In L. Frank Baum’s novel ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, the Wicked Witch of the East is killed when Dorothy’s house lands on her. Dorothy believes that all witches are wicked until she meets Glinda, a good witch. In many parts of the world where there ha been a belief in witchcraft, witches are thought of as evil. Witches are believed to use supernatural powers, in the form of magic, for evil purposes. Because of this association with magic, the term sorcery has long been synonymous with witchcraft in the English-speaking world.
Witches are usually regarded as po ssed of evil spirits or under the guidance of some undetermined compulsion. Sorcerers, on the other hand, are considered ordinary persons using deliberate techniques to harm other individuals, perhaps because of a grudge or intended ill will. Records of belief in witchcraft date back to prehistoric times. There is no single description of witches that applies to all societies that have believed in them. They are most often thought of as ugly old women, though references to beautiful young fe le and male witches exist.
Male witches are often called warlocks. In Europe witches are portrayed as thin and gaunt, much like the Wicked Witch of the West as she appears in the Oz story with her black robe and conical hat. In Central Africa witches are thought of as fat from eating human flesh. In Europe they fly aro d on broomsticks, a popular Halloween depiction. In Central Africa they travel in saucer-shaped baskets. They often employ animals as assistants in their evil deeds. The witch of Oz had flying monkeys.
In Europe they use cats, dogs, or weasels; in Japan hyenas or owls; in Africa, baboons. Some witches even turn into animal forms. Belief in sorcery and witchcraft was widespread in the ancient Near East and Europe. There are several references to sorcerers in the Old Testament, where they are frequently denounced and the offenses are punishable by death. In Greece witchcraft is mentioned in the writings of Homer. In both Greece and Rome only magical practices intended to be harmful were condemned and punished.
Among the Germanic peoples belief in and fear of witches was widespread. Under Christianity attitudes toward witchcraft varied for several centuries. It was regarded by some as nothing but silly superstition. Other church leaders decried it as an evil to be suppressed. During the European “witchcraft craze,” from the mid-15t to the mid-18th century, witches were accused of having special links to the devil. Both Roman Catholics and Protestants continued the campaign against witchcraft. Thousands of people were tried and convicted of witchcraft, and many were executed.
In on of the last outbursts of this craze, the famous trials of 1692 in Salem, Mass. , 19 persons were hanged. Simple sorcery, or the use of magic accessible to ordinary people, such as setting out offerings to helpful spirits or using charms, can be found in almost all traditional societies. Although the distinctions are often blurred, practices such as these d fer both from religion, in which gods are worshipped in awe or implored through prayer to help, and from the sophisticated arts of alchemists and ceremonial magicians.
Sorcery is intended to force results rather than achieve them through entreaty, and i is worked by simple and ordinary means. From a sociological point of view, the widespread practice of sorcery within a tribe or peasant community serves to reinforce and consolidate beliefs about the supernatural world and the relation of humans to that world. Psychologically, sorcery provide a means of establishing a sense of control over nature and thus mitigates the anxieties caused by disease, uncertain seasons, and natural disasters.
When such eventualities occur despite preventive measures, they can be interpreted as the result of mali ous witchcraft, and the alleged perpetrators may then be sought out and driven from the community. The function of the so-called witch doctor or medicine man in many societies is to counter the power of evil witchcraft through good magic. Shamans may al heal through comparable means by performing rites that expel pestilential spirits or by retrieving lost and stolen souls. Characteristically, they do this with the aid of helping spirits or gods invoked through incantations and rites.
Practices such as these were known to the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans. In the Old Testament, the apocryphal book of Tobit contains an account in which, at the instruction of an angel, an evil spirit is expelled from a bridal chamber by the odor smoldering fish heart and liver (Tobit 6:14-18). Nevertheless, the Bible also contains injunctions against witchcraft, such as “You shall not permit a witch to live” (Exodus 22:18), a command that was used to justify the persecution of witches in med val Europe. The Greco-Roman world was permeated by belief in witchcraft.
Roman poet Horace refers to hags who clawed the earth to invoke spirits of the underworld, and philosopher and novelist Apuleius mentions the practice of nailing owls over doors wi wings outspread to deflect storms. After the Christianization of the Mediterranean world in the 4th century, countless customs like theseas well as comparable practices in northern Europewere perpetuated as folk magic or were superficially Christiani d in such practices as inscribing the Lord’s Prayer on a piece of paper and keeping it in one’s shoe as an amulet against bewitchment.
Certain local sages or “wise women” were experts in popular witchcraft or sorcery, which often represented remnants of re-Christian religion. In the early Christian centuries, the church was relatively tolerant of magical practices. Those who were proved to have engaged in witchcraft were required only to do penance. But in the late Middle Ages (13th century to 14th century) opposition to all ed witchcraft hardened as a result of the growing belief that all magic and miracles that did not come unambiguously from God came from the Devil and were therefore manifestations of evil.
Those who practiced simple sorcery, such as village wise women, re increasingly regarded as practitioners of diabolical witchcraft. They came to be viewed as individuals in league with Satan. Mary Easty was executed as a result of the Salem witch trials in 1692. She sent this letter to Massachusetts authorities shortly before her execution, asking not that her life be saved, but that they improve their methods of discovering witchcraft and t t they be more cautious to guard against shedding the blood of innocent people.
Petition of an Accused Witch” By Mary Easty The Humble Petition of Mary Easty unto his Excellency Sir William Phips, and to the Honored Judge and Bench now sitting in Judicature in Salem, and the Reverend Ministers, humbly sheweth, that, whereas your poor and humble petitioner, being condemned t ie, do humbly beg of you to take it in your judicious and pious consideration, that your poor and humble petitioner, knowing my own innocency, blessed be the Lord for it! nd seeing plainly the wiles and subtilty of my accusers by myself, cannot but ju e charitably of others that are going the same way of myself if the Lord steps not mightily in.
I was confined a whole month upon the same account, that I am condemned now for, and then cleared by the afflicted persons, as some of Your Honors know. And in two day’s time I was cried out upon them, and have been confined, and now am condemned to die. The Lord above knows my innocency then, and likewise does now, as at the great day will be known to men and angels.
I petition to Your Honors not for m own life, for I know I must die, and my appointed time is set; but the Lord he knows it is that, if it be possible, no more innocent blood may be shed, which undoubtedly cannot be avoided in the way and course you go in. I question not but Your Honors d to the utmost of your powers in the discovery and detecting of witchcraft and witches, and would not be guilty of innocent blood for the world. But, by my own innocency, I know you are in the wrong way.
The Lord in his infinite mercy direct you in this great work, if it be his blessed will that no more innocent blood be shed! I would humbly beg of you that Your Honors would be pleased to examin these afflicted persons strictly, and keep them apart some time, and likewise to try some of these confessing witches; I being confident there is several of them that has belied themselves and others, as will appear, if not in this world, I am sure in t world to come, whither I am now agoing. I question not but you will see an alteration of these things.
They say myself and others having made a league with the Devil, we cannot confess. I know, and the Lord knows, as will appear, they belie me, and so question not but they do others. The Lord above, who is the searcher of all hearts, knows, as I shall answer it at the tribunal seat, that I know not the least thing of witchcraft; therefore I cannot, I dare not, belie my own soul. I beg Your Honors not o deny this my humble petition from a poor, dying, innocent person. And I question not but the Lord will give a blessing to your endeavors.
Nearly all those who fell under suspicion of witchcraft were women, evidently regarded by witch-hunters as especially susceptible to the Devil’s blandishments. A lurid picture of the activities of witches emerged in the popular mind, including covens, o gatherings over which Satan presided; pacts with the Devil; flying broomsticks; and animal accomplices, or familiars. Although a few of these elements may represent vestiges of pre-Christian religion, the old religion probably did not persist in any org ized form beyond the 14th century.
The popular image of witchcraft, perhaps inspired by features of occultism or ceremonial magic as well as by theology concerning the Devil and his works of darkness, was given shape by the inflamed imagination of inqui tors and was confirmed by statements obtained under torture. The late medieval and early modern picture of diabolical witchcraft can be attributed to several causes. First, the church’s experience with such dissident religious movements as the Albigenses and Cathari, who believed in a radical dualism of good and il, led to the belief that certain people had allied themselves with Satan.
As a result of confrontations with such heresy, the Inquisition was established by a series of papal decrees between 1227 and 1235. Pope Innocent IV authorized the use of tortur in 1252, and Pope Alexander IV gave the Inquisition authority over all cases of sorcery involving heresy, although most actual prosecution of witches was carried out by local courts. At the same time, other developments created a climate in which alleged witches were stigmatized as representatives of evil. Since the middle of the 11th century, the theological and philosophical work of scholasticism had been refining the Christian co pts of Satan and evil.
Theologians, influenced by Aristotelian rationalism, increasingly denied that “natural” miracles could take place and therefore alleged that anything supernatural and not of God must be due to commerce with Satan or his minions ( e Aristotle). Later, the Reformation, the rise of science, and the emerging modern worldall challenges to traditional religioncreated deep anxieties in the orthodox population. At the dawn of the Renaissance (15th century to 16th century) some of the developments began to coalesce into the “witch craze” that possessed Europe from about 1450 to 1700.
During this period, thousands of people, mostly innocent women, were executed on the basis of “proofs” or “confessions” of diabolical witchcraftthat i of sorcery practiced through allegiance to Satanobtained by means of cruel tortures. A major impetus for the hysteria was the papal bull Summis Desiderantes issued by Pope Innocent VIII in 1484. It was included as a preface in the book Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches), published by two Dominican inquisitors in 1486. This work characterized by a distinct antifeminine tenor, vividly describes the satanic and sexual abominations of witches.
The book was translated into many languages and went through many editions in both Catholic and Protestant countries, outselling all other oks except the Bible. In the years of the witch-hunting mania, people were encouraged to inform against one another. Professional witch finders identified and tested suspects for evidence of witchcraft and were paid a fee for each conviction. The most common test was prickin All witches were supposed to have somewhere on their bodies a mark, made by the Devil, that was insensitive to pain; if such a spot was found, it was regarded as proof of witchcraft.
Other proofs included additional breasts (supposedly used to suckle f iliars), the inability to weep, and failure in the water test. In the latter, a woman was thrown into a body of water; if she sank, she was considered innocent, but if she stayed afloat, she was found guilty. The persecution of witches declined about 1700, banished by the Age of Enlightenment, which subjected such beliefs to a skeptical eye. One of the last outbreaks of witch-hunting took place in colonial Massachusetts in 1692, when belief in diabolical wit raft was already declining in Europe.
Twenty people were executed in the wake of the Salem witch trials, which took place after a group of young girls became hysterical while playing at magic and it was proposed that they were bewitched. The subsequent itch hunt took place in the context of deep divisions between the church and a controversial minister. Personal differences were exacerbated in a small, isolated community in which religious beliefsincluding belief in the reality of diabolical witchcra were deeply held.
By the time the hysteria had run its course, little enthusiasm for the persecution of witches remained in Massachusetts or elsewhere. Belief in traditional witchcraft, in the sense of sorcery, remains alive in India, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere. A belief in the possibility of something akin to diabolical witchcraft can still be found among some conservative Christians. In the second half of the 20th century, a self-conscious revival of pre-Christian paganism occurred in the United States and Europe.
The foundation of this revival was witchcraft, or wicca (said to be an early Anglo-Saxon word for witchcraft). Wicca is terpreted simply as the nature and fertility religion of pre-Christian Europe, which has been explored in books such as Charles Leland’s Aradia: The Gospel of the Witches (1899), Margaret Murray’s The Witch-Cult in Western Europe (1921), and Robert Grav ‘s The White Goddess (1948). Although they are now considered unreliable by scholars, such books gave inspiration to some people seeking spiritual alternatives.
The writings of Englishman Gerald Gardner, who in his book Witchcraft Today (1954) claimed t t he was a witch initiated by a surviving coven, imparted much of the alleged lore and rituals of English witches. Although his claims have been questioned, covens of modern witches sprang up under Gardner’s inspiration and spread to the United States i the 1960s. This form of witchcraftwith its feeling for nature, its colorful rituals, and its challenge of conventional religion and societyharmonized well with the countercultural mood of the 1960s and grew rapidly during that decade.
Modern witchcraft continued to prosper during the subsequent decades. Many followers of the ecological and feminist movements found in wicca a religion with congenial themes. Wiccans emphasized the sacred meaning of nature and its cycles and the coequal ole of gods and goddesses and of priests and priestesses. Some wiccan groups, called Dianic (after the goddess Diana), include only women and worship the goddess exclusively. Closely related “neopagan” religions have also appeared in revivals of ancient gyptian, Celtic, Greek, and Nordic religions.
Wicca perceives itself as a religion based on the broad themes of ancient pre-Christian paganism, although it is not drawn directly from paganismfor example, wicca shuns some features of the old paganism, such as animal sacrifice. Increasingly, wicca d ws from many pagan traditions, with the result that the distinctions between witchcraft, occultism, neopaganism, and various strands thereof have become blurred. Modern witchcraft is entirely different from Satanism or the diabolical witchcraft imagined y the persecutors of past centuries.
Major wiccan themes include love of nature, equality of male and female, appreciation of the ceremonial, a sense of wonder and belief in magic, and appreciation of the symbolism and psychological realities behind the ods and goddesses of antiquity. Lucifer, The Garden of Eden, & The Tower of Babel The following scriptures tell us much about the trends during these last days in the World System and trends in the Church.
In Isaiah 14 starting with verse 12, there is an example of the attitudes that Lucifer inspires (actually the first recorded use of affirmation and self-talk to reprogram the subconcious to acheive infinite potential! , “For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be li he Most High. ‘” “I will… I will… I will… ” And I half kiddingly tell people that I think that Satan has these affirmations on 3×5 cards, and he wakes up in the morning and looks in the mirror and says, “I will… ” And he repeats his affirmations… So because of his rebellion of self-exaltation, Satan was booted out of heaven.
Then he went to the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3 where he deceived Eve into the rebellion of Self. This was the origin of the Human Potential Movement… and the origin of the Feminist Movement… nd the origin of the Patriarchal-dominate-women-mentalit .. the origin of everything in which humans exalt themselves. Eve was deceived into thinking that she didn’t need to obey the God who created her and who loved her… she didn’t need that love relationship… rather she needed to decide for herself what was right and wrong… she needed to “take responsibility” fo her own life… o “look within” for wisdom… to pursue self-realization… to find her SELF… to be the god of her own life.
So, Eve was deceived and Adam followed her, and they joined Lucifer’s rebellion of Self. Eventually, the Rebellion of Self went global, in the time of Noah. What God says about the World System at that time is true about the nature of the World System at anytime: “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. ” Gen 6:5 God judged and destroyed the World System… nd yet it was not that long of a time later that the Rebellion of Self went global again. In Genesis 11, at the place that came to be known as Babel and later Babylon.
And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth. ” Gen 11:4 What God says, I believe is very important: “And the LORD said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.
Gen 11:6 “Nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them” or in the KJV, “… now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. or in NIV, “… then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. ” “proposed, imagined, plan” this is the Hebrew word “zamam”… 2161 zamam (zaw-mam’); “a primitive root; to plan, usually in a bad sense: -consider, devise, imagine, plot, purpose, think (evil). ” (Strong’s) What ever they IMAGINE to do they will be able to do.
Now in our age, we have been conditioned to say, “That’s great isn’t it? ” Because we have been conditioned to worship the human imagination, worship human creativity… But God said NO. God confounde he languages and dispersed the nations to SAVE US FROM OUR OWN IMAGINATIONS. God loves us so much, he wants to save us from our own imaginations! The human imagination is central to how mankind is being deceived and how humans are rebelling against God and how even those who profess to be Bible-believing Christians are being deceived.
The human imagination is foundational to the ancient mysticism, occult, sorcery, shamanism found on every inhabited continent, in every culture in every century and that is every bit as prevalent in our society today and even in the Church in many disgu d forms. The human imagination is the central tool of the “visions” of humans to acheive their “infinite potential” and to be the gods of their own lives. It is also central to the “Tower of Babel” visions for Global Unity. The vision of the people at the Tower of Babel was to gather together in “community” to build a city to make a name for themSELVES.
We don’t need God… through our imagination… our sion… our technology… our COMMUNITY we can create heaven on earth we can create Global Unity. This is the vision being promoted in the World System today. Preparing mankind for a global government, a global economic system (controlling the buying an selling of everyone on the earth), a global RELIGIOUS system, preparing the world to worship a COUNTERFEIT CHRIST. The End of Magic and Miracles The Reformation did not convert the people of Europe to orthodox Christianity through preaching and catechisms alone.
It was the 300 year period of witch-hunting from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, what R. H. Robbins called “the shocking nightm e, the foulest crime and deepest shame of western civilization, “that ensured the European abandonment of the belief in magic. The Church created the elaborate concept of devil worship and then, used the persecution of it to wipe out dissent, subordinat the individual to authoritarian control, and openly denigrate women. The witch hunts were an eruption of orthodox Christianity’s vilification of women, “the weaker vessel,” in St.
Peter’s words. The second century St. Clement of Alexandria wrote: “Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman The Church father Tertullian explained why women deserve their status as despised and inferior human beings: And do you not know that you are an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil’s gateway: you are the unsealer of that tree: you are the first deserter of the divine law: you e she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack.
You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert that is, death even the Son of God had to die. Others expressed the view more bluntly. The sixth century Christian philosopher, Boethius, wrote in The Consolation of Philosophy, “Woman is a temple built upon a sewer. Bishops at the sixth century Council of Macon voted as to whether women had souls. the tenth century Odo of Cluny declared, “To embrace a woman is to embrace a sack of manure… “The thirteenth century St.
Thomas Aquinas suggested that God had made a mistake in creating woman: “nothing [deficient] or defective should have been produce in the first establishment of things; so woman ought not to have been produced then. “And Lutherans at Wittenberg debated whether women were really human beings at all. Orthodox Christians held women responsible for all sin. As the Bible’s Apocrypha sta s, “Of woman came the beginning of sin/ And thanks to her, we all must die. ” Women are often understood to be impediments to spirituality in a context where God reigns strictly from heaven and demands a renunciation of physical pleasure.
As I Corinthians 7:1 states, “It is a good thing for a man to have nothing to do with a woma ” The Inquisitors who wrote the Malleus Maleficarum, “The Hammer of the Witches,” explained that women are more likely to become witches than men: Because the female sex is more concerned with things of the flesh than men;’ because being formed from a man’s rib, they are only ‘imperfect animals’ and ‘crooked’ whereas man belongs to a privileged sex from whose midst Christ emerged. King James I estimated that the ratio of women to men who succumbed to witchcraft was twenty to one.
Of those formally persecuted for witchcraft, between 80 to 90 percent were women. Christians found fault with women on all sorts of counts. An historian notes that thirteenth century preachers denounced women on the one hand for… he lascivious and carnal provocation of their garments, and on the other hand for being over- industri s, too occupied with children and housekeeping, too earthbound to give due thought to divine things.
According to a Dominican of the same period, woman is “the confusion of man, an insatiable beast, a continuous anxiety, an incessant warfare, a daily ruin, a house of tempest … hindrance to devotion. ” As reformational fervor spread, the feminine aspect of Christianity in the worship of Mary became suspect. Throughout the Middle Ages, Mary’s powers were believed to effectively curtail those of the devil. But Protestants entirely dismissed reverence fo Mary while reformed Catholics diminished her importance. Devotion to Mary often became indicative of evil. In the Canary islands, Aldonca de Vargas was reported to the Inquisition after she smiled at hearing mention of the Virgin Mary.
Inquisitors disto ed an image of the Virgin Mary into a device of torture, covering the front side of a statue of Mary with sharp knives and nails. Levers would move the arms of the statue crushing the victim against the knives and nails. The witch hunts also demonstrated great fear of female sexuality. The book that served as the manual for understanding and persecuting witchcraft, the Malleus Maleficarum, describes how witches were known to “collect male organs in great numbers, as man as twenty or thirty members together, and put them in a bird’s nest… The manual recounts a story of a man who, having lost his penis, went to a witch to have it restored: She told the afflicted man to climb a certain tree, and that he might take whi he liked out of a nest in which there were several members. And when he tried to take a big one, the witch said: You must not take that one; adding, because it belonged to a parish priest.
A man in 1621 lamented, “of women’s unnatural, unsatiable lust… what country, what village doth not complain. While most of what became known as witchcraft was invented by Christians, certain elements of witchcraft did represent an older pagan tradition. Witchcraft was linked and even considered to be synonymous with “divination,” which means not only the art o foretelling the future, but also the discovery of knowledge by the aid of supernatural power. It suggests that there is such power available- something orthodox Christians insisted could only be the power of the devil, for God was no longer to be involv with the physical world.