Monday, March 25, 2013

"She was of the old way of mind [i.e. a Witch]" (1878)

"Kona hét Þórhildur og kölluð Vaðlaekkja og bjó að Naustum. Hún var forn í lund og vinur Guðmundar mikill."

The above is a quote from the Ljósvetninga Saga (the full text in Old Icleandic is at the Icelandic Saga Database), which tells of the story of the chieftain Guðmundr and his descendants. In the course of the story, Guðmundr seeks the assistance of Þórhildur, who is described as "forn í lund", where "forn" means "old" or "ancient", and "lund" means "mind" as in mental disposition (according to Geir T. Zoëga's very handy online Dictionary of Old Icelandic).

In 1878, Guðbrandur Vigfússon and Frederic York Powell published their An Icelandic prose reader, with notes, grammar, and glossary. A note on the passage above states that "forn í lund" means "a witch, one given to the dealings of old days; lit. of the old fashion or mind, opposed to the new faith." Then in 1905, Vigfússon and Powell published a series of translations of Old Icelandic material under the title Origines Islandicae, with the Ljósvetninga Saga being translated in volume two of that series. Here is their translation of the passage in question:

"There was a woman named Thorhild, and she was called Wadle-widow, and dwelt at Naust or Dock. She was of the old way of mind [i. e. a witch] and a great friend of Gudmund."

What did Guðmundr ask of the "Witch" Þórhildur, and how did she respond? Guðmundr wanted to know whether or not "any revenge will ever come to pass for Thorkel Hake"? (Hake was a man that Gudmund had killed.) To answer her friend's question, Þórhildur donned fighting gear, and then waded into the sea slashing at the water with her battle-axe. She returned to report that Guðmundr has nothing to fear and that "thou shalt sit in honor all thy days". But then Guðmundr further asked about his sons. Again the Witch enacted a ritual battle with the churning water, but this time "there was a great crash and all the sea turned bloody", and Þórhildur tells Guðmundr that danger "will steer near one of thy sons." At this point Þórhildur says to Guðmundr that she can tell him no more, and that the effort has already cost her dearly.

So, to sum up, this is clearly a case of a "Witch" who is a good friend to the hero Guðmundr, and who is eagerly sought out by him for her ability to foretell the future. When asked to do so by her friend, she willingly expends herself greatly to help him with her magic. So, while this story comes from Old Icelandic, the fact that an English translator working in direct collaboration with a native Icelander who was one of the 19th century's most celebrated Scandinavian scholars and who, moreover, had lived in England for many decades already, chose in 1878 to refer to Guðmundr as a "Witch" is quite significant. In the first place it directly contradicts the three central tenets of Ronald Hutton's so-called "global definition of witchcraft", according to which a "Witch" is (1) hated by others, (2) malevolent toward others, and (3) uses her magic to harm others. Additionally it provides yet another example of the English word "Witch" being used explicitly to characterize those who resist Christianization and stubbornly persist in the Old Ways.

Friday, March 22, 2013

John Morehead's Mission

Before becoming a mainstream evangelical Christian, John Morehead was for many years a member of a Mormon offshoot group called  the Reorganized Latter Day Saints (RLDS), which changed its name to "Community of Christ" in 2001. After leaving RLDS/Community of Christ, Morehead became active in the evangelical "anti-cult ministry" movement, that is, in various efforts by mainstream evangelical groups aimed at converting members of "cults", such as Mormons, Jehovahs Witnesses, and so forth. These "anti-cult" groups also target western Buddhists, Hindus, New Agers and Pagans. Eventually Morehead decided that a new approach was needed by the "anti-cult" missionaries, and he began to advocate for an outwardly more subtle and nuanced style that, for example, ditched the word "cult" in favor of the more politically correct "new religious movement" label. But Morehead has made it unambiguously clear in his own writings that the fundamental nature and end goal of this rebranded "anti-cult" work remains unchanged: the furtherance of the Great Commission, that is, the conversion of humanity to Christianity by way of the eradication of all non-Christian religions.

Below is an updated list of some essential reading for anyone interested in the career mission of John Morehead.

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Mission Challenge of New Religious Movements
International Journal of Frontier Missions, 1998
"In 1993 I was privileged to be able to assist Jim Stephens [for more on John Morehead's good friend and mentor Jim Stevens, see "How to Witness to Buddhists"] as he served to prepare a special IJFM edition dealing with mission to Buddhists (IJFM, Vol. 10:3, July 1993). As a former member of a pseudo-Christian sect, and given my work as a Christian researcher and missionary to new religious movements (NRMs) after becoming a Christian, I was eager to someday explore the possibility of approaching a mission periodical about discussing the challenge of new religious movements to Christian missionary efforts. Thankfully, Dr. Hans Weerstra, the editor of IJFM, has provided us with just suchan opportunity."

The Watchman Fellowship: Morehead's former comrades in the spiritual war against "cults". Morehead joined Watchman in 1999, at which time the "discernment ministry" organization headed by Morehead, the "Truthquest Institute", merged with Watchman.

Why Sacred Tribes Journal? 1999
The lead editorial of the first issue of "Sacred Tribes Journal," coauthored by Morehead and Jon Trott, Philip Johnson. "The purpose of this international online journal is to explore ways in which to bridge the gulf between the disciplines of cult apologetics,contextual missiology and religious studies."

Tired of Treading Water: Rediscovering and Reapplying a Missiological Paradigm for 'Countercult' Ministry
paper presented at the annual meeting of Evangelical Ministries to New Religions, New Orleans, 2000.

Missiological Paradigms (2002)
Presentation to the annual meeting of Evangelical Ministries to New Religions
“Listening to the concerns of our critics [cults] …making changes in our ministries in light of any valid criticisms they may bring.”

Religious and Non-Religious Spirituality in the Western World ("New Age")
Lausanne Occasional Paper No. 45, 2004
"A provocative way of presenting the gospel in New Spirituality festivals is via tarot cards. John Drane, Ross Clifford and Philip Johnson have developed this approach. Understandably, most Christians will baulk at the idea because tarot cards have occult connections. To properly argue why tarot cards could be used as a device for communicating the gospel would require a lengthy paper .... At the Mind-Body-Spirit festival, Clifford and Johnson have created an innovative and incarnational method of sharing the gospel through the use of tarot cards. They note, 'We always indicate that divination from the cards is clearly contrary to Scripture, but that the classic A. E. Waite deck is full of biblical images.' "

Encountering New Religious Movements: A Holistic Evangelical Approach
Irving Hexham, Stephen Rost, John Morehead, published in 2004
excerpt from Introduction:
"Toward the end of the twentieth century, a new climate of opinion concerning new religions began to be expressed by Christian authors writing from different reference points in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Australia. Through various books, journals, and periodicals, they began to question the evangelical understanding of many new religious groups and movements, and the effectiveness of the dominant apologetic methodology in reaching their adherents. Many argued that the apologetic refutation of 'cultic' teachings had not translated into effective communication of the gospel to new religionists in understandable terms. They indicated that this impasse might be overcome through an interdisciplinary methodology that would include the integration of contextualized mission principles into the apologist’s task."

Insights from Communications and Missions for New Religions
A 2005 article by John Morehead published at the StandingTogether.Org website.
"The history of missions teaches us that the most effective evangelism takes place within the context of relationships. This may be one of evangelicalism’s greatest challenges as we face our need to move increasingly outside our evangelical subculture in order to develop relationships with our neighbors representing differing religions. We should also remember that these relationships need to be authentic and open, and not merely a means to the end of evangelism. Evangelicals might consider that not only do we have something to offer in relationships with those of other religions, but we can learn things of value from these relationship partners as well."

John Morehead on Ronald Hutton 2005
It turns out that John Morehead is quite a fan of Ronald Hutton. No comment.

John Morehead on Ronald Hutton 2007
Did I mention that Morehead is a Hutton fan?

John Morehead interviews Irving Hexham 2007
"Irving, it is a pleasure to be able to talk with you and to learn a few important lessons about religion in our global culture. Let's start with a little of your background. How did you come to the Christian faith, and where did you pursue your academic studies?"

☆ John Morehead interviews Karla Poewe 2007
"In your book you mention certain forms of Neo-Paganism played a part in the National Socialism of Germany. Of course, National Socialism and racist ideologies are still to be found in Europe and the West today, and there also seems to be an increase of interest in certain expressions of Neo-Paganism with emphases on racial and ethnic emphases. How are some forms of Paganism connected to the New Right today?"

Burning Man Festival as Life-Enhancing, Post-Christendom 'Middle Way'
An interview with John Morehead from 2007
"Perhaps our careful theological and missiological reflection on these aspects of Burning Man might be used by the Spirit to provide the seeds for the church's revitalization and renewed credibility in the post-Christendom West."

The Western Institute for Intercultural Studies (WIIS) (founded 2008)
"In the past I worked through an organization called Neighboring Faiths Project, but various circumstances have come together to result in a transformation of this organization into something new ... WIIS represents an expansion and revision of the work begun several years ago under the previous organization that have been transferred over to the new ministry. For some time now it has been my desire to help evangelicals and mainline Protestant Christians come to a new way of understanding the new re movements in America and the Western world, one that shifts from viewing many of them as 'cults' to a broader framework that understands them as religious or spiritual cultures or subcultures. Within this context I have been pursuing a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the new religions, and have also been reflecting on the history of Christian missions and cross-cultural missiology as sources that can inform how the story of Jesus might more appropriately be shared with those pursuing alternative spiritual pathways." [from the Morehead's Musings blog]

New Religions, Subjective Life Spiritualities, and the Challenge to Missions in the Post-Christian West
By John Morehead (July 2008)
"One of the greatest challenges the Church faces in the modern Western context is the general turn away from interest in and involvement with institutionalized forms of religion, such as Christianity, and the corresponding move toward an inward and subjective expression of spirituality."

JOHN MOREHEAD and Friends: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing?
by Carol Guffey February 28, 2008
This is a very interesting attack on Morehead by an evangelical who thinks Morehead is too cozy with teh Pagunz. That, of course, is perfectly predictable, and if that's all there was to it, this kind of attack would only serve to highlight Morehead's role as the "soft-cop" to the more typical evangelical "hard-cop". But what's interesting is the background the piece gives on Morehead's biography, and especially his trajectory from splinter group Mormon (Community of Christ, née RLDS), to ex-Mormon counter-cult activist, to the "more sensitive and holistic approach" of Moreheads current missionary efforts.

John Morehead on Ronald Hutton 2009
Did I mention that I have no comment on the fact that John Morehead is a fan or Ronald Hutton?

John Morehead on Ronald Hutton 2010

Lausanne Issue Group on Religious and Non-Religious Spirituality Set to Meet in Hong Kong (May 2012)
"This strategic group continues to address the often-neglected missional challenge of new religious movements, alternative religions and emerging spiritualities in the Western world. After the 2004 gathering the group completed a substantial document on this topic in the form of Lausanne Occasional Paper No. 45 that was published in book form in addition to the electronic file on the Lausanne website. The issue group has also created a website in preparation for a mini-consultation in Hong Kong at the Tao Fong Shan Christian Centre 30 September to 6 October 2006."

Parallelling the Enemy?: A Consideration of the Pagan Countercult   August 08, 2012
In which John Morehead insists "I am not a stealth evangelist."

A Biblical Foundation for Interreligious Engagement
By John W. Morehead, November 11, 2012
"Years ago I was on staff with a major apologetics ministry that provided seminars for churches on various 'cult' groups. They used an approach to Scripture that is commonly found among Evangelicals as they encounter both "cult" groups (or new religious movements) like Mormonism, as well as world religions such as Islam. This involves a confrontational method of citing various biblical passages on important Evangelical doctrines in contrast with the teachings of a competing religious group. There are a select number of Bible verses that are appealed to as a foundation for this approach, and these include Jesus and his stern rebuke of Jewish leaders, New Testament texts warning about false teaching in the church, as well as Old Testament passages warning about false prophets, and the example of Elijah confronting the prophets of Baal.

"As I studied these passages and considered the broader framework of biblical teaching, I came to the conclusion that this understanding was flawed. Later, as part of the 2004 Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization's issue group that explored Evangelical responses to "cults," I became part of an international group of missions practitioners and scholars who had come to the same conclusions as I. It resulted in one of the more significant papers to come out of that Lausanne gathering."

Related posts from this blog: 
[The most recent posts are at the bottom. Most of the latest posts (marked with a "") are specifically concerned with Morehead and his immediate circle, while other posts cover a wide range of topics related to Christian missionaries in general.]

Also of possible interest: back in the 90s, Morehead was something of a "specialist" in Anthroposophy:

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Britomart's Glauce as a "Witch or Cunning-Woman", from 1735

Some Account of Merlin and the Figures that attend him, in the new erected Cave at Richmond
London Magazine, or Gentleman's Monthly Intelligencer, December, 1735

"After Merlin, the first Figure that presents itself is the Amazon Britomartis, by whom (as the Name seems to imply) we suppose is meant the martial Spirit of Britannia, as we see her represented on some of our Coins, half Soldier, half Woman, formidably arm'd, but extremely encumber'd with Petticoats.

"She seems to be in a very declining Condition, and (being no Conjurer herself) comes in the most anxious and submissive Manner to enquire her Fate from the Mouth of that Inchanter, who by his Skill in the Black Art had brought it to depend upon him.

"This Britomartis or Britannia is led by a lean elderly Lady whom some stile Glauce, mention'd by Spencer; others Melissa, from Ariosto; and others Mother Shipton, famous in British Story, but her Character and Office are better known, being allowed by all to be a sort of a Witch or Cunning-Woman, and something between Dry-Nurse and Governess to Britomartis, employed by Merlin in the blackest of his Art, viz. as his Priestess or Pope Joan. She is likewise a great Pretender to Science, and Diver into Mysteries."

Annie Lennox Wearing Mouse Ears. That Is All.

"Witches and other evils": Jacqueline Simpson and Steve Roud on Witches and Witchcraft

[Preamble: Many modern scholars of historical Witchcraft are committed to perpetuating a somewhat sanitized and rationalized redaction of the Christian theory of diabolical Witchcraft. The classical form of this theory is that Witches are in league with the Devil and committed to the cause of Evil in general and destruction of the Christian faith in particular. The updated version of this same myth, adjusted to be more palatable to modern intellectual sensibilities, maintains the idea that Witches are in fact "inherently evil", in the words of Ronald Hutton, although not necessarily literally in league with Satan, and, very importantly, not in any way at odds with Christendom. An important feature of the traditional Christian approach toward Witches were the urgent and frequent admonishments of churchmen to the common people to stop relying on Witches for a variety of magical services, especially in the areas of healing, divination, and protective (and/or counter) magic. In an impressive Orwellian twist, the modern purveyors of the theory of the inherently evil Witch adamantly deny that Witches were ever valued for their skill in magic, but that they were rather always and universally and unambiguously hated, and, for good measure, that Witches could never have conceivably provided such beneficial services, for they were filled with hatred toward their neighbors just much as their neighbors were filled with hatred toward them. In their Dictionary of English Folklore, Jacqueline Simpson and Steve Roud demonstrate what happens when proponents of the modern theory of the inherently evil Witch feel compelled to take into account, or at least to acknowledge the existence of, the large body of evidence that directly contradicts this theory. Time and again they are either forced into the most tortuous circular logic, or they are simply left with no choice but to flatly contradict themselves.]

In their A Dictionary of English Folklore (OUP, 2000) Jacqueline Simpson and Steve Roud (S&R hereafter) have quite a lot to say about Witches. Almost (but not quite) invariably they manage to stick to a position according to which Witches are implicitly assumed to be hated, malevolent workers of malefic magic. This is evident in entry after entry after entry. Below are three examples. (By the way, the full text of the Dictionary is available as a pdf file here:

1. Under the entry for "charm wands" we are told that these objects "were intended as protection against a witch’s evil eye." But if we look at the entry for "evil eye" we find that it is defined as "The belief that certain people can inflict disease or death simply by a glance."  Later in the definition it is simply asserted that "it was generally regarded as witchcraft, consciously used." [emphases added] This is a clear example of circular logic, where the assumption is that Witchcraft = malefic magic, and, therefore, the "evil eye" (being obviously a form of malefic magic) is "generally regarded as witchcraft". This is also an example of singling out Witches and Witchcraft, as opposed to other magical workers. The evil eye can just as easily be associated with people labeled as "sorcerers", "wizards", "black magicians", etc.

2. Under the entry for "holly" we read: "Holly trees were believed to be generally protective against witches and other evils, and were thus planted near churches and houses." [emphasis added]

3. Under the entry for "superstition" we read that among the many "patterns, formulas, and basic principles controlling modern superstitions" is this one: "Evil forces exist and are actively working to harm you; these may be impersonal, or concentrated in humans (witches, ill-wishers) or other beings (devils, fairies)."

Throughout S&R's Dictionary there is a clear pattern of associating Witches with malefic magic. Any one incident such as the three shown above might be overlooked, and focusing too much attention on it could be justifiably dismissed as niggling. But multiplied over and over again this becomes a systematic pattern of apparently intentional misrepresentation.

Keeping in mind this pattern of, often implicitly, insinuating that Witchcraft=malefic magic, let us see what happens when it comes time to explicitly define "Witch" and two closely related terms: "white Witch", and "cunning men/cunning women".

S&R begin their explicit definition of "Witch" by stating, as casually as possible, that: 
"The Old English word ‘witch’ meant ‘one who casts a spell’. Intrinsically neutral, it could be applied to those using magic helpfully."
But for S&R, such an unexpected flash of honesty is safely embedded inside a strategy of obfuscation. Having allowed the cat briefly out of the bag in the name of plausible deniability, S&R  waste no time in reintering the poor creature by adding the qualification that "in most contexts, however, ‘witchcraft’ means using magic to harm humans, farm animals, or property." In other words, Witches are not by definition malevolent workers of malefic magic, but that won't stop us from acting as if they invariably are. It goes without saying that S&R never even hint at which "contexts" are the ones in which we will find Witches "using magic helpfully" as opposed to those in which Witches are discovered "using magic to cause harm." And it would be simply out of the question to ask how it was determined that one of these sets of contexts so greatly outnumbers the other (or even what that might possibly mean, other than nothing).

Under the entry for 'white witch' the plot thickens considerably. Therein we read that
"This term, together with the equivalent 'good witch', or even 'witch' on its own, might be applied in Tudor and Stuart times to people who used healing spells and performed other useful services. Bishop Latimer complains in 1552 that 'A great many of us, when we be in trouble, or sickness, or lose anything, we run hither and thither to witches, or sorcerers, whom we call wise men ... seeking aid and comfort at their hands'. Reginald Scot notes in 1584 that 'At this day, it is indifferent to say in the English tongue, "she is a witch" or "she is a wise-woman"'."[emphasis added]
Once again, such a momentary lapse into telling the truth about the meaning and the history of the word "Witch" must be immediately followed by yet another exercise in trying to force the facts to fit their theory: "This usage seems rare in later folk-speech, where healers were politely called 'blessers', 'charmers', or 'wise women'. Nevertheless, [John] Brand and some other folklorists adopted the term 'white witch', so it is now widely known."

But it turns out that this "rare" usage actually turns up in quite a few sources from the period in question, including a famous satirical/political poem (by arguably the most famous poet of the times, which some have even called The Age of Dryden), at least three plays, at least two medical treatises, and the transcripts multiple Witchcraft trials, as well as many other works written by authors with widely varying views on the subject of Witchcraft (and who often heatedly criticize each other), but who all explicitly concur that Witches do in fact perform many different kinds of beneficial magic, and are often sought out by their neighbors (as well as by those who live far away) for a variety of magical services.

So, while S&R provide two sources to establish this ("rare") usage, they could have easily provided ten times that many, and more. But what evidence do they provide to substantiate the supposed "rareness" itself? Absolutely nothing. They themselves even feel compelled to admit that it only "seems rare". Perhaps it does not seem quite so rare to anyone who bothers to actually start to tally up just how often this usage is encountered.

And what about the claim that it is only due to John Brand that the specific phrase "white Witch" and the associated perception of Witches as workers of beneficial magic are nowadays "widely known"? Well, John Brand had absolutely nothing original to say about "white Witches", as the long list of sources in my earlier post on Beneficent Witchcraft clearly shows. It is a completely arbitrary and unsupported fantasy to claim that the phrase "white Witch" only became "well known" due to Brand's writings. Also, the contention that "white Witch" was not a part of "later folk-speech" actually amounts to an acknowledgement that it was in common usage ealier, and, furthermore, S&R present not one shred of evidence that the phrase somehow vanished from "folk-speech" while managing to remain ubiquitous in the written language.

A final point that can be made about S&R's definition of "white Witch" concerns one of the sources they cite: J.A. Sharpe's Instrument of Darkness: Witchcraft in Early Modern England, (UPenn, 1996). If we go to the cited pages in Sharpe's book we read about the trial in 1605 of Jone Jurdie. One of those called to testify at the trial was Katherin Dolfin, who swore under oath that she had gone to Jurdie "for helpe for her child", and that Jurdie had insisted Dolfin tell no one about this, lest "I [Jurdie] should be thought to be a Witch [for helping a woman with a sick child]." Sharpe's account of the trial is actually pretty lousy. The full transcript can be found in Volume 3 of the Gentleman's Magazine Library (1884) found here:

Finally we must now turn to the definition of "cunning men/cunning women". S&R begin this entry by talking very broadly about "people who were employed by others to practise magical skills on their behalf, and were paid in money or small gifts, thus usefully supplementing the income from their regular occupations." Soon after this, S&R broach the subject of what these magical practitioners were called:
"There were various popular names for them: wizards, conjurers, sorcerers, charmers, wise men/women, cunning men/ women, the latter two being the most widespread. ‘White witch’ was a term more used by outsiders than by practitioners and their clients."
The assertion that "‘White witch’ was a term more used by outsiders than by practitioners and their clients," is simply produced out of thin air. No sources are cited to support this assertion, nor is any other kind of evidence provided for this obviously self-serving claim. If one reads carefully, though, one notes that all of the terms listed, except for "cunning men/cunning women" are asserted to be less "widespread" than those two terms. So S&R are in fact claiming a rather detailed three-fold division of the terms used to refer to those who were sought out as providers of beneficial magical services, all without any justification. The fact is that if S&R were at this point to discuss their sources, they would be completely unable to provide any justification whatsoever, based on the very sources that they themselves are using, for the "insider/outsider" claim concerning the use of "white Witch", for there is not a single contemporaneous source which makes such a distinction in how these labels are applied.

So, according to Simpson and Roud the Old English word for "Witch" (wicca) simply meant someone who could perform magic, or, more specifically, a caster of spells (a reasonable, if overly narrow, way of putting it, considering the fact that the earliest texts that we have in which attempts are made to translate the Old English "wiccan" into Latin often render it as "incantores"). Also according to S&R, from the late 15th through the early 18th centuries (Tudor and Stuart periods), the word "Witch" is found (sometimes modified with "good" or "white", but sometimes on its own) being applied to practitioners of beneficial magic. And, finally, the word "Witch" is in fact another name for a cunning-person, that is, someone who performs a variety of much sought-after beneficial magical practices, such as finding lost or stolen objects, healing, foretelling the future, casting horoscopes, love magic, countering curses, etc. In other words, from pre-Conquest times up through and including the period of the early modern Witch-Hunts, "Witch" did not mean a hated, malevolent worker of malefic magic at all!

Witches and Witchcraft in Samuel Collins' "The Present State of Russia", 1671

Below are two excerps from:

The Present State of Russia
In a Letter to a Friend at London; 

Written by an Eminent Person residing at the Great Czars
Court at Mosco for the space of nine years.
London, 1671.
Samuel Collins
"Seldom a Wedding passes without some Witch-craft (if people of quality marry) chiefly acted as tis thought by Nuns, whose prime devotion tends that way. I saw a fellow coming out of the Bride-chamber, tearing his hair as though he had been mad, and being demanded the reason why he did so, he cry'd out: I am undone: I am bewitch'd: The remedy they use, is to address themselves to a white Witch, who for money will unveil the Charm, and untie the Codpiece-point, which was this young mans case; it seems some old Woman had tyed up his Codpiece-point."
[from Chapter II] 

 "Now we are in Chichass Land, it will not be amiss to tell you what people they are, viz. A kind of Tartars, a rude swarthy look'd people; their Women are very unhandsome, gross, and grosly given to drinking; so that at an Entertainment they will be drunk before meat comes on the Table, and with eating recover themselves, and after Dinner be drunk again, and then recover themselves by Dancing, which they love so much, that they count him a mean man who does not keep a Fidler in his house. Their Government is perfectly Anarchical, for upon an Insurreciton they destroy'd all their Nobility and Gentry, and are now govern'd by Collonels of their own chusing, with whom the meanest is Hail Fellow well met Souldiers they call in their Language, Cossacks, which makes some mistake, and think them to be a Nation. These people are much devoted to Witch-craft, and count it an extraordinary piece of learning practiced by the chief Women in the Countrey. They are more hospitable to Strangers than the Russians and their Countrey or Land is better and warmer."
[From Chapter X, Of the Chircasses]
Full text online in pdf format:

"Night Witches", aka Ночные ведьмы, aka Nachthexen. Google it.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Malevolent Magic and "The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft"

In a recent post (link) it was shown that of the 876 Scottish Witchcraft cases for which there is data characterizing the accusations, at least 21% of these cases involved some kind of benevolent magic. (To look at this data directly for yourself, see the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft website, the complete citation for which appears at the bottom of this post.)

Now here's an interesting question: in how many of these same 876 cases were people explicitly accused of malevolent magic? Fortunately, maleficium is one of the main "characterizations" used by the researchers at the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft to categorize the cases in their database.

The answer to this particular $64K question is that a grand total of 414 cases involved accusations of maleficium. This means that of all the 3,413 (or so) documented Witchcraft trials in Scotland only 12% are known to have involved explicit accusations of harmful magic. Just to explain (especially for anyone who has been following these posts on Scottish Witchcraft trials closely) 12% is what you get using the same "logic" that the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft applied to their "analysis" of beneficial magic. That is, 12% is the percentage of all cases in the database, not just those cases where we actually have some information about the nature of the charges. (The "grand total" figure of 3,413 is the number of records returned for a search with all of the filters set to "any".)

But if instead of 3,414, we use the total of 876, based on the (much more reasonable, if I do say so myself) methodology that I suggeted in that previous post, to estimate the frequency with which any given "characterization" occurs (that is, only counting those cases for which sufficient information is present to say something meaningful about such "characterizations"), we still end up with the result that less than half, only 47% (about what Mitt Romney got in the last election), of all Witchcraft cases involved explicit accusations of using magic to cause harm.

Could it be that the folks at the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft are using the Latin term maleficium in some very special way that doesn't include all cases of accusations of harmful magic? I have to wonder, because it is widely assumed among scholars of historical Witchcraft that accusations of maleficium were the norm, even the defining feature, of Witchcraft accusations generally. But there is no entry for maleficium in their glossary, nor is there any explanation of the term in the paper "Survey of Scottish Witchcraft Database Documentation and Description" (where one can find an explanation of their use of the term "white magic", which is also missing from the glossary). However, if we make a very quick and dirty search of the writings of lead researcher Julian Goodare, we immediately find two places where he defines maleficium as either "the use of magic to harm one's neighbors", or, more elaborately, as pertaining to cases in which "it was claimed that witches had inflicted harm by supernatural, i.e., diabolical, means." (See, The Scottish Witch-Hunts in Context, page 161 and 179.) So, no, it does not appear that there is any terminological anomaly here. So the 414 cases in the database that are characterized as involving "malefecium" are the only cases for which there is real evidence of an accused Witch who was explicitly accused of using magic to cause harm to others.

Why, then, do so many scholars not only implicitly assume but explicitly assert that maleficium is the essential defining feature of historical Witchcraft? The list of respected academics who have promoted this unfounded view includes some rather well known names in addition to Julian Goodare's, for example: Wolfgang Behringer, Owen Davies, Jacqueline Simpson, Steve Roud, and Ronald Hutton. Hutton has even gone so far as to concoct what he calls a "global definition of witchcraft", which elevates this false equation of Witchcraft with maleficium to the level of metaphysics. Clearly it is high time for scholars of historical Witchcraft to take a much closer look at the hard data concerning both malevolent and benevolent magic.

[Full citation for The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft: Julian Goodare, Lauren Martin, Joyce Miller and Louise Yeoman, 'The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft', (archived January 2003, accessed March 2013).]

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Julian Goodare Contradicts His Own Data on Witches and Healers

The following is presented not because it is breaking news, but precisely because it is old news. Very old. And stale to boot. There is, sadly, nothing the least bit original or surprising about yet another pontificating academic spreading misinformation about Paganism and Witchcraft in the name of "debunking some myths".

Which brings us to a 2010 Guardian article, The truth about witches and witch-hunters, by the distinguished researcher Julian Goodare (Reader in History at Edinburgh University). In that article, Goodare posed the question: "So what about the 'wise women', the midwives and healers?" To which he provides the following answer:

In fact, midwives were hardly ever accused of witchcraft. Traditional, magical healers (men as often as women) were sometimes prosecuted, but only if they were seen to have misused their powers, harming instead of helping. Healers sometimes even encouraged witch-hunting, helping clients to identify the person who had bewitched them.

Unfortunately for Professor Goodare, his own data flatly contradicts what he has written. According to the information publicly available at the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft website (for which Goodare was the lead researcher), folk healers were actually quite a frequent target of Witchcraft accusations. In those cases where we have some information concerning the specifics of the charges and who the charges were against, almost 1/5 of the accused Witches were folk healers (and it is more than one out of five if we include midwives and practitioners of "white magic"). And half of the known cases involving folk healers did not involve any accusation of using magic to cause harm. Here are the numbers:

876 cases with information about the charges against the individual
141 cases of accusations against folk healers (21%)
74 of the cases against folk healers also involved maleficium (52 %)

For a little more background on where these numbers come from, along with some brief analysis, see this previous post: Benevolent Magic and "The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft."

Also par for the course is the fact that Goodare not only misrepresents the numbers themselves, but he fantastically oversells the quality of the existing data concerning historical Witchcraft. His own website makes it clear that in the large majority (nearly 3/4) of the Witchcraft trials for which we have any records at all there is no real information about what people were actually charged with. Obviously (or at least one would hope it should be obvious) when such basic information is missing one cannot determine, one way or the other, anything about whether such cases involved folk-healing, midwifery, or anything else. But Goodare ignores such concerns and defies the most basic principles of logical reasoning by assuming that cases in which there is no evidence of what Witches were accused of doing can be cited as positive evidence of what Witches were not accused of doing.

You see, simply being named in a Witchcraft accusation (and, as a matter of fact, in a great many cases even the names are missing!) could mean any of a dizzying variety of things. It could mean that one of your neighbors claimed to have seen you literally flying through the air riding on a broomstick. Or it could mean that you were implicated in a plot to poison the King. Or it could mean that you were suspected of using incantations to cure a sick child. Or it could mean that you were accused of helping a neighbor retrieve stolen goods, or of giving your neighbor's cow the evil eye, or of casting a horoscope, or of formally renouncing your Christian baptism. And so forth.

But, to repeat myself, when we do have information about what people were actually charged with, these cases frequently involved folk healing (and this frequency increases the more categories of benevolent magic we add in). And when folk healing, or some other form of benevolent magic, was involved in Witchcraft prosecutions, this did not automatically mean that there was also an accusation of maleficium, even though Goodare, who would know better if he looked more closely at his own data (but I assume that is what graduate students are for?) misrepresents that this was the case. 

Whatever criticisms I may have of Goodare, however, are to a great extent mitigated by the important work he has done in making so much data on the Scottish Witchcraft trials readily available to the public. But when Goodare goes out of his way to contradict that very data, well, he really should be called on it.

[Here is the complete citation of the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft, taken from their "how to cite us" page: Julian Goodare, Lauren Martin, Joyce Miller and Louise Yeoman, 'The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft', (archived January 2003, accessed March 2013).]

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Benevolent Magic and "The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft"

[This post discusses the extraordinarily informative website The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft. Here is how they like to be cited: Julian Goodare, Lauren Martin, Joyce Miller and Louise Yeoman, 'The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft', (archived January 2003, accessed March 2013).]

Over at the "The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft" website, one can read the following, on the page "Introduction to Scottish Witchcraft":

"Q. Were the witches midwives or healers?
A. Not usually. We have recorded 9 individuals whose occupation was recorded as being a midwife, and for 10 people midwifery practices were included as part of the accusations of witchcraft levelled against them. This is a tiny percentage of the overall total. Folk healing was more common and featured in the witchcraft accusations of 141 people—about 4%. Even so, it was not something that the typical witch seems to have engaged in—though the beliefs that underpinned folk healing were closely related to witchcraft beliefs. If magic could be used to heal, it could also be used to harm."
On the face of it this seems very straightforward. A simple matter of arithmetic. But if we drill down a little into the database itself, the picture quickly become more interesting.

"Folk healing" and "midwifery" are two of the sixteen different categories that the researchers at the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft call "characterizations". Here are all sixteen in descending order (according to how many cases were found to possess the particular "characterization" in question): 
  1. Implicated by another Witch 948
  2. Demonic 528
  3. Maleficium 414
  4. Folk Healing 141
  5. Neighborhood dispute 120
  6. Fairies 113
  7. Unorthodox religious practice 85
  8. Demonic Possession 79
  9. White magic 70
  10. Property Motive 62
  11. Political motive 52
  12. Consulting 46
  13. Other/Unknown 23 
  14. Treason  19
  15. Refused charity to economic dependent 19
  16. Midwifery 10
Right off the bat one can see a major problem, for there is no way that these numbers add up to 3,413, which (apparently) is the total number of cases that was used to arrive at the "about 4%" figure, which in turn was used to justify the claim that magical healing was not something that the "typical" Scottish Witch was involved with. The disparity is even greater when we realize that there is a great deal of overlap due to the fact that many trials involved two or more of the sixteen "characterizations".

Let me put that another way, before getting into the gruesome details: the percentage given ("about 4%") is artificially small because the total number of cases used to calculate the percentage is greatly exaggerated. The total is exaggerated because it is mostly (see below) made up of cases for which we have no idea what the accused Witches in question were actually accused of. It is highly misleading to include those cases in which we have no information of any kind about what the accused person actually did, as if these cases represented positive evidence of what accused Witches did not do.

In fact, it turns out that less than half (1,511) of all the surviving trial records in the database have any information that allows for assigning any of the sixteen categories to them. This is easily verified by going to the "Search the database" page, then selecting "Search for cases of witchcraft by date and characterisation" link. Once there you go to the "characterization" table and select everything except for "any" (that particular selection is fairly misleading, for it does not mean "any characterization" but, rather "any case, regardless of whether or not it has any characterization assigned to it"), and then over to the right be sure to select the "Any selected option (OR)" button. This means you are selecting every case for which at least one of the sixteen different "characterizations" has been assigned. Then you click the 'Search Cases" button and, voila, a list of all cases matching that search appears, with the total number of cases helpfully appearing at the top of the list.

But it gets even worse, because almost half of these 1,511 cases, in turn, have "implicated by another Witch" as the only "characterization" that has been applied to the case, and this obviously has no bearing on what the accused Witch was actually accused of doing (or wasn't accused of doing). And so if we now eliminate those trials for which the only characterization was that it involved "implication by another Witch", which, to repeat, tells us nothing about what the accused Witch was actually accused of, there are only 876 cases left. Here is a brief summary:

3,413 cases total (the number of cases returned with all filters set to "any")
1,511 cases with enough information for one or more "characterization"
876 cases with any "characterization" other than "implicated by another Witch"

This suddenly increases by fourfold (up to 16%) the percentage of Witches involved in folk healing, if we limit ourselves, as we should, to only those cases where we have some factual, documented basis for saying whether or not the accused were involved in such practices.

But there is also another category that demands our attention: "white magic," which is category #9 in the full list of all sixteen "characterizations" listed above. For some reason, the term "white magic" isn't included in the (otherwise) very helpful glossary at the site, but it is discussed in the paper "Survey of Scottish Witchcraft Database Documentation and Description," where one reads that "white magic" encompasses a variety of activities including astrology, love magic, and finding lost goods. The grand total of cases involving either "folk healing", "midwifery", or "white magic" brings us up to 181 cases, which is 21% of all cases for which such information is available.

In other words, the answer to the question "were Witches midwives or healers?" is a simple "yes". This becomes even more the case if we further include other documented cases of beneficial magic ("white magic") along with "folk healing" and "midwifery". And on top of all that we must add the fact that Witches who practiced healing and other forms of beneficial magic tend to be systematically underrepresented in the trial records, because they were less likely to have charges brought against them .

The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft is an extraordinarily informative website. It is a shame that it is to some extent marred by such an egregious misrepresentation of the very data that it provides. The relationship between beneficial magic and Witchcraft is now a very "hot topic" in the scholarly study of historical Witchcraft. Unfortunately, a few scholars involved in this field appear to have an agenda that impels them to exaggerate the malefic characterizations of Witches and Witchcraft, while either denying outright, or systematically trying to diminish the clearly documented historical relationship between Witches and beneficial magic. Because certain widely respected scholars are now very aggressively promoting such an agenda, it is possible even for unbiased researchers, let alone the "lay" public at large, to unintentionally become convinced of (and even complicit in the spread of) crude misrepresentations of historical Witches.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Witchcraft and Benevolent Magic in Finland

Below are three excerpts from the writings of Raisa Maria Toivo on Witchcraft in Finland. The first two are from her book Witchcraft and Gender in Early Modern Society: Finland and the Wider European Experience (Ashgate 2008), and the third is from her article Marking (dis)order: witchcraft and the symbolics of hierarchy in late seventeenth and early eighteenth century Finland, which is the first chapter of the anthology Beyond the Witch Trials: Witchcraft and Magic in Enlightenment Europe, edited by Owen Davies and Willem De Blécourt (Manchester, 2004).

excerpt 1
Benevolence or malevolence was a relative quality, begging the definition of good and bad and from whose side is that determined. Rather a lot of benevolent magic consisted of ensuring healthier and more productive cattle, better fishing luck, more butter and beer and so on, but the rest of the villagers present this magic as theft; 'milk thieves' were commonly spoken of. Curing illnesses was often seen as transferring it to someone--or something--else. Exposing thieves and so forth might well be less than righteous and good when a petty thief--as despised and dishonest as they were--was uncovered through deadly accidents. Most often maleficium and vikdskepelse were confused in courts. Moreover, there is not, in the Finnish material, any way to distinguish between witches who performed malevolent witchcraft and those who performed different kinds of benevolent magic: they are the same people, even when semi-professional, and charges were often mixed in the same trials.
[pp. 41-2 in Witchcraft and Gender in Early Modern Society: Finland and the Wider European Experience]

excerpt 2
The question of witchcraft and power must not be asked on the basis of a benevolent/malevolent distinction. In most cases of good magic, one could ask whom it was good for: if a thief was caught by making him mad, was it good? Moreover, most witches in the Finnish material as well as elsewhere seem to have performed both kinds of magic; good and bad, causing and curing illness, procruring cattle luck and stealing it, as all Agata's trials [referring to multiple legal proceedings involving Agata Pekantyär during the 1670s and 1680s] show. The witnesses in all Agata's witchcraft trials recounted both benevolent and harmful magic, and the same is true of Risto Olavinpoinka, the semi-professional witch who was the Sawo household's favorite son-in-law's father. It is also true of many other witches from the 1660s onwards--before that, benevolent magic was rarely prosecuted in secular courts.

The tasks of good and bad witches were not clearly defined, and, like most Europeans, Finns, too, believed that witches, saints and in general people who could make bad things good, cure illnesses or improve bad luck could also cause the same things. The line between good and bad magic seems an arbitrary one, imposed from outside by contemporary elites and later historians. Moreover, harmful as well as benevolent magic may command a certain amount of respect, if it is thought of as an ability to influence things which others cannot, a knowledge which others do not have.
[p. 131 in Witchcraft and Gender in Early Modern Society: Finland and the Wider European Experience]

excerpt 3
[T]he story of a widow called Agata Pekantyär is very instructive. Agata worked a sizeable farm in Ulvila. Like most of those accused of witchcraft and vidskepelse [benevolent magic], but contrary to some modern popular beliefs, she was neihter old nor poor. She was linked to some of the cases already described. She appeared as a witness in the aforementioned case of defamation, for example, and the aunt of the man supposedly killed by Heikki Yrjönpoika Janckari and Risto Olavipoinka had previously accused Agata of vidskepelse. The web of accusations and counter-accusations at this period obviously trapped a significant portion of the parish. Agata found herself prosecuted for 'benevolent' magic in 1675 and 1676, and on both occasions she was merely sentenced to pay fines. Ten years later she was accused of flying to Blåkulla, a famous witches' meeting place where extraordinary sabbaths occurred, and also charged once again for benevolent magic. The jury considered the accusation concerning Agata's flight to Blåkulla less than reliable, and it was remarked that the witness who made the allegation was prone to drinking too much. Some of the other accusations took a little longer to refute, but refuted they were and she was finally acquitted. At the end of the 1690s a fourth accusation about her activities was aired but never came to court, although the rumour was mentioned in a separate trial to clear the reputation of another alleged witch.
[p. 11 in Beyond the Witch Trials: Witchcraft and Magic in Enlightenment Europe]

Monday, March 11, 2013

"All agreed that it was Witchcraft." (A case of beneficent Witchcraft in Sweden)

The following passage is from Magic, Body and the Self in Eighteenth-Century Sweden by Jaqueline Van Gent (Brill, 2009), chapter five, "The Ambiguity of Magic."

In 1709, when Anna Thoresdotter and her daughter, Kierstin, had to defend themselves against the accusation of theft and the use of superstition, they stated very clearly their ideas about the meaning of their special powers:

the widow Anna Thoresdottir [said that she] had neither learned nor used any superstition at any time, but admitted that all she could do was to bless pain [Signa Wred] which she does not regard as a damned or sinful, but rather as a useful art, in which she uses the following word or blessing over folk and animals: 'Jesus stroked over a joint, so badly did his horse hurt its foot that Jesus dismounted [from the horse]." In this way she blessed the painful [wredna] blood in Jesus' blessed name.

This blessing Anna Thorseottir occasionally used, with success, and she did not believe that she had committed any sin, for goo and pious words were used.

In contrast, the local court regarded Anna's magical healing practices as sinful. For her misuse of Jesus' name, her Christian faith was further questioned in subsequent interrogations. To Anna, however, there was no contradiction between her blessing of people and animals, and her Christianity. Instead, she represented herself as being in the succession of Christ, emphasizing repeatedly that Jesus himself, 'when he was in flesh on earth', had sued these words.

In the course of Anna Thoresdottir's trial, other witnesses from her local community accused her directly and indirectly of witchcraft. Although nobody interpreted her magical practices as sin or blashpemy, all agreed that it was witchcraft.
[p. 159]

Saturday, March 9, 2013

"England is indeed the one country outside Italy to display the most obvious similarities with Venice as far as witchcraft practices are concerned." (from Ruth Martin)

Below are some selected passages from Ruth Martin's book, Witchcraft and the Inquisition in Venice, 1550-1650, (Blackwell, 1989). These quotes from Ruth Martin's book all appeared in an earlier post in this blog: "A Different World"? (Ronald Hutton's Recantations, Part Deux) :
"[t]here is clear evidence of a great deal of interpenetration of 'popular' and 'learned' beliefs throughout this period ... but the actual mingling of these two strands, if they ever were entirely separate, seems to have taken place earlier [that is, prior to 1550] ...."
[p. 225]
"Until more work is done on Venetian social history as a whole it will be hard to draw ... conclusions .... Even so, it seems that witchcraft of one type or another held an interest for people from all levels of society .... Womens' social standing ranged from the gentildonne who would often consult witches or even try the experiments themselves, through wives of retailers and craftsmen, to washerwomen, arsenal workers (making sails or ropes), the wives of boatmen, prostitutes, to some with no visible means of income at all. Witchcraft had in fact become the main craft of many, hence their titles: la Pirotta, la Caballada, l'Astrologo and la medegha."
[p. 234]
"There was also a close degree of contact between the different classes of Venetian society. The rich and poor lived side by side and the flow of ideas and beliefs between them must have been considerable. As we have seen, the distinction between the 'learned' and the 'popular' elements of witchcraft beliefs in Venice was not always easy to define. This distinction has perhaps been overemphasized in the past in any case. Christina Larner's recent work on Scottish witchcraft, for instance, has revealed a considerable degree of interpenetration between the so-called learned and popular beliefs. In Venice this sharing of beliefs by popular and learned elements of society was even closer."
[p. 243]
"It is clear that Venetian witchcraft was by no means unique. Each category of witchcraft in Venice ... paralleled what is known to have existed elsewhere in Europe during the period and, no doubt, outside this period as well ....

"Necromancy, or the practice of the learned tradition of magic, was current throughout a great part of Europe, and certainly throughout Italy during this period. Some records still survive for the Holy Office of the Roman Inquisition which contain copies of certain processi, usually just the sentence and/or abjuration, which were forwarded to Rome from all over Italy. Necromantic exploits feature prominently in these records. The sentence of the 1580 Vicentine trial against Antonio de Franci, for instance, refers to the work of Pietro d'Abbano and to the Clavicula Salomonis being used used in the celebration of a mass as part of a love magic ceremony. There is little doubt that these and other books of magic like them circulated widely in Europe during this period as did the corrupted versions of traditions evident in many of the conjurations and divinatory experiments seen in Venice.

"At a different level of society other forms of witchcraft also were all part of what was presumably a Europen-wide system of popular beliefs. Mary O'Neil describes the same experiments, with some local modifications, being practiced in Modena. The Udine records, and those in Trinity College, Dublin, covering the whole of Italy contain references to similar practices. Indeed, whenever the available records provide us with a glimpse into traditional beliefs and activities, for instance those of the so-called 'cunning folk' in England, we see time and time again what were basically the same types of witchcraft as those observed in Venice.

"England is indeed the one country outside Italy to display the most obvious similarities with Venice as far as witchcraft practices are concerned .... [T]he nature of the records in each area enables us to see beyond the large trails, the epidemics of witch-hunting, to the day-to-day beliefs and attitudes of the population as a whole .... The Venetian records provide us ... with a detailed picture of a way of life ... [W]hat Venice shows us was, broadly speaking, the picture throughout most of Europe."
[pp. 239-241]

Friday, March 8, 2013

How to Distinguish "Witchcraft" From "Maleficium" (with a little help from Jonathan Seitz)

From: Witchcraft and Inquisition in Early Modern Venice, by Jonathan Seitz (Cambridge, 2011)

"In practice, most of the terms and categories the historical actors used when discussing crimes of magic were remarkably unstable, elastic, and imprecise. Just as the Venetian Inquisition's charge of 'Lutheranism' embraced all manner of Protestantism, so the tribunal's (Latin) charge of sortilegium usually signified magical divination, but it also applied to other categories of misconduct, such as the practicing of harmful magic, otherwise termed maleficium. In Italian, magical acts could be termed variously as magia (magic generally), fatture (usually malevolent magic), erbere (literally herbal magic, but also used to denote divination or witchcraft more broadly), stregheria (witchcraft generally), maleficio (harmful magic), or divinazione or sortilegio (divination). Someone who engaged in any of these activities could be called a strega (female) or stregone (male) or an erbera, a term that was sometimes applied to female healers as well. A Venetian suffering from a magical attack might be called guasto (literally 'broken' or 'spoiled'), ammaliato, fatturato, maleficiato, or stregato.

"To impose some order on these overlapping, shifting terms, I will use the term maleficio to mean harmful magic causing illness or injury, and "witchcraft" to encompass practices--performed predominantly by women in the lower orders of Venetian society--of divination, maleficio, love magic, and the like. Such activities were usually free of the theoretical underpinnings of natural magic practiced predominantly by high-class males. The term 'magic' will stand in as an umbrella for all of these practices, while 'bewitched' and 'sickened' will be used to translate the various terms describing the victims of a magical attack."
[p. 12]

To summarize: "Witchcraft" (or, in Italian, Stregheria or Erbere) can refer to any number of beneficial magical practices, including herbal medicine (and other healing arts), divination, and love magic. Those who are expert in these arts can be called many things, including Witch (or in Italian Strega or Erbera). Those who claim that Witches are hated, malevolent workers of malefic magic are either unfamiliar with the truth, or knowingly distort it.

And now for a few links:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Of White Witches, Rattlesnakes, David Hume, and Jean Jacques Rousseau (1807)

And now for something completely different, here's an excerpt from An account of the life and writings of David Hume, by Thomas Edward Ritchie, first published in 1807 ( (The backstory on this is long, and deep, and totally fascinating, btw.):

The following jeu-d'esprit, which was printed in some of the periodicals of the day, is really a pretty accurate abridgment of Rousseau's paper. It has the appearance of having been written by a Scottish lawyer : —

Heads of an Indictment laid by J. J. Rousseau, philosopher, against D. Hume, Esq.

1. That the said David Hume, to the great scandal of philosophy, and not having the fitness of things before his eyes, did concert a plan with Mess. Tronchin, Voltaire, and D'Alembert, to ruin the said J. J. Rousseau for ever, by bringing him over to England, and there settling him to his heart's content.

2. That the said David Hume did, with a malicious and traitor- ous intent, procure, or cause to be procured, by himself, or somebody else, one pension of the yearly value of £100 or thereabouts, to be paid to the said J. J. Rousseau, on account of his being a philoso- pher, either privately or publicly, as to him the said J. J. Rousseau should seem meet.

3. That the said David Hume did, one night after he left Paris, put the said J. J. Rousseau in bodily fear, by talking in his sleep ; although the said J. J. Rousseau doth not know whether the said David Hume was really asleep, or whether he shammed Abraham, or what he meant.

4. That, at another time, as the said David Hume and the said J.J. Rousseau were sitting opposite each other by the fire-side in London, he the said David Hume did look at him, the said J.J. Rousseau, in a manner of which it is difficult to give any idea; that he the said J.J. Rousseau, to get rid of the embarrassment he was under, endeavored to look full at him, the said David Hume, in return, to try if he could not stare him out of countenance; but in fixing his eyes against his, the said David Hume's, he felt the most inexpressible terror, and was obliged to turn them away, insomuch that the said J.J. Rousseau doth in his heart think and believe, as much as he believes anything, that he the said David Hume is a certain composition of a white-witch and a rattle-snake.

5. That the said David Hume on the same evening, after politely returning the embraces of him, the said J. J. Rousseau, and gently tapping him on the back, did repeat several times, in a good-natured easy tone, the words, Why what my dear Sir ! Nay my dear Sir! Oh my dear Sir!— From whence the said J. J. Rousseau doth conclude, as he thinks upon solid and sufficient grounds, that he the said David Hume is a traitor ; albeit he, the said J. J. Rousseau, doth acknowledge, that the physiognomy of the good David is that of an honest man, all but those terrible eyes of his, which he must have borrowed ; but he the said J. J. Rousseau vows to God he cannot conceive from whom or what.

6. That the said David Hume hath more inquisitiveness about him than becometh a philosopher, and did never let flip an opportunity of being alone with the govemante of him the said J. J. Rousseau......


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"The White-Witch is presently sent for to bless.": John Brinley on White Witches (1680)

Here are two quotes from John Brinley's relatively minor and reputedly unoriginal book on Witchcraft, first published in 1680: The Discovery of the Impostures of Witches and Astrologers:

1. Quoted in The Lancashire Witches, Robert Poole, chapter seven: "Beyond Pendle".
"These are such as we usually call White Witches, a sort of Sots who being Gull'd and having their understanding Dabauch'd by Superstition, do evil that good may come of it, that is use Charms, Spells and Incantations (all of which are of no force without the Cooperation of the Devil) to remove Distempters, and do certain Feats in some measure useful to mankind yet of pernicious consequences to themselves."

2. Quoted in Notes and Queries, November 2, 1878, p. 342
"The ignorant multitude in all Misfortunes, Crosses and Afflictions, forthwith make their Applications to them as most readily help. If a man be sick, where shall he have his Physick but from one that fetches it from behind the Curtain? If he lie under any Misfortune he presently betakes himself to some Fortune-teller or Conjurer. If the Cattel be sick, the White-Witch is presently sent for to bless."