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Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), [1999], at


                              The Burning Times, Some "Facts" 
                                        By: Marios
                Okay, let's try "another subject". "Facts", a term which derives
          from the latin factum meaning to make or to do, are constructs. If you
          "change" history, you automatically change the  "facts". Let's take an
          example: during the so-called Burning Times, aprrox. 200,000 - 500,000
          people where executed  by either  mob action and/or  legal action.  We
          will  neven know how many people were arrested, sentanced and executed
          for  crimes of  witchcraft (and  please note  that there  were several
          different "crimes of witchcraft" at this time).
                In  the late 1940' and early 1950's, several British Witches and
          occultists  started  talking about  9,000,000  "witches"  killed. This
          number appears  to have derived not from any research, but rather from
          an attempt to "one-up" the number of Jews exterminated by the Nazis in
          WW II.  In order  to support  this contention,  the definition  of the
          Burning Times was changed. First, the period of the major whitch hunts
          was extended from its peak, 1550  - 1675, backwards to the founding of
          the Inquisition (early 13th century). Second, the figures for judicial
          executions of heretics, notably the Cathari and the Waldensians, were 
          included  in the  total. Finally,  all judicial executions  which took
          place  during  the Catholic  "civil  war"  (the Avignon  Papacy)  were
          included.  In effect, the definition of "witch" was changed to include

                This definitional change is most interesting, since it parallels
          the  definitional change  that  took place  in  the Catholic  churches
          construction  of demonic  witchcraft  (see,  for  example,  Ginzburg's
          "Ecstacies"). The "facts"  of the situation  where "changed" when  the
          definition of the  term "witch"  was changed. "Witch"  was defined  as
          "not-orthodox" and, as such, included all heretics and non-Christians.
          To me, the  interesting point is that this definition  was created not
          by the Catholic  church, but by Gerald Gardner in  an attempt to prove
          that "witches" had suffered more than Jews. 

              What does this say about the idea of "facts"? First, it means that
          what is  a "fact"  changes with  the definition  of terms... in  other
          words,  a fact is a human, and therefore inherantly biased, construct.
          Second, while  agreement between  opposing biases  may  be reached  on
          certain  "facts",  such as  the  date of  a  battle,  I doubt  whether
          agreement can be reached  on the motivations or causes  of the battle.
          Finally,  history is  basically mythology  that is  constructed around
          certain quasi-religious disciplines, e.g. Marxism, positivist science,
          etc. It is a  story that is told and,  in the telling, it  changes the
          Bright Blessings M 


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