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59 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
Popular Beliefs/Stereotypes
• large, warty nose, pointy chin, cone-shaped black hat, black dress
• magic
• Rides on a broom
• Has a cat, a familiar, i.e., a demon who took the shape of a cat or toad, assisting the witch with her magic, in turn he is allowed to suck from her special teat
The Witch in History
• Harmful magic, diabolical practices
• a pact with the devil
• Witch rejects the Christian faith
• Witch gathers periodically with other witches; attend the Sabbath
• sacrifice unbaptized infants to the devil, cook and eat children
• change shapes
• weather control
• fly through the air
• conjure spirits
• evil eye (kill at a distance)
• render men impotent, cast love spells
• curse the neighbor and kill his cow, make other people sick
Profile of a Woman Accused of Witchcraft
• Female
• mostly unmarried (often widowed)
• Old
• Poor
• social outcasts (ugly; uppity women, outspoken women, quarrelsome women)
• healers (spells, herbal knowledge, cure illnesses)
• before the Burning times: white witch-black witch dichotomy
• Beginning in the early to mid-15th century: all witchcraft is evil, association of witchcraft with heresy
• Witchcraft was transformed from maleficium into devil-worship, from crime to heresy
• Radical change: throughout the Middle Ages the Catholic Church fought against superstitions, against the idea that women could fly by night; Canon Episcopi
• Lex Alamannorum, 7th century: if you call somebody a strega/witch, you will be punished
Magic and Religion
• magic attends to the needs of the individual in a specific situation; religion is a communal practice
• magic happens at the bottom; religion: hierarchy, organization, authorization
• magic: well-defined procedure/result; religion: you cannot control God
power: who gets to define the difference between magic and religion?
Magic and the Bible
Various forms of magic are presupposed to exist
• Moses: staff becomes a snake (Exodus 7-11)
• Flowering of Aaron’s staff (Num 17)
• Dream revelation
• Oracles; prophecy (Urim and Thummin, Deut 33:8; ephod)
Magic power is on loan from God!!
Magic in the Near East: Contemporary Practices:
• Exorcism and apotropaic magic (magic to ward off evil)
• Ordeals (water of bitterness)-test to see if adultry was committed.
• The Hebrews were expected to consult prophets but only the authorized Hebrew prophets
• In the Near East magic is a concern of the learned elite, upper echelons of society
• Jewish magic did not threaten orthodoxy but was integrated into it; magicians were male scholars
• In the entire judicial literature of the Near East, there is only one incident in which any one at all, in this case a woman, is accused of witchcraft; case was dismissed by the judges
Hebrew Cosmology
• well-developed demonology with hosts of evil spirits (demons) and diviners, sorcerers
• there was no organizing force, no Devil who could mobilize all evil spirits in a war against all good people
• there were malicious and harmful spirits, but the evil spirits existed as individual forces acting capriciously
• Satan: literally adversary; one who opposes, blocks or obstructs human activities; Greek diabolos: one who throws something across one’s path
• There is a Satan in the Old Testament (Job 1:7), he is one of God’s obedient servants; a messenger, an angel
• Satan is not God’s eternal enemy; he is a member of God’s court;
• God is omnipotent, he causes good and evil
• no cosmic struggle between good and evil that could define the witch as a servant of Satan
• no evidence of the heretical witch in the Old Testament
• During the Burning Times, witch hunters cited mistranslated passages in the Old Testament to authorize the execution of witches
Witchcraft and the Bible
There are biblical quotes that appear to demand punishment for “witches,” but they are mistranslation
• many ambiguous Hebrew words were translated as “witch” (ventriloquist, diviner, astrologer, poisoner, juggler)
• The standard translations from Hebrew into Latin are erroneous; Latin words maleficus, veneficus
• these mistranslations were replicated in later translations from Latin to English or German;
• the translations into English or German (the vernacular) often stem from the Reformation
• during the Reformation the protestant churches needed texts in the vernacular because the Catholic mass had been in Latin
• King James: English translation; Martin Luther: German translation, both played a significant role in the witch persecutions of their country
The Witch of Endor
• Pythoness: a woman telling fortunes by the inspiration of a python or a conjured spirit
• Saul wants to consult her in order to converse with the ghost of Samuel
• Problem: she is not one of the authorized Hebrew prophets (the Bible denounces unauthorized divination)
• the problem in this story is not the “witch” of Endor but Saul; God has turned away from Saul
The “Witch” Before the Burning Times
• Prophetess or seer, revered and feared for her special powers
• Fulfills an important social function in mediating between humans and gods
• Teutonic/Scandinavian cultures: powerful women seers abound in the sagas
• Some witches perform mischief, but can be recognized and overcome without massive institutional interventions
The Burning Times
• Woman who rides out on a stick, beast or demon at night, particularly on the eve of Christian Holy Days, to a witches’ Sabbath where she and others renounce the Christian faith, trample on the cross or the consecrated host and are baptized by the Devil whose behind they kiss
• Pact with Satan
• At the Sabbath they kill infants and eat their flesh, dance wildly, have an orgy (homosexuality incest, sodomy)
• The transformation of witches from respected prophets and seers into outcasts and servants of the devil is only conceivable within the concept of a cosmic battle being waged between the forces of good and evil, of God and Satan
Witches and Magic in Ancient Greece
Magical Practices in the Ancient World:
Curse Tablets
• Small thin sheets of lead with inscriptions (name of the victim)
• deposited in a grave or in a body of water
• litigation; binding spells; erotic spells, competition curses; trade curses
• done by amateurs in secret
Protective Amulets
• To protect oneself against a curse
Voodoo dolls
• arms or legs are twisted; head or feet point in the wrong direction; doll is transfixed with nails
• Athens did not have harsh legislation against black magic
• Plato: magic is to be condemned because magicians try to persuade the Gods
Greek gods
• No cosmic struggle between good and evil
Witch of Greek Classical Literature
• In classical Greek literature: witches are women
• stem from a non-Greek culture, goddesses
• Changes men into swine
• Jason and the Golden Fleece
• a servant of Hekate
The Night Witch
• Mythical image of the night-witch: radical enemy of all human civilization, a flesh-devouring woman, a child-killing demon
• Knows how to draw down the moon
• Hekate is their goddess
• Woman who deals with love charms, drugs, and poisons
Diana (Roman)/Artemis (Greek)
• Virgin goddess, originally a mother deity, fertility deity
• Goddess of hunting: an Amazon, clad in a short tunic with bow and arrow
• Chaste to a fault; fiercely aggressive in avenging male injustice (Actaeon, Orion)
• Confused with the infernal (hell) goddess Hekate
• Goddess of fertility
• three-faced; one of three goddesses of the moon (Selene in heaven, Artemis on earth, Hekate in hell);
• Embodies malign aspects of the divine world
• Invoked by witches like Medea, patroness of evil sorcery
The Wild Hunt
• A furious bunch of female witches and ghosts of the restless dead who ride through the sky on phantom black horses; they shriek and make wild noises, , destroy lives and property
• led by a pagan goddess turned evil, Diana/Hekate
• One aspect of the diabolic Christian witch can be traced back to the common pagan belief of the Wild Hunt or Wild Ride (Witch’s Sabbath)
Witches in Pre-Christian Scandinavia
• Nordic paganism: polytheistic world-view
• Conversion to Christianity in the 11th and 12th centuries; pagan world-view lingered on
• Syncretism (hammer-cross)- (Combination of different forms of beliefs and thoughts)
No concept of pure evil, no concept of mortal sin
Hierarchy of the Pantheon
• Cosmos: world tree, serpent, Valhalla, Valkyries
• Gods were constantly in conflict with each other
• Sky gods (Aesir), live in Asgard: Odin, Frigga, Thor, Balder
• Earth gods (Vanir): Freyr, Freyja, Njord
• Jotunn: giants and trolls
• God Loki
Valhalla and Valkyries
It was Odins Hall and the home of the slain gloriously in battle and were escorted to Valhalla by the valkyries. Valkyries are femal minor gods who served Odin.
Scandinavian Sky Gods (Aesir)
Live in Asgard

- Odin: Odin is a god of war and death, but also the god of poetry and wisdom. Also associated with he wild hunt.

-Frigga: Wife of Odin and participates in wild hunt with him--she is a goddess of fertility, love, household management, marriage, motherhood, and domestic arts.

-Thor: Son of Odin, God of thunder, travels in a chariot, throws a war hammer and lightning bult and they return to him.

-Balder: the god of innocence, beauty, joy, purity, and peace, and is Odin's second son.
Scandinavian Earth gods (Vanir)
Freyr "bestows peace and pleasure on mortals". He rules over the rain, the shining of the sun and the produce of the fields.

-Freya: sister of Freyr, fertility goddess, skilled practitioner of seithre.

-Njord: the god of wind, fertile land along the seacoast, as well as seamanship, sailing and fishing.
God Loki
the mythical being of mischief
a giant that stood opposition to the Gods
Concept of Fate and of seers and prophets
• humans and gods are subject to fate
• the 3 Norns (3 women who lived beneath the root of the world tree at the center of the cosmos and weaved the tapestry of fate)
• power in this society = access to fate
• seers and prophets are mostly women, respected and venerated
Two forms of magic
• Galthr: prophesy
• Seithre: magic, spell-casting. Seithr is associated with Freyja
• Prose narratives
• Written in Iceland and Norway during the 12th and 13th centuries
• Transition from paganism to Christianity
• Very nationalistic
A female prophetess who practiced forms of indigenious magic
Mixed Legacy of Nordic Witches
• Respected and venerated as seers, integrated into the community, neutralize black magic
• Can be harmful
• Attributes: goats, pigs, cats, cauldrons, sticks, riding out at night
Pagan Witch
Black and white magic
Sacrifices, fortune-telling, divination, incantation, hailstorm, spells, potions, magic charms, herbal healing
Witch in the Early Modern Period
harmful magic
Sabbath, flying
Pact with the devil
The Pagan Witch to the Midevil-christian witch
from maleficium to devil-worship, large scale conspiracy
• Middle Ages: end of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to 15th/16th century
• Gutenberg 1455
• Columbus 1492
• Protestant Reformation 1517
Spread of Christianity
• Roman Empire: 4th century (Christianity was decreed by Theodosius)
• England: 7th century
• Germany: 9th century
• Scandinavia: 11th and 12th century

With the spread of Christianity began a campaign against paganism: appropriation and demonization
Visual representations of Satan influenced by depictions of pagan gods
The Devil
• Enemy of Christ—enemy of God (15th century)
• Focus on Ten Commandments and idolatry
• Cosmic struggle, witch as Satan’s servant
• Devil creates illusions; aerial body (no flesh or blood
Pact with the Devil
• 9th century: soul for service
• 12th century: pact and magic
• Magic-heresy, apostasy (The formal renunciation of ones religion)
• Directed against learned magicians
Heretics: Catharism and Waldensianism
• The image of the anti-society, secret nocturnal meetings, devil-worshippers, sexually promiscuous is taken from Catharism and Waldensianism
Flight/Shape Shifting
• Both flying and the sabbath associated with the diabolical Christian witch can be traced back to a fusion of the common pagan belief of the Wild Hunt or Wild Ride, of Greek and Nordic concepts
• gender change and demonization (the characterization of someone being evil)
Wild Hunt/Germanic tradition
European folklore has legends of both male and female gods riding out at night with an entourage called the Wild Ride or the Wild Hunt
Male version:
• associated with wind and storms
• Odin charges through the air on a 8-footed steed with a mounted entourage
• sign of pestilence (is refered to as a plague or disease that is veyr contageous) , death, or war
Female version:
• led by Freya or Frigga
Christian revisions
Mixed Roman mythology with these Germanic traditions
• Classical belief: women transform themselves into owls or strigae, night witches
• Wild Hunt came to be associated with Diana/Hekate
• 15th century fusion: wild hunt, cannibalism, infanticide (intentionally killing an infant)
• Until the 14th: the Church believed that this was an illusion, a dream; after the 14th century, it was believed to be reality
• The Canon Episcopi considered flying and shape-shifting to be an illusion
Cannon Episcopi
• Most important ecclesiastical document of the Middle Ages
• before the Inquisition
• presented in 906, 10th century, by Regino of Prüm
• Served as the basis of ecclesiastical canonical law (Corpus Juris Canonici)
• Provided a model for night riding, pact with the devil (but it is called perverted by the devil), witches’ Sabbath (multitudes of women)
• Describes heresy, but applies to term to male sorcerers
• Not yet a capital crime, banishment
• If a person believes these stories, i.e., believes that these women can fly, that person is guilty of the same type of heretical thinking
• Prevented systematic witch-hunts
Witchcraft and the Canon Episcopi
Not gender-specific, mentions men and women
• Practice sorcery and malefice with the help of the Devil, heresy
• Punishment: “to eject them foully disgraced from their parishes”
Wicked Women
• “some wicked wicked women, who have given themselves back to Satan and been seduced by the illusions and phantasms of demons believe and profess that, in the hours of night, they ride upon certain beasts with Diana, the goddess of pagans, and an innumerable multitude of women, and in the silence of night traverse great spaces of earth”
• “perverted by the devil” and “seduced by illusions and phantasms of demons”
• believe they ride out at night upon beasts through the air
• led by Diana
• “innumerable multitude of women”
• “wander from the right faith”, “error of the pagans”
• “deceived by this false opinion, believe this to be true,” “the faithless mind thinks these things happen not in the spirit but in the body”
Early Christian Legal Codes
• Relatively tolerant of sorcery
• Punishments were monetary fines, banishment, scourging, public dragging, death
• a false accusation carried a heavy penalty (lex talionis: the accuser suffers the penalty that the defendant would have received); this kept the accusations at bay!
• one of several degrees of divergence from the Catholic church (Schism/division of the Church, Heresy, Apostasy=total desertion of the faith)
• "religious error held in willful and persistent opposition to the truth after it has been defined and declared by the Church in an authoritative manner”
• not merely a sin but also a crime punishable by death after 1215 (Lateran Council)
Heresy versus Possession
• Pact with the Devil is crucial: distinguished heresy from possession (there is an aspect of choice)
• Hostile sects: Waldensians, Cathars, Templars were catalysts for the Inquisition (13th century), later: persecution of witches
Early Modern Europe
Renaissance, Humanism, Reformation and Counter-Reformation (14-17th centuries)
Three Phases of the Witch-Persecutions
Three Phases of the Witch-Persecutions Phase 1
Phase I: 1435-1520
The first wave of witch trials began in the French Alps and Switzerland as the Inquisition hunted heretics and discovered “witches” in the process; spread to North Italy and Germany after 1480s. At the beginning both men and women were brought to trial; after 1490: increasingly women and in large numbers
1484: Pope Innocent VIII’s bull: Summis desiderantes affectibus
1487: H. Kramer and J. Sprenger’s Malleus Maleficarum defines female witch
Three Phases of the Witch-Persecutions Phase 2
Lull in the witch-trials as authorities are preoccupied with Reformation and peasant uprisings
1517—beginning of Reformation
1532—Carolina = unified criminal code for all of Holy Roman Empire, instituted by Charles V
1560—beginning of Counter-Reformation
Three Phases of the Witch-Persecutions Phase 3
Great witch-craze spreads throughout Europe using the Malleus Maleficarum as a handbook for prosecuting witches; primarily women as targets
1590s, 1630s, 1660s: high intensity level of trials and mass executions
1560-1620: height of the witch craze in Germany
1575-1630: transformation of Benandanti from folk rites to confessed witches
1567-1625: height of witch persecutions in England and Scotland (James VI reigned Scotland from 1567 to 1625 and England as James I from 1603 t0 1625)