Friday, April 25, 2014

On Helen Ukpabio, Christianity, and African Traditions

The words and deeds of the execrable Helen Ukpabio have nothing whatsoever to do with the survival of ancient African spiritual traditions and everything to do with Christian notions about spiritual warfare imported to Africa from Europe and America during the modern era.

Ukpabio represents a spiritual tradition, if it can be called that, that has it's roots not in ancient African traditions, but in the modern history of Protestant Christianity in England, Scotland and the United States of America.

Anyone with even the slightest familiarity with the writings of John Knox, King James, John Wesley, William Perkins, and Cotton Mather on the subjects of spiritual warfare, demonology and Witchcraft, will immediately recognize the ravings of the likes of Helen Ukpabio, and will have no doubt as to their true origins.

Those, like Kenaz Filan, who believe that they see in Ukpabio the regrettable "mixing" of Christianity with African traditions only reveal their own complete ignorance of both.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

"Hitler Hated Heathens"

"On the Jews And Their Lies", Martin Luther
Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried is the man behind the wonderful "Norse Mythology Blog". He recently posted a brief article on facebook (link), in which he demolishes the whole idea that the Adolf Hitler was in any way influenced by or favorably disposed towards Heathenism.

Siegfried did not post this article on his blog because, in his own words, "I'm trying to keep my blog Hitler-free!" While such a desire is perfectly understandable, I believe that ultimately it is misguided. The Big Lie that the Nazis were somehow influenced by Paganism is ubiquitous in popular culture and even finds its way into scholarly publications. The only way to counter this drumbeat of propaganda is by responding to it head-on, in as direct and straightforward a manner as possible.

I also think it is important to explain that not only is there no real connection between Nazism and Heathenism, but that there is most undoubtedly a strong and clear connection between Nazism and Christianity. In fact, the whole "Nazi Pagan" meme is really nothing more than a fairly transparent effort to distract attention away from the real religion of the Nazis: Christianity.

And now without further preamble, below is the entire text of what Dr. Seigfried posted on facebook (and also look to the bottom of this post for other links of possible interest):


Monday's CNN article about the disgusting hate crimes of last Sunday quotes a 1998 Southern Poverty Law Center article stating that Odinism "was a bedrock belief for key Third Reich leaders, and it was an integral part of the initiation rites and cosmology of the elite Schutzstaffel (SS), which supervised Adolf Hitler's network of death camps."

The man arrested & accused of committing these awful murders is a great fan of Adolf Hitler. I wonder if this avowed white supremacist knows that (even as the Nazis used Nordic imagery for propaganda purposes) his hero Hitler thought those interested in the Old Way were moronic left-wing peaceniks?

In his memoirs, Nazi architect Albert Speer quotes Hitler on his disdain for SS leader Heinrich Himmler's interest in pagan mysticism & his own support for Christian Charlemagne's butchering of heathen Saxons:

"What nonsense! Here we have at last reached an age that has left all mysticism behind it, and now [Himmler] wants to start that all over again. We might just as well have stayed with the church. At least it had tradition. To think that I may some day be turned into an SS saint! Can you imagine it? I would turn over in my grave...

"Himmler has made another speech calling Charlemagne 'the butcher of the Saxons.' Killing all those Saxons was not a historical crime, as Himmler thinks. Charlemagne did a good thing subjugating Widukind and killing the Saxons out of hand. He thereby made possible the empire of the Franks and the entry of Western culture into what is now Germany."

Here are some key quotes from Hitler's "Mein Kampf" ("My Struggle," Hitler's autobiography & statement of beliefs), in which he clearly states what he thinks of those who follow the Old Gods.

On use of ancient terminology:

"It is entirely out of harmony with the spirit of the nation to keep harping on that far-off and forgotten nomenclature which belongs to the ancient Germanic times and does not awaken any distinct association in our age. This habit of borrowing words from the dead past tends to mislead the people into thinking that the external trappings of its vocabulary are the important feature of a movement. It is really a mischievous habit; but it is quite prevalent nowadays."

On scholars of mythology:

"I had to warn followers repeatedly against these wandering scholars who were peddling Germanic folk-lore and who never accomplished anything positive or practical, except to cultivate their own superabundant self-conceit. "

On those more interested in peacefully studying ancient practice than joining his anti-Communist fight:

"It is typical of such persons that they rant about ancient Teutonic heroes of the dim and distant ages, stone axes, battle spears and shields, whereas in reality they themselves are the woefullest poltroons imaginable. For those very same people who brandish Teutonic tin swords that have been fashioned carefully according to ancient models and wear padded bear-skins, with the horns of oxen mounted over their bearded faces, proclaim that all contemporary conflicts must be decided by the weapons of the mind alone. And thus they skedaddle when the first communist cudgel appears. Posterity will have little occasion to write a new epic on these heroic gladiators."

On those who study folk-lore vs. those who fight for his vision of a German State:

"I have seen too much of that kind of people not to feel a profound contempt for their miserable play-acting. To the masses of the nation they are just an object of ridicule; but the Jew finds it to his own interest to treat these folk-lore comedians with respect and to prefer them to real men who are fighting to establish a German State. And yet these comedians are extremely proud of themselves. Notwithstanding their complete fecklessness, which is an established fact, they pretend to know everything better than other people; so much so that they make themselves a veritable nuisance to all sincere and honest patriots, to whom not only the heroism of the past is worthy of honour but who also feel bound to leave examples of their own work for the inspiration of the coming generation."

Other relevant posts from this blog:

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Move Over "Christian Side-Hug"

watch it all the way to the end. srsly. (oh, and if you don't remember "christian side-hug" check this out: God. Purpose. Culture. Side Hugs.)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Quick: How many accused Scottish Witches were primarily accused of maleficium? (Answer: not that many)

Anyone and everyone can download the entire "Scottish Witchcraft Database" from here: And, oh, in case you didn't already know, this database is an amazing resource.

Unfortunately, the database is in Access format. However, it can easily be converted to a real database using the handy tool BullZip. Of course that assumes that you have either MariaDB (aka MySQL) or Postgresql installed, and if that is not the case, then you might want to go get MariaDB here:

As always, there are many different ways of accomplishing this kind of thing. Your mileage may vary, etc, etc. The important thing is this: to properly work with any database you need it in a format where you can use some form of SQL. You could also try downloading the SQL schema and tables that are provided on the same page where you can download the Access database.

Before proceeding to the details, please note the following information, taken from the website of the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft in their "How To Cite Us" section:

If you use information from this website in something you have written, please acknowledge us as your source.
Please use your normal citation conventions for websites. We suggest:
Julian Goodare, Lauren Martin, Joyce Miller and Louise Yeoman, 'The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft', (archived January 2003, accessed '[your date]').
The information in this website may be used freely for the purposes of private reference, research or study, but please remember that it is copyright. See Authorship and Copyright.

If we read through the documentation put together by the team at the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft, we find that there are three different flavors of "maleficium" used as a characterization of the cases against accused Witches:
  • Maleficium_p refers to cases where it was decided that maleficium was "the main theme".
  • Maleficium_s refers to cases where maleficium was "mentioned" in the documentation, but it was decided that this was a secondary characteristic.
  • Maleficium (without a trailing _p or _s) refers to cases in which there were allegations of "collective maleficium organized or committed" at Witches' meetings (without distinguishing between "primary" or "secondary").
These characterizations are all found in the table "wdb_case". So in order to discover how many cases during the Scottish Witch-hunts were primarily characterized by accusations of maleficium, all we need is a simple SQL query like the following:

SELECT FROM wdb_case
WHERE Maleficium_p=1

And the result is that we get a grand total of 40 rows. Ahem. That is out of over 3,000 recorded cases.

What? Only 40? Let's double check, but this time we'll jazz things up a little by getting the names of the accused Witches as well as the counties in which they resided and also the dates of their trials:

SELECT wdb_accused.FirstName, wdb_accused.LastName,
 wdb_accused.AccusedRef, wdb_case.Case_date,
FROM wdb_accused join wdb_case
ON wdb_accused.AccusedRef = wdb_case.AccusedRef
WHERE wdb_case.Maleficium_p = 1
ORDER BY wdb_case.Case_date_as_date, wdb_accused.Res_county,

| FirstName | LastName      | AccusedRef | Case_date  | Res_county |
| Johnnet   | Wischert      | A/EGD/2067 | 17/2/1597  | Aberdeen   |
| Isobel    | Cockie        | A/EGD/2066 | 19/2/1597  | Aberdeen   |
| Christen  | Michell       | A/EGD/2077 | 9/3/1597   | Aberdeen   |
| Isobell   | Strauthaquhin | A/EGD/2105 | 21/3/1597  | Aberdeen   |
| Katherine | Gerard        | A/EGD/2096 | 15/4/1597  | Aberdeen   |
| Christian | Reid          | A/EGD/2095 | 15/4/1597  | Aberdeen   |
| Margret   | Reauch        | A/JO/2954  | 17/4/1597  | Aberdeen   |
| Issobell  | Richie        | A/EGD/2110 | 24/4/1597  | Aberdeen   |
| Helene    | Rogie         | A/JO/2898  | 24/4/1597  | Aberdeen   |
| Agnes     | Wobster       | A/EGD/2107 | 24/4/1597  | Aberdeen   |
| Margrat   | Cleraucht     | A/JO/2951  | 25/4/1597  | Aberdeen   |
| Helene    | Frasser       | A/EGD/2097 | 25/4/1597  | Aberdeen   |
| Ellen     | Gray          | A/EGD/2106 | 27/4/1597  | Aberdeen   |
| Marion    | Peebles       | A/EGD/2261 | 21/3/1644  | Shetland   |
| Janat     | Cuj           | A/EGD/2294 | 16/11/1646 | Elgin      |
| Margaret  | Murray        | A/EGD/2295 | 26/11/1646 | Elgin      |
| Helen     | Small         | A/EGD/2297 | 18/1/1649  | Fife       |
| Beatrix   | Watsone       | A/EGD/2299 | 19/8/1649  | Edinburgh  |
| Marioun   | Twedy         | A/EGD/1832 | 21/11/1649 | Peebles    |
| Jonet     | Coutts        | A/EGD/1791 | 4/1/1650   | Peebles    |
| Margaret  | Merchant      | A/EGD/1821 | 19/3/1650  | Forfar     |
| Elspet    | Gray          | A/EGD/1968 | 21/3/1650  | Forfar     |
| Jonat     | Couper        | A/EGD/2318 | 11/4/1650  | Forfar     |
| Catharin  | Lyell         | A/JO/2825  | 11/4/1650  | Forfar     |
| Margaret  | NcLevin       | A/EGD/1519 | 14/2/1662  | Bute       |
| Issobell  | NcNicol       | A/EGD/1513 | 21/2/1662  | Bute       |
| Margrat   | NcWilliam     | A/JO/3084  | 7/5/1662   | Bute       |
| Marjory   | Craig         | A/EGD/1727 | 20/2/1677  | Renfrew    |
| Margret   | Jackson       | A/EGD/1729 | 20/2/1677  | Renfrew    |
| Jonet     | Mathie        | A/EGD/1732 | 20/2/1677  | Renfrew    |
| Jon       | Stewart       | A/EGD/1731 | 20/2/1677  | Renfrew    |
| Bessie    | Weir          | A/EGD/1728 | 20/2/1677  | Renfrew    |
| Annabell  | Stewart       | A/EGD/1730 | 4/4/1677   | Renfrew    |
| John      | Gray          | A/EGD/1740 | 19/7/1677  | Stirling   |
| Janet     | McNair        | A/EGD/1741 | 3/12/1677  | Stirling   |
| Thomas    | Mitchell      | A/EGD/1742 | 3/12/1677  | Stirling   |
| Mary      | Mitchell      | A/EGD/1739 | 3/12/1677  | Stirling   |
| Janet     | Wharrie       | A/JO/2888  | 7/11/1699  | Dumfries   |
| Janet     | Cornfoot      | A/EGD/2371 | 15/2/1705  | Fife       |
| Andrew    | Ratter        | A/JO/2879  | 11/6/1708  | Shetland   |
40 rows in set (0.01 sec)

MariaDB [witchdb]>

In future posts I will dig more deeply into what the data actually has to say concerning the prevalence, or lack thereof, of actual accusations of maleficium during the Scottish Witch-hunts. But for now these results obviously should give pause to anyone who wishes to continue to claim that Witchcraft must be defined primarily in terms of malefic magic.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"Until the fifteenth century witchcraft was not clearly distinguished from general sorcery or magic." Edward Peters on "The origins of the offence of Witchcraft in Europe"

Edward Peters' article "The Literature of Demonology and Witchcraft" is available in full at the Cornell University Library Witchcraft Collection website (link).

Here's an excerpt (please refer to the original for sources, citations, and footnotes):

The Literature of Demonology and Witchcraft

By Edward Peters, Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania © 1998 Edward Peters

The literature of demonology and witchcraft produced between 1440 and 1750--some of the most important works of which are included on this website--constitutes a substantial source for the intellectual and cultural history of late medieval and early modern Europe and the Americas.

No longer considered as merely incidental to witch trial records, this literature has been integrated into the study, not only of demonology and witchcraft, but of an entire dimension of thought--what Sidney Anglo once characterized as, "a complex of interrelated magical ideas which informs many aspects of medieval and Renaissance thought."1 Among those aspects are women's and gender history, legal history--particularly of crime and punishment--theology, folklore, historical anthropology, sociology, and literature. Many writers of tracts on demonology and witchcraft also wrote on other subjects, some ostensibly far removed from witchcraft. Thus, the literature is connected not only to a variety of topics in early modern European and American history, but to the other intellectual interests of its authors that touch many disciplines.


In European Christian cosmology as it developed from the epistles of Paul to the late seventeenth century, human nature was generally believed to be innately weak, sinful, and vulnerable to demonic temptation and deception. Although human reason--to the extent that it received divine grace and was properly instructed--could distinguish right from wrong, human will might not always choose the right.

Human ability to perceive and understand the world was also limited by the Fall. Those aspects of nature that humans could not perceive or understand could be manipulated, it was believed, by demons. Because these demons operated in natural realms beyond human intelligence, they could appear to work "wonders" and in doing so tempt humans, sometimes with God's permission. This was how the devil elicited homage of a kind properly paid only to God, and entered agreements with humans: by exhibiting and granting powers over nature and others not attainable by any other means, by performing acts that were not miracles,miracula, but rather mira, "wonders." All of these were ways of winning support from humans whose flawed perceptions and flexible wills would allow them to be led astray.

Servants of the devil could, on their own or with the devil acting through them, harm or illicitly influence other people or property by occult (meaning "hidden from humans," not "supernatural") means. Pact with the devil presumed the sins and crimes of idolatry and apostasy (renunciation of faith), because it constituted both a willful rejection of Christian baptism and the paying of sinful homage to the devil. The Latin word that designated harm caused to others by these means was maleficium, and it constituted the crime of witchcraft, establishing a link between it and demonology.

In addition to committing such acts, witches, it was said, evidenced other characteristics. They were thought to be identifiable (differently in different parts of Europe) because they might bear the mark of the devil on their bodies, have demonic companions (familiars), gather collectively to pay homage to the devil (at assemblies that came to be called the "synagogue" or "sabbath"), sacrifice infants, engage in acts of sexual promiscuity, and to be capable of flight and shapeshifting. Although not all writers on demonology and witchcraft subscribed to all of the aspects of the model for the offense of witchcraft here sketched, most did. The doctrines of demonology and witchcraft as they developed between 1300 and 1500, moreover, were consistent with the cosmology of the Church Fathers and later theologians and so appeared to be confirmed by scripture.


Until the fifteenth century witchcraft was not clearly distinguished from general sorcery or magic. Linguistically, this is still the case in French. In German Hexerei (witchcraft) was differentiated from Zauberei (magic, sorcery) in the early fifteenth century, and in Spanish this distinction was reflected in the terms hechicería (sorcery) and brujería (witchcraft). In English witchcraft--from the Old English wiccecraeft, which once meant divining, foretelling the future--was distinguished from magic/sorcery somewhat earlier.

Sorcery was consistently described and condemned in scripture, in the writings of the church fathers, especially St. Augustine [354-430] and Isidore of Seville [ca. 569-636], and later in theology, such as the work of Thomas Aquinas [ca. 1227-1274] and in canon law. Although sorcery was never the primary concern of the Church Fathers or medieval theologians before the fifteenth century, their work provided a comprehensive and contextual view of its function in the universe and in Christian cosmology.

Beginning in the twelfth century magic tended to divide into two types: learned magic, which was natural--and arguably neither sinful nor demonic--and sorcery proper, which was both. The division was shaped by the twelfth century influence of much Arabic (and much Greek via Arabic) learning into Latin learning. Under this influence, European thinkers began to view learned or natural magic as diabolical. From the twelfth through the seventeenth centuries, in fact, scholars undertook a vigorous debate concerning the validity of learned/natural magic. This raised some of the most important questions about spiritual causality that the period knew. As a consequence, sorcery, necromancy (the raising of the spirits of the dead), divination, and other forms of congress with the spirit world were all uniformly labelled as diabolical and came to be associated with a number of practices: healing, recovering lost or stolen objects, and harming one's neighbors. Witchcraft, learned demonology and other kinds of demonic magic became objects of widespread popular belief and were the charges behind most trials and condemnations during the period of the most intense persecutions, roughly from 1560 to 1660 ....