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History of Witchcraft

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1 History of Witchcraft on Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:41 am

Paganism is often called the oldest religion in existence in the West. It is dated to pre-Christian times. It also pre-dates Judaism, Buddhism, Islamic religions and Hindu religions. Paganism is closer to Native American Traditions and the early Shamanic traditions of many areas. This religion is not based on Dogma and Scripture. The Old Religion takes its teachings and inspirations from Nature. The Sun, the Moon and the Stars are looked to for their insights and information, as well as trees, birds, animals, seasonal cycles as well as many other things of the Earth. It is probably important to note here that Paganism is not the same as Shamanism. Shamanism is not a religion, but an ancient Mystical practice that uses altered states of consciousness to contact Gods, Spirits as well as other energies. Shamanic practices exist within Paganism and its many religious branches. The Shamanic view is that for wholeness, the Mental, Physical, and Spiritual parts must be incorporated. Margaret Murray had traced Pagan roots to Paleolithic times some 25 to 30K years ago. We can see throughout anthropological research the early man and woman held in awe that which they did not understand. Early man and woman also practiced what we now call Sympathetic Magick. Sympathetic Magick is the art of showing a Deity what one wants or needs by acting out the symbolism necessary to bring about an understanding of that need or desire. In this way, the act of Ritual was born and became a part of The Old Religion. The Primitive People of thousands of years ago were hunters who followed animal herds. Some of those Primitive People were called Shamans. These Shamans were said to be able to attune themselves with Nature and the Animals. To this respect, after hunting, the unused parts and the skins were filled with rocks and given to the Waters or the Womb of the Great Mother during these times. Many symbols of the Goddess were carved in stone, and cave openings were honored as symbols of the Mother. Symbols of the God were also carved on cave walls along with symbols of the animals that came to sacrifice themselves for the survival of the tribe. The phases of the Moon were marked, as well as the Sun's cyclic journey through the sky. They learned the ways of planting and growing crops. By marking the seasonal wheel and watching the signs of the Earth and sky, planet and star, animal and plan became magickal sciences. As these magickal sciences became more understood, they became more easy to work with then further studied. Soon, Warrior clans came in and took over the land. They soon drove out the followers of the Old Religion into the mountians and hills where they would become known as the Faerie. The Goddess of the Old Religion would be married to the invading clans Gods, thus creating newly found mythology. Through this intermingling and marriage, the Faerie blood was implanted into the the new conquerors. When Christianity first arrived, there was no real change. The Priest of the New Christian Religion would often work with the Priest of the Old Religion in the celebrating of seasonal rites. The early groups of the Old Religion (the covens) became known as the benders and shapers of the subtle forces that they had knowledge of. They became known as the Wicca, meaning to bend or shape. At this time, the church began to truly realize how difficult a rival the Horned God and Fertility Goddess were in their created battle for followers. The early ol Religion had a much more attractive P.R. Package than the Religion of Christianity with all of its restrictions. Christianity incorporated this in formation when creating the concept of a totally evil opponent to thier own Deity. It was no accident that this figure resembled the Horned God. Soon there after, honoring the Horned God would be frowne upon and then punishable by law. In 1324, an Irish coven led by Dame Alice Kyteler was tried by the Bishop of Ossory for worshipping a non-Christian God, Dame Kyteler was saved because of her title, but the rest of her coven were burned for heresy. During the next centuries, wars, plagues and crusades advanced over Europe. Joan of Arc lead the armies of France to victory. She was popularly bruited as a sorceress and originally alleged as a witch, but she was officially condemned as a heretic and was burned at the stake on May 30, 1431, as a relapsed heretic. In 1494 the Papal Bull of Innocent the VIII unleashed the Inquisition against the Old Religion. Issued on December 5, 1494, it served as justification for pitiless persecution. It instituted the combating the "Devil" and saving mankind from his clutches. In 1494 the Papal Bull of Innocent the VIII unleashed the Inquisition against the Old Religion. Issued on December 5, 1494, it served as justification for pitiless persecution. It instituted the combating the "Devil" and saving mankind from his clutches.In 1486, the Malleus Maleficarum, otherwise known as "the Hammer of the Witches", was produced as by dominicans Kramer and Springer, two of Pope Innocent's inquisitors. This laid the ground work for a reign of terror that gripped Europe well into the 18th century. During this period, it is estimated that nine million men, women and children were tortured. An estimated 85% of those were tortured and killed under this incorrect and convenient definition. Mysogyny (an hatred of women) is evidenced as a strong element in the medieval Christianity. Because women gave birth , they became acutely identified with sexuality, and due to the views at that time regarding sexuality, they were associated with evil. The Malleus stated "All Witchcraft stems from carnal lust, which is in women". Anyone could be accused of this concocted evil and anyone could accuse anyone else, including children. In those days, it was "guilty until proven innocent". These so called Witches (per Christian definition) were held prisoner, stripped, totured, deprived of sleep and food and much more. They did all in an effort to obtain confessions to the acts of Whictcraft, as the Church defined it. Even after confessing to the inquisitors many, many times, the toturewould still continue until a full coven of thirteen names were given. Confessions were all written entirely by the inquisitors to be signed by the prisoners. Occasionally, toture would bring a merciful strangulation before the Pyre, but that was not usually the case. The job of inquisitor becmame quiet profitable since these hunters were paid for each conviction. Midwives ( who were considered threatening to the patriarchal medical society) up-spoken women, the elderly and ohter possible problem creators for te Church were targeted. Many say that few who died were actually members of the any covens of the Old Religion, but due to the sheer numbers some may have been. In 1586, the Archbishop of Treves accused the local witches of s=causing severe weather. After toture and confession, one hundred and twenty men and women were burned to death for interfering with the elements. Those who could escape did, but those who could not suffered a cruel fate. By the late 17th century, the survivng Craft was well underground. When James VI of Scotland became James I of England in 1603, he brought with him new versions of his Demonology. To heighten the acts against Witchcraft and "Witches". Most of the Salem Witch Trials were persecuted under the King James I Statute. Because of the strict religious society of the time with its strict upbringing of children and adherence to the bible, it created a very strong societal belief in the devil and so called Witchcraft that had already been accepted over seas. New England was heading into its own crazed entanglement with the inaccurate Christian definition of Witchcraft. The onset of hysteria in New England was related to a group of young girls, one of them being the daughter of Rev. Samual Parris. When some of the girls started "taking fits", no one could make sense of the behavior or discover medical causes for the episodes. This led to the opinion of bewitchment as the cause. Some believe it was easier for the girls to name these people and view their punishment rather than admit to their own lies. Others had explored theories of an alkaloid type toxin called "ergot", a mold that produces the fits and other symptoms. Regardles of the causes the accusations started to spread. The difference in New England trials was none of those who confessed were put to death. Those who denied the accusations and fought to clear their names were the ones who were hanged. It is claimed that one hindred and fifty people were accused and fifty five were found guilty, but even today more records are being uncovered and reviewed about the accuracy of those claims. During the Witch trials much misinformation came to the forefront. Most of the actual Witches had gone underground and most were not very enthusiastic about volunteering information regarding the real practices to try to combat the misinformation. Finally, in 1951 England repealed its last Witchcraft laws and replaced them with the Fraudulent Mediums Act. This opened the way for Gerald Gardner (of the Gardnerian Tradition) to write "Witchcraft Today" and "The Meaning of Withcraft". Soon, others followed by many various authors. Raymond Buckland was initiated in Perth, Scotland, and is considered responsible for bringing Gardnerian Witchcraft to the USA. Today there are many well known Witches. Soe from modern Traditions, and others from older Traditions, all providing a wide range of choices for the Beginner Witch. Many early Witches have taken much abuse so that those of us who follow in their path can have the hope of suffering less. Today Paganism is growing as more and more people are drawn to reconnect with the Old Ways, and through them, to the earth.

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