and functionaries were Catholics servicing the cause of the CounterReformation. At least three out of the four were also instigated and led by Jesuits.

    Please explain how you have confused this notion of Protestant versus Catholic practice.

    The Guardian wrote a piece on this phenomenon and related it to contemporaneous dynamics in America, also laying blame at the hands of the Protestants who happen to comprise the vast bulk of pro-whites.

    Why is this essay following a compelling series of investigations into Roman-times child and human sacrifice?

    • Protestants and Catholics literally competed in this arena. To attribute solely to Catholics is not historically accurate. In the Catholic countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy and France there was little witchburning.Look at map above of England, Denmark and Sweden, all Protestant.

      • You say,

        “The witch trials were greater and more frequent in Germany and Switzerland, where religious contests and war were the most heated. More than 40 percent of Europeans executed for witchcraft were in Germany. In Catholic strongholds — where Inquisitors were busily persecuting “heretics” — witches were mostly ignored. The Spanish Inquisition executed no more than two dozen alleged witches; Portugal put to death around seven.”

        This is what is not accurate, among a few other aspects. I personally researched every one of the four epicenters of German cities mentioned in the Wikipedia passage I quoted. Every one’s witch burning movement was led by Catholics and they were all Catholic-controlled cities or undergoing a conflict over whether to remain dominated by Catholics.

        Witch burning was considered on the spectrum of the Inquisition’s line of questioning and punishing. As I said, all but three of those epicenters’ Catholic witch-hunting interrogation forces were Jesuit-run or strongly dominated by Jesuits. One famous Jesuit ‘witch’ investigator eventually wrote a penitent report in following years after realizing that all his torture-wrought confessions identifying witches were meaningless and essentially fake. It had to be smuggled out of a Catholic region to be published in a Protestant city.

        Further, you seem to conflate the practice of vandalizing dead people’s and especially soldiers’ bodies with sorcery and other types of actions that were associated with the practice of witchcraft. I don’t think most of the people accused of being witches by Catholic authorities in the accounts I read were the types who would have been rummaging through a battlefield trying to find small trinkets and used shoes, etc. They were more often the affluent secular government officials from whom power and economic resources could be wrested; typically Protestant ‘reformer’ types were targeted by Catholic Inquisitors or ‘investigators’ like the Jesuits. The non-Jesuit lower level Catholic priests who may have leaned Protestant or exhibited defiance towards the Counter-Reformers for various reasons were also targeted, but the more random peasant types who would have scavenged among the dead weren’t numbering as high among those suspected by the Catholics.

        Maybe those types were more often hunted down by Protestants for some reason(s), I don’t know, but certainly part of your or your source’s basic premise is inaccurate. The Catholic Inquisition absolutely formed a continuum of both people and practices with witch burning in those years, and far more witch-burnings were perpetrated by Catholics than by Protestants.

        And it’s unclear whether political or ‘partisan’ agendas informed the Protestants so much as their version of ‘witch hunting’ may have equated to meting out justice to robbers, swindlers and necrophiliacs – true criminals and threats to society.

        • I have read over the Wikipedia and several other internet sources of the four cities you mentioned. The sources all repeat themselves- so perhaps there are denser sources or books? Wurzburg has the most detail. Among those targeted for burning were nineteen Catholic priests (for heresy) . I don’t see Protestant heresy mentioned here at all. I have more citations and background on the Spanish Inquistion in Sunday’s post. So yes I upped the ante on this topic. For the record I am not Catholic.

          Looks like mostly demon possession, attending witch gatherings and sorcery, etc. Arson was mentioned. In Holland werewolf behavior was a factor.
          Some were vagrants which I also mentioned as a causation. Fulda and Trier were pre-30 Years War, so would be in far less context of the necromancer aspect.

          So I don’t exactly get your point- as the reasons for the executions are consistent with what I wrote in the post. Was it all hysteria for no good reason? Much may have been, but there are few details given about the evidence against the accused and their activities. No information is provided in the list of the executed shown on the page. There is an odd lack of context. We really once again fail to learn much about who these people were and to what extent they went to the dark side. And that brush over aspect was the primary point of my post.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I spent 20 years in a Christian church and graduated public schools and never heard any of these gruesome details.

  4. Dentures back then were made from human teeth, and dentists (or rather the surgeons who often doubled as dentists and other things) would often harvest teeth from fallen soldiers (often young men in their prime with few cavities).

  5. I reckon a heightened awareness of evil is needed in our culture. There’s no such thing as white magic or good witches. I remember only the very slightest peeps of protest from people who brought this up regarding the harry potter movies, and I was trying to find anyone in the media speaking out against them. The inversion of good into bad has obviously been happening for a long time, and it seems fewer and fewer people know the score. I was saddened to hear my 8 year old nephew was watching the disgusting show “Lucifer”- “But he’s a good guy in the show, he tortures demons!” he told me… I in no uncertain terms advised him to pull his head out of his posterior. Just another reason to cancel Netflix subscriptions. People need to stop practicing suspension of disbelief and rail against this shit in their own spheres of influence, because most people are mentally lazy and won’t do it on their own. Makes me sick

  6. I’d say burning witches etc. did not do a dang thing to end witchcraft…. Oh, and as someone who actually took part in a calling-up-the-dead-“Ouija board” (made of paper) “ritual” that scarred the crap outta me and two friends when demons showed up (including levitating the glass we used with the “Ouija board”), I’d say legislating morality won’t work either. (Event happened winter of 1970). Only thing that works is experiencing the negative consequences of practicing witchcraft, without the “burning at the stake” part. If you get scared crap-less (and have to have your friends walk you home over a mile at midnight since you’re too scared to walk home by yourself) but still continue to practice witchcraft, then any negativity you experience later is between you and God (and Satan). But without experiencing what I did and other occultist stuff, I never would have been able to author my good vs. evil redemption story prodigal band novels.

  7. Looking at the map, no persecution in Druidic Wales and Ireland (Catholic, eh?) makes sense, while persecution in Scotland (protestant) makes no sense! So Russ, again, is right….don’t just blame Catholics! (I used to be one….)

  8. Once labeled a witch, women, knowing what was in store for them, they bargained for their freedom with their sexuality. The Witch Finder General knew excactly what opportunity were coming. Male War deaths would have left scores of women unprotected.

  9. Fascinating article. What a refreshing change from the usual “poor persecuted witches were just harmless herbalists” we so often hear from dabblers in paganism. The discussion of peasants stripping fallen warriors, and all the other depravities, reminded me of the Jewish Kaballah sorcery described in the Talmud (see the “Spirits & Cemeteries” section in the “Demonology & the Pharisees” chapter of Elizabeth Dillings’ translation of the Talmud here:

    It also reminded me of a surprising thing I learned from reading a biography of Martin Luther: even he, so fearless towards the might of Rome, was worried about travelling in the countryside between towns during his preaching, because of all the Jewish gypsies, peddlers & robbers who infested it, forbidden to enter the Christian towns.

    It also made me wonder what the Jews were doing during the Thirty Years War, and it turns out that they actually benefitted from it, as this reference article shows (extract below). Just as another Jewish researcher pointed out that Jews benefitted from the invention of Islam.

    “Despite the wealth of published studies on individual German, Austrian, and Czech Jewish communities of the early modern era, it is remarkable how rare have been the attempts to synthesize the material and reach an overall assessment of the impact of the Thirty Years’ War on Central European Jewish life. This gaping lacuna was noted some years ago by S. W. Baron, whose own general discussion of this subject is virtually unique. Immensely erudite, Baron’s piece not only reveals the vast scope of the relevant material but tentatively suggests that the great European conflict was a key formative episode in the development of German Jewry, reversing earlier trends and preparing the way for the “Court Jews” of the later seventeenth century. This it undoubtedly was. Even so, Baron’s evaluation is open to criticism on several counts. In particular, he fails to bring out, or make clear, just how crucial and how favorable a phase the Thirty Years’ War was for the Jews of the Holy Roman Empire. Furthermore, while some effort is made in his essay to identify the key shifts of the period, such as an alleged drift of Jews from the countryside to the towns, it is arguable that this is not handled very convincingly or with sufficient precision. In any case, it is evident that a fuller, more systematic explanation is needed if we are to account for the singular fact that during this period of almost unparalleled disruption, turmoil, and suffering Christendom’s perennial scapegoat fared considerably better than most of the rest of German society.”

  10. In his book ‘The Everlasting Man’ Chesterton remarks (in passing only – wish I had a reference) that some witches were also reaponsible for preventing childbirth, which prevention of course was considered a grave sin until only very recently.

    Regarding heretics, there was a time when heresy was believed to be responsible for souls going to Hell, and therefore it was rightly judged to be more grave a crime than murder.

    In either case, though, burning was always a last resort, so if the guilty still had his full powers of reason and free will, it was only those among them who stubbornly refused to stfu and save themselves that were burned. It’s not like covens and heretical meetings were raided and the attendees immediately tied to stakes.

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