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Witchcraft accusations
December 15, 2013
3:35 pm
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Boleyn
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Ok, so I thought it was about time, that I gave the whole subject of witchcraft which has been touched on in the Katherine of Aragon post.
I have often wondered why Blacksmiths were chosen to strangle witches. I’ve been told this is because they were considered to have the strongest hands and that in some ways death for these accused witches would be quick, an act of mercy if you will. That would at least make sence, and it’s equally possible that they were strangled quickly so they couldn’t utter any curse etc against those who had accused them.
But I feel that the whole Blacksmith bit was a little more complex than that.
It dates back to the time of legend, Dunstan or St Dunstan as he is now, worked a as blacksmith, before he took Holy Orders, and during one of his working days he was visited by a young man who offered him riches and power etc. It was said that Dunstan picked up his tongs which he had had, in the forge and pinched the young man nose with them, the young man disappeared and the Devil appeared, Dunstan threw the young man/Devil out of his forge, and then went down on his knees and thanked God for his help in saving him from the hands of the Devil.
Shortly after than he took Holy orders, and became Archbishop of Canterbury. He was greatly revered by the people, and in fact many offerings were given to him and many prayers were said to him asking for his help. It was only after Thomas A Becket’s murder that St Dunstan’s legacy fell into obscurity really.
So is it entirely possible that the choosing of a blacksmith to strangle a witch is not so much to with the strength of the hands although it would be part of it, but to do with that St Dunstan took on the Devil and won and therefore would protect the blacksmith against the Devil’s spite in killing one of his own so to speak.
I’m not too sure about this but I think St Dunstan is the patron saint of blacksmith’s which would be perfect acceptable, given the legend.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

December 15, 2013
6:58 pm
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Sharon
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I never knew that blacksmiths were called upon to strangle witches. I suppose the blacksmith figured it was an honor and a duty, whereas I consider it murder. What if the guy didn’t want to do it? Did they kill him too?
I will never understand witch killing. The subject is interesting, but very frustrating.
You said earlier that you thought the Salem trials came about because of ergot poisoning. When I visited Salem, they were quite insistent that ergot poisoning had nothing to do with what happened. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/…..salem.html
I learned that these young girls faked their fits. They made up the whole thing. So very sad. Accusations of witchcraft come about from jealousy, revenge, and fear. These three girls started a killing spree.

December 18, 2013
12:57 pm
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Anyanka
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Traditionly iron was considered to be the best form of protection from evil which is why people have hung horseshoes over doors or buried knives under door-steps.

However witches were normally hung in England as they were in Salem. Having them strangled by even the town’s strongest man wasn’t necessary.

It's always bunnies.

December 18, 2013
4:44 pm
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Boleyn
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Anyanka said

Traditionly iron was considered to be the best form of protection from evil which is why people have hung horseshoes over doors or buried knives under door-steps.

However witches were normally hung in England as they were in Salem. Having them strangled by even the town’s strongest man wasn’t necessary.

True Anyanka, but I believe that there were a few cases where witches were burned, and those poor woman that were to burn were strangled first, an act of mercy if you like. They would still burn but they wouldn’t be able to curse anyone whilst they were burning.
Yes I agree Iron was considered the best protection, but one has to ask why? is it down to the St Dunstan legend?
I know one of the so called protections against a witch was to use something called a witch bottle, into which would be placed a number of Iron nails, Urine, and hair this bottle was then heated, it was meant to cause the accused witch great pain, so great in fact that she would beg the person who had put the bottle on the fire to remove it in exchange for removal of the curse they had placed on them.
To give a slighty different slant on things well sort of, close to where I used to live there was a local Legend, involving the so called witch of Berkeley.
A woman there who was poor and was often ridiculed by the people of the village she lived in, made a pact with the devil, that in exchange for her soul he would give her great wealth and the power to destroy all those who had wronged her. All happened as the Devil said and she lived a life of luxury, comfort and great power.
However as the end of her life came ever closer she began to think of her immortal soul and she confessed her sins to the priest who told her what to do, to save her soul.
She requested that when she died, her coffin was to be bound with 3 strong iron chains that had been blessed with holy water and her coffin was to be placed in the church for 3 days whilst mass was said for her. After which she could be buried in the churchyard.
Shortly afterwards she died and all was done as she had requested, the first 2 nights whilst her coffin lay in the church a terrible storm blew up and it was said the howling of the wind was that of the devil crying out for her soul to join him. The 3rd night there was nothing and the preist believed that God had driven the Devil away and taken the lady’s soul into his care.
She was buried the next day in the church yard, again that night a fearsome storm broke out and a demonic growling voice was heard crying out “Come with me woman” Her voice was heard to reply “I cannot Lord for I am bound” at that moment there was a flash of lightening and the first chain flew up into the night, The next night the same thing happened and again another chain was broken, on the 3rd night as the chain was broken, A mighty howl was heard which echoed for miles around as the Devil reached into the coffin and grabbed the living body of the witch throwing her down onto the spikes of his black horse, and rode off with her still screaming for help.
It is said that on windy wet nights that you can still hear her screams for help followed by demonic laughter, and the sound of a horse’s hoofbeats.

A lot of these so called witchcraft trials were down to mass hysteria, Salem being no different.
It seems funny that the only person who wasn’t proscuted was Titbula, although she was sold on.
The girls themselves knew that what they were doing was wrong, ie asking Titbula about what voodoo or what ever her tribe practised before she came to be in the Parris household. But look at the lifestyle they must have led? Must have been terribly boring and repetitive, doing the same thing day in day out, and they probably viewed Titbula’s stories as exciting. Titbula of course probably dressed them up somewhat as again her life probably wasn’t that happy either, ordered what to do and when to do it can’t have been very nice for her. Suddenly there are 3 children who talk to her and want to know what she did when she was little, and she basked in her new found freinds. (loosely worded)
Nobody actually knows what Titbula told these children, but I’m guessing she might have played a part in what they said and did to accuse the people of witchcraft.
I think the first time they made an accusation against someone, they thought it was just a bit of fun and that the person they accused would perhaps just be flogged, and given a penance to do, but when the woman was hanged they were afraid and basically ending up living a lie, one lie led to another and they simply didn’t know what to do. They were afraid of the conseqences of their actions. I also feel that Titbula may have used the girls to get her own back on some of the residents of Salem. I’m not too sure, but I think one of the woman the girls accused was the wife of a man that had brought some of her family as slaves, and that one of them had died at the hands of his brutal treatment. I might be wrong there so don’t take it as sancrosanct.
The girls just got themselves into more trouble than they could ever imagine in trying to get out of the trouble that they started. It was only after they started to accuse people in the upper classes of sociaty that their whole sorry saga began to unravel.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

December 19, 2013
8:34 pm
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Sharon
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Well, speak of the devil…This is a new tv series which will air here in 2014.
http://www.hollywoodreporter.c…..age-666699

December 19, 2013
11:27 pm
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Boleyn
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Sharon said

Well, speak of the devil…This is a new tv series which will air here in 2014.
http://www.hollywoodreporter.c…..age-666699

It looks good Sharon, I’ll look out for it. Is that bloody gawd awful Reign series over yet by he way?

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

December 20, 2013
6:32 pm
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Sharon
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I hope they don’t mess it up like they did Reign. Reign is still on. And no, I am not watching it..lol

December 22, 2013
1:17 pm
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Steve Callaghan
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I’ve wondered about this quite often: do our female members view the association of witchcraft with women as something empowering, or something demeaning to your gender? It’s easy for me, as a male, to have rather glib & ignorant opinions on this – for instance, I find this association with witchcraft as something positive and defiant (as expressed in Anne Sexton’s poem, posted below) – but how do women feel about it?

——————————-

Her Kind
by Anne Sexton

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.

I have been her kind. I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

December 22, 2013
4:54 pm
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Boleyn
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Nice poem Steve..
What you have to remember that in the days before equality woman were always viewed from the standpoint of being a dog. In short you did as you were told when you were told, the man was the master so to speak. As st paul put woman are to keep silent within the congregation and learn from their husbands, or some such fiddle faddle anyway.
May accused witches as I’ve alread mentioned were actually nothing more than healers and midwives, in a male dominated sociaty for a woman to be able to do something better than a man was a big no no. Witchcraft accusations were also a way of getting rid of people quickly too.
It was men who made out the witch was some evil devil loving creature, and that all witches are ugly old crones.. Well I’m not exactly a prize pig but I’m not covered in warts and riding about on a broomstick either (well not after the Samhain incident with the tree last year anyway. Flying face first into a tree hurts like buggery.)
The truth behind witchcraft is very different, for a start off witches do not worship the Devil, that is satanists and we have nothing to do with that side of this, as satanists worship the Anti christ. We do not except that Jesus was the son of God so therefore we don’t except there is an anti christ either.
We except Jesus was a man, born from the union of a man and woman. We also except that he was killed by the romans, but nothing else. There is no God or Heaven just as there is no Devil or Hell. That is a Christain ethos NOT a Pagan/Wiccan ethos.

We venerate and revere, Mother Nature, she is part of us and we are part of her, we work with her and she works with us. In short we are one and the same. Woman play a large part in our lives for are we not the bringer of life, does not life spring from our wombs. but at the same time in order for that to happen men produce the seed to allow life to flourish. We are all equal, a balance that is needed to keep life going.
There 5 basic elements needed for life to flourish, Earth, Air, Fire and Water the last element is Life, but without the other 4 elements life will cease to exist.
Margot Adler says it much better than I ever could.
“We are not evil. We don’t harm or seduce people
. We are not dangerous. We are ordinary people like you.
We have families, jobs, hopes, and dreams. We are not a cult.
This religion is not a joke. We are not what you think we are from looking at T.V.
We are real. We laugh, we cry. We are serious. We have a sense of humor.
You don’t have to be afraid of us. We don’t want to convert you.
And please don’t try to convert us.
Just give us the same right we give you–to live in peace.
We are much more similar to you than you think.”
“We should educate people that ‘Witch’ is not evil but ancient and positive.
The first time I called myself a ‘Witch’ was the most magical moment of my life.”

Margot Adler – Wiccan Priestess

“When one defines oneself as Pagan, it means she or he follows an earth or nature religion,
one that sees the divine manifest in all creation.
The cycles of nature are our holy days, the earth is our temple,
its plants and creatures our partners and teachers.
We worship a deity that is both male and female, a mother Goddess and father God,
who together created all that is, was, or will be.
We respect life, cherish the free will of sentient beings, and accept the sacredness of all creation.”

Edain McCoy – Wiccan Author

“If you take [a copy of] the Christian Bible and put it out in the wind and the rain,
soon the paper on which the words are printed will disintegrate and the words will be gone.
Our bible IS the wind and the rain.”

Quote from Herbalist Carol McGrath as told to her by a Native American woman.

These are the lyrics of a song called Burning Times by Incubus Sucubus

Forget not the days of old
And recall the stories told
Of the burnings and the screams
Do they ever haunt your dreams?

There was a time when freedom died
It was an age of genocide
The Inquisition at the door
The Church of Rome in a holy war

They broke children on the wheel
In the madness of their zeal
In the shadow of their wake
The innocent burning at the stake

Children resist a return to the burning times
People be wise to the power of their lies
Be not fooled as those who were fooled before
Children, oh children, be free, be wild

They came to bring the good news
To burn witches, pagans, Jews
Said they were the Shepherds sheep
Whipped old women through the streets

Then the turning of the tide
From the truth they could not hide
Now the darkest age has passed
The Goddess has returned at last!

This is from another book the name of the author escapes me for the moment.

Embracing the goddess energy within yourselves
Will bring all of you to a new understanding and valuing of life
A vision that inspires you to live and love on Planet Earth
Like a priceless jewel buried in dark layers of soil and stone

Earth radiates her brilliant beauty into the caverns of space and time
Perhaps you are aware of those who watch over your home
And experience it as a place to visit and play with reality
You are becoming aware of yourself as a game master

Imagine Earth restored to her real beauty
Steady trees seem to brush the deep blue sky
The clouds billow to form majestic peaks
The songs of birds fill the air

Creating a symphony upon symphony
The goddess is calling for an honoring
Of what she allows to be created
Through the form of strength and blood
Those who own the planet are learning about love

I am proud to call myself a witch, but like the the woman of old world time I too am a healer. I do not harm anyone or anything.
It is a powerful thing, but more from the point of view that I can say it loud and proud, without fear of being lynched.
Ok Boleyn time to get down off your soap box.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

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