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THE BURNING TIMES


"They told me if I would not confess I should be put down into the dungeon and would be hanged,
but if I would confess I should save my life."

-Margaret Jacobs

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Let's take a trip back in time for a moment, shall we?

The year is 1500. Thousands of your friends, relatives, and even enemies are being tortured, hung, burned and worse. Your local church says that it's in the name of God to protect others from the devil's ways, but you're not sure you totally agree with what's going on. Now stop for a moment. Answer these questions.

================

1.) Do you have a birthmark, mole, disfigurement, or do you even have a pimple?

2.) Are you a liberal type?

3.) Do you like to dance?

4.) Do you have a pet cat, mouse, snake, goat?

5.) Do you own a broom?

6.) Do you speak out against what you don't believe is right?

7.) Do you sometimes give your husband or mother grief or do you "obey his/her every command like you should?"

8.) Have you ever had any enemies or just someone who didn't think highly of you?

9.) Have you ever lived near someone that lost their job? Had a pet that died? Had a bad crop? Had a family member that died? That got sick?

10.) Have you ever gone out for a walk by yourself after nightfall?

11.) Has there ever been a hail storm or even a wicked thunder storm in the same area that you live?

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Answering yes to just one of these questions would have gotten you tried, persecuted, tortured and either hung or burned at a stake between the dates of 1100-1700. Men, women, children, the elderly, the crippled and even pets, all ended up as victims during the Witch Craze (aka The Burning Times and Witch Hunts/Craze). More middle-aged women than any other were tortured and killed though.

During the times when man was just discovering and concurring "new frontiers", fears began to develop of the unknown that lie ahead in these "new worlds". These fears lead to the largest global killing spree on any scale. Many refute that the Burning times all started with the two girls who claimed they were "bewitched". But in fact, the start of the hatred towards Pagans, Wiccans, and Witches started far, far earlier during the renaissance period. When the Christians first arrived on the British shores, they encountered the Pagans and their rituals. At first they worshipped side by side, but in time the Christians realized that the Pagans had a much larger following than them so they decided that something needed to be done to get more followers of Christ in their churches. Pagan Sabbats were starting to be broken up by groups of people against their ways. Pagan temples were being destroyed. And eventually all of the beautiful ways, practices and the worshipping of the Old Gods was outlawed. The Pagan God was perverted into the depiction of the Christian Devil to scare away others from "the temptation of those heathen practices". Celebrations that turned into Christian Holidays were conveniently dated close and even on the same date to Pagan Sabbats to further deter others from going to the gatherings. Pagan followers had to practice in secret and seclusion. They were no longer sure of who they could trust with their true feelings. Eventually, the old clans split up in fear of being caught and they moved far away from the newcomers. The Christians had the law on their side and they kept a very watchful eye on their congregation. Anyone with thoughts, notions, or opinions different than that of the teachings of Christ were shamed, teased, persecuted and forced to leave or be jailed. Fear and hatred started to breed...one thing lead to another and the Witch Craze was starting to happen.

--------------------

The most infamous Witchcraft Trials was the Salem Witchcraft Trials in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. Although only 30 were killed there, it was ironic how a "fresh start in a New World" ended up as a killing spree on innocent victims. reasoning in the trials in the New World included political tensions, land related grievances, disease and religious repression. Because of the strict religious society of the time, with it's adamant upbringing of children to follow the Bible, it created a very strong belief in the Devil. (By this time the Christians and Catholics has already done a "great job" of spreading the word that the Pagan God was actually the Devil in the Bible.) So it only took the hysterics of two young girls ( Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams), one of them was the daughter of Rev. Samuel Parris, to start off the madness of the Witch Hunts there. The two girls became interested in the magickal culture of a West Indian slave named Tituba, who was incidentally was "owned" by Rev. Parris. They started doing divinations about future husbands, and various other things. When some of the towns people caught them in the act of doing some of the divination techniques on their own, they quickly claimed they were bewitched to do it to save their butts. Tituba, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne were the first named by the two girls and arrested as the perpetrators of their "bewitchment" on February 29, 1692. From that point on, neighbors and friends instantly became back-stabbers and foes.

---------------------------

In the year 1233, Pope Gregory IX instituted the Roman Catholic Inquisition in an attempt to gain popularity for Catholicism and his church. In 1320, Pope John XXII requested that the church officially declare Witchcraft ,and the Old Religion of the Pagans, as a "heretical movement" and a "hostile threat" to Christianity.

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The single most influential piece of propaganda that fueled their campaign was commissioned by Pope Innocent VIII in 1484 . He instructed the Dominican monks, Heinrich Kraemer and Jacob Sprenger, to publish a manual for Witch-hunters. Two years later the Malleus malificarum, or "The Witches' Hammer" was produced. The manual was used for the next 250 years in the church's attempt to destroy the Old Religion.

=============

--Excerpt from the Malleus Malificarum--

"He must not be too quick to subject a witch to examination, but must pay attention to certain signs which will follow. And he must not be too quick for this reason: unless God, through a holy Angel, compels the devil to withhold his help from the witch, she will be so insensible to the pains of torture that she will sooner be torn limb from limb than confess any of the truth. But the torture is not to be neglected for this reason, for they are not equally endowed with this power, and also the devil sometimes of his own will permits them to confess their crimes without being compelled by a holy Angel."

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In 1541, Witchcraft was made an illegal offense in England, and in 1604 a law decreeing capital punishment for Witches and Pagans was adopted. Forty years later, the New England colonies also made death the penalty for the suspicion of Witchcraft. By this time, the true followers who remained loyal to the Old Religion were in hiding and Witchcraft had turned into a secret underground religion after an estimated one million people had been put to death in Europe and more than thirty condemned at Salem, Massachusetts, in the name of Christianity.

--------------------------------------------------------

=======================================

A clip from the book of Exodus states , "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live". This quote, alone, sealed the fate for many of the accused as well as the true followers of the Olde Ways. However, this is a false translation. What has been translated as "witch" comes from the Hebrew chaspah, a "poisoner" or murderer. The verse can be reinterpreted to mean not to tolerate people who poison--or murderers. This is very different from condoning the brutal murder of witches. Regardless, the witch hunters were able to claim the backing of God in their tasks, and the support of towns folk that would not question their methods.

The reasoning behind why the Witch Hunters were so interested in their "work" was largely due to their financial gain. The estate of a convicted witch was confiscated, and so more witches would mean more wealth. Torturers, executioners, and others involved in the persecutions benefited as well. The costs of torturing, imprisoning, and executing the accused came from the accused's own purse. Additional money was made from the selling of charms and amulets to ward of the curses of witches; and even a person who did not buy such a trinket would fall under suspicion.

Finally in 1711, the General Court reversed twenty-two of the thirty one convictions. It was not until 1957 that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts reversed the remaining guilty verdicts finally acknowledging the errors of Salem Witchcraft Trials.

Unfortunately, when the persecutions finally ended in the 18th century, the stereotype of Witches, Wiccans and Pagans as devil worshippers, murderers, etc sadly remained for those who practiced within the true teachings of Witchcraft.

Author's note:This is my epic rhyming verse of their story.

Burning Times

The hatred towards our Pagan ancestry of the Keltoi Nation
Wiccans and Witches started with the spread of Christians
Who worshipped side by side during the renaissance era
The Pagan's following was greater by far in the Halls of Tara.

Rituals and Rites began to be disrupted and disturbed
Our sacred temples and places of worship were unearthed
And all the beauty of the Goddess and God was made sacrilege,
With extreme hatred and greed on each and every Sabbat.

The Pagan God was depiction of the Christian Devil to scare
Any who planned to follow the ancient path were to beware
They cloaked our sacred days in Christian myth and lies
The clan split and divided amidst the people's cries.

The Goddess became a virgin and virtually powerless
No longer the sensual Serpent and The High Priestess.
Our gift to give life in pleasure was taken away
As they claimed that only the father had a say.

Many women were tortured by mendacious men of their God
pulled off their fingernails, seared with iron branding hot
their female areas to receive a confession of evil coupling
with the entity the Christians created through deceiving.

They were tied to a wagon wheel and thrown into a pond
If they floated they were a witch and burned beyond
Recognition, if they sank their soul was spared but they
Drowned all the same with their last breath to slip away.

The most influential piece of propaganda, in 1484 that fueled their campaign
Commissioned by Pope Innocent VIII instructed Dominican monks to paint
With words and publish a manual for witch hunters to destroy the Pagan soul.
For 250 years the church used this false holy relic placed in hands to follow.

In 1541, Witchcraft was made illegal in the homeland England and with decree
In 1604 punishment was death for even a slight suspicion for anyone to agree.
By this time the true followers who remained loyal to the ways of old,
Were in hiding and Witchcraft had gone underground or so the story is told...

One million people had been put to death in Europe and the Colonies
To spite the beliefs of Pagan ways all in the name of Christianity.
When the persecutions finally ended in the 18th century
The stereotype of Witches and Pagans were seen as devilry.

Today, we still fight for our right to exercise the US Constitution's first amendment,
Freedom of religion, though it is more a way of life than the Christian's will contend,
As we want no control but of oneself nor have we a wish for this to be
For we understand we are spirits of light and energy and are free.

Please Visit these sites below for more information and resources on the Burning Times.

The Witching Hours ~ Excellent Resource!!! Methods of Torture, History, Introspective look on all aspects all over the world.

Malleus Malificarum

Catala's "The Burning Times"

Craft History- The Burning Times @ CelticCrow

A2000 - She's a Witch!

To Be A Witch in 1692

A2000- Special Witch Page

Burning Times On-Line 1998 - official site

A Who's Who of Witches

Witch Hunt ~ A Comprehensive List of Those Accused, Persecuted & Put to Death

Be sure to check out these books and movies for a more in-depth look at the heinous times.

Movies:

Three Sovereigns for Sarah (1985)

The Witches of Salem (1972)

Books:

Witchcraze: A New History of the European Witch Hunts ~ Anne Llewellyn Barstow

A Delusion of Satan, The Full Story of the Salem Witch Trials ~ Frances Hill

Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England ~ Elizabeth Reis

The Devil in Massachusetts: A Modern Enquiry into the Salem Witch Trials ~ Marion L. Starkey

Witchcraft in Colonial New England ~ Carol F. Karlsen

The Devil hath been raised: A Documentary History of the Salem Village

Torture: The Grand Conspiracy ~ by Malise Ruthven

Witchcraft Outbreak of March 1692 ~ Richard B. Trask

Guide to The Salem Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692 ~ David C. Brown

Records of Salem Witchcraft ~ W. Woodward

Rebecca Nurse ~ C. Tapley

Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft ~ Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum

Salem Story ~ B. Rosenthal

Salem-Village Witchcraft ~ Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum

Salem Witchcraft: 2-volume set 1867 Reprint, ~ Charles Upham

The Salem Witchcraft Papers, 3 vols. ~ Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum

The Salem Witchcraft Trials ~ Katherine W. Richardson

Tituba, Reluctant Witch of Salem, Devilish Indians and Puritan Fantasies ~ Elaine G. Breslaw

Witchcraft at Salem ~ Chadwick Hansen

Witchcraft, Magic and Religion in 17th Century Massachusetts ~ Richard Weisman

Witch Hunting in Seventeenth Century New England: A Documentary History 1638 - 1692 ~ David Hall

Witches and Historians ~ Marc Mappen

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