The history and definition of witchcraft

Trials continued with dwindling intensity until earlyand by that May Phips had pardoned and released all those in prison on witchcraft charges.


As the town became more populated, land became harder and harder to acquire. Widely influential, it was reprinted numerous times. If preventative measures prove ineffective for the Navajo, then the confession of a witch is thought to cure the evil magic, and torture is sometimes used to extract that confession.

The visible role played by women in some heresies during this period may have contributed to the stereotype of the witch as female. Stregheria Stregheria is an Italian witchcraft religion popularised in the s by Raven Grimassiwho claims that it evolved within the ancient Etruscan religion of Italian peasants who worked under the Catholic upper classes.

Any birthmarks, warts, moles, or other blemishes were seen as possible portals through which Satan could enter a body. If a boat sinks because it has a hole in its bottom or a car breaks down because its battery is dead, witchcraft is not responsible.

The Reclaiming Witches of San Francisco suggests that Wiccan religion represents the second wave of feminism that has also been redefined as a religious movement.

The town doctor was called onto the scene. The responsibility for the witch hunts can be distributed among theologians, legal theorists, and the practices of secular and ecclesiastical courts.

Salem Witch Trials

In an effort to explain by scientific means the strange afflictions suffered by those "bewitched" Salem residents ina study published in Science magazine in cited the fungus ergot found in rye, wheat and other cerealswhich toxicologists say can cause symptoms such as delusions, vomiting and muscle spasms.

Nevertheless, the reasons for the decline in the witch hunts are as difficult to discern as the reasons for their origins.


It makes sense of the inequalities of life: The motives of the young girls themselves can be questioned. These allegations would have important implications for the future because they were part of a broader pattern of hostility toward and persecution of marginalized groups.

The pentagram is the most common symbol of religious identity. Charges of maleficium were prompted by a wide array of suspicions. Prosecutions of witches in Austria, Poland, and Hungary took place as late as the 18th century.

In the Near East—in ancient Mesopotamia, Syria, Canaan, and Palestine—belief in the existence of evil spirits was universal, so that both religion and magic were thought to be needed to appease, offer protection from, or manipulate these spirits.

Magic has thus turned into religion the converse of the more familiar process in which outmoded religions are stigmatized by their successors as magic. Three-fourths of European witch hunts occurred in western Germanythe Low CountriesFrance, northern Italyand Switzerland, areas where prosecutions for heresy had been plentiful and charges of diabolism were prominent.

Five more people were hanged that July; five in August and eight more in September. If the holy river declares him innocent and he remains unharmed the man who laid the spell shall be put to death. The Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation heightened the fear of witchcraft by promoting the idea of personal piety the individual alone with his or her Bible and Godwhich enhanced individualism while downplaying community.

Often the magic was instead an effort to construct symbolic reality. At the same time, the Zande believe that evil deeds can be wrought even more effectively by the manipulation of spells and potions and the use of powerful magic.

However, 20 people and 2 dogs were executed for the crime of witchcraft in Salem. Witchcraft History echoes the terrible campaign against Witchcraft in Salem in in which people were tried as suspects of practicing witchcraft. The girls could not have possibly brought this condition onto themselves.

Sloane also corresponded with his contemporary Gerald Gardnerfounder of the Wicca religion, and implied that his views of Satan and the horned god were not necessarily in conflict with Gardner's approach. Judicial torturehappily in abeyance since the end of the Roman period, was revived in the 12th and 13th centuries; other brutal and sadistic tortures occurred but were usually against the law.

Though the conceptions conveyed by the English word "witch" and its cognates were unknown to the Hebrews of Bible times, yet the fundamental thought involved in such terms was familiar enough to the ancient Hebrews and to other nations of antiquity Babylonians, Egyptians, etc. The first hanging for witchcraft in New England was inafter the witch hunts had already abated in Europe, though a peculiar outbreak in Sweden in —76 bore some similarity to that in New England.

It played a conspicuous role in the cultures of ancient Egypt and in Babylonia. This pattern took shape in —, which was also an era of enormous reform, reorganization, and centralization in both the ecclesiastical and secular aspects of society, an important aspect of which was suppressing dissent.

Presided over by judges including Hathorne, Samuel Sewall and William Stoughton, the court handed down its first conviction, against Bridget Bishop, on June 2; she was hanged eight days later on what would become known as Gallows Hill in Salem Town.

Watch video · The infamous Salem witch trials began during the spring ofafter a group of young girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts, claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women.


The idea of witchcraft is ubiquitous throughout human history and culture. Explore the meaning, history, and significance of witchcraft, and test your understanding of witchcraft and magic across. Witchcraft was declared a crime in English law in ; trials there peaked in s and s but fell sharply after The last, inended in acquittal.

The Witchcraft Act was repealed Nov 04,  · Watch video · The infamous Salem witch trials began during the spring ofafter a group of young girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts, claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women.

The History and Definition of Witchcraft In England and New England in the 17th century, it was believed that an evil witch made a pact with the devil that involved the exchange of her soul for powers with which she could torture other mortals, which brings about the beginning of witchcraft.

For the history of witchcraft and its persecutions see howard Williams, The Superstitions of Witchcraft,and (brief but interesting and compact) Charles Mackay, Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions (2 volumes,).

The history and definition of witchcraft
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Witchcraft | Definition of Witchcraft by Merriam-Webster