Sunday, January 20, 2013

"The Good Witch, as they are termed, because they doe seeme to helpe."

SATHAN TRANSFORMED into an Angell of Light
LONDON, Printed by Barnard Alsop. 1622.

pp. 207-208 (pp. 176-177 in the original)

Of the Subject of Witch-craft.

NOw let us come to the maine Subject and Occasion of this Treatise: Namely, to consider of the Practiser of this Mystery, to wit, the witch, whether man or woman.

And heere, first consider wee the Generall Notion or Description of a Witch.

Secondly, wee will resolve these points, I Whether men as well as women, may not bee Practitioners in this Art:

And yet, Why more women then men are engaged therein.

Thirdly, we will lay downe the divers kindes of these Witches: namely, 1 The Bad Witch, which is the Hurter.

2 The Good Witch, as they are termed, because they doe seeme to helpe.

Where it shall bee resolved.

1 Why Satan useth these severall instruments for these contrarie ends.

2 Whether the good Witch cannot hurt, or the bad Witch helpe.

3 What places are especially infested with Witches.

pp.  234-236 (pp. 203-205 in the original)

And so contrariwise, there are others who by Divine Justice, are given up to Satans power with this limitation onely, to helpe and do good, and these are called Good Witches, Blessers, Wise, and Cunning-women. And this Divine Dispensation is both Sutable to the parties who are limited thereby, and also very availeable for the execution of the Divine Justice.

I say sutable it is to the severall qualities of the parties thus diversly dispensed, whereof some being vaine-glorious and drowned in Poperie are therby caried with the applause of Good Workes, and therefore are fitted by Satan thereunto: Others are prone to malice discontent, couetousnesse, & c. and so are likewise fitted by the Devil, with power to bee avenged.

And doth not the just and holy God, by this diversitie and restraint of Satans power, accomplish most wisely his just wrath upon the wicked?

Yea certainely, and that not onely upon the unbeleeving world; but upon the very Witches themselves. As for the unbeleeving and wicked Generations they are hurt by the one, that they may with the danger of their soules seeke helpe of the other: And they have helpe by the one, that so, as a punishment of their infidelitie they may bee given up againe to bee hurt of the other. And so betwixt the Good Witch and the Bad, afflictions are encreased, and yet repentance excluded, and so the measure of sinne is made up among the children of disobedience, that so the measure of vengeance may accordingly be inflicted.

And doth not this also very wisely, further the damnation of the Witches themselves.

Yea certainely, the Bad Witch, by hurting, makes way for the good Witches helpe, and so thereby encreaseth her sinne; and the Good Witch in helping bewrayes the Bad Witch, and so, many times, brings her to the Gallowes.

The Good Witch in helping makes more worke for the Bad, who being suspected, revengeth her selfe usually by doing more mischiefe, and so thereby ripens her sinne to the Gallowes, and so still makes more worke for the Blesser to encrease her condemnation. The Bad Witch, because she doth hurt, is hated of the world, and so thereby encreaseth her malice, and doth more harme. The good Witch is honoured, and reputed as a God, because she doth good, and so is hardened in her sinne and ripeneth the same, by adding to all former sinnes, finall impenitencie, and so usually commits the unpardonable sin.

pp. 300-301 (pp. 269-270 in the original)

CHAP. II. Of the detection of Witches, and meanes thereto.

OF the detection and punishment of Witches: That they are to bee punished with death, especially the Blesser and good Witch, as they terme her.

SECT. I. Of unlawfullmeanes of detection.

HAving discovered the power of Witches, and so followed them to the utmost of their glorie and advancement: Seeing now Pride goeth before destruction, and the glorie of the wicked is their shame: Let us now consider of their Fall and confusion, and of such meanes as further the same.

Wherein we may behold the admirable wisedome and power of God, who as hee leaves them to their owne lusts, to embrace Satan, and submit unto him, for the obtaining of their desires; so hath hee so disposed in his wonderfull Justice, that the God whom they worship, when he hath them sure his owne, seeing he is greedy of his Prey, and would gladly have other imployment to doe more mischiefe, therefore he cares not how soone the bargaine be performed, and rather then faile, though all other meanes of detection should cease, himselfe will bee the instrument to bring his Beare to the Stake: And this he doth, 

By Being an instrument for the detection of the Witch, and yet in such dangerous policie, as that heerein also he hunts after unstable soules, while he seekes to give them content in the discoverie of the Witch which hath done them so much mischiefe. To this is it, that he hath not onely The Blesser readie to discover and detect the A Bad Witch, that so he might thereby encrease the poore peoples rage against the Witch, whereas indeed they should be angry at their sins.


Scott said...

Authored by the *Reverend* Thomas Cooper, and thus susceptible to the same criticism as your earlier examples. Find a secular source, and we'll have something to talk about.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

So far as I know, no actual reason has been given for this "criticism" other than Ronald Hutton's say-so.

In fact, Hutton originally based his theory that instances of the phrase "white witch" are suspect on the equally unsubstantiated assertion by Owen Davies that the term "white witch" was only used by "folklorists". Davies later broadened this to "folklorists and other middle-class commentators".

In both the case of Davies and Hutton, there is absolutely no evidence produced whatsoever to substantiate their claim that the "common people" did not make use of the term "Witch" for referring to practitioners of beneficial magic. None. Zero. Zip. It is simply an assertion - and it should be treated as such.

And, it is an assertion that makes no sense. WHY would folklorists, middle-class commentators", 10th century Anglo-Saxon churchmen, and "radical evangelical Protestants", all conspire to misrepresent the popular usage of the word "Witch" in a way that actually makes Witches LOOK GOOD -- that portrays them as healers, diviners and even as Priestesses???

Scott said...

AP: and yet you've been unable to provide an examples that positively disproves that assertion: to wit, a secular source that uses "witch" to denote a positive magic-worker. If Davies and Hutton are so blatantly wrong, shouldn't this be easy?

As for your alleged conspiracy: as Hutton has said, churchmen used "witch" for positive magic-workers in an attempt to extend the existing negative association with "witch" to their practices, since they viewed all magic as opposed to Christianity by definition. The pains taken by the authors you've been quoting to show that their so-called "good witches" still receive their powers from Satan are part of this effort. (Likewise the use of the word "seeme" in the quoted passage in your post title - it's all about controlling perceptions.) Nothing about that effort makes witches "look good" - it's an attempt to make positive magic-workers look *bad* by *associating them with witches*. Folklorists and other middle-class commentators, presumably, took their cues from the written texts. It doesn't really seem all that mysterious to me.

Le patron said...

I have to say, I agree with the others who have replied to these last few posts. Bernard and Cooper are very clearly tainted sources - radical Protestants with a huge axe to grind. I can't imagine we'd take what they say at face value on any other subject, and it's not clear to me why this one should be any exception, save for your evident personal dislike of Hutton.

Nevertheless, I'm open to persuasion, and maybe the Addison play that you mention will provide some more substantive evidence.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Le patron, one thing that I think you are overlooking is that "radical Protestantism" was a mass-movement supported by millions of people across Europe. And the more radical elements of Protestantism tended to be (as they still are today) the most "populist". Therefore, even if the usage of terms like "good Witch" was limited to the followers of "radical Protestantism" then it would still have to be admitted as a well established part of the vernacular language.

I, however, see no reason to accept the assertion, and that is all that it is, that the usage of phrases like "good Witch" was limited to sizable portion of the population that can be characterized as "radical Protestants". And, as is obvious from the sources, and as I have pointed out many times already, the written sources that we have frequently attribute phrases such as "good Witch" to popular usage, and no logical argument has been made for how such an attribution furthers the "propaganda" aims of "radical Protestants".

Le patron said...

That's a fair point about radical Protestantism - Cooper and his like weren't a fringe sect (though they were a minority in 1620s England). On this basis, it seems likely that these terms had at least some level of popular currency, and I'd accept that it's plausible that Hutton's thesis should be qualified to this extent.

That said, I don't think there's any getting around the tainted nature of sources like Cooper if we're talking about popular attitudes generally. As I said, maybe the Addison play will provide a less partisan perspective.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Hi Le patron, I am working on a follow-up post now on different sources from 1600 to 1715 that all attribute "good Witch" or something similar to popular usage. Of the 8 sources (at present count) two are non-clerical, one is anonymous, one is a prominent anti-Puritan cleric who supported the Established Church, and the other four are all Puritans, but at least three of them should be counted among "moderate" Puritans who strongly opposed the radical "separatist" faction.

Le patron said...

That body of evidence sounds more promising - will be interested to read more about it.