Although toward the beginning of the IV. century, people began to speak of the nocturnal meeting of witches and sorcerers, under the name of "Assembly of Diana," or "Herodia," it was not until canon or church law, had become quite engrafted upon the civil law, that the full persecution for witchcraft arose. A witch was held to be a woman who had deliberately sold herself to the evil one; who delighted in injuring others, and who, for the purpose of enhancing the enormity of her evil acts, choose the Sabbath day for the performance of her most impious rites, and to whom 'all black animals had special relationship; the black cat in many countries being held as her principal familiar. "To go to the Sabbath" signified taking part in witch orgies. The possession of a pet of any kind at this period was dangerous to woman. One who had tamed a frog, was condemned to be burned in consequence, the harmless amphibian being looked upon as a familiar of Satan. The devil ever being depicted in sermon or story as black, all black animals by an easy transition of ideas, became associated with evil and witches.1 Although I have referred to witchcraft as having taken on a new phase soon after the confirmation of celibacy as a dogma of the church by
the Lateran Council of 1215, it yet requires a chapter by itself, in order to show to what proportions this form of heresy arose, and the method of the church in its treatment. This period was the age of supreme despair for woman,2 death by fire being the common form of witch punishment. Black cats were frequently burned with a witch at the stake;3 during the reign of Louis XV. of France, sacks of condemned cats were burned upon the public square devoted to witch torture. Cats and witches are found depicted together in a curious cut on the title page of a book printed in 1621. The proverbial 'nine lives' of a cat were associated in the minds of people with the universally believed possible metamorphosis of a witch into a cat.4 So firmly did the diabolical nature of the black cat impress itself upon the people, that its effects are felt in business to this day, the skin of black cats being less prized and of less value in the fur market than those of other colors. A curious exemplification of this inherited belief is found in Great Britain. An English taxidermist who exports thousands of mounted kittens each year to the United States and other countries, finds the prejudice against black cats still so great that he will not purchase kittens of this obnoxious color.5 In the minds of many
people, black seems ineradicably connected with sorcery.
In the "Folk Lore of Cats," it is stated that as recently, as 1867 a woman was publicly accused of witchcraft in the state of Pennsylvania on account of her administering three drops of a black cat's blood to a child as a remedy for the croup. She admitted the fact but denied that witchcraft had anything to do with it, and twenty witnesses were called to prove its success as a remedy. From an early period the belief in metamorphosis by means of magical power was common throughout Christendom. St. Augustine relates6 that "hostess or innkeepers sometimes put confections into a kind of cheese made by them, and travelers eating thereof, were presently metamorphosed into laboring beasts, as horses, asses or oxen." It was also believed that the power of changing into various animals was possessed by witches themselves.7 At the present day under certain forms of insanity persons imagine themselves to be animals, birds, and even inanimate things, as glass; but usually those hallucinations occur in isolated instances. But among the strange epidemics which have at various times affected christendom, none is more singular than that Lycanthropia, or wolf madness, which attacked such multitudes
of inhabitants of the Jura in 1600, as to become a source of great public danger. The affected persons walked upon their feet and hands until their palms became hard and horny. They howled like wolves, and as wolves do they hunted in packs, murdering and devouring many children, nor could the most severe punishment put an end to this general madness. Six hundred persons were executed upon their own confessions, which included admissions of compact with the devil, attendance upon the Sabbath and cannibal feasting upon a mountain, the devil having used his power for their transmutation into wolves.8 Witches were believed to ride through the air upon animals or bits of wood. The fact of their possession of such powers is asserted by many writers, the usual method of transportation being a goat, night crow or enchanted staff.9 The rhyming Mother Goose question:
"Old woman, old woman, oh whither, oh whither so high?"
And its rhyming answer:
"To sweep the cobwebs from the sky,
And I'll be back by and by,"
doubtless owes its origin to the witchcraft period.
A song said to be in use during witch dances ran:
"Har, Har, Diabole, Diabole; Sali huc,
Sali illuc; Lude hic, Lude illic;
Although the confirmation by the church in the
XIII. century of the supreme holiness of celibacy, inaugurated a new era of persecution for witchcraft, a belief in its existence had from the earliest times been a doctrine of the church, Augustine, as shown, giving the weight of his authority in favor. But to the Christian Emperor Charlemagne, in the eight century, the first use of torture in accusation of witchcraft is due. This great emperor while defying the power of the pope, over whom he even claimed jurisdiction, was himself a religious autocrat whose severity exceeded even that of the papal throne. Torture was rapidly adopted over Europe, and soon became general in the church; the council of Salsburg, 799, publicly ordering its use in witch trials.
A new era of persecution and increased priestly power dates to the reign of Charlemagne, who although holding himself superior to the pope, as regarded independent action, greatly enlarged the dominion of the church and power of the priesthood. He forced Christianity upon the Saxons at immense sacrifice of life, added to the wealth and power of the clergy by tithe lands, recognized their judicial and canonical authority, made marriage illegal without priestly sanction and still further degraded womanhood through his own polygamy. Although himself of such wanton life, he yet caused a woman of the town to be dragged naked through the city streets, subject to all the cruel tortures of an accompanying mob.
In the ninth century the power of the pope was again greatly increased. Up to this period he had been elected by the clergy and people of Rome, and the approbation of the emperor was necessary to confirm it. But Charles the Bald, 875, relinquished all right of jurisdiction over Rome, and thereafter the Roman Pontiff became an acknowledged if not sometimes
a supreme power in the appointment of temporal princes. The power of bishops, clergy, and cardinals diminished as that of the pope increased.
Notwithstanding her claims of power through St. Peter, it has been by gradual steps that Rome has decided upon her policy and established her dogmas. it is but little over four decades, at the Ecumenical of 1849, that the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, was first authoritatively promulgated, although her worship had long existed, being traceable to the Egyptian doctrine of the trinity, with the substitution of Mary in place of Isis. It was not until 1085 that Hildebrand, Pope Gregory VII, declared matrimony a sacrament of the church; and not until 1415, at the Council of Trent, that extreme unction was instituted and defined as a sacrament. Each of these dogmas threw more power into the hands of the church, and greater wealth into her coffers. Thus we see the degeneration of Christianity has had its epochs. One occurred when the Council of Nice allowed chance to dictate which should be considered the canonical books of the New Testament, accepting some theretofore regarded as of doubtful authenticity and rejecting others that had been universally conceded genuine.10 Another epoch of degeneration occurs when the State in person of the great emperor Charlemagne added to the power of the Church by the establishment of torture, whose extremest use fell upon that portion of humanity looked upon as the direct embodiment of evil. The peculiar character attributed to woman by the church, led to
the adoption of torture as a necessary method of forcing her to speak the truth. The testimony of two, and in some countries, three women being held as only equal to that of one man. At first, young children and women expecting motherhood, were exempted, but afterwards neither age or condition freed from accusation and torture, and women even in the pangs of maternity were burned at the stake,11 Christianity in this respect showing much more barbarity than pagan nations. In pagan Rome the expectant mother was held sacred; to vex or disturb her mind was punishable, to strike her was death. She even possessed a right pertaining to the Vestal Virgins; if meeting a condemned criminal on his way to execution, her word sufficed for his pardon. It scarcely seems possible, yet in some christian countries the most prominent class subjected to the torture, were women expecting motherhood. Christianity became the religion of Iceland A. D., 1000, and by the earliest extant. law, the "Gragas," dating to 1119, we find that while torture was prescribed in but few instances yet the class principally subjected to it, were women about to become mothers. But generally throughout Europe, until about the XIV. century, when priestly celibacy had become firmly established and the Inquisition connected with the state, a class consisting of nobles, doctors of the law, pregnant women, and children under fourteen, were exempt from torture except in case of high treason and a few other offenses. But at a later period when these institutions had greatly increased the irresponsible power of the church,
we find neither sex, condition nor age, free from its infliction, both state and church uniting in. its use.
In Venitian Folk Lore, it is stated that Satan once became furious with the Lord because paradise contained more souls than hell, and he determined by fine promises to seduce human beings to his worship and thus fill his kingdom. He decided to always tempt women instead of men, because through ambition or a desire for revenge, they yield more easily. This legend recalls the biblical story of Satan taunting the Lord with the selfish nature of job's goodness, and receiving from God the permission to try him. Witchcraft was regarded as a sin almost confined to women. The Witch Hammer declared the very word femina meant one wanting in faith. A wizard was rare; one writer declaring that to every hundred witches but one wizard was found. In time of Louis XV. this difference was greatly increased; "To one wizard 10,000 witches;" another writer asserted there were 100,000 witches in France alone. The great inquisitor Sprenger, author of the "Witch Hammer" and through whose instrumentality many countries were filled with victims, largely promoted this belief. "Heresy of witches, not of wizards12 must we call it, for these latter are of very small account." No class or condition of women escaped him; we read of young children, old people, infants, witches of fifteen years, and two "infernally beautiful" of seventeen years. Although the ordeal of the red hot iron fell into disuse in the secular courts early in the fourteenth century, (1329),13 ecclesiasticism preserved it in case of
women accused of witchcraft for one hundred and fifty years longer.14 One of the peculiarities of witchcraft accusations, was that protestations of innocence, and a submission to ordeals such as had always vindicated those taking part in them if passing through unharmed, did not clear a woman charged with witchcraft, who was then accused with having received direct help from Satan. The maxim of secular law that the torture which did not produce confession entitled the accused to full acquittal was not in force under ecclesiastical indictments, and the person accused of witchcraft was always liable to be tried again for the same crime. Every safeguard of law was violated in case of woman, even Magna Charta forbidding appeal to her except in case of her husband.
Before the introduction of Christianity, no capital punishment existed, in the modern acceptation of the term, except for witchcraft. But pagans unlike christians, did not look upon women as more given to this practice than men; witches and wizards were alike stoned to death. But as soon as a system of religion was adopted which taught the greater sinfulness of women, over whom authority had been given to man by God himself, the saying arose "one wizard to 10,000
witches." and the persecution for witchcraft became chiefly directed against women. The church degraded woman by destroying her self-respect, and teaching her to feel consciousness of guilt in the very fact of her existence.15 The extreme wickedness of woman, taught as a cardinal doctrine of the church, created the belief that she was desirous of destroying all religion, witchcraft being regarded as her strongest weapon,16 therefore no punishment for it was thought too severe. The teaching of the church, as to the creation of women and the origin of evil, embodied the ordinary belief of the christian peoples, and that woman rather than man practiced this sin, was attributed by the church to her original sinful nature, which led her to disobey God's first command in Eden.17
Although witchcraft was treated as a crime against the state, it was regarded as a greater sin against heaven, the bible having set its seal of disapproval in the injunction "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." The church therefore claimed its control. When coming under ecclesiastical jurisdiction, witchcraft was much more strenuously dealt with than when it fell under lay tribunals. It soon proved a great source of emolument to the church, which grew enormously rich
by its confiscation to its own use of all property of the condemned. Sprenger, whose work (The Witch Hammer), was devoted to methods of dealing with this sin, was printed in size convenient for carrying in the pocket.18 It based its authority upon the bible, twenty-three pages being devoted to proving that women were especially addicted to sorcery. This work was sanctioned by the pope, but after the reformation became equally authoritative in protestant as in catholic countries, not losing its power for evil until the XVIII. century. A body of men known as "Traveling Witch Inquisitors," of whom Sprenger was chief, journeyed from country to country throughout christendom, in search of victims for torture and death. Their entrance into a country or city was regarded with more fear than famine or pestilence, especially by women, against whom their malignity was chiefly directed, Sprenger, the great authority, declaring that her name signified evil; "the very word femina, (woman), meaning one wanting in faith, for fe means faith, and minus less.19" The reformation caused no diminution in its use, the protestant clergy equally with the Catholic constantly appealing to its pages. Still another class known as "Witch Finders," or "Witch Persecutors" confined their work to their own neighborhoods. Of these, Cardan, a famous Italian physician, said:
"In order to obtain forfeit property, the same persons act as accusers and judges, and invent a thousand stories as proof."20 The love of power, and the love
of money formed a most hideous combination for evil in the church; not a christian country but was full of the horrors of witch persecutions and violent deaths. During the reign of Francis I. more than 100,000 witches were put to death, mostly by burning, in France alone. Christ was invoked as authority, the square devoted to Auto da Fé, being known as, "The Burning Place of the Cross."
The Parliament of Toulouse burned 400 witches at one time. Four hundred women at one hour on the public square, dying the horrid death of fire for a crime which never existed save in the imagination of those persecutors and which grew in their imagination from a false belief in woman's extraordinary wickedness, based upon a false theory as to original sin. Remy, judge of Nancy, acknowledged to having burnt eight hundred in sixteen years; at the rate of half a hundred a year. Many women were driven to suicide in fear of the torture in store for them. In 1595 sixteen of those accused by Remy, destroyed themselves rather than fall into his terrible hands. Six hundred were burnt in one small bishopric in one year; nine hundred during the same period in another. Seven thousand lost their lives in Treves; a thousand in the province of Como, in Italy, in a single year; five hundred were executed at Geneva, in a single month.
While written history does not fail to give abundant record in regard to the number of such victims of the church, largely women whose lives were forfeited by accusation of witchcraft, hundreds at one time dying agonizingly by fire, a new and weird evidence as
to the innumerable multitude of these martyrs was of late most unexpectedly brought to light in Spain. During a course of leveling and excavations for city improvements in Madrid, recently, the workmen came upon the Quemadero de la Cruz.21 The cutting of a new road through that part of the city laid bare like geological strata, long black layers super-imposed one above the other at distances of one or two feet, in the sandstone and clay. Some of these layers extended 150 feet in a horizontal direction, and were at first supposed to be the actual discovery of new geological strata, which they closely resembled. They proved to be the remains of inquisitorial burnings, where thousands of human beings of all ages had perished by the torture of fire.22 The layers consisted of coal coagulated with human fat, bones, the remains of singed hair, and the shreds of burnt garments This discovery created great excitement, people visiting the spot by thousands to satisfy themselves of the fact, and to carry away some memento of that dark age of christian cruelty, a cruelty largely exercised against the most helpless and innocent, a cruelty having no parallel in the annals of paganism. Imagination fails to conceive the condensed torture this spot of earth knew under the watchword of "Christ and His Cross"; and that was but one of the hundreds, nay, thousands of similar "Burning Places of the Cross," with which every christian country, city, and town was provided for many hundreds of years. A most diabolical custom of the church made these burnings a holiday spectacle. People thus grew to look unmoved upon
the most atrocious tortures, and excited crowds hung about witch burnings, eagerly listening as the priests exhorted to confession, or tormented the dying victims with pictures of an unending fire soon to be their fate.
An accusation of witchcraft struck all relatives of the accused with terror, destroying the ordinary virtues of humanity in the hearts of nearest friends. As it was maintained that devils possessed more than one in a family, each member sought safety by aiding the church in accumulating proof against the accused, in hopes thereby to escape similar charge. It is impossible for us at the present day to conceive the awful horror falling upon a family into which an accusation of witchcraft had come. Not alone the shame and disgrace of such a charge; the terrors of a violent death under the most painful form; the sudden hurling of the family from ease and affluence to the most abject poverty; but above all the belief that unending torment by fire pursued the lost soul throughout eternity, made a combination of terrors appalling to the stoutest heart. A Scotch woman convicted as a witch and sentenced to be burned alive could not be persuaded by either priest or sheriff to admit her guilt. Suffering the intensest agonies of thirst during her torture she espied her only son in the surrounding crowd. Imploring him in the name of her love for him she begged as her last request, that he should bring her a drink. He shook his head, not speaking; her fortitude her love, his own most certain conviction of her innocence not touching him; when she cried again, "Oh, my dear son, help me any drink, be it never so little, for I am most extremely drie, oh drie, drie." His answer to her agonizing entreaties could not be credited were it not a subject of history, and the date so recent.
"By no means dear mother will I do you the wrong, for the drier you are no doubt you will burn the better."23 Under Accadian law 3,000 years before christianity, the son who denied his father was sentenced to a simple fine, but he who denied his mother was to be banished from the land and sea;24 but in the sixteenth century of the christian era, we find a son under christian laws denying his mother a drink of water in her death agony by fire.
It was instituted in Scotland 1653, "that all who used witchcraft, sorcery, necromancy, or pretended skill therein, shall be punished capitally; upon which statute numberless innocent persons were tried and burnt to death, upon evidence which, in place of affording reasonable conviction to the judge, was fraught with absurdity and superstition.25
Thirty thousand persons accused of witchcraft were burned to death in Germany and Italy alone, and although neither age nor sex was spared, yet women and girls were the chief victims. Uncommon beauty was as dangerous to a woman as the possession of great wealth, which brought frequent accusations in
order that the church might seize upon the witches property for its own use.
Children of the most tender years did not escape accusation and death. During the height of witch. craft persecution, hundreds of little ones were condemned as witches. Little girls of ten, eight, and seven years are mentioned; blind girls, infants26 and even young boys were among the numbers who thus perished. Everywhere the most helpless classes were the victims.
It was declared that witches looked no person steadily in the face, but allowed their eyes to wander from side to side, or kept them fixed upon the earth. To this assertion that a witch could not look any one in the face, the present belief of a connection between guilt and a downcast look, is due; although the church taught that a woman should preserve a downward look in shame for the sin she had brought into the world, and to this day, an open, confident look upon a woman's face is deprecated as evil. Attendance upon Sabbats27 and control of the weather were among the accusations brought against the witch. In Scotland a woman accused of raising a storm by taking off her stockings, was put to death. Sprenger tells of a Swiss farmer whose little daughter startled him by saying she could bring rain, immediately raising a storm.28
Whatever the pretext made for witchcraft persecution we have abundant proof that the so-called "witch" was among the most profoundly scientific persons of the age. The church having forbidden its offices and all external methods of knowledge to woman, was profoundly stirred with indignation at her having through her own wisdom, penetrated into some of the most deeply subtle secrets of nature: and it was a subject of debate during the middle ages if learning for woman was not an additional capacity for evil, as owing to her, knowledge had first been introduced in the world. In penetrating into these arcana, woman trenched upon that mysterious hidden knowledge of the church which it regarded as among its most potential methods of controlling mankind. Scholars have invariably attributed magical knowledge and practices to the church, popes and prelates of every degree having been thus accused. The word "magic" or "wisdom" simply meaning superior science, was attributed in the highest degree to King Solomon, who ruled even the Elementals by means of his magic ring made in accord with certain natural laws. He was said to have drawn his power directly from God. Magi were known as late as the X. century of this era. Among their powers were casting out demons, the fearless use of poisons, control of spirits and an acquaintance with many natural laws unknown to the world at large. During the present century, the Abbe Constant (Eliphas Levi), declared the Pentagram to be the key of the two worlds, and if rightly, understood, endowing man with infinite power. The empire
of THE WILL over the astral light is symbolized in magic by the Pentagram, the growth of a personal will being the most important end to be attained in the history of man's evolution. The opposition of the church to this growth of the human will in mankind, has ever been the most marked feature in its history. Under WILL, man decides for himself. escaping from all control that hinders his personal development.
It is only an innate and natural tendency of the soul to go beyond its body to find material with which to clothe the life that it desires to give expression to. The soul can and must be trained to do this consciously. You can easily see that this power possessed consciously will give its possessor power to work magic.
Ignorance and the anathemas of the church against knowledge to be gained through an investigation of the more abstruse laws of nature, have invested the word "magic" with terror. But magic simply means knowledge of the effect of certain natural, but generally unknown laws; the secret operation of natural causes, according to Bacon and other philosophers; consequences resulting from control of the invisible powers of nature, such as are shown in the electrical appliances of the day, which a few centuries since would have been termed witchcraft. Seeking to compel the aid of spirits, was understood as magic at an early day. Lenormant says the object of magic in Chaldea, was to conjure the spirits giving minute description of the ancient formula. Scientific knowledge in. the hands of the church alone, was a great element of spiritual and temporal power, aiding it in more fully subduing the human will. The testimony of the ages entirely destroys the assertion sometimes made that witchcraft was merely a species of hysteria. Every discovery of
science is a nearer step towards knowledge of the laws governing "the Accursed Sciences," as everything connected with psychic power in possession of the laity was termed by the church. "Her seven evidences for possession" included nearly all forms of mesmerism. All modern investigations tend to prove what was called witchcraft, to have been in most instances the action of psychic laws not yet fully understood. An extremely suggestive article appeared in the January and February numbers of "The Path" 1887, by C. H. A. Bjerregaard entitled, "The Elementals and the Elementary Spirits." In it Mr. Bjerregaard referred to the Pacinian Corpuscles, the discovery of an Italian physician in 1830 and 1840. He said:
Pacini found in all the sensible nerves of the fingers many elliptical whitish corpuscles. He compared them to the electrical organs of the torpedo and described them as animal magneto-motors, or organs of animal magnetism, and so did Henle and Holliker, two German anatomists who have studied and described these corpuscles very minutely.
In the human body they are found in great numbers in connection with the nerves of the hand, also in those of the foot * * * The ecstatic dances of the enthusiasts and the not-sinking of somnambulists in water, or their ability to use the soles of their feet as organs of perception, and the ancient art of healing by the soles of the feet-all these facts explain the mystery.
They are found sparingly on the spinal nerves, and on the plexuses of the sympathetic, but never on the nerves of motion * * * Anatomists are interested in these Pacinian corpuscles because of the novel aspect in which they present the constituent parts of the nerve-tube, placed in the heart of a system of concentric membranous capsules with intervening fluid, and divested of that layer which they (the anatomists)
regard as an isolator and protector of the more potential central axis within.
This apparatus--almost formed like a voltaic pile, is the instrument for that peculiar vital energy, known more or less to all students as Animal Magnetism.
Since the cat is somewhat famous in all witchcraft, let me state, that in the mesentery of the cat, they can be seen in large numbers with the naked eye, as small oval-shaded grains a little smaller than hemp-seeds A few have been found in the ox (symbol of the priestly office,) but they are wanting in all birds, amphibia and fishes.
"Magic" whether brought about by the aid of spirits or simply through an understanding of secret natural laws, is of two kinds, "white" and "black," according as its intent and consequences are evil or good, and in this respect does not differ from the use made of the well known laws of nature, which are ever of good or evil character, in the hands of good or evil persons. To the church in its powerful control of the human will, must be attributed the use of "black magic," in its most injurious form. Proof that knowledge of the mysterious laws governing ordinary natural phenomena still exists even among civilized people, is indubitable. Our American Indians in various portions of the continent, according to authorities, also possess power to produce storms of thunder, lightning and rain29
A vast amount of evidence exists, to show that the word "witch" formerly signified a woman of superior knowledge. Many of the persons called witches doubtless possessed a super-abundance of the Pacinian corpuscles in hands and feet, enabling them to swim
when cast into water bound, to rise in the air against the ordinary action of gravity, to heal by a touch, and in some instances to sink into a condition of catalepsy, perfectly unconscious of torture when applied. Many were doubtless psychic sensitives of high powers similar perhaps to the "Seeress of Prevorst," whose peculiar characteristics were the subject of investigation by Dr. Kerner, about the end of the witch period, his report forming one of the most mysteriously interesting portions of psychic literature. The "Seeress" was able to perceive the hidden principles of all vegetable or mineral substances, whether beneficial or injurious. Dr. Kerner stated that her magnetic condition might be divided into four degrees.
First; that in which she ordinarily was when she appeared to be awakened but on the contrary was the first stage of her inner life, many persons of whom it was not expected and who was not aware of it themselves, being in this state.
Second; the magnetic dream, which she believed to be the condition of many persons who were regarded as insane.
Third; the half wakening state when she spoke and wrote the inner language, her spirit then being in intimate conjunction with her soul.
Fourth; her clairvoyant state.
With the investigation of Dr Kerner, the discoveries of Galvani, Pacini, and those more recently connected with electricity, notably of Edison and Nikolas Tesla, the world seems upon the eve of important knowledge which may throw full light upon the peculiar nerve action of the witch period, when a holocaust of women were sacrificed, victims of the ignorance and barbarity of the church, which thus retarded civilization and delayed spiritual progress for many hundred years. Besides the natural psychics who formed
a large proportion of the victims of this period, other women with a natural spirit of investigation made scientific discoveries with equally baleful effect upon themselves; the one fact of a woman's possessing knowledge serving to bring her under the suspicion and accusation of the church. Henry More, a learned Cambridge graduate of the seventeenth century wrote a treatise on witchcraft explanatory of the term "witch" which he affirmed simply signified a wise, or learned woman. It meant "uncommon" but not unlawful knowledge or skill. It will assist in forming an opinion to know that the word "witch" is from wekken, to prophesy a direct bearing upon the psychic powers of many such persons. The modern Slavonian or Russian name for witch, "vjédma," is from the verb "to know" signifying much the same as Veda.30 Muller says "Veda" means the same as the wise, "wisdom." The Sanskrit word "Vidma" answers to the German "wir wissen," which literally means "we know." A Russian name for the witch "Zaharku," is derived from the verb "Znat," to know.31 A curious account of modern Russian belief in witchcraft is to be found in Madame Blavatsky's "Isis Unveiled." The German word "Heke," that is, witch, primarily signified priestess, a wise or superior woman who in a sylvan temple worshiped those gods and goddesses that together governed earth and heaven. Not alone but with thousands of the people for whom she officiated she was found there especially upon Walpurgis Night, the chief Hexen (witch) Sabbat of the north. A German scholar furnished this explanation.
The German word Heke, (witch) is a compound word from "hag" and "idisan" or "disan." Hag means
a beautiful landscape, woodland, meadow, field, altogether. Idisen means female deities, wise-women. Hexen-Sabbat, or Walpurgis Night is May twelfth. Perfume and avocation--originally the old gods--perverted by the priests. It is a remnant of the great gathering to worship the old deities, when Christianity had overshadowed them. A monument of the wedding of Woden or Odin with Freia--Sun and Earth at spring time.
The Saxon festival "Eostre," the christian Easter, was celebrated in April, each of these festivals at a time when winter having released its sway, smiling earth giving her life to healing herbs and leaves, once more welcomed her worshipers. In the south of Europe, the month of October peculiarly belonged to the witches.32 The first of May, May-day, was especially devoted by those elementals known as fairies, whose special rites were dances upon the green sward, leaving curious mementoes of their visits in the circles known as "Fairies Rings." In reality the original meaning of "witch" was a wise woman. So also the word "Sab" means sage or wise, and "Saba" a host or congregation;33 while "Bac," "Boc" and "Bacchus"34 all originally signified book.35 "Sabs" was the name of the day when the Celtic Druids gave instruction and is the origin of our words Sabbath and Sunday.
But the degradation of learning, its almost total loss among christian nations, an entire change in the signification of words, owing to ignorance and superstition led to the strangest and most infamous results. The earliest doctors among the common people of christian Europe were women36 who had learned the virtues and use of herbs. The famous works of Paracelsus were but compilations of the knowledge of these "wise women" as he himself stated. During the feudal ages women were excellent surgeons, wounded warriors frequently falling under their care and to the skill of these women were indebted for recovery from dangerous wounds. Among the women of savage races to much greater extent than among the men, a knowledge of the healing powers of plants and herbs is to this day found. But while for many hundred years the knowledge of medicine, and its practice among the poorer classes was almost entirely in the hands of women and many discoveries in science are due to them, yet an acquaintance of herbs soothing to pain, or healing in their qualities, was then looked upon as having been acquired through diabolical agency. Even those persons cured through the instrumentality of some woman, were ready when the hour came to assert their belief in her indebtedness to the devil for her knowledge. Not only were the common people themselves ignorant of all science, but their brains were filled with superstitious fears, and the belief that knowledge had been first introduced to the world through woman's obedience to the devil. In the fourteenth century the church decreed that any woman who healed
others without having duly studied, was a witch and should suffer death; yet in that same century, 1527, at Basle, Paracelsus threw all his medical works, including those of Hippocrates and Galen into the fire, saying that he knew nothing except what he had learned from witches.37 As late as 1736, the persecution of her male compeers cast Elizabeth Blackwell, an English woman physician, into prison for debt. Devoting herself even behind the bars to her loved science, she prepared the first medical botany given to the world. The modern discovery of anæsthetics by means of whose use human suffering can be so greatly ameliorated, is justly claimed as the greatest boon that science has conferred upon mankind, yet it must not be forgotten that this medical art of mitigating pain, is but an olden one re-discovered. Methods of causing insensibility to pain were known to the ancient world. During the middle ages these secrets were only understood by the persecuted women doctors of that period, subjected under church rule to torture, burning at the stake or drowning as witches. The use of pain-destroying medicaments by women, can be traced back from five hundred to a thousand years. At the time that witchcraft became the great ogre against which the church expended all its terrific powers, women doctors employed anæsthetics to mitigate the pains and perils of motherhood, "throwing the sufferer into a deep sleep when the child entered the world. They made use of the Solanæ, especially Belladonna.
But that woman should find relief at this hour of intense suffering and peril when a new being entered the world, provoked open hostility from the church. The use of mitigating herbs assailed that theory of the church which having placed the creation of sin upon woman, still further inculcated the doctrine that she must undergo continual penance, the greatest suffering being a punishment in nowise equal to her deserts. Its teachings that she had therefore been especially cursed by her Maker with suffering and sorrow at this period, rendered the use of mitigating remedies during childbirth, dangerous alike to the "wise woman" and the mother for whose relief they were employed.39 Although the present century has shown similar opposition by the church to the use of anæsthetics for women at this time, it is almost impossible to depict the sentiment against such relief which made the witchcraft period one of especial terror to womankind--an age that looked upon the slightest attempt at such alleviation as proof of collusion with the devil. So strong was the power of the church, so universal the belief in the guilt of all women, that even those sufferers who had availed themselves of the knowledge of the "wise woman" did so in fear as calling in the aid of evil, and were ready to testify against her to whom they had been indebted for alleviation of pain, whenever required by the dread mandate of the church. A strong natural bias toward the study of medicine, together with deepest sympathy for suffering humanity, were required in order to sustain the wise woman' amid the perils constantly surrounding her; many such women losing their lives as witches simply because of their superior medical and surgical knowledge. Death by
torture was the method of the church for the repression of woman's intellect, knowledge being held as evil and dangerous in her hands. Ignorance was regarded as an especial virtue in woman, and fear held her in this condition. Few women dared be wise, after thousands of their sex had gone to death by drowning or burning because of their knowledge. The superior learning of witches was recognized in the widely extended belief of their ability to work miracles. The witch was in reality the profoundest thinker, the most advanced scientist of those ages. The persecution which for ages waged against witches was in reality an attack upon science at the hands of the church. As knowledge has ever been power, the church feared its use in woman's hands, and leveled its deadliest blows at her. Although the church in its myth of the fall attributes knowledge to woman's having eaten of its tree, yet while not scrupling to make use of the results of her disobedience for its own benefit, it has been most earnest in its endeavors to prevent her from like use. No less to-day than during the darkest period of its history, is the church the great opponent of woman's education, every advance step for her having found the church antagonistic.
Every kind of self-interest was brought into play in these accusations of witchcraft against women physicians: greed, malice, envy, hatred, fear, the desire of clearing one's self from suspicion, all became motives. Male physicians not skillful enough to cure disease would deliberately swear that there could be but one reason for their failure--the use of witchcraft against them. As the charge of witchcraft not only brought disrepute but death upon the "wise woman" at the hands of the church, she was soon compelled to abandon both the practice of medicine and surgery, and for many hundred
years but few women doctors were to be found in christian countries. It is, however, a noticeable fact that Madam La Chapelle, an eminent woman accoucher of France, during the present century, and M. Chaussure revived the use of Belladonna40 during parturition, thus acknowledging the scientific acquirements of serf women and "witches." Since the re-entrance of woman into the medical profession within the past few years, the world has been indebted for a knowledge of the cause and cure of certain forms of disease peculiar to woman, to the skill of those physicians of her own sex whom the church so long banished from practice.
Through its opposition to the use of anæsthetics by the women physicians of the witch period, the church again interposed the weight of her mighty arm to crush science, leaving the load of preventable suffering of all kinds upon the world for many hundred years longer, or until the light of a scientific civilization threw discredit upon her authority. History proves that women were the earliest chemists. The witch period also shows us the germs of a medical system, the Homeopathic, supposed to be of modern origin, in similia similibus curantur. Among the strange epidemics of these ages, a dancing mania appeared; Belladonna among whose effects is the desire of dancing, was employed as a cure of the "Dancing Mania," and thus the theory of Hahnemann was forestalled. During the witch period these sages or wise-women were believed to be endowed with a supernatural or magical power of curing diseases. They were also regarded as prophets to whom the secrets of the future were known. The women of ancient Germany, of Gaul and among the Celts were especially famous for their
healing powers, 41 possessing knowledge by which wounds and diseases that baffled the most expert male physicians were cured. The women of a still more ancient period, the fame of whose magical powers has descended to the present time, Circe, Medea and Thracia, were evidently physicians of the highest skill. The secret of compounding herbs and drugs left by Circe to her descendants, gave them power over the most poisonous serpents. Chief among the many herbs, plants and roots whose virtues were discovered by Medea, that of Aconite stands pre-eminent. The Thracian nation took its name from the famous Thracia whose medical skill and knowledge of herbs was so great that the country deemed it an honor to thus perpetuate her name.
Aside from women of superior intelligence who were almost invariably accused of witchcraft, the old, the insane, the bed-ridden, the idiotic,42 also fell under condemnation. The first investigation by Rev. Cotten Mather in America resulted in the hanging of a half-witted Quaker woman. Later still, an Indian woman, an insane man, and another woman who was bed-ridden were also accused. Under the present theories regarding human rights, it seems scarcely possible that less than two hundred years ago such practices were not only common in England, but had also been brought into America by the Puritan Fathers. The humiliation and tortures of women increased in proportion to
the spread of christianity,43 and the broader area over which man's sole authority in church and state was disseminated. As the supreme extent of spiritual wrong grew out of the bondage of the church over free thought, so the extreme of physical wrong rose from the growth of the inquisitional or paternal spirit, which assumed that one human being possessed divine authority over another human being. Paternalism, a species of condensed patriarchism, runs through ecclesiastical, civil, and common law. Down to the time of the American revolution, individuality was an uncomprehended word; many hundred crimes were punishable by death. That of pressing to death, peine-fort-et-dure, the strong and hard pain, was practiced upon both men and women in England for five hundred years and brought by the pilgrims to New
England. The culprit was placed in the dark lower room of some prison, naked, upon the bare ground without clothing on rushes underneath or to cover him. The legs and arms were extended toward the four corners of the room and as great a weight placed upon the body as could be supported.
"The first day he (or she) is to have three morsels of barley bread; upon the second day three draughts of water standing next to the door of the prison, without bread, and this to be his (or her) diet till he (or she) die."
It is computed from historical records that nine millions of persons were put to death for witchcraft after 1484, or during a period of three hundred years, and this estimate does not include the vast number who were sacrificed in the preceding centuries upon the same accusation. The greater number of this incredible multitude were women. Under catholicism, those condemned as sorcerers and witches, as "heretics," were in reality the most advanced thinkers of the christian ages. Under that protestant pope, the Eighth Henry, an Act of Parliament condemning witchcraft as felony was confirmed. Enacted under Henry V, it had fallen into disuse, but numerous petitions setting forth that witches and sorcerers were "wonderful many," and his majesty's subjects persecuted to death by their devices, led to its re-enactment. The methods used to extort confession without which it was impossible in many cases to convict for witchcraft, led to the grossest outrages upon woman. Searching the body of the suspected witch for the marks of Satan, and the practice of shaving the whole body before applying torture were occasions of atrocious indignities. It was asserted that all who consorted
with devils had some secret mark about them, in some hidden place of their bodies; as the inside of the lip, the hair of the eyebrows, inside of the thigh, the hollow of the arm or still more private parts, from whence Satan drew nourishment. This originated a class of men known as "Witch Prickers" who divesting the supposed witch, whether maid, matron, or child, of all clothing minutely examined all parts of her body for the devil's sign. Woe to the woman possessing a mole or other blemish upon her person; it was immediately pointed to as Satan's seal and as undeniable proof of having sold herself to the devil. Belief in this sign existed among the most educated persons. Albertus Pictus, an advocate in the Parliament of Paris, declared he himself had seen a woman with the devil's mark on her shoulders, carried off the next day by the devil. Many authors affirmed the trustworthiness of witch-marks. It was supposed that upon touching the place the witch would be unable to speak. If under the torture of having every portion of her body punctured by a sharp instrument, the victim became no longer able to cry out, her silence was an accepted proof of finding the witch-mark and her condemnation was equally certain. So great was the number of accused, that these men found profitable employment. The depth of iniquity to which greed of money leads was never more forcibly shown than during witchcraft. One Kincaid, a New England Witch Pricker, after stripping his victims of all clothing, bound them hand and foot, then thrust pins into every part of their bodies until exhausted and rendered speechless by the torture, they were unable to scream, when he would triumphantly proclaim that be had found the witch mark. Another confessed on the gallows, to
which a just fate finally condemned him, that he had illegally caused the death of one hundred and twenty women whom he had thus tortured. No means were considered too severe in order to secure conviction. The Jesuit, Del Rio, said torture could scarcely be properly administered without more or less dislocation of the joints, and persons escaping conviction were frequently crippled for life.44 The church declared the female sex had always been most concerned in the crime of christian witchcraft and as it was its aim to separate woman from all connection with its ordinances, it also asserted that the priestesses of antiquity held their high places by means of witchcraft.
Trials for witchcraft filled the coffers of the church, as whenever conviction took place, the property of the witch and her family was confiscated to that body. The clergy fattened upon the torture and burning of women. Books giving directions for the punishment to be inflicted upon them bore the significant titles of "Scourge", "Hammer"' "Ant Hills," "Floggings," etc. During the middle ages the devil was a personal being to the church with power about equal to that of God, his kingdom maintaining its equilibrium with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost of Heaven, by means of three persons in Hell; Lucifer, Beelzebub and Leviathan. In this era of christian devil-worship the three in hell equipoised the three in the Godhead. Marriage with devils was one of the most ordinary accusation in witch trials. Such connections were sometimes regarded with pride; the celebrated marshall de Bassompierre boasting that the founder of his family was engendered from communion with a spirit. It was reported of the mother of Luther that she was
familiar with an Incubus. During this period many nuns and married women confessed to having been visited by Incubi of whose visits no spiritual efforts could rid them. Church history also proves that young girls and boys, many under ten years of age were tried for intercourse with such spirits. Those infesting men were known as Succubi. Lady Frances Howard, daughter of the earl of Suffolk, obtained a divorce from her husband because of his connection with a Succubus.
One of the most notable things connected with such accusation was the frequent confession of its truthfulness. In 1459, a great number of witches and wizards were burned,45 who publicly confessed to their use of ungents, to their dances, feasts, and their consort with devils. A Vicar General46 among the Laodunenses, at his death left confession of his witch-rides, his copulation with devils, etc. Nor is the present age free from similar confessions. Tales of marriage with spirits; of dead lovers paying nightly visits to the living betrothed--of Incubi consorting with willing or unwilling victims;--all those mediæval statements regarding the intercourse of spirits of the dead with the living, all the customs of witchcraft and sorcery are paralleled in our midst to-day; and such statements do not come from the ignorant and superstitious, but are made by persons of intelligence as within their own personal experience. During the witchcraft period familiarity of this nature with Incubi or Succubi was punished with death. Occasionally a person was found of sufficient saintliness to exorcise them as
Elementals are said to have been exorcised during the last half of the present century.47 Devils were said to be very fond of women with beautiful hair and the direction of St. Paul in regard to woman's keeping her head covered, was not always regarded as a sign of inferiority, but sometimes believed to be a precautionary admonition intended for the safety of christian women.48 To this day the people of some eastern countries, men and women alike, will not expose the head uncovered, because of the danger of thus giving entrance to certain invisible beings of an injurious character; the Persians in particular, wearing a turban or cloth of peculiar appearance called Mathoomba. Confessions of magical and witchcraft practices were by no means rare even among the highest church dignitaries who implicated themselves by such avowals. It was customary to attribute the practice of magic to the most holy fathers of the church. The popes from Sylvester II. to Gregory VII. were all believed to have been magicians Benedict IX. was also thus accused. The difference between the practices of men and of women existed only in name. What was termed magic, among men, was called witchcraft in woman. The one was rarely, the other invariably, punished.
The practice of magic by the holy fathers was in furtherance of private or ecclesiastical advancement and therefore legitimate in the eye of the church. Yet, death-bed repentance was by no means infrequent. Of Pope Sylvester, it is said, that convinced of his sinfulness in having practiced magic, upon his deathbed
he ordered his tongue to be torn out and his hands cut off because he had sacrificed to the devil; having learned the art when Bishop of Rheims. The significant question as to whether magnetism or hypnotism was not a custom of the church during the middle ages, as part of the "magic" practiced by illustrious ecclesiastical dignitaries, is one of importance in view of recent hypnotic experiments. The fact that by means of "suggestion" the responsibility for crime and the perpetration of overt criminal acts, can be made to fall upon persons entirely innocent of criminal intention, who, at the time are in a condition of irresponsibility, while the actual felon, the person who incited the act remains unknown and unsuspected, exceeds in malign power all that christendom has taught regarding the evil one. Science trembles on the verge of important discoveries which may open the door for a full understanding of mediæval witchcraft. The Scotch woman who asked if a person could not be a witch without knowing it, had intuitive perception that by the action of one person upon another, consequences could be induced of which the perpetrator was entirely guiltless.49 Doubtless the
strange power which certain persons are capable of wielding over others, at present calling the attention of scientific investigators, was very common during the witchcraft period. Of this power the church as self-constituted guardian of the esoteric sciences was fully aware, frequently making it the method through which envy, greed and revenge, satisfied themselves while throwing the external appearance of guilt upon others. The most complete protection against such powers,--a strong will,--it has ever been the aim of the church to destroy. Freedom of the will has ever held place in clerical denunciation by side of "original sin," and punished as sorcery.50
A reminiscence of olden magic--far older than the witchcraft period is found in the Masonic lamentation over the "lost word." This "lost word," the "supreme word," by whose use all things can be subdued, is still the quest of a certain portion of the world; and sorcerers are still mentioned, who cannot die until a certain mysterious word is passed from "mouth to ear." One of the latest occult societies extant, its membership widely extended, claims its origin from a mysterious word similarly passed. The Lord's Prayer demands the making whole (hallowed), of the Father's name, evidently in the esoteric sense referring to that loss which dwells in the minds of men through tradition, a species of unwritten history. With the restoration of the feminine in all its attributes to its rightful place everywhere, in realms seen and unseen, the lost power will have been restored, the "lost name" have been found. Numbers are closely connected with names, their early knowledge not
only having preceded letters, but having been of much greater value, although after a time, letters and numbers became interchangeable. Certain persons devoted to the consideration of occult subjects therefore claim the lost power to abide in a number rather than in a word; sounds possessing great and peculiar influence in all magical formulas, their power largely depending upon inflection and tone or vibration; color and light are also called in aid during magical formulas.51
The three most distinguishing features of the history of witchcraft were its use for the enrichment of the church; for the advancement of political schemes; and for the gratification of private malice. Among these the most influential reason was the emolument it brought to the church. Although inquisitors and the clergy were the principal prosecutors, this period gave opportunity for the gratification of private malice, and persons imbued with secret enmity towards others, or who coveted their property, found ready occasion for the indulgence of that malice of covetousness; while the church always claimed one-half, it divided the remainder of the accused's possessions between the judge and the prosecutor. Under these circumstances accusation and conviction became convertible terms. The pretense under which the church confiscated to itself all property of the accused was in line with its other sophistical teaching. It declared that the taint of witchcraft hung to all that had belonged to the condemned, whose friends were not safe with
such property in their possession. To make this claim more effective, it was also asserted that the very fact of one member of a family having fallen into the practice of this sin was virtual proof that all were likewise attainted. Under this allegation of the church, a protest against such robbery was held as proof of the witchcraft in the person so protesting. For the purpose of getting the property of the accused admission of the crime was strenously pressed. In some countries the property was not forfeited unless such confession took place. Persecution for witchcraft was if possible more violent in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries than at any previous date. By this period it had been introduced into America through the instrumentality of the Puritan Fathers. It was no less wide-spread in Calvinistic Scotland, while it re-appeared with renewed vigor in Catholic countries. In the State of Venice it caused open rebellion against church authority, the Council forbidding the sentence of the Inquisition to be carried out.52
While only Venice in the whole of Europe defied the church upon this point, emphatically protesting against such robbery of her citizens, she ultimately succeeded in establishing a treaty with the pope whereby the inheritance of the condemned was retained in the family. The rebellion of Venice against the church upon the question of property belonging to its subjects, a question upon which the state held itself
pre-eminent, soon effected a radical change and had remarkable effect in lessening the number of accusations in that state.51 Theft by the church in that direction, no longer possible, accusations of witchcraft soon ceased; being no longer recognized as sin, after ceasing to bring money into the coffers of the church.
It is a fact noted by very many authorities that when witchcraft fell under control of the state, its penalties were greatly lessened while accusations grew fewer. Yet for a period, even the civil power aided in spreading this belief, offering rewards for conviction; and as the church had grown immensely rich by means of witch persecution, so the state increased its own power and wealth through similar means. The theory of Bishop Butler that whole communities at times become mad, seems proven by the experience of this period. Upon no other ground but that of universal insanity can excusable explanation be offered. But for the church no such exculpation is possible, her teachings and her acts having created this wholesale madness of communities. Experience of her course during preceding centuries shows us that the persecution of the witchcraft period was but a continuation of her policy from the moment of her existence--that of universal dominion over the lives, the property, and the thoughts of mankind. Neither rank, nor learning, age, nor goodness freed a woman from accusation.54 The mother of the great astronomer, Kepler, a woman
of noble family, died in chains having been accused of witchcraft. The council of Bourges tortured a reputed witch who was only known for her good works. A determined effort for the destruction of every virtue among women seemed made at this period. In the middle of the XIII. century, the Emperor Theodore Lascarius caused a noble lady of his court to be entirely stripped of her clothing, and placed thus nude in a sack with cats, but even this torture failed to extort a confession from her innocent lips. Even in America, women of the purest lives, all of whose years had been given to good works, met with death from like accusation.
Soon after the confirmation of celibacy as a dogma of the church, at the time when the persecution for witchcraft so rapidly increased, which was also the period of the greatest oppression under feudalism-a peculiar and silent rebellion against both church and state took place among the peasantry of Europe, who assembled in the seclusion of night and the forest, their only place of safety in which to speak of their wrongs. Freedom for the peasant was found only at night. Known as "Birds of the Night," "Foxes," "Birds of Prey," it was only at night assemblages that they enjoyed the least happiness or freedom. Here with wives and daughters, they met to talk over the gross outrages perpetrated upon them. Out of their foul wrongs grew the sacrifice of the "Black Mass" with women as officiating priestess, in which the rites of the church were travestied in solemn mockery, and defiance cast at that heaven which permitted the priest and the lord alike to trample upon all the sacred rights of womanhood, in the name of religion and law. During this mocking service a true sacrifice of wheat
was offered to the "Spirit of the Earth" who made wheat to grow, and loosened birds bore aloft to the "God of Freedom" the sighs and prayers of the serfs asking that their descendants might be free. We can but regard this sacrifice as the most acceptable offering made in that day of moral degradation; a sacrifice and a prayer more holy than all the ceremonials of the church. This service where woman by virtue of her greater despair acted both as altar and priest, opened with the following address and prayer. "I will come before Thine altar, but save me, O, Lord, from the faithless and violent man!" (from the priest and the baron.)56 From these assemblages known as "Sabbat" or "the Sabbath" from the old Pagan midsummer-day sacrifice to "Bacchus Sabiesa" rose the belief in the "Witches Sabbath," which for several hundred years formed a source of accusation against women, sending tens of thousands to most horrible deaths. The thirteenth century was about the central period of this rebellion of the serfs against God and the church when they drank each other's blood as a sacrament, while secretly speaking of their oppression.57 The officiating priestess was usually about thirty years old, having experienced all the wrongs that woman suffered under church and state. She was entitled "The Elder" yet in defiance of that God to whom the serfs under church teaching ascribed all their wrongs, she was also called "The Devil's bride." This period was especially that of woman's rebellion
against the existing order of religion and government in both church and state. While man was connected with her in these ceremonies as father, husband, brother, yet all accounts show that to woman as the most deeply wronged, was accorded all authority. Without her, no man was admitted to this celebration, which took place in the seclusion of the forest and under the utmost secrecy. Offerings were made to the latest dead and the most newly born of the district, and defiance hurled against that God to whose injustice the church had taught woman that all her wrongs were due.
Woman's knowledge of herbs was made use of in a preparation of Solanæ which mixed with mead, beer, cider, or farcy,--the strong drink of the west--disposed the oppressed serfs to joyous dancing and partial forgetfulness of their wrongs during these popular night gatherings of the Sabbath.58 It became "the comforter" throwing the friendly mantle of partial oblivion over the mental suffering of "him who had been so wronged" as it had done for the mother's physical pain. "The Sabbath" was evidently the secret protest of men and women whom church and state in combination had utterly oppressed and degraded. For centuries there seemed no hope for this class of humanity--for this degraded portion of christendom--yet, even then women held position of superiority in these night assemblages. Among the "Papers of the Bastile," a more extended account of woman officiating as her own altar, is to be found.59
The injustice of man towards woman under the laws of both Church and State engrafted upon society, have resulted in many evils unsuspected by, the world, which if known would strike it with amazement and terror. Even Louis Lingg, one of the condemned Chicago anarchists, young, handsome, of vigorous intellect, who uncomplainingly accepted for himself that death he had decreed to the representatives to law; even he, who neither asked mercy nor accepted the death decreed him, was the outgrowth of woman's wrongs. His mother with whom his fate was thrown, a woman of the people in Hungary, belonging to a powerless class crushed for centuries, the plaything of those above them;--his father, a representative of the aristocracy descended from a long line of military ancestors, leaving him, as the church had taught him, to the sole care of the mother he had betrayed, it was impossible for this boy not to find in his breast a turmoil of conflicting emotions, but above all, ruling all, a hatred of entrenched oppression; nor did his father's military blood fail to play its part, leading to the final result which affrighted a city and closed his young life.
In looking at the history of witchcraft we see three striking points for consideration:
First; That women were chiefly accused.
Second; That men believing in woman's inherent wickedness, and understanding neither the mental nor the physical peculiarities of her being, ascribed all her idiosyncrasies to witchcraft.
Third; That the clergy inculcated the idea that woman was in league with the devil, and that strong intellect, remarkable beauty, or unusual sickness were in themselves proof of this league.
Catholics and protestants yet agree in holding Women as the chief accessory of the devil.60
The belief in witches indeed seemed intensified after the reformation. Luther said: "I would have no compassion for a witch, I would burn them all." He looked upon those who were afflicted with blindness, lameness, or idiocy from birth,61 as possessed of demons and there is record of his attempt to drown an afflicted child in whom he declared no soul existed, its body being animated by the devil alone. But a magistrate more enlightened or more humane than the great reformer, interfered to save the child's life. Were Luther on earth again to-day with the sentiments of his lifetime, he would regard the whole community as mad. Asylums for the blind, the dumb and idiots, curative treatment for cripples and all persons naturally deformed, would be to him a direct intervention with the ways of providence. The belief of this great reformer proves the folly of considering a man wise, because he is pious. Religion and humanity were as far apart with him after the reformation as while he was yet a monk. The fruits of monasticism continued their effects, and his latter life showed slight intellectual or spiritual advancement. As late as 1768 John Wesley declared the giving up of witchcraft to be in effect giving up the Bible. Such was
his low estimate of woman that he regarded his own wife as too sinful to conduct family prayers, although to Susannah, equally with John, is Methodism indebted for its existence. In Great Britain, the rapid increase of belief in witchcraft after the reformation was especially noticeable. The act of Parliament which declared witchcraft to be felony; confirmed under Henry VIII. was again confirmed under Elizabeth. In England the reformation brought with it great increase of tyranny both civil and ecclesiastical. Under Henry VIII. many new treasons were created. This king who sent the largest proportion of his six wives to the headsman's block, who neither hesitated at incest or at casting the taint of illegitimacy upon the daughter who succeeded him upon the throne, could not be expected to show justice or mercy to subject women. The penal laws of even celibate Elizabeth were largely the result of the change in religion of the realm.62 The queen, absolute in Church as in State, who "bent priest and prelate to her fiery will," caused the laws to bear with equal severity upon protestant and catholic. Under her "A Statute of Uniformity for abolishing Diversity of Opinions," was enacted, and the clergy were continued in the enjoyment of secular power. Women received no favor. The restrictions of the catholic church in regard to the residence of a priest's mother or sister in his house were now extended to the laity. No man was permitted to give his widowed mother or orphan sister a home in his house without permission from the authorities, and then but for a limited time. Single women were allowed no control over their own actions. Twelve years was the legal marriageable age for a girl, after which period if still unmarried
she could be bound out at the option of the court.63 Nor did the Cromwellian period lessen woman's persecution. The number of witches executed under the Presbyterian domination of the Long Parliament according to a list64 that has been preserved, amounted to between three and four thousand persons. The legal profession no less than the clerical asserted its belief in witchcraft, referring to the Bible in confirmation. Blackstone said:
"To deny the possibility, nay the actual existence of witchcraft and sorcery is at once flatly to contradict the revealed word of God, in various passages of the Old and New Testament; and the thing itself is a truth to which every nation in the world hath in its turn borne testimony, either by examples seemingly well attested, or by prohibiting laws."
The protestant clergy equally with the catholic priesthood, were charged with fostering a belief in witchcraft for the purpose of gain. At no period of the world has a more diabolical system of robbery existed. For the sake of a few pounds or pence, the most helpless of human beings, made helpless through church teaching as to their unworthiness, were by the church daily brought under accusation, exposing them to a cruel death at the hand of irresponsible tyranny. The system of thugery in India, shines white by side of this christian system of robbery, inaugurated by the church and sustained by the state. In the name of religion, the worst crimes against humanity have ever been perpetrated. On the accession of James I. he ordered the learned work of Reginald Scott against witchcraft, to be burned.65
This was in accordance with the act of Parliament 1605-9 which ratified a belief in witchcraft in the three kingdoms. At this date the tragedy of Macbeth appeared, deeply tinged with the belief of the times. A few persons maintaining possession of their senses, recognized the fact that fear, apprehension and melancholy gave birth to the wildest self-delusions; medical experience recording many instances of this character. In an age when ignorance and superstition prevailed among the people at large, while vice, ignorance, and cupidity were in equal force among those in power, the strangest beliefs became prevalent.
Sir George Mackenzie, the eminent king's advocate of Scotland, conducting many trials for witchcraft, became convinced it was largely a subject of fear and delusion. He said:
Those poor persons who are ordinarily accused of this crime are poor ignorant creatures, and ofttimes women who understood not the nature of what they are accused of, and many mistake their own fears and apprehensions for witchcraft, of which I shall give you two instances; one of a poor man, who after he had confessed witchcraft being asked how he saw the devil, he answered "like flies dancing about a candle." Another of a woman who asked sincerely; when accused, "if a woman might be a witch and not know it?" And it is dangerous then. Those who of all others are the most simple should be tried for a crime which of all others is the most mysterious. Those poor creatures when defamed became so confused with fear and the close prison in which they were kept, and so starved for want of meals and sleep (either of which wants is enough to destroy the strongest reason), when men are confounded with fear and apprehension they will imagine things very ridiculous and
absurd. Melancholy often makes men imagine they are horses. Most of these poor creatures are tortured by their keepers who are persuaded they do God good service. Most of all that were taken were tortured In this manner and this usage was the ground of their complaints.
To such an extent was this persecution carried even in protestant Scotland that accused women sometimes admitted their guilt that they might die and thus escape from a world where even if cleared, they would ever after be looked upon with suspicion. Sir George Mackenzie visiting some women who had confessed, one of them told him "under secrecie" that:
She had not confessed because she was guilty but being a poor creature who wrought for her meat and being defined for a witch, she knew she would starve, for no person thereafter would give her either meat or lodging, and that all men would beat her and hound dogs at her and therefore she desired to be out of the world, whereupon she wept bitterly and upon her knees called upon God to witness what she said.
Even under all the evidence of the persecution and cruel tortures that innocent women endured during the witchcraft period, no effort of the imagination can portray the sufferings of an accused woman. The death this poor woman chose, in voluntarily admitting a crime of which she was innocent, rather than to accept a chance of life with the name of "witch" clinging to her, was one of the most painful of which we can conceive, although in the diversity of torture inflicted upon the witch it is scarcely possible to say which one was the least agonizing. In no country has the devil ever been more fully regarded as a real personage, ever on the watch for souls, than in Christian Scotland. Sir George says:
Another told me she was afraid the devil would
challenge a right to her soul as the minister said when he desired her to confess; and therefore she desired to die.66
The following is an account of the material used and the expenses attending the execution of two witches in Scotland.
For 10 loads of coal to burn the witches
" A tar barrel
" hurdles to be jumps for them
" making of them
" one to go to Tinmouth for the lord to sit upon the assize as judge
" the executioner for his pains
" his expenses there
What was the special office of the executioner does not appear; whether to drag the victims upon hurdles, to the places of burning, to light the fire, to keep it well blazing, is not mentioned although his office was important and a well paid one; eight pounds and fourteen shillings above his expenses, sixteen shillings and four pence more; in all nine pounds, ten shillings and four pence, a sum equal to one hundred and fifty or two hundred dollars of the present day. At these rates it was easy to find men for the purpose desired. It is worthy of note that under the frequency of torture the payment lessened. Strange experiences sometimes befell those who were tortured: a cataleptic or hypnotic state coming on amid their most cruel sufferings causing an entire insensibility to pain. To the church this condition was sure evidence of help from Satan and caused a renewal of torture as soon as sensibility returned. In the year 1639 a poor widow called Lucken, who
was accused of being a witch and sentenced to the rack at Helmstadt having been cruelly tortured by the screw, was seized with convulsions, spoke high German and a strange language and then fell asleep on the rack and appeared to be dead. The circumstance related to the juricounsul at Helmstadt she was ordered to be again submitted to the torture. Then protesting she was a good Christian while the executioner stretched her on the rack, whipt her with rods and sprinkled her with burning brimstone, she fell again fast asleep and could not by any means be awakened.67
Boiling heretics and malefactors alive, commonly in oil but occasionally in water, was practiced throughout Europe until a comparatively late period. In fact as a civil punishment in England it dates only to 1531 under Henry VII. The "Chronicle of the Gray Friars" mentioned a man let down by a chain into a kettle of hot water until dead. We have expense items of this form of torture, in the boiling of Friar Stone of Canterbury.
Paid two men that sat by the kettle and boiled him
To three men that carried his quarters to the gate and set them up
For a woman that scoured the kettle
Boiling was a form of torture frequently used for women. The official records of Paris show the price paid for torture in France was larger than in England; boiling in oil in the former country costing forty eight francs as against one shilling in the latter. It must be remembered these official prices for torture, are not taken from the records of China or Persia, two thousand years ago, nor from among the savages of Patagonia, Australia or Guinea, but two European countries
of highest Christian civilization within the last three hundred years.
The following list of prices for dealing with criminals is taken from the official records in Paris:
For boiling a criminal in oil, francs
For tearing a living man in four quarters with horses
Execution with the sword
Breaking on the wheel
Mounting the head on a pole
Quartering a man.
Hanging a man.
Burying a man
Impaling a man alive
Burning a witch alive
Flaying a man alive
Drowning an infanticide in a sack
Throwing a suicide's body among the offal
Putting to the torture
For applying the thumb-screw
For applying the boot
Torture by fire
Putting a man in the pillory
Whipping a man
Branding with a red-hot iron
Cutting off the tongue, the ears and the nose
Burning a witch, probably because of its greater frequency, cost, but little over one-half as much as boiling in oil. The battle of gladiators with wild beasts in the Coliseum at Rome in reign of Nero, had in it an element of hope. Not the priesthood but the populace were the arbiters of the gladiator's destiny, giving always a chance for life in cases of great personal bravery. But in France and England the ecclesiastical code was so closely united with the civil as to be one with it; compassion equally with justice was forgotten, despair taking their place. Implements of torture were of frequent invention, the thought of the
age turning in the direction of human suffering, new methods were continually devised. Many of these instruments are now on exhibition in foreign museums. One called "The Spider" a diabolical iron machine with curved claws, for tearing out a woman's breasts was shown in the United States but a few years since. In Protestant Calvinistic Scotland, where hatred of "popery" was most pronounced, the persecution of witches raged with the greatest violence, and multitudes of women died shrieking to heaven for that mercy denied them by Christian men upon earth. It was in Scotland after the reformation that the most atrocious tortures for the witch were invented, one of most diabolical being known as "the Witches' Bridle." By means of a loop passed about the head, this instrument of four iron prongs was fastened in the mouth. One of the prongs pressed down the tongue, one touched the palate, the other two doing their barbarous work upon the inner side of the cheeks. As this instrument prevented speech thus allowing no complaint upon the part of the victim, it was preferred to many other methods of torture.68 The woman upon
whom it was used was suspended against a wall by a loop at the back, barely touching the floor with her toes. The iron band around her neck rendered her powerless to move, she was unable to speak or scarcely to breathe. Every muscle was strained in order to sustain herself and prevent entire suffocation, the least movement causing cruel wounds by means of the prongs in her mouth.
The victims were mostly aged women who having reared a family, spending their youth and beauty in this self-denying work, had lived until time threading their hair with silver had also robbed cheek and lip of their rosy hue, dimmed the brilliancy of the eye and left wrinkles in place of youthful dimples. Such victims were left for hours, until the malignity of their persecutors was satisfied, or until death after long torture released them from a world where under the laws of both Church and State they found their sex to be a crime. Old women for no other reason than that they were old, were held to be the most susceptible to the assaults of the devil, and the persons most especially endowed with supernatural powers for evil. Blackstone refers to this persecution of aged women in his reference to a statute of the Eight Henry.69 We discover a reason for this intense hatred of old women in the fact that woman has chiefly been looked upon from
a sensual view by christian men, the church teaching that she was created solely for man's sensual use. Thus when by reason of declining years she no longer attracted the sensual admiration of man, he regarded her as having forfeited all right to life. England's most learned judge, Sir Mathew Hale, declared his belief in the agency of the devil in producing diseases through the aid of old women. The prosecution against this class raged with unusual violence in Scotland under the covenanters.
To deny the existence of especially evil supernatural powers, in old women, was held as an evidence of skeptism exposing the doubting person to like suspicion. Great numbers of women were put to death at a time; so common indeed was the sight as to cause but little comment. A Scotch traveler casually mentioned having seen nine women burning together at Bath in 1664. Knox himself suffered a woman to be burned at St. Andrews, whom one word from him would have saved. Father Tanner speaks of "the multitude" of witches who were daily brought under the torture that was constantly practiced by the church.
The reformers were more cruel than those from whose superstitious teachings they professed to have escaped. All the tortures of the old church were repeated and an unusual number of new and diabolical ones invented to induce confession. Nor were these tortures applied to the suspected witch alone; her young and tender children against whom no accusation has been brought, were sometimes tortured in her presence in order to wring confession from the mother. Towards the end of the sixteenth century, a woman accused of witchcraft endured the most intense torture,
constantly asserting her innocence. Failing to secure confession, her husband, her son, and finally her young daughter of seven short years were tortured in her presence, the latter being subjected to a species of thumb-screw called "the pinniwinkies" which brought blood from under the finger nails with a pain terribly severe. When these were applied to the baby hands, to spare her innocent child, the mother confessed herself a witch; but after enduring all the agonies of torture upon herself and all she was made to suffer in the persons of her innocent family, confession having been obtained through this diabolical means, she was still condemned to the flames, undergoing death at the stake a blazing torch of fire, and died calling upon God for that mercy she could not find at the hands of Christian men.70 In
protestant Scotland as in catholic countries, witchcraft was under control of the clergy. When a woman fell under suspicion of being a witch, the minister denounced her from the pulpit, forbade any one to harbour or shelter her and exhorted his parishoners to give evidence against her.71 She was under ban similar to the excommunicate of the catholic church, a being outside of human help or sympathy. In protestant as in catholic countries the woman accused was virtually dead. She was excommunicated from humanity; designated and denounced as one whom all must shun, to whom no one must give food or lodging or speech or shelter; life was not worth the living. To afford such a one aid was to hazard accusation as a confederate. The first complaint was made to the clergy and Kirk Sessions.72
Notwithstanding two hundred years of such experience, when by ail act of parliament in 1784, the burning and hanging of witches was abolished, the General Assembly of the Calvinistic church of Scotland "confessed" this act "as a great national sin." Not only were the courts and the church alert for the detection of alleged witches, but the populace persecuted many to death.73 Deserted by her friends, the suspected
witch was beaten, worried by dogs, denied food and prevented from sleeping.74 Contrary to equity and the principles of modern law, the church sought in every way to entrap victims into giving evidence against themselves. Once a person was accused, no effort was spared to induce confession. Holding control over the soul as well as the body, enquiry into these crimes was pushed by every method that human ingenuity could devise. The kirk became the stronghold of superstition; both rewards and punishments were used as inducements towards ferreting out witches. All ties of natural affection were ignored, the kirk preaching it to be a matter of greater duty to inform against one's nearest relatives than against strangers. Unlike the theory of Roman civil law which held the accused innocent until proven guilty, ecclesiastical law everywhere produced a condition under which the accused was held guilty from the moment of accusation. During the witchcraft period the minds of people were trained in a single direction. The chief lesson of the church that betrayal of friends was necessary to one's own salvation, created an intense selfishness. All humanitarian feeling was lost in the effort to secure heaven at the expense of others, even those most closely bound by ties of nature and affection. Mercy, tenderness, compassion were all obliterated. Truthfulness escaped from the Christian world; fear, sorrow and cruelty reigned pre-eminent. All regard that existed for others grew up outside of church teaching and was shown at the hazard of life.
Contempt and hatred of woman was inculcated with greater intensity; love of power and treachery were parts of the selfish lessons of the church. All reverence for length of years was lost. The sorrows and sufferings of a long life appealed to no sympathetic cord in the heart. Instead of the tenderness and care due to aged women, they were so frequently accused of witchcraft that for years it was an unusual thing for an old woman in the north of Europe to die in her bed. Besides the thousands of accused who committed suicide in order to escape the horrors incident upon trial, many others tired of life amid so much humiliation and suffering, falsely accused themselves, preferring a death by the torture of fire to a life of endless isolation and persecution. An English woman on her way to the stake, with a greatness of soul born of despair, freed her judges from responsibility, by saying to the people, "Do not blame my judges. I wished to put an end to my own self. My parents keep aloof from me; my own husband has denied me. I could not live on without disgrace. I longed for death and so I told a lie." The most eminent legal minds became incompetent to form correct judgment. Having received the church as of divine origin, and its priesthood as the representatives of the divinity, they were no longer capable of justice. Old and ignorant women upon the most frivolous testimony of young children were condemned to death. One of the most notable examples of the power of superstitious belief to darken the understanding, is that of Sir Mathew Hale, living in the seventeenth century. He was spoken of by his contemporaries as one of the most eminent jurists of the world, whose integrity, learning and knowledge of law were scarcely to be paralleled
in any age, and yet he became so entirely convinced of the diabolism of two women as to condemn them to death while sitting at Bury St. Edmunds, without even summing up the evidence. The learned and famous Sir Thomas Browne, who was present, coincided in the justice of this decision, although but a short time previously he had published a work against superstition. The testimony upon which these women were condemned was of the most petty and worthless character, yet among all the persons present at the trial, but one or two seemed inclined to doubt the sufficiency of the evidence.
The records of this remarkable trial were preserved to the world by a gentleman who privately took a report for his own use, which was Published in pamphlet form a number of years afterwards. This extremely rare book is not to be found even in the Congressional Library at Washington, but the Supreme Court Library owns a copy from which this report is taken:
Trial March 10, 1664 by Sir Matthew Hale, Knight, Lord Chief Baron of his Majesty's Court of Exchequer held before a judge who for his integrity, learning and wisdom hardly any age before or since could parallel; he not only took a great deal of pains and spent much time in this trial himself, but had the assistance and opinion of several other very eminent and learned persons; so that this was the most perfect narrative of anything of this nature hitherto extant.
The persons tried were Ann Durant, or Drury, Susan Chander, Elizabeth Pacy. The celebrated Dr. Brown of Norwich who had written a work against witchcraft, was present and after hearing the evidence expressed himself as clearly of the opinion the persons were bewitched, and said in Denmark lately there had been
a great discovery of witches who used the same way of afflicting persons by the agency of pins. This trial took place in the sixteenth year of Charles II. The witnesses were two children of eleven and nine years who fell into fits, vomiting pins and nails. Sargeant Keeling asserted deception on part of the witnesses. The Court appointed Lord Cornwallis, Sir Edmund Bacon and Sargeant Keeling as committee to examine the girl alone, when they became fully satisfied of her imposture but without convincing the learned judge who contrary to all justice and law did not sum up the evidence, but gave the great weight of his opinion in favor of their guilt saying: "That there are such creatures as witches, I have no doubt at all. For First, Scripture has offered so much. Second, the wisdom of all nations has propounded laws against such persons, which is an argument of their confidence of such a crime. And such has been the judgment of this kingdom as appears by that Act of Parliament which hath provided punishments proportionate to the guilt of this offense, and desired them strictly to observe the evidence; and desired the great God of Heaven to direct their hearts in the weighty things they had so heard. For to condemn the innocent and to let the guilty go free, were both an abomination to the Lord. Within half an hour the jury returned a verdict of guilty on thirteen counts. The judge and all the court were fully satisfied with the verdict and therefore gave judgment against the witches that they should be hanged.
The evidence was of the most paltry character; as when out of door a little thing like a bee flew upon the witness face, putting a ten penny nail with a broad head into her mouth. Lath nails and pins said to have been vomited by the children were produced in court. When arraigned the accused pleaded not guilty nor did they ever change this plea. Great pressure was upon them to induce confession, but they could not be prevailed upon to thus criminate themselves and were executed the seventeenth of March, just one week after trial, confessing nothing.
This trial is the more remarkable that confessions usually deemed the best of evidence, were not obtained, these poor illiterate, persecuted women braving all the learning of the great judge and power of the kingdom in maintaining to the last the assertion of their innocence. The minutes of this trial were taken by a gentleman in attendance upon the court and were not published until 1716 when the record fell into the hands of a person who saw its value "so that," he says, "being the most complete minutes of anything of this nature hitherto extant, made me unwilling to deprive the world of it; which is the sole motive that induced me to publish it."
Not alone the clergy and the legal fraternity wrought in unison, but the medical as well, gave the weight of their authority in favor of witchcraft; and many persons needing the wisest medical appliance for their relief from disease were executed as witches. Half-witted and insane persons met with the same persecution as old women. It was an era of the strong against the weak, the powerful against the helpless. Even Sir Thomas Browne, himself a physician, regarded the fainting fits to which one of the accused women had long been subject as fuller evidence of her guilt. In his character of medical examiner he asserted that the devil had taken opportunity of her natural fits, to operate with her malice.
An almost equally notable trial as that of Bury St. Edmunds before Sir Matthew Hale, was known as the Sommers Trial, or that of the "Lancashire Witches," in 1612. Among the accused were two extremely aged women decrepit and nearly blind, tottering into second childhood, incapable of understanding whereof they were accused, or the evidence against them which, as in the case argued before Sir Matthew Hale, was of the most worthless character. One needs but refer to
the records in order to learn the extreme age, ignorance and many infirmities of these women. But as was the case in Scotland, these weaknesses were used as evidences of guilt. The feeble mental and physical condition of "the Lancashire witches," their great age and failing power were used as evidence for their condemnation. From published accounts of this trial, we learn that:
This Annie Whittle, alias Chattox, was a very old withered and decrepit creature, her sight almost gone, a dangerous witch of very long continuance, her lips ever chattering and walking (talking)? but no one knew what. She was next in order to that wicked, fierce bird of mischief, old Demdike.
This poor old creature "confessed" that Robert Mutter had offered insult to her married daughter; and the court decreed this was a fair proof of her having bewitched him to his death. No condemnation of the man who had thus insulted her daughter, but death for the aged mother who had resented this insult. Designated as "Old Demdike, a fierce bird of mischief" this woman of four score years of age, had not only brought up a large family of her own, but her grand children had fallen to her care. She had lived a blameless life of over eighty years, much of it devoted to the care of children and children's children. But when decrepit and almost blind she fell under suspicion of a crime held by Church and State as of the most baleful character, her blameless and industrious life proved of no avail against this accusation. She seems to have originally been a woman of great force of character and executive ability, but frightened at an accusation she could not understand and overpowered by all the dread majesty of the law into whose merciless power she had fallen, she "confessed" to communion
with a demon spirit which appeared to her in the form of a brown dog." From a work entitled The Sommers Trials, the form of indictment is learned.76
This Annie Whittle, alias Chattox, of the Forest of Pendle, in the countie of Lancaster, widow, being indicted for that she feloniously had practiced, used and exercised divers wicked and divelish artes, called witchcraftes, inchantments, charms and sorceries, in and upon one Robert Mutter of Greenhead, in the Forest of Pendle, in the countie of Lane; and by force of the same witchcraft, feloniously the sayed Robert Mutter had killed, contra pacem, etc. Being at the barre was arraigned. To this indictment, upon her arraignment, she pleaded, not guiltie; and for the tryall of her life put herself upon God and her country.
One of the chief witnesses at this trial was a child of nine years.77 Upon seeing her own daughter arraigned against her, the mother broke into shrieks and lamentations pleading with the girl not to falsify the truth and thus condemn her own mother to death. The judges instead of seeing in this agony a proof of the mother's innocence looked upon it as an attempt to thwart the ends of justice by demoniac influence, and the child having declared that she could not confess in her mother's presence, the latter was removed from the room, and as under the Inquisition, the testimony was given in the absence of the accused. The child then said that her mother had been a witch for three or four years, the devil appearing in the form
of a brown dog, Bill. These trials taking place in protestant England, two hundred years after the reformation, prove the worthless nature of witchcraft testimony, as well as the superstition, ignorance and entire unfitness for the bench of those men called the highest judicial minds in England. The church having almost entirely destroyed freedom of will and the expression of individual thought, men came to look upon authority and right as synonymous. Works bearing the stamp of the legal fraternity soon appeared. in 1618 a volume entitled, "The County Justice," by Michal Dalton, Gentleman of Lincoln Inn, was published in London, its chief object to give directions, based upon this trial, for the discovery of witches.
Now against these witches the justice of the peace may not always expect direct evidence, seeing all their works are works of darkness and no witness permitted with them to accuse them, and therefore for their better discovery I thought good here to set down certain observations out of the methods of discovery of the witches that were arraigned at Lancaster, A. D. 1612 before Sir James Altham and Sir Edward Bromley, judges of Assize there.
1. They have ordinarily a familiar or spirit which appeareth to them.
2. The said familiar hath some bigg or place upon their body where he sucketh them.
3. They have often pictures of clay or wax (like a man, etc.) found in their house.
4. If the dead body bleed upon the witches touching it.
5. The testimony of the person hurt upon his death.
6. The examination and confession of the children or servants of the witch.
7. Their own voluntary confession which exceeds all other evidence.
At this period many persons either in hope of a
reward78 or because they believed they were thus aiding the cause of justice, kept private note books of instruction in the examination of witches, and new varieties were constantly discovered. When witchcraft by Act of Parliament was decreed felony this statute gave the legal fraternity double authority for a belief in its existence. Even Sir George Mackenzie although convinced by his own experience that many persons were wrongfully accused of witchcraft, still declared that its existence could not be doubted, "seeing that our law ordains it to be punished with death." The most fatal record the world possesses of the plague is that of the fourteenth century, known as the "Black Death," when whole villages were depopulated and more than half the inhabitants of Europe were destroyed. It will aid in forming our judgment as to the extent of woman's persecution for witchcraft, to remember it has been estimated that the number of deaths from this cause equalled those of the plague.
The American Colonies adopted all the unjust previsions of European christianity as parts of their own religion and government. Fleeing from persecution, the Puritans yet brought with them the spirit of persecution in the belief of woman's inferiority and wickedness, as taught by the church from whence they had fled. The "Ducking Stool" for women who too vigorously protested against their wrongs, and the "Scarlet Letter" of shame for the woman who had transgressed the moral law, her companion in sin going free, or as in England, sitting as juror in the box, or judge upon the bench. With them also came a belief in witchcraft, which soon caused Massachusetts Colony
to enact a law ordering suspected women to be stripped naked their bodies to be carefully examined by a male "witch pricker" to see if there was not the devil's mark upon them. The public whipping of half naked women at the cart's tail for the crime of religious free thought soon followed, a union of both religious and judicial punishment; together with banishment of women from the Colony for daring to preach Christ as they understood his doctrines. These customs more barbarous than those of the savages whose home they had invaded, were the pleasing welcome given to the pioneer woman settlers of America by the husbands and fathers, judges and ministers of that period, with which the words "Plymouth Rock," "May Flower" and "Pilgrim Fathers" are so intimately associated. The same persecution of aged women took place in New England as in old England, while children of even more tender years were used as witnesses against their mothers if accused of witchcraft, or were themselves imprisoned upon like suspicion. The village of Salem, Massachusetts, is indissolubly connected with witchcraft, for there the persecution raged most fiercely, involving its best women in ruin. One of the oldest buildings still extant in the United States is "The Witch House" of that place, erected in 1631, although it was sixty one years later before this persecution reached its height.
A terrible summer for Salem village and its vicinity was that of 1692--a year of worse than pestilence or famine. Bridget Bishop was hanged in June; Sarah Good, Sarah Wilder, Elizabeth Howe, Susanna Martin and Rebecca Nurse in July; George Burroughs, John Proctor, George Jacobs, John Willard and Martha Carrier in August; Martha Corey, Mary Easty, Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Margaret Scott, Wilmit Reed,
Samuel Wordwell, and Mary Baker in September; in which last month Giles Corey eighty-one years of age, was pressed to death under a board loaded with heavy stones, not heavy enough however to crush out life until a day or two of lingering torture had intervened. Sarah Good's daughter Dorcas between three and four years old, orphaned by her mother's execution, was one of a number of children who with several hundred other persons were imprisoned on suspicion of witchcraft; many of these sufferers remained in a wretched condition, often heavily ironed for months, some upwards of a year; and several dying during this time. A child of seven, Sarah Carrier, was called upon to testify as witness against her mother.
Some of the condemned, especially Rebecca Nurse, Martha Corey, and Mary Easty, were aged women who had led unblemished lives and were conspicuous for their prudence, their charities and all domestic virtues.79
So extended became the persecution for witchcraft that the king was at last aroused to the necessity of putting a stop to such wholesale massacre of his subjects, issued a mandate forbidding the putting of any more persons to death on account of witchcraft.80 A remarkable family gathering took place at Salem, July 18, 1883, of two hundred persons who met to celebrate their descent from Mrs. Rebecca Nurse, who was executed as a witch at that place in 1692. The character and life of Mrs. Nurse were unimpeachable. She was a woman seventy years of age, the mother of eight children, a church member of unsullied reputation and devout habit; but all these considerations did not prevent her accusation, trial, conviction and death, although she solemnly asserted her innocence to the last. A reprieve granted by the governor was
withdrawn through the influence of the church, and she was hung by the neck till she was dead. In order to give her body burial, her sons were obliged to steal it away by night, depositing it in a secret place known but to the family. Forty persons at the hazard of their own lives testified to the goodness and piety of Mrs. Nurse. Their names were inscribed upon the monument erected by her descendants, in 1892, to her memory.81 The Rev. Cotton Mather and the Rev. Samuel Parrish are indissolubly connected with this period, as both were extremely active in fomenting a belief in witchcraft. Richard Baxter, known as the "greatest of the Puritans" condemned those who expressed a disbelief in witchcraft as "wicked Sadducees." Increase Mather, president of Harvard College, was one of the most bitter persecutors of witches in New England. The dangerous spirit of a religious autocracy like the priesthood, was forcibly shown by a paper read by Rev. Dr. George E. Ellis, a few years since, before the Massachusetts Historical Society, in which he excused the act of stripping women naked in order to search for a witch mark, upon the ground of its being a judicial one by commissioned officers and universally practiced in Christendom.
Boston as "The Bloody Town" rivalled Salem in its persecution of women who dared express thoughts upon religious matters in contradiction to the Puritanic belief; women were whipped because of independent religious belief, New England showing itself as strenuous for "conformity" of religious opinion as
Old England under Queen Elizabeth. The cruelties of this method of punishing free thought, culminated in the Vagabond Law of Massachusetts Colony, passed May 1661.
The first ecclesiastical convocation in America was a synod especially convened to sit in judgment upon the religious views of Mistress Anne Hutchinson, who demanded that the same rights of individual judgment upon religious questions should be accorded to woman which the reformation had already secured to man. Of the eighty-two errors canvassed by the synod, twenty nine were charged to Mistress Hutchinson, and retraction of them was ordered by the church. The State united with the Church in opposition to Mistress Hutchinson, and the first real struggle for woman's religious liberty, (not yet at an end), began upon this side of the Atlantic. The principal charge brought against Mistress Hutchinson was that she had presumed to instruct men. Possessed of a fine intellect and strong religious fervor, she had inaugurated private meetings for the instruction of her own sex; from sixty to a hundred women regularly gathering at her house to hear her criticism upon the Sunday sermon and Thursday lectures. These meetings proved so interesting that men were soon found also in attendance and for these reasons she was arbitrarily tried in November 1637, before the Massachusetts General Court upon a joint charge of sedition and heresy. In May of the same year a change had taken place in the civil government of the colony. Sir Henry Vane, who like herself, believed in the supreme authority of the in-dwelling spirit, having been superseded by John Winthrop as governor, the latter sustaining the power of the clergy and himself taking
part against her. Two days were spent by him and prominent clergymen in her examination, resulting in a sentence of imprisonment and banishment from the colony for having "traduced the ministers" and taught men against the direct authority of the Apostle Paul, who declared "I suffer not a woman to teach."
Thus the old world restrictions upon woman, and their persecutions, were soon duplicated in the new world. Liberty of opinion became as serious a crime in America as in England, and here as in Europe, the most saintly virtue and the purest life among women were not proof against priestly attack. While Mistress Hutchinson was the first woman thus to suffer, many others were also persecuted. When Mary Fisher and Anne Austin, two Quaker women who had become famous for their promulgation of this heretical doctrine in many parts of the world, arrived in Boston harbor, July 1656, they were not at first permitted to land, but were ultimately transferred to the Boston jail, where they were closely confined, and notwithstanding the heat of the weather their one window was boarded up. Their persons were also stripped and examined for signs of witchcraft, but fortunately not a mole or a spot could be found. Boston--"The Bloody Town"--was the center of this persecuting spirit and every species of wanton cruelty upon woman was enacted. Stripped nude to the waist they were tied to a whipping-post on the south side of King Street and flogged on account of their religious opinions; but it was upon the famous "Common" that for the crime of free speech, a half nude woman with a new born babe at her breast was thus publicly whipped; and it was upon the "Common" that Mary Dyer, another Quaker woman, was hung in 1659.
Both she and Anne Hutchinson prophesied calamity to the colony for its unjust course, which was fulfilled, when in 1684 it lost its charter in punishment for its intolerance. No Christian country offered a refuge for woman, as did Canada the colored slave. But the evils of woman's persecution by the church, did not end with the wrongs inflicted upon her; they were widely extended, affecting the most common interests of the world. While famines were unknown among the ancient Romans in the first period of their history, yet Christendom was early and frequently afflicted with them. While the operations of nature were sometimes the cause, the majority of famines were the result of persecutions, or of christian wars, especially the crusades which took such immense numbers of men from the duties of agriculture at home, making them a prey upon the scanty resources of the countries through which these hordes passed. As was seen in the Irish famine of 1847-8 and at the present moment as result of a scanty food supply in Russia, pestilence of various kinds followed famine years. But the crusades in which the church attempted to wrest the holy sepulchre from Turkish hands, were scarcely more productive of famines than its persecuting periods when mankind lost hope in themselves and the future. Our own country has shown the effect of fear and persecution upon both business and religion, as during the witchcraft period of New England, scarcely two hundred years since, all business of whatever nature in country and in town was neglected, and even the meeting house was allowed to fall out of repair. Nor was this ruin of a temporary nature, as many people left the Colony and its effects descended to those yet unborn. Both Bancroft's History
of the United States, and Lapham's History of the Salem Witchcraft, paint vivid pictures of the effects following the different church persecutions of woman. Of the Hutchinson trial, Bancroft says:
This dispute infused its spirit into everything. It interferred with the levy of troops for the Pequot war; it influenced the respect shown to magistrates; the distribution of town lots; the assessment of rates and at last the continued existence of the two parties was considered inconsistent with public peace.
Of the witchcraft period, Upham says:
It cast its shadows over a broad surface and they darkened the condition of generations * * * The fields were neglected; fences, roads, barns, even the meeting house went into disrepair * * * A scarcity of provisions nearly amounting to a famine continued for some time. Farms were brought under mortgage, or sacrificed, and large numbers of people were dispersed. The worst results were not confined to the village but spread more or less over the country.
Massachusetts was not the only colony that treated witchcraft as a crime. Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia possessed similar enactments. Witchcraft was considered and treated as a capital offense by the laws of both Pennsylvania and New York, trials taking place in both colonies not long before the Salem tragedy. The peaceful Quaker, William Penn, presided upon the bench in Pennsylvania at the trial of two Swedish women accused of witchcraft The Grand jury acting under instruction given in his charge, found true bills against these women, and Penn's skirts were only saved from the guilt of their blood by some technical irregularity in the indictment.
Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts and New York, eight of the thirteen colonies recognized witchcraft
as a capital crime. Margaret M------ was indicted for witchcraft in Pennsylvania in 1683, the law against it continuing in force until September 23, 1794. By law of the Province of East New Jersey, 1668, any person found to be a witch, either male or female, was to suffer death. In that state the right of complaining against a child who should smite or curse either parent, pertained to both father and mother; the penalty was death. As late as 1756, Connecticut recognized the right of parents to dispose of children in marriage. In Maryland 1666 the commission given to magistrates for Somerset county directed them under oath to make enquiries in regard to witchcraft, sorcery, and magic arts. In 1706 Grace Sherwood of Princess Anne County, Virginia, was tried for witchcraft. The records of the trial show that the court after a consideration of the charges, ordered the sheriff to take the said Grace into his custody and to commit her body to the common jail, there to secure her with irons or otherwise, until brought to trial.82
In 1692, the Grand jury brought a bill against Mary Osgood of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, as follows:
The powers for our sovereign lord and lady, the king and queen, present that Mary Osgood, wife of Captain John Osgood in the county of Essex, about eleven years ago in the town of Andover aforesaid, wickedly, maliciously and feloniously a covenant with the devil did make and signed the devil's book, and took the devil to be her God, and consented to serve and worship him and was baptized by the devil and renounced her former Christian baptism and promised to the devil both body and soul, forever, and to serve him; by which diabolical covenant by her made with the devil; she, the said Mary Osgood is become a detestable witch against the peace of our sovereign
lord and lady, the king and queen, their crown and dignity and the laws in that case made and provided. A true bill.83
When for "witches" we read "women," we gain fuller comprehension of the cruelties inflicted by the church upon this portion of humanity. Friends were encouraged to cast accusation upon their nearest and dearest, rewards being offered for conviction. Husbands who had ceased to care for their wives or who by reason of their sickness or for any cause found them a burden, or for reasons of any nature desired to break the indissoluble bonds of the church, now found an easy method They had but to accuse the wife of witchcraft and the marriage was dissolved by her death at the stake. Church history is not silent upon such instances, and mention is made of a husband who by a rope about the neck dragged his wife before that Arch-Inquisitor, Sprenger, making accusation of witchcraft against her. No less from protestant than from catholic pulpits were people exhorted to bring the witch, even if of one's own family, to justice.
In 1736, the statute against witchcraft was repealed by the English Parliament, yet a belief in witchcraft is still largely prevalent even among educated people. Dr. F. G. Lee the vicar of an English church, that of All Saints in Lambeth, a few years since publicly deprecated the abolition of its penalties in a work entitled "Glimpses of the Twilight," complaining that the laws against witchcraft had been "foolishly and short-sightedly repealed." A remarkable case occurred in Prussia 1883 when the father of a bed-ridden girl, having become persuaded that his daughter was bewitched by a woman who had occasionally given her apples and pears, was advised the child would be
cured if she drank some of the blood of the supposed witch. The woman was therefore entrapped into a place where some of the chief men of the commune had assembled to receive her. She was seized, one of her fingers pricked with a needle and her blood given to the sick child. In 1885 a case of slander based upon alleged witchcraft came before Justice Randolphs, District Court of Jersey City. The justice listened to the evidence for several hours before recalling the fact that there was no law upon which he could base his decision, the latest legislation being the law of 1668 repealed 1795 (twenty years after our Declaration of Independence), the crime was no longer officially recognized.84 It is curious to note the close parallel between accusations during the witchcraft period and those against the New Jersey suspect of 1885. It was said of her that during the night she accomplished such feats by supernatural power as jumping from a third story window, alighting upon a gate post as gently as a falling feather. It was also asserted that people whom she was known to dislike became gradually ill, wasting away until they died. The accused woman declared it was her superior knowledge that was feared, and thus again the middle ages are paralleled, as the witches of that period were usually women of superior knowledge. In 1882, a Wisconsin farmer was put under bonds to keep the peace, on account of his attempts to assault an old lady who he averred was a witch, who injured his cattle, and entered his house through the chimney or key hole, to his great terror and distress. The state of Indiana about sixty years ago possessed
a neighborhood where the people believed in witchcraft. If the butter failed to come, or the eggs to hatch, or a calf got choked, or even if the rail fences fell down when covered with sleet and snow, the whole trouble was attributed to the witches, who were also believed to have the remarkable power of saddling and bridling a man and with sharp spurs riding him over the worst roads imaginable, to his great harm and fatigue. Even the great Empire State, as late as January 1892, had within its borders a case of murder where an inoffensive old man lost his life because he was believed to be a wizard; and this occurred in the center of a prosperous farming country where money is liberally expended for educational purposes, this being one of the rare instances where a man fell under suspicion.
It is but a few years since the great and enlightened city of Paris caused the arrest, under police authority, of fourteen women upon charge of sorcery; and it is but little more than twenty years since a woman in the state of Puebla, Mexico, was hung and burned as a witch, because unable to reveal the whereabouts of a lost animal. She was seized, hung to a tree shot at and then plunged into fire until she expired.85 The body at first buried in the cemetery, was exhumed the following day by order of the priest, who refused to allow the remains of a witch to be buried in consecrated ground. The state, in person of the mayor of the city, authorized the proceedings by taking part in them as principal persecutor. In the same province another woman was severely flogged as a witch, by four men, one of them her own son. Thus
now, as in its earlier ages, wherever the light of civilization has not overcome the darkness of the church, we find woman still a sufferer from that ignorance and superstition which under Christianity, teaches that she brought sin into the world.
1. Black was hated as the colors of the devil. In the same manner red was hated in Egypt as the color of Typhon.p. 218
2. At what date then did the witch appear? In the age of despair, of that deep despair which the guilt of the church engendered. Unfalteringly I say, the witch is a crime of their own making.--Michelet.
3. "It is not a little remarkable, though perfectly natural, that the introduction of the cat gave a new impulse to tales and fears of ghosts and enchantments. The sly, creeping, nocturnal grimalkin took rank at once with owls and bats, and soon surpassed them both as an exponent of all that is weird and supernatural. Entirely new conceptions of witchcraft were gained for the world when the black cat appeared upon the scene with her swollen tail, glistening eyes and unearthly yell."--Ex.
4. Steevens says it was permitted to a witch to take on a cattes body nine times.-Brand 3, 89-90.
5. Mr. E, F. Spicer, a taxidermist of Birmingham, whose great specialty is p. 219 the artistic preparation of kittens for sale, will not purchase black ones, as he finds the superstition against black cats interferes with their sale.--"Pall Mall Gazette," Nov. 13, 1886. But the United States, less superstitious, has recently witnessed the formation of a "Consolidated Cat Company" upon Puget Sound for the special propagation of black cats to be raised for their fur.p. 219
6. City of God, Lib. XVIII. Charles F. Lummis, in a recent work, Some Strange Corners of Our Country, the Wonderland of the Southwest, refers to the power of the shamans to turn themselves at will into any animal shape, as a wolf, bear or dog.
7. Italian women usually became cats. The Witch Hammer mentioned a belief in Lycanthropy and Metamorphosis. It gave the story of a countryman who was assaulted by three cats. He wounded them, after which three infamous witches were found wounded and bleeding.p. 220
8. For a full account of this madness, and other forms that sometimes attacked whole communities during the middle Christian ages, see "Hecker.--Epidemics of the Middle Ages."
9. The conventicle of witches was said to be held on Mt. Atlas, "to which they rode upon a goat, a night crow, or an enchanted staff, or bestriding a broom staff. Sundry speeches belonged to these witches, the words whereof were neither Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, nor indeed deriving their Etymology from any known language."p. 222
10. St. Gregory, of Nyassa, a canonized saint, the only theologian to whom the church (except St. John) has ever allowed the title of "The Divine," was a member of that council, aiding in the preparation of the Nicene Creed. it is a significant fact that a great number of public women, "an immense number," congregated at Nice during the sessions of this council.p. 223
11. In Guernsey a mother and her two daughters were brought to the stake; One of the latter, a married woman with child, was delivered in the midst of her torments, and the infant, just rescued, was tossed back into the flames by a priest with the cry, "One heretic the less."p. 224
12. "Old writers declared that women have been more addicted to those devilish arts than men, was manifest by 'many grave authors,' among whom Diodorus, Sindas, Pliny and St. Augustine were mentioned. Quintillian declared theft more prevalent among men, but witchcraft especially a sin of omen."
13. Lea.--Superstition and Force.p. 225
14. Certain forms of ordeal, such as the ordinary ones of fire and water, seem to have owed their origin to the trials passed by the candidate for admission into the ancient mysteries as Lea, has also conjectured. During the mysteries of Isis, the candidate was compelled to descend into dark dungeons of unknown depth, to cross bars of red-hot iron, to plunge into a rapid stream at seeming hazard of life, to hang suspended in mid-air; while the entrance into other mysteries confronted the candidate with howling wild beasts and frightful serpents. All who passed the ancient ordeals in safety, were regarded as holy and acceptable to the Deity, but not so under Christian ordeal, its intention being conviction of the accused. Those who proved their innocence by carrying red-hot iron uninjured for three paces and the court was thus forced to acquit, or who passed through other forms of torture without confession were still regarded with suspicion as having been aided by Satan, and the sparing of their lives was to the scandal of the faithful.p. 226
15. Woman was represented as the door of hell, as the mother of all human ill. She should be ashamed at the very thought she is a woman. She should live in continual penance on account of the curses she has brought upon the world. She should be ashamed of her dress, for it is the memorial of her fall. She should be especially ashamed of her beauty, for it is the most potent instrument of the demon.--Hist. European Morals, Vol. 2, p. 358.
16. Witchcraft was supposed to have power of subverting religion.--Montesquieu.
17. The question why the immense majority of those who were accused should be women, early attracted attention; it was answered by the inherent wickedness of the sex, which had its influence in pre-disposing men to believe in witches, and also in producing the extreme callousness with which the sufferings of the victims were contemplated.--Rationalism in Europe I, 88.p. 227
18. 18 mo. An unusually small size for that period.
19. (Witch Hammer.)
20. The Court of Rome was fully apprized that power cannot be maintained without property, and thereupon its attention began very early to be riveted upon every method that promised pecuniary advantage. All the wealth of Christendom was gradually drawn by a thousand channels into the coffers of the Holy See. Blackstone.--Commentaries 4, 106. "The church forfeited the wizard's p. 228 property to the judge and the prosecutor, Wherever the church law was enforced, the trials for witchcraft waxed numerous and brought much wealth to the clergy. Wherever the lay tribunal claimed the management of those trials, they grew scarce and disappeared."p. 229
21. Burning Place of the Cross.
22. A MS. upholding the burning of witches as heretics, written in 1450 by the Dominican Brother Hieronymes Visconti, of Milan, is among the treasures of the White Library, recently presented to Cornell University.p. 231
23. It shall not be amiss to insert among these what I have heard concerning a witch of Scotland: One of that countrie (as by report there are too many) being for no goodness of the judges of Assize, arrayed, convicted and condemned to be burnt, and the next day, according to her judgment, brought and tied to the stake, the reeds and fagots placed round about her, and the executioner ready to give fire (for by no persuasion of her ghostly fathers, nor importunities of the sheriff, she could be wrought to confess anything) she now at the last cast to take her farewell of the world, casting her eye at one side upon her only sonne, and calls to him, desiring him verie earnestly as his last dutie to her to bring her any water, or the least quantity of licuor (be it never so small), to comfort her, for she was so extremely athirst; at which he, shaking his head, said nothing; she still importuned him in these words: "Oh, my deere sonne helpe me to any drinke, be it never so little, for I am most extremely drie, oh drie, drie;" to which the young fellow answered, "by no means, deere mother will I do you that wrong; for the drier you are (no doubt) you will burne the better." Heywoode--History of Women, Lib. 8, p. 06.
24. Lenormant.--Chaldean Magic and Sorcery, 385.
25. Institutes of Scotland.p. 232
26. At Bamburg, Germany an original record of twenty-nine burnings in nineteen months, 162 persons in all, mentions the infant daughter of Dr. Schutz as a victim of the twenty-eighth burning. Hauber.--Bibliotheca Magica.
27. In those terrible trials presided over by Pierre de Lancre, it was asserted that hundreds of girls and boys flocked to the indescribable Sabbats of Labourd. The Venitians record the story of a little girl of nine years who raised a great tempest, and who like her mother was a witch. Signor Bernoni,--Folk Lore.
28. Some very strange stories of such power at the present time have become known to the author, one from the lips of a literary gentleman in New York City, this man of undoubted veracity declaring that he had seen his own father extend p. 233 his hand under a cloudless sky and produce rain. A physician of prominence in a western city asserts that a most destructive cyclone, known to the Signal Service Bureau as "The Great Cyclone," was brought about by means of magical formula, made use of by a school girl in a spirit of ignorant bravado.p. 236
29. These and similar powers known as magical, are given as pertaining to the Pueblo Indians, by Charles F. Lummis, in Some Strange Corners of Our Country, pub. 1892. A friend of the author witnessed rain thus produced by a very aged Iowa Indian a few years since.p. 238
30. A Hindoo Scripture whose name signifies knowledge.--Max Muller.
31. Isis Unveiled, I, 354.p. 239
32. of which the tricks of Halloween may be a memento.
33. Anacalypsis, Vol. I, p. 35.
34. Bacchus was not originally the god of wine, but signified books. Instruction of old, when learning was a secret science, was given by means of leaves. "Bacchus Sabiesa" really signified "book wise" or learned, and the midsummer-day festival was celebrated in honor of learning. In the Anacalypsis Higgins says: "From Celland I learn that in Celtic, Sab means wise, whence Saba and Sabasius, no doubt wise in the stars. From this comes the Sab-bath day, or day dedicated to wisdom, and the Sabbat, a species of French masonry, an account of which may be seen in Dulare's History of Paris. Sunday was the day of instruction of the Druids, whence it was called Sabs.--Ibid I, 716.
35. From the preachment of the Sabs, or Sages, or wise Segent Sarcedos.--Ibid I, 716.p. 240
36. The only physician of the people for a thousand years was the witch. The emperors, kings, popes and richer barons had indeed the doctors of Salermo, then Moors and Jews, but the bulk of the people in every state; the world, it might as well be called, consulted none but the Sages or wise women. Michelet,--La Sorciere.p. 241
37. I make no doubt that his (Paracelsus) admirable and masterly work on the Diseases of Women, the first written on this theme, so large, so deep, so tender, came forth from his special experience of those women to whom others went for aid, the witches, who acted as midwives, for never in those days was a male physician admitted to the women.--Ibid.
38. Within the past fifty years the death rate in childbirth was forty in a thousand, an enormous mortality, and although the advances in medical knowledge have somewhat lessened the rate, more women still lose their lives during childbirth than soldiers in battle.p. 242
39. In childbirth a motherly hand instilled the gentle poison, casting the mother herself into a sleep, and soothing the infant's passage, after the manner of modern chloroform, into the world.--Michelet.p. 244
40. Pouruchet Solenasaes.p. 245
41. Alexander.--History of Women.
42. You will hardly believe it, but I saw a real witch's skull, the other evening, at a supper party I had the pleasure of attending it was at the house of Dr. Dow, a medical gentleman of culture and great skill in his profession here. You will admit that a skull is not a pleasant thing to exhibit in a parlor, and some of the ladies did not care about seeing it; but the majority did, and you know one cannot see a witch's skull every day. So, after a little hesitation and persuasion on the part of the doctor, he produced the uncanny thing and gave us its history, or rather that of the witch. She lived at Terryburn, a little place near here. p. 246 One day it came to the ears of the kirk session of the parish that she had had several interviews with his Satanic Majesty. Strange enough, when the woman was brought before that body--which seems to have been all-powerful in the several parishes in those days--and accused of it, she at once admitted the charge to be true. The poor soul, who could have been nothing else than an idiot, as the doctor pointed out from the very low forehead and small brain cavity, was sentenced to be prevented from going to sleep; or in other words, tortured to death, and the desired end was attained in about five days, her body being buried below high-water mark.
Her name was Lillas Adie, and there is no doubt that she was only a harmless imbecile. The skull. and also a piece of the coffin, were presented to the doctor by a friend who had read in the kirk session records an account of the trial, and went to the spot stated as being the place of burial. The remains were found by him exactly as indicated, although there was nothing to mark their resting place, One would have thought that after the lapse of so many years it would be exceedingly difficult to find them, but you know things do not undergo such radical changes in this country as they do in America.--From a traveler's letter in the "Syracuse Journal," August 22, 1881.
Almost indistinguished from the belief in witchcraft was the belief that persons subject to epilepsy, mania or any form of mental weakness, were possessed of a devil who could be expelled by certain religious ceremonies. Pike.--History of Crime in England, Vol. pp. 7-8.p. 246
43. The mysteries of the human conscience and of human motives are well nigh inscrutable, and it may be shocking to assert that these customs of unmitigated wrong are indirectly traceable to that religion of which the two great commandments were that man should love his neighbor as himself. Lea.--Superstition and Force, 53.p. 249
44. Fox's Book of Martyrs, gives account of persons brought into court upon p. 250 litters six months after having been subjected to the rack.p. 250
45. In this case both men and women says Johannus Megerus, author of a History of Flanders.
46. Adrianus Ferrens.p. 251
47. St. Bernard exorcised a demon Incubus, who for six years maintained commerce with a woman, who could not get rid of him. Lea.--Studies in Church History.
48. It was observed they (devils) had a peculiar attachment to women with beautiful hair, and it was an old Catholic belief that St. Paul alluded to this in that somewhat obscure passage in which he exhorts women to cover their heads because of the angels.--Sprangler.p. 252
49. The attention of scientific men and governments has recently been directed to what are now called "The Accursed Sciences," under whose action certain crimes have been committed from "suggestion," the hand which executed being only that of an irresponsible automaton, whose memory preserves no traces of it. The French Academy has just been debating the question--how far a hypnotized subject from a mere victim can become a regular tool of crime.--Lucifer, October 1887.
"Merck's Bulletin," New York medical journal, in an editorial entitled Modern Witchcraft, December, 1892, relates some astonishing experiments recently made at the Hopital de la Charitè, Paris, in which the power to "exteriorize sensibility" has been discovered, reproducible at will; suggestion through means of simulated pinching producing suffering; photographs sensitive to their originals even having produced. Thus modern science stamps with truthfulness the power asserted as pertaining to black magicians, of causing suffering or death through means of a waxen image of a person. "The Accursed Sciences," although brought to the bar of modern investigating knowledge, seem not yet to have yielded the secrets of the law under which they are rendered possible.p. 253
50. In 1609 six hundred sorcerers were convicted in the Province of Bordeaux, France, most of whom were burned.--Dr. Priestly. Within the last year fourteen women have been tried in France for sorcery.p. 254
51. The supreme end of magic is to conjure the spirits. The highest and most inscrutable of all the powers dwells in the divine and mysterious name, "The Supreme Name," with which Hea alone is acquainted. Before this name everything bows in heaven and earth, and in hades, and it alone can conquer the Maskim and stop their ravages. The great name remained the secret of Hea; if any man succeeded in divining it, that alone would invest him with a power superior to the gods.--Chaldean Magic and Sorcery.p. 255
52. Venitians concluded not unreasonably that the latter ran no more risk from the taint of witchcraft attached to their inheritance than did the clergy or the church. Where profits were all spiritual their ardor soon cooled. Thus it happened as the inevitable result of the peoples attitude in religious matters, that while in Venice there were representatives of the vast sisterhood, which extended from the Blockula of Sweden to the walnut tree of Beneveuto, sorcery there never became the terrible scourge that it was in other lands where its victims at times threatened to outnumber those of the Black Death.--The Witches of Venice.p. 256
53. One of the most powerful features of the belief in witchcraft was the power that greed had in producing belief and causing persecution. The church had grown rich from such trials, and the state was now to take its turn. By the public offering of a reward for the finding of witches, their numbers greatly increased.
54. The most exceptional conduct, the purest morals in constant practice of every day life, are not sufficient security against the suspicion of errors like these.--Montesquieu.p. 257
55. For a number of years her celebrated son struggled amid his scientific studies for the preservation of her life.p. 258
56. Michelet.--Le Sorcerie 151. See Papers on the Bastile.
57. In its earliest phase the Black Mass seemed to betoken the redemption of Eve, so long accused by Christianity. The woman filled every place in the Sabbath. Following its celebration was the denial of Jesus, by whose authority the priests and barons robbed the serf of human hope--the paying of homage to the new master--the feudal kiss. To the closing ceremonies, "The Feast of Peace," no man was admitted unaccompanied by a woman.--La Sorcerie.--Ibid.p. 259
58. "This word at different times clearly meant quite different things. In the 14th century, under the Avignon popes, during the great schism when the church with two heads seems no longer a church, the Sabbath took the horrible form of the Black Mass."
59. This important part of the woman being her own altar, is known to us by the trial of La Voisin, which M. Revanna Sen. published with other Papers of the Bastile.--Ibid.p. 261
60. That women have been more addicted to this devilish art than man, is manifest by the approbation of many grave authority. Diodorus, in his fifth book, speaks of Hecate. Heywood.--History of Women, London, 1624. St. Augustine, in his City of God, declared that women are more prone to these unlawful acts, for so we read of Medea, Cyrce and others. Suidas, speaking of witches, cites an old proverb, declaring witchcraft peculiar to woman and not to man. Quintillian, referring to this statement, says: Theft is more common with man, but witchcraft with woman.
61. Idiots, the lame, the blind and the dumb, are men in whom devils have established themselves, and all the physicians who heal these infirmities as though they preceded from natural causes are ignorant blockheads, who know nothing about the power of the demons.--Tishreden, p. 202.p. 262
62. See Reeves, and Hume.p. 263
63. The Statute of Labourers (5 Eliz. C. 4) enacted that unmarried women between twelve and forty years old may be appointed by two justices to serve by the year, week, or day, for such wages and in such reasonable sort and manner as they shall think meet.--Reeves 3, 591-8.
64. Seen by Dr. Gray.
65. James believing in their (witches) influence, and Bacon partly sharing in p. 264 the belief. Macbeth appeared in this year mixed up with Bacon's inquiries into witchcraft. Ignatius Donnelly.--The Cryptogram. From the accession of James I., witchcraft became the master superstition of the age. The woman accused of witchcraft was practically beyond the pale of the law; the mere fact of accusation was equal to condemnation.p. 266
66. Laws and Customs of Scotland, 2; 56p. 267
67. The Seeress of Prevorst.p. 269
68. Iron collars, or Witches' Bridles, are still preserved in various parts of Scotland, which had been used for such iniquitous purposes. These instruments were so constructed that by means of a loop which passed over the head, a piece of iron having four points or prongs, was forcibly thrust into the mouth, two of these being directed to the tongue and palate, the others pointing outward to each cheek. This infernal machine was secured by a padlock. At the back of the collar was fixed a ring, by which to attach the witch to a staple in the wall of her cell. Thus equipped, and day and night waked and watched by some skillful person appointed by her inquisitors, the unhappy creature, after a few days of such discipline, maddened by the misery of her forlorn and helpless state, would be rendered fit for confessing anything in order to be rid of the dregs of her life. At intervals fresh examinations took place, and they were repeated from time to time until her "contumacy," as it was termed, was subdued. The clergy and Kirk Sessions appear to have been the unwearied instruments of "purging the land of witchcraft," and to them, in the first instance, all the complaints and informations were made.--Pitcairn, Vol. I., Part 2, p. 50.
"Who has not heard of the Langholm witches, and 'the branks' to subdue them? This was a simple instrument formed so as to fit firmly on the head, and p. 270 to project into the mouth a sharp spike for subjugating the tongue. It was much preferred to the ducking-stool, 'which not only endangered the health of the patient, but also gave the tongue liberty betwixt every dip!' Scores of these 'patients' were burned alongside Langholm castle; and the spot is fully as interesting as our own reminder of the gentle days, Gallows Hill, at Salem."p. 270
69. By statute 33 of Henry VIII., C. 8, all witchcraft and sorcery was to be felony without benefit of clergy. This act continued in force till lately to the terror of all ancient females in the kingdom.--Commentaries. As bad as the Georges are depicted, thanks are due to two of them from women. By statute of George II., C. 5, no future prosecution was to be carried on against any person for conjuration, witchcraft, sorcery or enchantment.p. 272
70. Towards the end Of 1593 there was trouble in the family of the Earl of Orkney. His brother laid a plot to murder him, and was said to have sought the help of a notorious witch called "Allison Balfour." No evidence could be found connecting her with this particular offense or with witchcraft in general, but it was enough in these matters to be a woman and to be accused. She swore she was innocent, but she was looked upon as a pagan who thus aggravated her guilt. She was tortured again and again, but being innocent she constantly declared her innocence. Her legs were put into the Casctulars--an iron which was gradually heated until it burned into the flesh, but no confession could be wrung from her. The Casctulars having utterly failed to make her tell a lie, "the powers that be," whom Paul tells us "are of God," tortured her husband, her son and her daughter, a little child of only seven years. The "powers" knew the tenderness and love of a wife and mother, so they first brought her husband into court and placed by her side. He was placed in the "long irons," some accursed instrument. She did not yield. Then her son was tortured; the poor boy's legs were set in "the boot," the iron boot, and wedges were driven in, which forced home crushed the very bone and marrow. Fifty-seven mallet strokes were delivered upon the wedges, yet this failed. This innocent tortured heroic woman would not confess to a lie. So last of all her baby daughter was brought in, the fair child of seven short years. There was a machine called the pinniwinkies, a kind of thumb screw which brought blood from under the finger nails with a pain terribly severe. These tortures were applied to the baby hands, and the mother's fortitude broke down and she would admit anything they wished. She confessed the witchcraft. So tried she would have confessed the seven deadly sins, but this suffering did not save her to her family. She was burned alive, with her last suffering breath protesting her innocence. This account is perfectly well authenticated and taken from the official report of the proceedings. Froude.--Short Stories on Great Subjects.p. 273
71. The same dark superstition shared the civil councils of Scotland as late as the beginning of the 18th century, and the convictions which then took place are chiefly to be ascribed to the ignorance and fanaticism of the clergy.
72. Excommunication was both of temporal and spiritual effect, the person under ban not only being deprived of absolution, extreme unction, consecrated burial, etc, but all persons were forbidden to deal with the recalcitrant. Under the strictest protestantism in Scotland, the clergy held almost entire control. When a woman fell under suspicion of being a witch, the minister denounced her from the pulpit, forbade any one harboring or sheltering her, and exhorted his parishoners to give evidence against her. To the clergy and Kirk Sessions were the first complaints made. It is scarcely more than 150 years since the last witch was burned in Scotland, having been accused of raising a thunder storm by pulling off her stockings.--Witchcraft Under Protestantism.
73. Many witches lost their lives in every part of England, without being brought to trial at all, from injuries received at the hands of the populace. Mackay.--Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions.p. 274
74. One of the most powerful incentives to confession was to systematically deprive the suspected witch of her natural sleep. It was said who but witches can be present and so witness of the doings of witches, since all their meetings and conspiracies are the habits of darkness. "The voluntarie confession of a witch doth exceede all other evidence. How long she has been a witch the devil and she knows best."p. 280
75. Among the Lancashire witches was Old Demedike, four score years old, who had been a witch fifty years, and confessed to possessing a demon which appeared to her in the form of a brown dog.--Sommer's Trials.
77. Which examination, although she was but very young, yet it was wonderful to the Court in so great a presence and audience.--Ibid. Ties of the tenderest nature did not restrain the inquisitors. Young girls were regarded as the best witnesses against their mothers, and the oaths of children of irresponsible age were received as evidence against a parent.--Superstition and Force, p. 93.p. 282
78. When a reward was publicly offered there seemed to be no end of finding witches, and many kept with great care their note book of "Examination of Witches," and were discovering "hellish kinds of them."p. 284
79. Salem Witchcraft I, 393-4; 2, 373.
80. I seemed to have stepped back to Puritan time, when an old gentleman said to me. "I am descended from that line of witches; my grandmother and 120 others were under condemnation of death at New Bedford, when an order came from the king prohibiting farther executions."p. 285
81. SALEM, Mass., July 30, 1892.--The 200th anniversary of the hanging of Rebecca Nurse of Salem village for witchcraft, was commemorated in Danvers Centre, old Salem village, by the Nurse Monument Association. The distinct feature of the occasion was the dedication of a granite tablet to commemorate the courage of forty men and women, who at the risk of their lives gave written testimony in favor of Rebecca Nurse in 1692.p. 290
82. Howes.--Historical Collection of Virginia, p. 438.p. 291
83. Collection Massachusetts Historical Society for the year 1800. p. 241.p. 292
84. No prosecution, suit or proceedings shall be commenced or carried on in any court of this state against any person for conjuration or witchcraft, sorcery or enchantment or for charging another with such offense.p. 293
85. Under the church theory that all members of the witch's family are tainted, the husband of this unfortunate woman hid himself, fearing the same fate.--Telegram.