Thursday, June 30, 2011

Where There's Smoke: Witchcraft, Paganism, Christianity, and the Burning Times

I am going to try an experiment: using this blog to write a book. The central idea of this book is to expand upon what Carlo Ginzburg has called "the core of truth" in Margaret Murray's thesis.

This core of truth is simply stated: (1) the targets of the Burning Times were Pagans, and they were targeted as Pagans, and (2) the perpetrators of the Burning Times were Christians, and they acted as Christians.

The working title is Where's There's Smoke, with the subtitle: Witchcraft, Paganism, Christianity, and the Burning Times. Here is a very broad outline of what I have in mind:

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire

Part One:
The Prehistory of the Burning Times

Paganism B.C. (Before Christianization)
Christianity B.C. (Before Constantine)
Paganism versus Christianity (4th - 8th Centuries)
European Christendom: The Birth of a Persecuting Society
The Incomplete Christianization of Europe
The Renaissance: Prelude to the Firestorm

Part Two
A Narrative History of the Burning Times, 1500-1700

Part Three
Points of Contention: Definitions & Other Moving Targets
Witches, Hexen, Streghe, Sorcières, Brujas, etc.
Pagans, Heathens, Hellenes, Infidels, Kafirs, Unbelievers, etc.
Christians, Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Heretics, etc.
What Constitutes a "Witch Hunt"?
Inquisitors and Witch Hunters
The Burning Times By The Numbers
Jacob Grimm on Witches as Priestesses
Charles Godfrey Leland and "The Old Religion"
Margaret Murray and "The Society of Witches That Never Was"
Gerald Gardner: "There Have Been Witches In All Ages"
Contemporary scholarship that supports of the general notion of The Old Religion: An Annotated Bibliography

Honoring Our Pagan Ancestors

"The More Women, The More Witches."

For now at least, this will be the last installment of excerpts from William Perkins' Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft. To complete the circle, so to speak, this section ends where the section quoted in Part One of this series begins.

I come now to shew who is the practiser hereof, whome the Text principally aimeth at, namely, the Witch, whether man or woman. A Witch is a Magician, who either by open or secret league, wittingly, and willingly, consenteth to use the aide and assistance of the Devil, in the working of Wonders.

First, I call the Witch a Magician to shew what kind of person this is: to wit, such a one as doth professe and practise Witchcraft. For a Magician is a professor and a practiser of this art, as may appeare, Act. 8. 9. where Simon a Witch of Samaria is called Magus, or Simon the Magician. Againe, in this generall tearme, I comprehend both sexes or kinds of persons, men and women, excluding neither from beeing Witches.

A point the rather to be remembred, because Moses in this place setting down a Judiciall Law against Witches, useth a word of the feminine gender [mecashephab] which in English properly signifieth, a woman Witch: whereupon some might gather, that women onely were Witches. Howbeit Moses in this word exempteth not the male, but onely useth a notion referring to the female, for good causes; principally for these two.

First, to give us to understand, that the woman beeing the weaker sexe, is sooner intangled by the devils illusions with this damnable art, then the man. And in all ages it is found true by experience, that the devil hath more easily and oftener prevailed with women, then with men. Hence it was, that the Hebrewes of ancient times, used it for a proverb, The more women, the more Witches. His first temptation in the beginning, was with Eve a woman, and since he pursueth his practise accordingly, as making most for his advantage. For where he findeth easiest entrance, and best entertainment, thither will he oftnest resort.

Secondly, to take away all exception of punishment from any party that shall practise this trade, and to shew that weakenesse cannot exempt the Witch from death. For in all reason, if any might alledge infirmity, and plead for favour, it were the woman, who is weaker then the man, But the Lord saith, if any person of either sexe among his people, be found to have entered covenant with Satan, and become a practiser of Sorcery, though it be a woman and the weaker vessell, she shall not escape, she shall not be suffered to live, she must die the death. And though weaknes in other cases, may lessen both the crime and the punishment, yet in this it shall take no place.

The second point in the description, is consent to use the helpe of the devil, either by open or secret league, wittingly and willingly: wherein standeth the very thing, that maketh a Witch to be a Witch: The yielding of consent upon covenant. By which clause, two sort of people are expressely excluded from beeing Witches, First, such as be tainted with phrenzy or madnesse, or are through weaknesse of the braine deluded by the devil. For these, though they may be said after a sort to have society with Satan, or rather he with them, yet they cannot give their consent to use his aide truly, but onely in imagination; with the true Witch it is farre otherwise.

Secondly, all such superstitious persons, men or women, as use Charmes and Inchantment for the effecting of any thing upon a superstitious and erroneous perswasion, that the Charmes have vertue in them to doe such things, not knowing that it is the action of the devil by those meanes; but thinking that God hath put vertue into them, as he hath done into herbes for Physicke. Of such persons we have (no doubt) abundance in this our Land, who though they deale wickedly, and sinne grievously in using Charmes, yet because they intend not to joyne league with the devil, either secretly, or formally, they are not to be counted Witches. Nevertheless, they are to be advertised in the meane time, that their estate is fearefull. For their present ungodly practices have prepared the already to this cursed trade, and may bring them in time to be the ranekest Witches that can be. Wherefore I advise all ignorant persons, that know not God nor the Scriptures, to take heed and beware of this dangerous evil, the use of Charmes. For if they be once convinced in their consciences, and know that God hath given no power to such means, and yet shall use them, assuredly they doe in effect consent to the devil to be helped by him, and thereupon are joyned in confederacy with him in the confidence of their vine hearts, and so are become Witches.

The third and last thing in the description is the end of Witchcraft; The working of wonders. Wonders are wrought three wayes (on hath beene shewed,) either by Divination, or by enchantment, or by Jugling: and to one of three heads all feates and practices of Withcraft are to be referred. Now if any man doubt; whether these be such Witches indeed as have been described let him remember, that besides experience in all ages and countries, we have also sundry examples of them even in Scriptures. In the old Testament we reade of Baiaam, Num. 23. who though he be called a Prophet, because he was so reputed of men, yet indeed he was a notorious Witch, both by profession and practise, and would have shewed his cunning in that kind upon the Israelites, if God had not hindered him against his will. Of the same kind were the Inchanters of Egypt Exod, 7. the Witches of Persia, Dan. 2. and the Pythonisse of Endor, knowne for a renowned Sorcerer over all Israel: and therefore Sauls servants being asked, could presently tel of her, as we read, Sam. 28.

In the new Testament, mention is made of Simon, whose name declared his prosession; his name was Magus; and the text saith, that he used Witchcraft, and bewitched the people of Samaria, calling himselfe a great man; Act. 8. 9. Whence it was that after his death, there was a statue set up in Rome in honour of him in the daies of Claudius Cæsar, with this inscription; Simoni Deo Sancto. And it is not unlike, but Bar-iesus the false Prophet at Paphus, was a man addicted to the practices of Witchcraft, and for that cause was called by a kind of excellencie, Elymas the Magician, Act. 13. 6.8. that is, the great or famous Sorcerer. Lastly, the Pythonisse at Philippi, that gather master much advantage by divining Act. 16. 16. And all these used the helpe of the devil, for the working of wonders.

Of Witches there be two sorts: The bad Witch, and the good Witch: for so they are commonly called. The bad Witch, is he or she that hath consented in league with the devil to use his helpe, for the doing of hurt only as to strike and annoy the bodies of men, women, children, and cattle with diseases, and with death it selfe: so likewise to raise tempests, by sea and by land, & c. This is commonly called the binding Witch.

"The Good Witch Must Also Die"

Nergal Back In Court Over Bible Desecration Case

BEHEMOTH Frontman Back In Polish Court Over Bible-Tearing Incident - June 29, 2011

Behemoth Singer Faces Charges of Insulting Roman Catholics in Poland

Warsaw Business Journal:
Death-metal singer returns to court over criticism of Church, ripping up Bible

Behemoth’s Nergal Back In Court Over Bible-Destroying Incident

And follow this link for other stories, mostly in Polish:
google "news" search on "Nergal Ryszard Nowak"

For general background on this case here are four links from last year:
(1) From Blabbermouth (June 28, 2010):
BEHEMOTH Frontman Off The Hook In 2007 Bible-Tearing Case
(2) From MetalObsession (May 4, 2010):
Behemoth – Adam “Nergal” Darski (interview with Nergal)
(3) From Blabbermouth (April 20, 2010):
Polish University Professor Discusses Charges Against BEHEMOTH Frontman
(4) From RadioMetal (April 19, 2010):
Behemoth On The Burning Stake Of The Inquisition

And here's a whole shitload of blog posts from last year relevant to Nergal and this case:

What they mean by "dialogue", Part Three

The Roman Catholic Church, the World Council of Churches (representing "mainline" Protestants), and the World Evangelical Alliance (representing the Sarah Palin/Pat Robertson crowd) recently got together to draw up "Recommendations For Conduct" for Christian missionaries.

The "recommendations" begin with a preamble that outlines the "Basis for Christian witness". The fourth point of these bases states:

"4. Christian witness in a pluralistic world includes engaging in dialogue with people of different religions and cultures (cf. Acts 17:22-28)."

In the passage of the Book of Acs cited above, Paul "engages in dialogue" with the Pagans of Athens by telling them, "you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you." And then, in verse 30, Paul further clarifies what his idea of "engaging in dialogue" is: "In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent."

For more on the Christian conception of "dialogue" see these other posts from this blog:

And for more on Christian missionary activities in general, check out these:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"But especially the blessing Witch" ("The Good Witch Must Also Die", Part Three)

Here is how William Perkins ends his Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft (this is Part Three of a series; if you are just tuning in, there are links to the first two parts at the bottom of this post):

Everie seducer in the Church, whose practise was to draw men from the true God to the worship of Idols, though it were a mans owne sonne or daughter, wife or friend, by the peremptorie decree and commandment of God, was at no hand to be spared or pitied, but the hand of the witnesse first, and then the hands of all the people must bee upon him, to kill him, Deut. 13.6.9.

If this be so, no Witches convicted ought to escape the sword of the Magistrate; for they are the most notorious seducers of all others. When they be once intangled with the Devils league, they labour to inure their dearest friends and posterity, in their cursed and abominable practises: that they may bee the more easily drawne into the same confederacie, wherewith they themselves are united unto Sathan. I might here alleadge, that they deserve death because many of them be murtherers, but I stand not upon that instance, because I hold in the general that Witches are not to be suffered to lieu, though they doe no hurt either to man or other creatures, and that by vertue of Moses lawe, onely for their leagues sake, whereby they become rebels to God, Idolaters and seducers, as now hath been shewed.

Yet not with standing all that hath been said, many things are brought in defense of them, by such as be their friends and welwillers. First, it is said, that the hurt that is done, comes not from the Witch, but from the devil; he deserves the blame because it is his worke, and she is not to die for his sinne. Answ. Let it be granted, that the Witch is not the author of the evil that is done, yet she is a confederate and partner with the devil in the fact, and so the lawe takes hold on her. See it in a familiar comparison. A company of men conspire together in a robbery, by common consent some stand in open place to espie out the bootie, and to give the watch-word, others are set about the passage, privily to rush upon the man, and to spoyle him of his goods. In this case what saith the law? The Parties that gave the watchword, though they did nothing to the man, yet beeing accessories and abettors to the robbery by consent, they are theeues, and liable to condemnation and execution, as well as the principalls. Even so stands the case with the Witch.

In the working of wonders, and in all mischeivous practises, he or shee is partaker with the devil by consent of covenant: the Witch onely useth the watchword in some charme or otherwise, and doth no more; the devil upon notice given by the Charme, takes his opportunities, and works the mischief. He is the principall agent, but the other yieldeth help, and is rightly liable to punishment. The reason is, because if the devil were not stirred up, and provoked by the Witch, he would never do so much hurt as he doth. He had never appeared in Samuels likenes had he not been sollicited by the Witch of Endor. He would not have caused counterfeit serpents and frogges to appeare in Egypt, but for Jannes and Jambres, and other Inchanters. And in this age there would not in likelihood be so much hurt and hindrance procured unto men, and other creatures by his meanes, but for the instigation of ill disposed persons, that have fellowship and societie with him.

Againe, they object, that Witches convicted either repent, or repent not: If they repent, then God pardoneth their sinne, and why should not the Magistrate as well save their bodies, and let them live, as God doth their soules. If they do not repent, then it is a dangerous thing for the Magistrate to put them to death: for by this meanes he kills the bodie, and casts the soule to hell. Answ. All Witches judicially and lawfully convicted, ought to have space of repentance granted unto them, wherein they may be instructed and exhorted, and then afterward executed. For it is possible for them to be saved by Gods mercie, though they have denied him. Secondly, the Magistrate must execute justice upon malefactors lawfully convicted, whether they repent or not. For God approoveth the just execution of judgment upon men without respect to their repentance: neither must their impenitencie hinder the execution of Justice. When the people of Israel had committed Idolatrie in worshipping the golden calfe, Moses did not expect their repentance, and in the meane while forbeare the punishment, but he and the Levites presently tooke their swords, and slew them, and the Lord approoved their course of proceeding, Exod.32.28. When Zimri an Israelite had committed fornication with Cozbi a Midianitish woman, Phineas in zeale of Gods glorie, executed judgement on the both, without any respect unto their repentáce, Numb.25.8. and is therefore commended, Psa. 106. 30.

Warres are a worthy ordinance of God, and yet no Prince could ever attempt the same lawfully, if every souldier in the field should stay the killing of his enemie, upon expectation of his repentance. And whereas they say, that by executing an impenitent Witch, the Magistrate casteth away the soule; we must know, that the end of execution by the Magistrate is not the damnation of the malefactors soule, but that fin may be punished that others may beware of the like crimes and offences, and that the wicked might be taken away from among Gods people. But some Witches there be that cannot bee convicted of killing any: what shall become of them? Ans. As the killing Witch must die by another law, though he were no Witch; so the healing and harmelesse Witch must die by this Law, though he kill not, onely for covenant made with Sathan.

For this must alwaies be remembred as a conclusion, that by Witches we understand not those onely which kill and torment; but all Diviners, Charmers, Juglers, all Wizzards commonly called wise men and wise women; yea, whosoever doe any thing (knowing what they do) which cannot be effected by nature or art; and in the same number we reckon all good Witches, which do no hurt but good, which do not spoile and destroy, but save and deliver. All these come under this sentence of Moses, because they deny God, and are confederates with Sathan. By the lawes of England the theise is executed for stealing, and we thinke it just and profitable; but it were a thousand times better for the land, if all witches, but especially the blessing Witch might suffer death.

For the theife by his stealing, and the hurtfull Inchanter by charming, bring hinderance and hurt to the bodies and goods of men; but these are the right hand of the Devil, by which he taketh and destroyeth the soules of men. Men doe most commonly hate and spitte at the damnifying Sorcerer, as unworthy to live among them; whereas the other is so deare unto them, that they hold themselves and their country blessed, that have him among them; they flie unto him in necessitie, they depend upon him as their God, and by this meanes thousands are carried away to their finall confusion. Death therefore is the just and deserved portion of the good Witch.


The above text is found on page 652 of the 1618 Cambridge edition of the Collected Works of William Perkins.

"The Good Witch Must Also Die"

"A thousand deaths of right belong to the good Witch." ("The Good Witch Must Also Die", Part Two)

This post is Part Two of the series "A Good Witch Must Also Die". Scroll down for links to other posts in this series as I get them out.

The following picks up immediately where the previous post left off. It is from Chapter Five of William Perkins' Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft.

Here observe, that both have a stroke in this action: the bad Witch hurt him, the good healed him; but the truth is, the latter hath done him a thousand times more harme then the former. For the one did only hurt the body, but the devil by meanes of the other, though he have left the body in good plight, yet he hath laid fast hold on the soule, and by curing the body, hath killed that. And the party thus cured, cannot say with David, The Lord is my helper; but the devil is my helper; for by him he is cured.

Of both these kindes of Witches the present Law of Moses must be understood. This point well considered, yieldeth matter both of instruction and practise. Of instruction, in that it shewes the cunning and crafty dealing of Satan, who afflicteth and tormenteth the body for the gaine of the foule. And for that purpose hath so ordered his instruments, that the bad Witch gives the occasion, by annoying the bodie or goods; and the good immediately accomplisheth his desire, by intangling the soule in the bands of errour, ignorance, and false faith. Againe, this sheweth the blindnesse of naturall corruption, specially in ignorant and superstitious people. It is their nature to abhorred hurtfull persons, such as bad Witches be, and to count them execrable; but those that doe them good, they honour and reverence as wise men and women, yea, seeke and sue unto them in times of extremitie, though of al persons in the world, they be most odious: and Satan in them seemes the greatest friend, when he is most like himselfe, and intendeth greatest mischiefe. Let all ignorant persons be advised here of in time, to take heed to themselves, and learne to knowe God and his word, that by light from thence they may better discerne of the subtill practises of Satan and his instruments.

For matter of practise; Hence we learne our dutie, to abhorre the Wizzard, as the most pernicious enemie of our salvation, the most effectuall instrument of destroying our soules, and of building up the devils kingdome: yea, as the greatest enemie to Gods name, worship, and glorie, that is in the world next to Sathan himselfe. Of this sort was Simon Magus, who by doing strange cures and workes, made the people of Samaria to take him for some great man, who wrought by the mighty power of God, whereas he did all by the devil. He therefore beeing a good Witch, did more hurt in seducing the people of God, then Balaam a bad one could with all his curses. And we must remember that the Lord hath set a lawe upon the Witches head, he must not live, and if death be due to any, then a thousand deaths of right belong to the good Witch.

The text above is found on page 638 of the 1618 Cambridge edition of the Collected Works of William Perkins. Here is a direct link to an image of the original of that page, and here is a direct link to the table of contents for the entire work. And here is a link to the full text of Perkins' Discourse (scanned). Those three links go to pages that are part of the Cornell University Witchcraft Collection.

"The Good Witch Must Also Die"

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"The Good Witch Must Also Die", by William Perkins (1558-1602)

William Perkins died in 1602 at the age of 44. He was an influential Calvinist theologian and a leader of the Puritan movement inside the Church of England. Perkins was a prolific writer, and his books sold extremely well not only in England, but throughout the Western world.

The text of the following sermon was included in several editions of Perkins' Collected Works that appeared after his death. It is part of a longer (55 pages) piece that was published under the full title:
"A DISCOURSE OF THE DAMNED ART OF WITCHCRAFT; SO FARRE forth as it is revealed in the Scriptures, and manifest by true experience. FRAMED AND DELIVERED BY M. WILLIAM PERKINS, IN HIS ORDINARIE COURSE of Preaching, and published by THOMAS PICKERING Batchelour of Divinitie, and Minister of Finchingfield in Essex. Printed by CANTRELL LEGGE, Printer to the Universitie of Cambridge. 1618."
The earliest edition of this title (apparently) was in 1608, also published by Cantrell Legge of Cambridge. The year 1608 is often given as the date of the work itself, although this is six years after the death of the author. Here is a link to the full text at the Cornell University Witchcraft Collection.

Be warned. It is unspeakably evil.

The good Witch is he or shee that by consent in a league with the deuill, doth vse his helpe, for the doing of good onely. This cannot hurt, torment, curse, or kill, but onely heal and cure the hurts inflicted upon men or cattell, by badde Witches. For as they can doe no good, but onely hurt; so this can doe no hurt, but good onely. And this is that order which the deuill hath set in his kingdom, appointing to seuerall persons their seuerall offices and charges. And the good Witch is commonly tearmed the vnbinding Witch.

Now howsoeuer these both be euil, yet of the two, the more horrible & detestable Monster is the good Witch, for look in what place soeuer ther be any bad Witches that hurt onely, there also the deuill hath his good ones, who are better known than the bad, beeing commonly called Wisemen, or Wise-women. These will appear by experience in most places in these countries. For let a mans childe, friend, or cattell be taken with some sore sickness, or strangely tormented with some rare and vnknown disease, the first thing he doth, is to bethink himselfe and inquire after some Wiseman or Wise-woman, & thither he sends and goes for helpe. When he comes, he first tells him the state of the sicke man; the Witch then beeing certified of the disease, prescribeth either Charmes of words to be vsed ouer him, or other such counterfeit meanes, wherein there is no cure, if it come by Witchcraft. Well, the meanes are receiued, applied, and vsed, the sicke partie accordingly recouereth, and the conclusion of all is, the vsual acclamation; Oh happie is the day, that euer I met with such a man or woman to helpe me!
[Taken from Chapter Five, on page 638 of the 1618 Cambridge edition of the Collected Works of William Perkins.]

"The Good Witch Must Also Die"

"In the name of the Father, the Son, King Arthur, and Queen Elspeth."

The first Witchcraft trial in Scotland for which the "dittay" (indictment) has been preserved largely intact, is that of Janet Boyman in 1572. (Variations on her name are Janet Bowman and Jonet Boyman.) The documentary evidence leaves no room for doubt that this accused Witch was someone sought after for her abilities as a healer.
"Jonet Boyman of Canongate, Edinburgh, accused in 1572 of witchcraft and diabolic incantation, the first Scottish trial for which a detailed indictment has so far been found. Indeed, it is one of the richest accounts hitherto uncovered for both fairy belief and charming, suggesting an intriguing tradition which associated, in some way, the fairies with the legendary King Arthur. At an 'elrich well' on the south side of Arthur's Seat, Jonet uttered incantations and invocations of the 'evill spreits quhome she callit upon for to come to show and declair' what would happen to a sick man named Allan Anderson, her patient. She allegedly first conjured 'ane grit blast' like a whirlwind, and thereafter appeared the shape of a man who stood on the other side of the well, and interesting hint of liminality. She charged this conjured presence, in the name of the father, the son, King Arthur and Queen Elspeth, to cure Anderson. She then received elaborate instructions about washing the ill man's shirt, which were communicated to Allan's wife. That night the patient's house shook in the midst of a huge, and incomprehensible ruckus involving winds, horses and hammering, apparently because the man's wife did not follow the instructions to the letter. On the following night the house was plagued by a mighty din again, caused, this time, by a great company of women."
[Scottish Fairy Belief by Lizanne Henderson and Edward J. Cowan (2001) 127-128.]

For more on Jonet Boymen, also see P.G. Maxwell-Stuart's Satan's Conspiracy: Magic and Witchcraft in 16th Century Scotland (2001), pp. 62-66.

Friday, June 24, 2011

More Reactions to Geert Wilders' Acquittal

Here are some more reactions from around the world to yesterday's acquittal of Geert Wilders:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

An Erotic & Magical Greek Lesson: "What then can Love be?" "A great Demon, O Socrates"

The text for today's lesson is Plato's Symposium. If you wish to follow along at home (or wherever you are), please refer to the Stephanus numbering given below.

First, the warm-up . . . .

[Diotima:] 'you have admitted that Eros, from lack of good and beautiful things, desires these very things that he lacks.’
[Socrates:] ‘Yes, I have.’
[Diotima:] ‘How then can he be a God, if he is devoid of things beautiful and good?’
[Socrates:] ‘By no means, it appears.’
[Diotima:] ‘So you see, you are a person who does not consider Eros to be a God.’
[Socrates:] ‘What then,’ I asked, ‘can Love be? A mortal?’
[Diotima:] ‘Anything but that.’
[Socrates:] 'Well, what?'

. . . . and then the main attraction:

ὥσπερ τὰ πρότερα, ἔφη, μεταξὺ θνητοῦ καὶ ἀθανάτου.
As I previously suggested, between a mortal and an immortal.

τί οὖν, ὦ Διοτίμα;
And what is that, O Diotima?

δαίμων μέγας, ὦ Σώκρατες: καὶ γὰρ πᾶν τὸ δαιμόνιον
A great Demon, O Socrates: and all of the Demonic realm

[202ε] μεταξύ ἐστι θεοῦ τε καὶ θνητοῦ.
is between the immortal and the mortal.

τίνα, ἦν δ᾽ ἐγώ, δύναμιν ἔχον;
having what power? [asks Socrates]

ἑρμηνεῦον καὶ διαπορθμεῦον θεοῖς τὰ παρ᾽ ἀνθρώπων καὶ ἀνθρώποις τὰ παρὰ θεῶν,
[Diotima answers:] Interpreting and transporting [ἑρμηνεῦον καὶ διαπορθμεῦον] human things to the Gods and Divine things to humans;

τῶν μὲν τὰς δεήσεις καὶ θυσίας,
entreaties [δεήσεις] and sacrifices [θυσίας] from below,

τῶν δὲ τὰς ἐπιτάξεις τε καὶ ἀμοιβὰς τῶν θυσιῶν,
and ordinances [ἐπιτάξεις] and requitals [ἀμοιβὰς] from above:

ἐν μέσῳ δὲ ὂν ἀμφοτέρων συμπληροῖ, ὥστε τὸ πᾶν αὐτὸ αὑτῷ συνδεδέσθαι.
being midway between, it makes each to supplement the other, so that the whole [πᾶν] is combined in one.

διὰ τούτου καὶ ἡ μαντικὴ πᾶσα χωρεῖ καὶ ἡ τῶν ἱερέων τέχνη τῶν τε περὶ τὰς θυσίας καὶ τελετὰς
Through it are conveyed all divination [μαντικὴ] and priestcraft [ἱερέων τέχνη] concerning sacrifice [θυσίας] and ritual [τελετὰς]

[203α] καὶ τὰς ἐπῳδὰς καὶ τὴν μαντείαν πᾶσαν καὶ γοητείαν.
and incantations [ἐπῳδὰς], and all soothsaying [μαντείαν] and sorcery [γοητείαν].

θεὸς δὲ ἀνθρώπῳ οὐ μείγνυται,
The Divine with mortals does not mingle:

ἀλλὰ διὰ τούτου πᾶσά ἐστιν ἡ ὁμιλία καὶ ἡ διάλεκτος θεοῖς πρὸς ἀνθρώπους, καὶ ἐγρηγορόσι καὶ καθεύδουσι:
but the Demonic is the means of all society and converse [ἡ ὁμιλία καὶ ἡ διάλεκτος] of humans with Gods and of Gods with humans, whether waking or asleep.

καὶ ὁ μὲν περὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα σοφὸς δαιμόνιος ἀνήρ, ὁ δὲ ἄλλο τι σοφὸς ὢν ἢ περὶ τέχνας ἢ χειρουργίας τινὰς βάναυσος. οὗτοι δὴ οἱ δαίμονες πολλοὶ καὶ παντοδαποί εἰσιν, εἷς δὲ τούτων ἐστὶ καὶ ὁ Ἔρως.
Whosoever has skill in these affairs is a spiritual person [δαιμόνιος ἀνήρ], to have it in other matters, as in common arts and crafts, is for the mechanical. Many and multifarious are these Demons, and one of them is Love.’

[A little further on [203d], Socrates adds the following by way of summing up the nature of Eros]:

κατὰ δὲ αὖ τὸν πατέρα ἐπίβουλός ἐστι τοῖς καλοῖς καὶ τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς,
he takes after his father in scheming [ἐπίβουλός] for all that is beautiful [καλοῖς] and good [ἀγαθοῖς];

ἀνδρεῖος ὢν καὶ ἴτης καὶ σύντονος,
for he is brave, strenuous and high-strung

θηρευτὴς δεινός, ἀεί τινας πλέκων μηχανάς,
a famous hunter, always weaving some stratagem;

καὶ φρονήσεως ἐπιθυμητὴς καὶ πόριμος, φιλοσοφῶν διὰ παντὸς τοῦ βίου,
desirous and competent of wisdom, throughout life ensuing the truth;

δεινὸς γόης καὶ φαρμακεὺς καὶ σοφιστής:
a master of sorcery [γόης], witchcraft [φαρμακεὺς], and sophistry [σοφιστής].


The Greek and the English translation are both taken from Perseus. Here is a direct link. The translation is from Fowler (1925), but I have taken certain liberties.

To recap: all of the following are attributed to Eros and the Demonic realm:
  1. Interpreting and transporting [ἑρμηνεῦον καὶ διαπορθμεῦον] human things to the Gods and Divine things to humanity
  2. communicating prayers [δεήσεις] and sacrifices [θυσίας] from us to the Gods
  3. communicating injunctions [ἐπιτάξεις] and requitals [ἀμοιβὰς] from the Gods to us
  4. filling in all the space between humans and the Gods, so that everything [πᾶν] is bound to everything else [ἐν μέσῳ δὲ ὂν ἀμφοτέρων συμπληροῖ, ὥστε τὸ πᾶν αὐτὸ αὑτῷ συνδεδέσθαι.]
  5. divination [μαντικὴ]
  6. priestcraft [ἱερέων τέχνη] concerning sacrifice [θυσίας] and ritual [τελετὰς]
  7. incantations [ἐπῳδὰς]
  8. soothsaying [μαντείαν]
  9. sorcery [γοητείαν]
  10. all society and converse [ἡ ὁμιλία καὶ ἡ διάλεκτος] of humans with Gods and of Gods with humans, whether waking or asleep
  11. the ability to be a true spiritual person [δαιμόνιος ἀνήρ] (or is that a truly Demonic person?)
  12. In general, all interaction, of any kind, between the Divine and mortals must be by way of the intermediary realm of the Demons. Otherwise, the Divine and mortals do not mingle directly [θεὸς δὲ ἀνθρώπῳ οὐ μείγνυται].

J.K. Rowling Announces "Pottermore"

(Here is a direct link to Pottermore. Scroll down for press release ....)

From the official press release (full text available at the DailyGrail.Com):
J.K. Rowling today, Thursday 23rd June, answered mounting speculation about the nature of her new project and announced Pottermore, a unique and free-to-use website which builds an exciting online experience around the reading of her hugely successful Harry Potter books, and is partnered by Sony.

The announcement today was heralded by the revealing of the website’s name via an online search for its letters, and a ‘coming soon’ holding page which received over a million visits within 36 hours of launching.

For this groundbreaking collaborative project, J.K. Rowling has written extensive new material about the characters, places and objects in the much-loved stories, which will inform, inspire and entertain readers as they journey through the storylines of the books. Pottermore will later incorporate an online shop where people can purchase exclusively the long-awaited Harry Potter eBooks, in partnership with J K Rowling’s publishers worldwide, and is ultimately intended to become an online reading experience, extending the relevance of Harry Potter to new generations of readers, while still appealing to existing fans. As the Pottermore Shop develops, it is intended that it should include further products designed specifically for Harry Potter fans, offering a potential outlet for Sony products and services related to Pottermore. In keeping with Harry Potter’s international appeal, the site will launch in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish, with more languages to follow.

Geert Wilders: "The Dutch are still allowed to speak critically about islam, and resistance against islamisation is not a crime."

A major victory for freedom of speech has occurred. Here is what Geert Wilders was told by the judges presiding over his trial for "hate speech" against Islam:
"You are being acquitted on all the charges that were put against you. The bench finds that your statements are acceptable within the context of the public debate."

And here is a round-up of world headlines on the acquittal of Geert Wilders:

Geert Wilders acquitted of hate speech against Muslims

Radio Netherlands:
Positive reactions to Wilders' acquittal

Geert Wilders acquitted on hate speech charges

Dutch Court Acquits Freedom Party Leader Geert Wilders of Defaming Muslims

Al Jazeera:
Dutch MP acquitted in 'hate' trial

Agence France-Presse (via yahoo news):
Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Wilders acquitted

Deutsche Welle:
Dutch court acquits Geert Wilders in hate speech trial

Jerusalem Post:
Dutch court acquits Geert Wilders in hate speech case

Dutch court acquits lawmaker Geert Wilders of Muslim hate speech charges

Geert Wilders cleared of hate charges by Dutch court

New York Times:
Dutch Court Acquits Anti-Islam Politician

RTÉ News:
Geert Wilders acquitted of inciting hatred

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Her New Name For A Blog

Just in case anyone didn't get the memo, Hecate Demetersdatte, one of the brighter lights in the Pagan blogging firmament, has moved her blog to wordpress:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Margaret Murray's Thesis "Contained A Kernel Of Truth" (Carlo Ginzburg)

Here is the first of several follow-ups to my previous post: Margaret Murray has been completely rejected by everyone ... except for everyone who has not completely rejected Margaret Murray. Most of this post consists of two excerpts from Carlo Ginzburg's groundbreaking studies The Night Battles (1966) and Ecstasies (1989). Following those two excerpts there is a very brief note concerning Ginzburg's accusation that Margaret Murray "cut" and "manipulated" the data to fit her theory.

Here is an excerpt from Carlo Ginzburg's The Night Battles: Witchcraft & Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth & Seventeenth Centuries, first published in Italian in 1966:
According to Murray, the conventicles described by the accused were real, and witchcraft was a very ancient religion, a pre-Christian fertility cult, in which the judges, more or deliberately, chose to see only a diabolical perversion. Although this thesis contained a kernel of truth, it was formulated in a wholly uncritical way; moreover, the reconstruction of the general characteristics of this supposed fertility cult was based on very late trials in which the assimilation of the inquisitorial schema (sabbat, nuptials with the devil, etc) was by now complete. And yet, despite these serious defects, Murray's 'thesis', which was rejected by anthropologists and folkorists when it first appeared, ended by prevailing. what had been lacking then, and the need persists today if I'm not mistaken, was an all-encompassing explanation of popular witchcraft: and the thesis of the English scholar, purified of its most daring affirmations, seemed plausible where it discerned in the orgies of the sabbat the deformation of an ancient fertility rite. In this mitigated form it was reformulated by W.E. Peukert, among others.

And yet it is not so easy to demonstrate that popular witchcraft (as distinct from generic supsertitions, such as love potions, spells, etc., which are not traceable to a precise cult) actually went back to an ancient agricultural fertility cult. One primary objection has already been raised about Murray's work: we cannot rely uncritically on the confessions of the witches without attempting to distinguish in them between what is of inquisitorial provenance and what is of genuinely popular origin. But this is not a fatal objection . . . .

[Then Ginzburg spends a few sentences discussing the work of J. Marx, L. Weiser-Aall and A. Meyer, before moving on to his main point.]

The present research now establishes, in an area such as the Friuli, where Germanic and Slavic traditions came together, the positive existence at a relatively late date (from c. 1570) of a fertility cult whose participants, the benandanti, represented themselves as defenders of harvests and the fertility of fields. On the one hand, this belief is tied to a larger complex of traditions (connected, in turn, with the myth of nocturnal gatherings over which female deities named Perchta, Holda, Diana presided) in an area that extends from Alsace to Hesse and from Bavaria to Switzerland. On the other hand, it is found in an almost identical form in the land which once comprised Livonia (present day Latvia and Estonia). Given this geographic spread it may not be too daring to suggest that in antiquity these beliefs must once have covered much of central Europe. In the span of a century, as we shall see, the benandanti were transformed into witches and their nocturnal gatherings, intended to induce fertility, became the devil's sabbat, with the resulting storms and destruction. We can thus state for a fact that for the Friuli diabolical witchcraft grew out of the deformation of a preceding agrarian cult. Of course it is impossible to extend this conclusion by simple analogy to other parts of Europe; nevertheless, though limited and circumscribed, it may serve as a working hypothesis for future research. At any rate the existence of this complex of beliefs over a large, key area implies, in my opinion, a new approach to the problem of the popular origins of witchcraft.
[pp. xix-xxi, in the 2009 JHU Press edition]

And here is an excerpt from Ginzburg's Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath, first published in Italian in 1989:
In her book The Witch-Cult in Western Europe [Margaret] Murray, an Egyptologist with a keen interest in anthropology in the wake of Frazer, maintained: (1) that the descriptions of the Sabbath contained in witch trials were neither nonsense extorted by the judges, nor accounts of inner experiences of a more or less hallucinatory character, but rather, exact descriptions of rituals that had actually taken place; (2) that these rituals, deformed by the judges' diabolizing interpretation, were in reality connected with a pre-Christian fertility cult, which possibly dated back to pre-history and which has survived in Europe until the modern age . . . .

In my preface to The Night Battles [see Excerpt 1 above] I made a statement to which I still fully subscribe, even though it has earned me ex-officio enrollment in the phantom (but discredited) sect of 'Murrayists': viz., that Murray's thesis, although 'formulated in a totally uncritical manner', contained 'a core of truth'. Clearly this core is not to be sought in the first of the two points which, as we have seen, the thesis comprises. It is symptomatic that, in seeking to validate the reality of the events mentioned in descriptions of the witches' Sabbath, Murray was obliged to neglect the most embarrassing elements -- night flying, animal metamorphosis -- having recourse to cuts which amounted to veritable textual manipulation. Of course we cannot altogether exclude the possibility that in some instances mean and women devoted to magical practices assembled to celebrate rituals that included, e.g., sexual orgies; but virtually none of the descriptions of the Sabbath furnishes any proof of such events. This does not mean that they are lacking in documentary value: they simply document myths and not rituals.

Once again we must ask ourselves: whose beliefs and rituals? As mentioned before, a long tradition, harking back to the Enlightenment polemics against witchcraft trials and still very much alive, has seen in the witches' confessions the projection of the judges' superstitions and obsessions, extorted from the accused by means of torture and psychological pressure. The 'religion of Diana' -- the pre-Christian fertility cult that Murray identified, without probing it more more deeply, in descriptions of the Sabbath -- suggests a different and more complex interpretation.

The 'core of truth' in Murray's thesis is to be found here. More generally it consists in the decision, contrary to all rationalistic reduction, to accept the witches' confession -- as much more illustrious (but, paradoxically, neglected) predecessors had done, beginning with Jakob Grimm.
[pp. 8-9, in the 2004 University of Chicago Press edition]
In the second of the above excerpts, Ginzburg puts forward the following very serious accusation against Murray: in order to make the evidence fit her theory, she "cut" and "manipulated" the available data. Ginzburg here relies on what he deems to be "the exhaustive demonstration of Cohn" (which Ginzburg gives as being found on pp. 111-115 of Norman Cohn's Europe's Inner Demons, although in the 2000 University of Chicago edition the numbering is pp. 155-160). But however "exhaustive" Cohn's "demonstration" may have been, Ginzburg's reliance on it is uncritical (precisely the deadly scholarly sin that Murray is supposedly guilty of with respect to confessions from the Witchcraft trials). Worse still is the fact that Ginzburg has been joined by a small army of other scholars who have all blindly accepted Cohn's "demonstration" without bothering to compare what Cohn says Murray said with what Murray actually said. I will have more to say about this in a follow-up post, but for now I refer the interested reader to Jani Farrell-Roberts' Margaret Murray and the Distinguished Professor Hutton.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Margaret Murray has been completely rejected by everyone ... except for everyone who has not completely rejected Margaret Murray.

"Mary Douglas, writing in 1992, still accepted Margaret Murray's thesis that the people accused of witchcraft in early modern Europe were practitioners of a surviving pagan religion, which had been completely discredited in the 1970s." [Ronald Hutton, 2004]

Strange, isn't it, that Mary Douglas ("the most widely read British social anthropologist of her generation," according to her obituary in the May 18, 2007 Guardian) was unaware of the "complete" discrediting of Margaret Murray?

First of all, Hutton has the year wrong (by nearly a decade). Here is the proper citation for the article in which Mary Douglas "still accepted Margaret Murray's thesis":

Sorcery Accusations Unleashed, by Mary Douglas, Africa 69 (1999), pp. 177-193.

And here is what Douglas says that Ronald Hutton finds so unacceptable:
The Egyptologist and medieval historian Margaret Murray argued in 1921 that witchcraft in Europe should be interpreted as access to supernatural powers claimed by the suppressed pagan religions, and therefore by the Christian Church claimed to be heresy. So the Christians who were charged with witchcraft by ecclesiastical authorities were actually charged with trying to draw on these discredited resources, consulting or behaving as old-time healers, laying on unconsecrated hands, claiming to be visionaries, fortune tellers and exorcists whose lore--Egyptian, zodiacal, or whatever--derived from pre-Christian religions. It was likely, on this argument, that Joan of Arc and Gilles de Raie were rightly accused of witchcraft in that sense. Kaegi (1966) described a close parallel in fifth-century Byzantium.

Other historians remind us that Christianity has always been rough on rival religions. A modern version of Margaret Murray's thesis is offered by Ginzburg (1983) to account for the burning of witches in sixteenth-century Italy. The Catholic Church, highly centralised and thus more distanced from the lowly concerns of its flock, felt threatened by the practitioners of the old religions, who were offering the faithful more immediate help and healing. So the Inquisition prosecuted the religious irregulars for witchcraft and heresy. Had the young Lele priests who were suspended by their superiors wanted to defend their actions historically, they could have found plenty of precedents. But as Catholics they suffered from lack of an accepted demonology. In modern Zaire the Catholic Church is no doubt suffering from religious pluralism. Catholic missionaries are disadvantaged in competition with Protestant Churches and the neo-apostolic movement, Christian denominations which have clearly defined their doctrines concerning demons in a way that accommodates local sorcery beliefs (Ngokwey, personal communication).
It is obvious from the above that Mary Douglas was referring not to the kind of extreme caricatures of Margaret Murray's ideas that haunt the imaginations of the Ronald Huttons and Jacqueline Simpsons of this world, but rather to a much more modest thesis that does not necessarily claim anything more radical than this: the beliefs and practices of those persecuted during the Witch-Hunts of the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries were "derived from pre-Christian religions."

But even that is already too much for Hutton, far too much, and he will have none of it. For he has made it clear that his position is that Margaret Murray must be dishonorably drummed out Academia altogether. It is not enough to criticize aspects of her scholarship, the scholar herself must be personally mocked and vilified. And Mary Douglas makes things worse, much worse, by saying that it isn't so much Murray's thesis that she actually has in mind as Carlo Ginzburg's writings, which Douglas sees as a "modern version of Margaret Murray's thesis." But ... but why would one of the world's most celebrated living historians have put forward a "modern version" of a thesis that had already been "completely discredited"?

Hmmmm. It makes one wonder if anyone else didn't get the memo? "As it turns out" (which, as it turns out, is what Apple Store employees are trained to say instead of "unfortunately" when "it turns out" that your warranty expired before your PowerBook's logic board did) the list of scholars in whose eyes Margaret Murray's ideas are not completely discredited is rather long, and includes, in addition to Mary Douglas and Carlo Ginzburg: Christina Larner, Ruth Martin, Dorothy Watts, Alan Macfarlane, P.G. Maxwell-Stuart, Anne Barstow, George Luck, Emma Wilby, Richard Horsley, Eva Pocs, Lizzie Henderson, and Keith Thomas, just to name a dozen off the top of my head.

But before going any further, let's get clear on what is actually meant by "Margaret Murray's thesis". As it turns out, this phrase can mean one of the two following things:

(1) The "Incomplete Christianization of Europe Thesis" (ICET) claims that the Witch-Hunts were launched as a kind of theologico-military mopping-up operation to eliminate surviving Pagan beliefs and practices still left over from the pre-Christian religions of Europe.

(2) The "Maximal Witch Cult Thesis" (MWCT) claims that an organized religion, constituting a homogenous cult throughout Europe, had survived intact and virtually unchanged since the Stone-Age, and that this was the Pagan religion of the Witches who were persecuted during the Burning Times.

While it is true that Murray herself claimed something more than the ICET, it is also true that she did not claim as much as the MWCT. But it is the MWCT that Hutton, Simpson, and their ilk, consistently attribute to Murray, while dishonestly treating all instances of support for any portion of the ICET as amounting to blind acceptance of the full-blown MWCT.

In follow-up posts I will provide specific citations, along with excerpts and commentary, for each of the twelve scholars mentioned above whose work lends at least partial support to the "Incomplete Christianization of Europe Thesis."

Follow-up posts:

Margaret Murray's Thesis "Contained A Kernel Of Truth" (Carlo Ginzburg)

"I've found a more personal, pagan kind of religion to satisfy the spiritual side of things."

"We were very provocative,
very disdainful and superior.
It must have been annoying."

Star Foster (of Patheos fame) tweeted this quote last Friday from Julian Clary: "I've found a more personal, pagan kind of religion to satisfy the spiritual side of things."

As soon as I saw it I had to track down the source. It's such a perfect little quote -- I was afraid it wasn't real. Too perfect. You know? And on top of that, it is usually given without any specific attribution.

But it is for real. It's from a piece about Clary written by Elizabeth Grice for the UK Telegraph: 'Revenge was always my motivation'. It first appeared on June 6, 2006. Here's an excerpt.
There was never a moment when Clary told his Roman Catholic parents he was homosexual, nor did they bring the subject up. Perhaps it was just too obvious. Perhaps their levels of tolerance and belief in personal privacy were unusually high. They sound like amazing people. Concerned mainly about his health and happiness, the nearest they came to criticism was: "Don't be quite so obvious. It's not a problem, but you don't have to go on about it."

But the point about Julian Clary is that he did have to go on about it. It was his deliberate way of dealing with taunts, even as a prepubescent schoolboy. At his secondary school, run by Benedictine monks who beat him, he and his gay friend, Nick Reader, exaggerated their effeminacy to an outrageous degree. "The bullying was hideous and relentless," he says, "and we turned it round by making ourselves celebrities. We found humour in the situation. We were very provocative, very disdainful and superior. It must have been annoying."

When he started to draw cabaret audiences for being the very thing he had been persecuted for, revenge was sweet. "It was a reversal of all I had experienced at school. I was vindicated. It was all about wanting to get revenge. Pathetic, really, but it still is the motivation."

For a time, he carried on going to church with his mother when he went home at weekends, "just to keep her company", but he found it traumatic to be stared at. "I thought they were staring at me because I was gay. But it was because I was on the telly." Though he's currently "in an interesting correspondence with a nun about forgiveness", his links with homophobic Catholicism have dissolved. "In a way, I miss it. But I've found a more personal, pagan kind of religion to satisfy the spiritual side of things."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Christina Larner on the Meaning of "Witchcraft"

The two excerpts below are both from Christina Larner's Enemies of God: The Witch-Hunt in Scotland. For more on Larner see this other recent post: Witchcraft: Black and White in Color. Both excerpts emphasize the historical reality of Witches being associated with beneficial magic, including healing, divination, and love magic.

White witchcraft is concerned with the healing arts, with prophecy, with finding lost objects, with the supply of love potions, and with performance and rituals designed to counter black witchcraft. White witchcraft always involves manipulative sorcery [that is, the use of incantations and/or ritual objects]. Black witchcraft or malefice may or may not involve sorcery, but some indication, whether articulate and precise cursing, gnomic utterance, or scarcely audible mumbling, is usually necessary to establish that the mobilization of powerful ill will has been attempted.

Most societies make this distinction. European Civil Law decreed that white witchcraft, though culpable, was not punishable by death, whereas black witchcraft was [Larner here cites Book IX, Title 18 of the Codex Justinianus, which explicitly exempts from punishment those who use "incantations" either to cure illnesses or to protect crops from hail or flood while condemning to death (often specifying particular means of torture and execution) all enchanters, magicians, Pagan priests, astrologers, soothsayers, etc.] The distinction was eroded by Canon Law and the commentators specializing in demonology in that all supernatural power not emanating from the Church was deemed to be demonic. Those claiming to heal outside the context of the Church must have got their powers from the Devil. The abolition of the distinction did find an echo in peasant experience in that the healer as a person of power was potentially threatening. Power was neutral but could be used to harm as well as to heal, and it became a common feature of European witch-trials that the accused was said to have both laid on and taken off disease. The most extreme position with regard to the conflation of black and white magic may well have been that taken in the Scottish Witchcraft Act of 1563 in which the consulters of witches were said to be worthy of death in same manner as the practitioners. Any acknowledgment of an unofficial source of power was to be supressed. The attitude of a polity towards white witchcraft is an indication of the level of anxiety about non-conformity. England continued to tolerate cunning men and women (who were quite distinct from black witches) throughout the period of the prosecution. Major witch-hunts in Scotland and on the continent on the other hand tended to engulf the healer along with the curser.
[p. 9]


Amidst the diversity of beliefs about healing, the factor which stands out most clearly is the figure of the healer herself. It was she who had the power, and this power was strengthened, as it is in modern medicine, by secrecy, impressive procedures, mystery, and arduous performances by the patient. The sufferer was not expected to understand exactly how he was being healed or the purpose of the consultation and the relationship between him and the healer would disssolve. The same held true when the healer was brought in for veterinary purposes. When Robert Hutton's mother-in-law sent for Bessie Paine to cure a sick cow 'the said Bessie Paine ... caue the Cow to be put throw ane hanck of green yairne speaking some words which the personnes present did not understand and yreftir the Cow was cured.' Agnes Johnstoun's accusation against Bessie Graham in 1650 included her response to a request to heal her child. Bessie 'Tuik the bellt and wettit it' (a common form of divination) 'muttering some speiches with greit gauting eftir which she told the said Agnes that the chyld was seik and wald not leive and it provit so and the chyld died presentlie'.

In fact the charm, the failed charm, the favourable prophecy, the unfavourable prophecy, and the curse are close closely connected, and essentially fall from the lips of the same person, the person of power. In seventeenth-century Scotland blessing adn cursing, black and white magic, went hand in hand, and this assumptino was shared by peasant and lawyer alike -- and by victim and practitioner. Popular belief and practic reinforced Canon Law rather than Civil Law.

Accusations of healing, such as that cited, were listed alongside accusations of malefice, and Bessie Paine was not only said to have cured. It was alleged that she came to a house in which she had formerly lived (from which we may assume she had been evicted) after the new tenant had moved in, 'and sitting down upon her knees upon the hearth staene she said "all the witchcraft which I have I leave it here"'. The new tenant, Robert Sturgeon, as a result of this curse upon his house, was reckoned to have lost within a year and a quarter above thirty cattle dead, 'and nothing he took in hand did prosper during his possession of that rowme (place).'
[p. 142]