Witchcraft Of The Past Essay

1208 words - 5 pages

Witchcraft of the Past

What images does the word "witch" create in a person’s mind? Most people would tend to think of an old woman wearing a black, cone-shaped hat, with a large mole on her face, and perhaps flying on her broom. This is the stereotype of witches, and although some witches of the past may have fit into this category, one must remember witchcraft is a religion with a variety of followers. On the Covenant of the Goddess website, the basic philosophy of witchcraft is stated in one simple sentence: "Our religion is not a series of precepts or beliefs, rather we believe that we each have within ourselves the capacity to reach out and experience the mystery – that feeling of ineffable oneness with all Life." 1 This website is devoted to finding the origins of witchcraft, specifically faith and reason, and how it has affected society over the past 700 years.

In the thirteenth century, witches, then called cunning folk, "played a positive role in helping people cope with calamity."2 They provided hope to townspeople that through magical means, natural disasters might some how be avoided. The cunning folk provided this important service that kept village life moving ahead. Possession of these so-called magical powers made one an important member of village society. People in need of "security and influence, namely, the old and the impoverished, especially single or widowed women" most often made these claims.3 In the late thirteenth century, the Christian church "declared that only its priests possessed legitimate magical powers," and "those who practices magic outside the church evidently derived their power from the Devil."4 The church wanted to rid society of the witches’ influence, and thus witch-hunts began.

"The 300-year period (1450-1750) of witch hunts and executions that took place in Western Europe were one of the darkest periods in human hisory."5 The men and women who found a source of hope and happiness in the religion of witchcraft, were now being persecuted. People suspected to be witches were brought before a judge for conviction. "In theory two methods of proof were acceptable for conviction: confession by the accused and denunciation by one witness who did not have to confront the alleged witch."6 People accused of being witches were submitted to torture so they would confess. If a witch did not confess to the accusations brought against him or her, he or she was brought to trial. The person accused had to succumb to a physical examination where his or her body was searched for the Devil’s mark. Supposedly, this was the identification mark of the witch’s compact with the Devil. If the witch was pricked with a sharp instrument on the so-called Devil’s mark and experienced no pain or did not bleed, this was evidence the accused was guilty. "But often times the pricking instrument was constructed with a retractable blade, so the person would feel no pain or would not bleed!"7 The accused was always assumed...

Find Another Essay On Witchcraft of the Past

The Influence of Witchcraft on Feminism

2356 words - 9 pages The Influence of Witchcraft on Feminism The witch-hunt that blazed a trail across Europe (and indeed the world) over the 15th to 18th centuries stripped women of much of the power they had historically held. Not 100% of all accused Witches were female but 75% to 90% of accused witches in Europe were in fact women (Levack, 1987, p.124). Prior to the 15th century, rural European women were highly revered and respected pillars of rural

Thing of The Past Essay

933 words - 4 pages wagons, a group of Bannock Indians brutally attacked the train and only 14 of 44 travelers made it to Oregon alive. By 1867, the Indian danger on the trail became such an enormous problem that the U.S. Army actually forbid travel by single wagons in western Kansas. Past the Indian invasion problems though, far more prevalent were the everyday trail hazards of accident and disease. Little was known about health and sanitation and no vaccines were

Reflections of the Past

1933 words - 8 pages the more enlightened class, to realize and build upon the potential of the current generation to further progress the future generation. In this way, society then develops for the good for everyone. In Burkes opinion, people should obey the government absolutely (150). And after countless generations, people continue to obey out of habit and reverence for the law, especially since any society of Burkes should have admiration for the past. The

Heroes Of The Past

839 words - 3 pages Heroes of the Past Even though Maximus from the movie Gladiator and King Arthur do not seem to be alike, these two ancient heroes have some interesting similarities. This paper will compare Maximus from Gladiator and King Arthur from the book "The Death of Arthur." These men have a lot in common even though they are very different. Both of these men are on a quest for things of which they cannot control. Another way that they are similar is that

Mysteries of the Past

841 words - 4 pages lifting devices seems to the most plausible method. The Egyptians could have used round wooden beams to pull the stone blocks and used the ramps to stack them. It is no question that the Egyptians were intelligent people and planned this impressive structure with extreme precision. Evidence provided by the researches support these theory sufficiently. Whether the pyramid was built by aliens, chemically, and through the standard method is a debatable case. It is through extensive research and time that we can, and if we ever will, unlock the mysteries of the past.  

Conflicts Of The Past

950 words - 4 pages Conflicts of the Past Conflicts can be a step towards making something better, it also can be towards making something worse, or it can have both a good and bad effect. There were many socioeconomic conflicts during the periods of 1870s thru the 1890s for the better being or worse of the country. There must be a problem for there to be a conflict. A few of the conflicts that were present during that period were the farm problems with

Prisons of the Past

2010 words - 9 pages volitionless servant of the fatality in which he believed that he did not believe. He was saying to himself I had to do it already in the past tense; I had to do it. She said so herself”. (Faulkner 280) Joe could not deal with another betrayal and he decided to strike first by killing Joanna. He knew that she would never let him go. Joanna resolved to bring Joe back to God or to die trying. “Will you kneel with me? I don’t ask it. It’s not I who ask

The Role of Witchcraft in the Social Order

1274 words - 5 pages power of witchcraft and see it as an enormous threat. Weather witchcraft is still prevalent for religious reasons, old school beliefs, or economic motives, the fact still remains that it is used to show order and give power to those who are willing to give up a life to take it. With modern advancements becoming more widespread, many are trying to hold on to the traditional values of their tribes, and in result, pushing the idea of witchcraft onto

The Rise of the Witchcraft Craze in 17th Century Britain

2934 words - 12 pages The Rise of the Witchcraft Craze in 17th Century Britain Accusations of witchcraft date back to 900 AD, but killing following accusation reached a fever pitch in the late 16th century Europe, and late 17th century Britain. Germany and Scotland were the areas that were most heavily purged, with an estimated 4000 witches dying in Scotland and 26 000 dying in Germany (Gibbons). The Inquisition in Britain happened against

Witchcraft and the Inquisition of the Catholic Church

1886 words - 8 pages Witchcraft and the Inquisition of the Catholic Church Witchcraft. The word in itself evokes a certain kind of eeriness. In past centuries, people who were accused of being witches were thought of to be the worst kinds of people there are. There were several kinds of witches and several ways in which they operated. Whatever the reason, the Catholic Church saw witches, or those accused of being witches, as sinful. Partly to stop this kind of

What Caused the Momentum of Witchcraft in Massachusetts

889 words - 4 pages , Muslims were seen as peaceful people; however since that eventful day, they are not looked at the same. People see them as different and many see them as a threat to security, harmful to our society, and not those of the type of people that can be trustworthy. They are currently being stereotyped just as those who had “illnesses” and were accused of witchcraft in the past. Works Cited Carlson, Laurie M. A Fever in Salem: A New Interpretation of the New England Witch Trials. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2000. Print.

Similar Essays

The Hysteria Of Salem Witchcraft Essay

1216 words - 5 pages were tearing apart the ways of the people. The courts were filled with land despots and personal feuds. The spirit of brotherhood which the original settlers had, had been diffused into commercial competition, political contention, and personal bad feelings. At the time of the Salem Witchcraft era, the way of New England had become a thing of the past by the people of the Bay not being able to learn from their past or to see what to look for

The History Of The Salem Witchcraft Trials

2806 words - 11 pages During the time of the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692, more than twenty people died an innocent death. All of those innocent people were accused of one thing, witchcraft. During 1692, in the small town of Salem, Massachusetts many terrible events happened. A group of Puritans lived in Salem during this time. They had come from England, where they were prosecuted because of their religious beliefs. They chose to come live in America and choose

Witchcraft In The Small Village Of Salem

1551 words - 6 pages Witchcraft was as a capital crime in seventeenth-century New England. Madness over witchcraft was caused by a group of girls (Kent 95). Witchcraft was considered a terrible crime throughout Europe; its punishment was death by hanging or burning (Dolan 8). Everyone in the village of Salem believed in witchcraft, and only a few had tried to use it (Kent 18). In 1692, Salem Village panic was a major event in United States history which will never

The History Of Witches And Witchcraft

1774 words - 8 pages What do you think when someone calls someone a witch? What comes to mind? Do you think of the movie, ‘Hocus Pocus’ or do you think of the black pointed hats and the long black, slit ended dresses? What about witchcraft? Does the term “Devil worshiper” ever cross your mind? Do you think of potions and spells? For many, many generations, we have underestimated what the true meaning of a witch and what witchcraft really is. What is the history that