Unfortunately these qualities seem to take their most virulent form in parents
out to "protect" children from threats arising in parents' fevered fears.
For example, see any of Hillary Clinton "protect the children" speeches.
After all, parents vote.
Little is known about the history of witchcraft in Europe, and what is known comes
from hostile sources. In traditional European society witchcraft was believed to
be a kind of harmful sorcery associated with the worship of SATAN, or the devil (a
spirit hostile to God).
The European doctrine of witchcraft was formulated in the late Middle Ages. Just
how many of the beliefs about witches were based on reality and how many on delusion
will never be known. The punishment of supposed witches by the death penalty did
not become common until the 15th century. The first major witch-hunt occurred in
Switzerland in 1427, and the first important book on the subject, the Malleus maleficarum
(Hammer of Sorceresses), appeared in Germany in 1486. The persecution of witches
reached its height between 1580 and 1660, when witch trials became almost universal
throughout western Europe.
Geographically, the center of witch-burning lay in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland,
but few areas were left untouched by it. No one knows the total number of victims.
In southwestern Germany alone, however, more than 3,000 witches were executed between
1560 and 1680. Not all witch trials ended in deaths. In England, where torture was
prohibited, only about 20 percent of accused witches were executed (by hanging);
in Scotland, where torture was used, nearly half of all those put on trial were burned
at the stake, and almost three times as many witches (1,350) were killed as in England.
Some places had fewer trials than others. In the Dutch republic, no witches were
executed after 1600, and none were tried after 1610. In Spain and Italy accusations
of witchcraft were handled by the INQUISITION, and although torture was legal, only
a dozen witches were burned out of 5,000 put on trial. Ireland apparently escaped
witch trials altogether. Many witch trials were provoked, not by hysterical authorities
or fanatical clergy, but by village quarrels among neighbors.
About 80% of all accused witches were women. Traditional theology assumed that
women were weaker than men and more likely to succumb to the devil. It may in fact
be true that, having few legal rights, they were more inclined to settle quarrels
by resorting to magic rather than law.
All these aspects of witchcraft crossed over to the Americas with European colonists.
In the Spanish and French territories cases of witchcraft were under the jurisdiction
of church courts, and no one suffered death on this charge. In the English colonies
about 40 people were executed for witchcraft between 1650 and 1710, half of them
in the famous SALEM WITCH TRIALS of 1692.
Witch trials declined in most parts of Europe after 1680; in England the death
penalty for witchcraft was abolished in 1736. In the late 17th and 18th centuries
one last wave of witch persecution afflicted Poland and other areas of eastern Europe,
but that ended by about 1740. The last legal execution of a witch occurred in Switzerland
Beginning in the 1920s, witchcraft was revived in Europe and America by groups
that considered it a survival of pre-Christian religious practices. This phenomenon
was partly inspired by such books as Margaret Murray's The Witch Cult in Western
Europe (1921). Some forms of modern witchcraft follow the traditions of medieval
herbalists and lay healers.
The term witch-hunt is used today to describe a drive to punish political criminals
or dissidents without regard for the normal legal rules.
E. William Monter
But surely witch hunting is dead? Just tune in any radio or TV news broadcast
with your witch-hunt detector on. Here's an ever-partial collection of examples:
The Evolution Of Criminal Justice By Sandy Judd
In twentieth century America, coerced confessions to criminal acts are not technically
admissible as evidence in courts of law. Since the 1980's, however, a movement against
the enforcement of such "technicalities" has developed within the federal
courts. As more forms of questionable evidence become admissible, we must begin to
ask ourselves if justice is being properly served. Although blatant physical torture
is not yet regularly used, other techniques for obtaining confessions are common:
promises of leniencey, threats, isolation, sleep and food deprivation, forced nudity
and other practices which serve to demoralize the accused. The validity of these
confessions is highly questionable.
The Return Of The Witch Hunts by Jonathan G. Harris
I went to that preschool since I was a baby. I even went there during the first grade
after school. I had fun. We painted and colored," Karen (name changed for privacy),
now 16, describes some happy times that ended when her preschool closed ten years
ago. Her parents have similar memories. The center was open and they could drop in
any time. Her father said that today Karen jumped with joy at the prospect of visiting
Miss Vi; but visiting the school's seventy year old former owner or her two children,
Gerald and Cheryl, is somewhat difficult today. They all remain in Massachusetts
prisons. The school was the infamous Massachusetts daycare, Fells Acres.
The Satanism Scare By Gerry O'sullivan University
of Pennsylvania Copyright (c) 1991 by Gerry O'Sullivan, all rights reserved _Postmodern
Culture_ v.1 n.2 (January, 1991)
Secondhand Smoke The
Congressional Research Service Raises Questions About EPA's Secondhand Smoke Study
Keyboarding Explosive Data For
Homemade Bombs Foxor; Tracy Gordon: Hartford Courant Newspaper [ bjc: Included
as one of the most egregious examples of irresponsible "news" reporting
in the long and sordid history of that industry. Bomb building, indeed! Wait until
this distinguished 'reporter' learns about the information his local public library
provides to all comers.]
Response to Dateline treatment of bomb
recipes on internet Peter Ludlow Dept of Philosophy; SUNY Stony Brook
The use of a certain ritual action to bring about the intervention of a supernatural
force, either in human affairs or in the natural environment, for a specific purpose
is called magic. The term has a wide range of reference, from major ritual performances
to conjuring tricks. Nineteenth-century anthropologists were particularly concerned
with distinguishing between magical and religious activity, seeking in their evolutionary
approaches to present magic and religion as belonging to different stages of cultural
development, with magic as the earlier form. It has been suggested that whereas religious
acts generally involve a personal approach to spiritual powers, magical activity
is largely impersonal, a ritual technology that constrains and controls rather than
supplicates the powers it wields. Nevertheless, the true complexity of the interrelationship
of religious and magical beliefs and practices is now widely recognized.
The role of magic varies from culture to culture, from a central position in primary
rituals involving the well-being of an entire community--as with some major hunting
or agricultural rituals (see FERTILITY RITES)--to minor, peripheral, private acts
of magic. Both public and private magic can and do exist within single societies.
Black magic or sorcery (see VOODOO) may be used destructively to bring misfortune
or death, and it is often distinguished from WITCHCRAFT by its use of magical techniques,
such as spells or charms. Witchcraft relies on an internal quality or disposition
of the witch. An example of a true sorcerer is the tohunga makutu of the New Zealand
Maori, who has to learn his special magical practices, which are said to make it
possible for him to destroy humans. Beneficial, or white, magic is used to ward off
such attacks as well as to prevent natural calamities; magical healing is among its
aspects (see SHAMAN). Much of white magic is directly concerned with the productive
activities of a particular society. The fishing and agricultural magic of the people
of the Trobriand Islands in Papua New Guinea is an example. Love charms are also
considered white magic.
In casting spells, the appropriate use of words is sufficient to release or activate
a power. The importance of the words is variable. In some Melanesian and Polynesian
societies the precise wording of a spell is a crucial part of the magic. Other cultures,
such as that of the Azande of the Sudan, lay less stress on wording, being content
with conveying the spell's general meaning. For the Azande, magical objects such
as special woods and roots are of greater significance. The objects used in magic
are regarded as repositories for or symbols of the powers engaged, or, as with the
destruction of wax figures of victims in sorcery, symbolically connected to the aims
of the magic.
Magical acts may be performed by individuals on their own behalf, or a magician
with specialized knowledge of the rites may be consulted. In some societies associations
of magical specialists exist. Magical knowledge is sometimes bought and sold or can
be passed on through inheritance. The magician, both in the preparation and the performance
of a rite, may need to be aware of a complex set of rules and restrictions, such
as food taboos, that may influence the efficacy and safety of the magic.
Sir Edward TYLOR and Sir James FRAZER, who advanced influential anthropological
theories of magic in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, saw it as pseudoscientific.
Tylor proposed that magic was based in the erroneous equation of physical causality
with the association of ideas. This notion was elaborated by Frazer, who saw two
basic principles in magical thought: that like produces like and that an effect resembles
its cause, and that things formerly in contact continue to act on one another. The
magic based on similarity he termed homeopathic, that based on contact contagious.
The destruction of a victim's likeness is homeopathic magic, the burning of a lock
of his hair for the same destructive purpose is contagious magic. These are the two
forms of sympathetic magic.
Frazer fitted magic into an evolutionary scheme in which, as its techniques were
found unproductive, magic would be succeeded by religion, which in turn would be
followed by scientific enlightenment. The influential sociologist Emile DURKHEIM,
however, stressed the dependence of magic on collective religious belief and ritual.
Magic contrasted with religion in that it did not involve a church, a moral community,
but its powers were derived from notions of the sacred established within such a
community. After working (1914-18) among the Trobriand Islanders, the anthropologist
Bronislaw MALINOWSKI developed a pragmatic theory of magic that stressed its psychological
value. Where there is uncertainty of practical success of the outcome of uncontrollable
events, magical acts, he suggested, reduce the anxieties involved, thus widening
the apparent range of an individual's ability to deal with the environment. Through
work in the 1920s and '30s with the Azande, Sir Edward EVANS-PRITCHARD provided an
account of magic functioning in a full social context as part of a logically coherent
belief system. The emphasis on viewing magic as part of a total belief system and
on the contexts of magical action has continued in many contemporary studies.
Bibliography: Cavendish, Richard, A History of Magic (1977; repr. 1991); Christopher,
Milbourne, The Illustrated History of Magic (1973); Davis, W., Magic and Exorcism
in Modern Japan (1980); Evans-Pritchard, E. E., Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among
the Azande (1937) and Theories of Primitive Religion (1965; repr. 1985); Flint, V.
I., The Rise of Magic in Early Medieval Europe (1991); Frazer, James G., The Golden
Bough, abr. ed. (1925; repr. 1987); Lessa, William A., et al., Reader in Comparative
Religion, 4th ed. (1979); Malinowski, Bronislaw, Magic, Science and Religion, and
Other Essays (1948; repr. 1984); Marwick, Max, ed., Witchcraft and Sorcery (1970;
repr. 1987); Middleton, John, comp., Magic, Witchcraft and Curing (1967); Neusner,
J., et al., Religion, Science and Magic (1989); Thomas, Keith V., Religion and the
Decline of Magic (1971); Tylor, E. B., Primitive Culture, 2 vols. (1871; repr. 1986).
Bibliography: Baroja, Julio C., The World of Witches (1964); Guiley, Rosemary,
The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchraft (1990); Levack, Brian, The Witch-Hunt in
Early Modern Europe (1987); Luhrmann, T.M., Persuasions of the Witch's Craft (1989);
Monter, E. W., ed., European Witchcraft (1969). Transmitted: 94-05-10 17:59:27 PDT
[[bjc: From either eWorld or America Online; I don't recall]] In the modern world
witchcraft is a form of nature religion that emphasizes the healing arts. The term
is also applied to various kinds of MAGIC practiced in Asian, African, and Latin