Witches Magic, Witch Lore and Their Allure

    Everyone Loves A Witch and Witches Magic

    The 2012 favorite costume is the witch. Witches hold a fascination for many
    and an obsession for a few. The reasons are varied, but most come from
    positive and romantic ideas and feelings.

    Witches in today's enlightened society do not have to hide in a forest to follow
    most of their ritualistic beliefs. Herbs and their uses encompass most of
    their practices and spells are usually performed to have a positive influence on
    a situation or person and not to harm someone, as many still believe. Black
    magic is frowned on by most of today's witch groups.

    Witches Were Not Always Our Favorite Costume
    Witches were shunned and persecuted throughout history for their beliefs.

    Interestingly, the crimes of which most witches were accused had, at their
    core, an economic element-- the theft of milk, the destruction of property,
    threats of physical harm that came true (or at least came true in the witness
    accounts), and curses that were coincidentally efficacious.

    In a fascinating tabulation of witness statements from Danish witchcraft
    trials, there were 271 accusations of murder, 510 of causing human illness,
    339 of causing cattle's death, thirty-nine of causing cattle's illness, 104 of
    stealing or spoiling milk, 157 of killing horses or causing illness, thirty-seven of
    killing sheep, twenty-seven of killing pigs, twenty-one of ruining beer, and
    eleven of inflicting poverty.

    All of these crimes constitute some form economic transgression as both
    murder and illness could have significant economic repercussions in the tight
    knit rural communities; furthermore, nearly half the cases (735 out of 1,519)
    speak of crimes whose primary effect was economic. While the church saw
    witches as a spiritual threat to the community, in practical and juridical term
    witches were largely prosecuted because of their imputed economic threat to
    the community. Quite simply, in the eyes of the courts and the local populace
    who brought the initial charges, witches were seen as an economic threat that
    needed to be eliminated.

    Origins of the Witch
    European pagans worshiped a triple goddess who at once was a maiden, a
    mother, and a croon. Croons which were later made into our Halloween witch.
    Her broomstick represents the tree of life and her ride across the moon
    represents her journey to the spirit realms, where she spends the winter
    months resting and rejuvenating before returning as a maiden in spring.

    The first fully intact 17th-century "witch bottle" has been unearthed in the U.
    K. The bottles were used to ward off illnesses thought to result from a curse.
    Two hundred broken bottles have been found -- this is the first chance
    scientists have had to see what they contained. Pins, along with the sick
    person's urine, hair and fingernails, were placed inside, and the bottle was
    buried. The purpose was to reflect a curse back onto the witch from whom it
    was cast.

    The so-called period of witch craze in Early Modern Europe (1480–1700) not
    only brought about the tragic executions of 45,000 accused individuals, but
    also gave birth to numerous text types. In England, one type of texts that was
    printed and distributed as a means to inform the public and disseminate news
    about witchcraft, which was a concern of English life then, was witchcraft

    As an early type of publication that transmitted news, such popular texts can
    be seen, on the one hand, as symptomatic of the prevailing belief systems that
    constitute that social moment, and therefore they help make it possible to
    explain “why…witch-hunt took place” and “why witch-hunts, once they had
    begun, followed many different patterns of development”.

    Witchcraft Was Openly Practiced Before 1800
    On the other hand, the ways that witchcraft is talked about in these
    pamphlets can also be seen as a means to reproduce and extend beliefs about
    witchcraft, thereby re-construing the meaning and experience of witchcraft
    through each act described. The witchcraft texts may have contributed to the
    hatred of Witches.

    During the Early Modern period in England, witchcraft was an important
    concern for people from all walks of life and from all levels of society.
    Ironically, the intellectual era of the Renaissance brought with it a renewed
    belief in the supernatural.

    There was a widespread belief in witchcraft at the time, and people believed
    in ghosts, fairies and poltergeists.  Attempting to explain the cause of the
    witchcraft mania we point to dysfunctional relations within communities and
    between individuals. In particular, posits that there was disparity between
    two groups in a community, namely, between those who were marginal and
    downwardly mobile, and those who were wealthy.

    Frequently, conflicts arose when the former requested some small favor from
    the latter and, when it was denied, showed anger, sometimes through cursing.
    The wealthier, aware of having failed charity, would interpret any coincidental
    sickness or misfortune as being caused by such a harmful act. In this way,
    witchcraft accusations can be argued to be a means by which the better-off
    group, trying to regulate community conflicts, displaced their own sense of

    Thus, we see that, in the limited evidence available, quarrels over gifts and
    loans of food, and to a lesser extent money and implements, precipitated the
    majority of witchcraft attacks. The actual object of the dispute, the loan of
    an implement Discursive control and persuasion in early modern news discourse
    or the demand of money that should be returned, was merely the final state in
    the severing of a relationship.

    Such relief of guilt through projection onto another person easily led to
    witchcraft accusations, and it is here that religious factors came into play.
    Because Christian moral teaching advocates generosity and charity towards
    others, the better-off group would naturally feel guilty when denying the
    object of the dispute. By accusing the unaided person of being a witch — hence
    a moral aggressor unworthy of support — those in the better-off group could
    rid themselves of the guilt experienced.

                                                        Witch Trials

    At this point, the use of legislative power on the part of the state came to
    facilitate the process. With the passing of laws against witchcraft and the use
    of magic, moral offences came to be prosecuted in the secular court, as there
    was simultaneously a general decline of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Simply put,
    witchcraft accusations made were not only mainstream society’s attempts to
    preserve the moral fabric of a model Christian community against corrupting
    influences but also religiously-inspired guilt projected onto others, and
    facilitated by legislative power and religious attitudes. These factors
    produced profound effects on the outcry against of witchcraft, to be
    explained in detail below.

    Burning Witches- How Did It Happen
    Here are the systematic ways in which 17th century witchcraft pamphleteers
    attempt to shape the reader’s mind through persuasion in their versions of
    witchcraft-related events. By being persuasive, the pamphleteers may exert
    discursive control over the reader, thereby swaying the mind of the non-
    believers or, at the very least, perpetuating the beliefs of those believers.
    The typical path towards persuasion consists of the following linguistic
    methods: negative depiction of the accused as threats, construction of a
    positive self-image, and reader involvement.

    The first technique, the depiction of the accused individuals as threat,
    functions mainly to create a sense of community amongst the readers. In
    presenting these individuals as a threat to society, the pamphleteer warns the
    reader for the possible danger presented by the witches and urges the
    members of the community to be concerned about the safety of one another.
    At the same time, the pamphlets provide the solution to the threat by
    identifying the alleged witches, and as a result, the alleged witches become
    the victims on whom readers projects their fear, caused by the threats in the

    Constructing a positive self-image, on the other hand, appears to cover a
    different set of functions. This strategy helps not only to create a sense of
    community but also to establish the credibility of the accounts in the
    pamphlets, as the pamphleteer can identify with the readers’ concerns, show
    understanding and respond to their needs. Furthermore, a positive self-image
    is a meaningful factor contributing to credibility or like-ability of the source,
    and by presenting themselves as caring about the reader, the pamphleteers
    can strengthen their case and arguments.

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    Dunwich, G. Exploring Spellcraft: How to Create and Cast Effective Spells.

    Normand, L. Witchcraft In Early Modern Scotland: James VI's Demonology
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