Witch History Mysteries

Before the first day of History of Witchcraft I started thinking about this class. What am I getting into? I am very interested in the thought of witchcraft, and what if it is real. Wouldn't that be great if everyone knew someone with the ability to preform magic. When I told people I was taking this course there was skepticism, but a lot of positive feed back also. The number one question was, "Will you actually learn spells and how to become a witch?" I even have doubts and some skepticism of is it real or coincidence.

The Witchcraft Sourcebook by Levack, to my surprise has not given us a book that doesn't keep you wanting more. I thought it was going to be very dry and textbook. Everytime I pick it up I find something new and interesting.

I had never really considered magic going as far back as ancient times. "One of the forms of magic that had a long association with witchcraft, not only in ancient time but during the Middle ages and the early modern period, was love magic," (Levack).

Like with any bit of History the History of magic would have to start form the beginning. Nothing today is not something that hasn't been experienced before, we just see it from a different perspective.

How to determine if you are a witch or not? I have wondered. I had a friend Sally that claimed she was a witch. At the time I thought it was the best thing ever. I didn't really think about what that meant I did want proof. later on I had another friend that claimed he was Wicca.

A witch’s profile. If this was all it took there would be a lot more witches on the loose than anyone would care to admit.

Female: If you’re a witch it is not about how you look physically we just get images in our heads because of the status that most witches are.

Most witches are past the menstrual stage. That is why they are depicted as needing children.

Most are not married, at least widowed. It’s not her fault there is no such thing as prince charming. In some cases he just had to go.

Most are poor so their economic state reflects on their physical state.

Most are outspoken. Help yourself here it goes to the above.

Men: This profile is just unfair. But since the beginning women are evil that is why 75% are accused in Europe and 85% are accused in the United States

Wizards are accused on a short list, unlike witches.

Related to an accused female. How is this fair?

Causing Mass Panic. Outbreak of killings

Witchcraft for men would be ruining crops.

Occupations that are considered of wizards. Farming, being able to provide for yourself and others that is dangerous. Shepard's keeping watch and protection is risky business. Minister, because apparently a higher spirit communicates with you, you must be trouble.

Males are less likely to flee, so they are less likely accused.

Based on the profile for a female could Sally have been a witch? I will let you decide. We did practice Voodoo and this is the outcome.

In high school I had a friend who was convinced she was a witch call her Sally. I am not saying I believe what happened, but one night I gave into voodoo. There was a girl in our group that I just stopped wanting to be around, call her Bay. One of those I believe I am perfect type of girls. Sally and I took some pictures and ripped them up and burned them. As we were burning them Sally chanted. After that night I did notice a strain in the way Bay was around me. Do I believe the spell worked, I am not sure there may just have been a strain in the relationship coming anyway.

If I really wanted to know if Sally was a witch maybe I should have tested her. But these methods seem so morbid the water test, or burning I couldn't do them to my friend. The tests today are just IQ tests, that won't tell me much.

Sally was not my first encounter of witchcraft. My friend Larissa claimed to have done some spells when we were younger. She told me I couldn't touch any floor until we put salt around the bed she said the floor was cursed. We had to get creative on how to get from the bedroom to the kitchen for salt.

I have had encounters of is witchcraft real or is it fake? I am still undecided. The more I read of Levack is making me think deeper into the idea. My mind is more open to the fact that things can happen but I am still not fully convinced that it is not just coincidence.



Week 2 1-27-17

Spain and Scandaniva

Witchcraft as a religion has been practiced over time by people in many regions around the world. People look for signs and symbols of witchcraft Every region it of course has its similarities but also has many differences. At this time, we are going to focus on Spain and Scandinavia.

Starting with Spain we start in 1478 with Pope Sixtus wanting to rid Spain of people of the Muslim and Jewish faith. At the end of his reign he started getting soft on how to punish the accused and Pope Innocent came in with a harsher and severe means of torture.

The Inquisition involved the royal family, people of the church and men and women throughout Spain. At this time the Royal family was no other than Isabel and Ferdinand. The church included the pope who called the shots on how to deal with these people.

The Royal family in Spain at this time was Isabel and Ferdinand. In 1483 they gave the pope the authority to appoint the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada. These authorities were given rights to accuse and torture

The profile for men of Spain accused is:

Misuse of lethargic prayers: saying prayers over illness with intent to bring about harm.

Masculine magic: Wise men using scientific knowledge from Astrology, Kabala, or SO Tarot Books.

Men looking for treasures hidden by Muslims and Jews. This is like looking for something from the devil because these items are not Christian items.

The profile for women of Spain is:

The typical age 25-37. This was younger than that of other regions These women have not likely hit menopause and still have a chance to find a man that desires them. .

Surplus of Women. During the inquisition there is a war about so there are not enough men to go around for all of these young beautiful women.

Economic. These women are in financial binds and can’t survive on their own.

Women were most known for practicing Love Magic: Seduction of a suitor or husband to make him love you.

In Spain the Fuego was the day where all the accused of witchcraft were paraded through the city to their death. These people wore tunics known as sanbenitos. Once they got to 13 ft stakes the accused were given one more chance to confess. If a confession was made the tunics were turned, then the accused was strangled then burned. If they were a smart ass their faces were synged and the burning began.

People were given ample opportunity to confess their sins. If they did not the people would be tortured. Surprisingly there were rules for torture. The session could only last 1 hour.

Oh, but the things that could happen in this hour. From pulling out of nails, breaking of bones. The would put the accused on racks and bend their bodies into ungodly positions tearing them apart and breaking bones. There was also the use of fire to singe. Flogging was a minor punishment I think other than the racks the whips dipped in tar would be the way to get my confession.

If the accused passed out they would stop bring in a Doctor to make sure they were not faking. If they were they would continue the torture otherwise they would stop and the person would still have to carry out sentence. If there was confession during this the torture would stop and they would later be asked to repeat the confession as they had said during the torture session.

Scandinavia is a different world from other regions. Pre Christianity the role of witches was common in this region. Actually the way that it sounds they are actually given more free will the what Christians are given. Scandinavians make witchcraft seem alluring and even in the modern times witches are symbols of Easter.

The region of Scandinavia is made up of Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. If these countries weren’t put together the accused of witchcraft would not be relevant. Only 5,000 were accused! Of that 5,000 only 1,700-2,000 were killed. This was the same as England but because their population is less this ended up being 40% of their population.

Torture was different here it wasn’t common until the Christians came into these countries. It was not as intense as Spain. At most they were exiled, or fined, the ones that received death were burned.

Magic is known as Trolldomir. Unlike other regions both men and women practice equally. For these people it is more about spoken magic. Once something is said it can’t be taken back. Since men are head of the house more men are accused than women. Women are found out if something big happens and it causes mass panic, and has been done in secret so it is worse.

Common Magic

Luck: it can be seen as good or bad, if it is bad they see it as coincidence more or less it is not that BAD!

Love: arouse and stifle similar to love magic.

Divination: Don’t use it to change destiny and there is no harm. It could be harmful to look into the future I guess but I don’t think it is as bad as Christians make it out to be.

Fylgjur: this is pretty cool to have a guardian that is an animal. If you think about it this is common in other cultures. The type of animal reflects qualities of its owner. I would get no fylgjur I don’t feel I possess these qualities.

Bear = strength

Eagle= social position

Wolf= evil mind

Shape shifting: this might be a little too out there for my beliefs. For the soul to leave the body and go to deliver messages and to strengthen a loved one.

When it came to the accused common ways they were found out was by the Devil’s mark. In 1675-76 if this mark was found upon a person it was pinned. If it didn’t bleed and the person didn’t feel anything they were accused.


WEEK 3 2-3-17

Trials, Torture, and Spells Oh My!

• As our brooms swoop down into Russia, we explore the witchcraft that has been brought to life. Witches were known as Vedma and, warlocks were known as Vedun. Witchcraft was known as koldovstvo or chardeistvo, and the maleficarum in Russia is known as porcha. Porcha can be fall into multiple categories such as taking a life; maming; causing illness (putting grave dirt into someone’s drink; making someone crazy; crop failure; impetince, taking a piece of wood urinate put under a staircase to of a new groom causing impetente. The type of porcha practiced is spell casting, dream interpretation, weather manipulation, fortune telling and herbal medicine. Both men and women practiced and were accused. More men than women were actually accused in Russia. Some unique cases in Russia are: ONLY one Satan case in 1563; more men then woman accused, no children accused or made acquisitions; no patterns to the acquisitions; no large scale acquisitions; the only break outs happen around social stress.


A case in 1657 on St. Nicholas Day was brought by the husband of Irinitsa against Terentei. "He cast a shrieking cruse on her, motivated by some unknown grudge or scheme, (Levack 214). During his interrogation in the torture chamber he did not incriminate himself and said nothing. Other cases in 1657 were also in regards to bewitchment had broken out in Lukah afflicting the wives of towns people. “The case proved to be too difficult for the local governor to handle, so a special investigator, Ivan Romanchiukov, was dispatched to conduct the investigation. He sent a report on the situation in Moscow, explaining all the steps he had taken, and then appended and transcripts of the interrogation on the suspects,” (Levack 215).

To have a trial in Russia it must be presented to the Voevoda (military governor), and a Ogovor (torturer). The ways to initiate a trial are Apprehend criminal in act; Inquest by individual; Torture to pull out confession of the accused. In Russian trials no spectral evidence is legitimate.

Like the other regions we have visited most torture is the same. Swimming the witch, burning, and knouting. Knouting is the most common form of torture one session is 30-40 minutes of lashing. These sessions can be repeated up to 4 times to try to reach a confession. While the accused is being tortured they are being questioned. These questions can range from, Who did you learn from?; How did you get your material?; How many victims, and who are they?

Let's hop back on our brooms and take a journey to Italy. Italy is unique because Catholicism is the home base, and they are not as worried about heresy. Not many cases go to trial here because there are not enough judges, and other cases are more important than witch hunts. Tuscan witches have left behind a great number of spells.

Types of magic used in Italy are similar to others with just slight differences. Divination, Malfico, Love magic: casting on beans or knotting cord, or abuse of holy oil on the lips, or Incanation of stars.

In the 1550’s over 100 trails had no defendant that was guilty of malficico. if that was the case the holy office would find something else to charge them with. It wasn’t just if death happened. The Manual for witchcraft is Directorium Inquisitorum written in 14th century rewritten 16th century. The only way you can say it is heresy had to include both worship of devil and abuse of sacraments. If you can’t clearly show no evidence.

Supernatural illness (stegheria) vs. Natural Illness. If you get sick why are you sick natural or super natural cause? The holy office can only find that it malifico is a crime if it can be proved supernatural illness. Only a doctor can officially say if it was Stregheria or natural. Stregheria is so hard to classify. Doctors do not want to claim it is Stregheria, because that would mean they might be the ones participating in witchcraft. For a doctor's protection of reputation's they would call it a natural illness.

Like witches there are good and bad spells. To cast you need the right ingredients and the right voice. The records of spells from Tuscan witches that we have were used for evil. These spells were done out of jealousy, with intentions to injure or kill one’s enemy.

To injure an enemy: To make a man or a woman suffer, take a peppercorn and an [illegible], such as found in the fields, and boil it with the hair of the man or man and repeat:-- “I do not boil in the hair alone, but all these things together thrown, With his heart and soul that he, May perish and forever be, Only in witches' company.” (Godfrey Pt.2 Ch4)

To prevent a Woman to find happiness and marriage on the wedding day take an orange flower and put it into salt, pepper, cumin, with sconcordia, and attach this to the bride's back saying:

"Be thou accursed! Mayst thou never know. A single day of Peace! And even when thou dost go. To kneel before the alter, Mayst thou forsaken, And bitterly regret, The step which thou hast taken!"

This is where we land the broom till next time be prepared for another exciting adventure.

England, Scotland, and Ireland

Welcome to Englandf

Oh, hello. I am glad your broom landed here with me in England. While we are here together we can also talk about our neighbors over in Scotland and in Ireland. And maybe while you are here, we can also buy the newest and latest Nimbus 17 (the latest and greatest in flying broomsticks). I know, I definitely need an upgrade. Okay, enough about our mode of transportation, right now we are here to take an interesting trip back in time to a panic that occurred hundreds of years ago.

In 1542 there was a panic, one that was brought about by witchcraft. This is an interesting place to begin talking about witchcraft. It was a time when laws about such practices were being put in place. “The last witchcraft trial in England has taken place in 1717, almost 20 years before the act of repeal, while the last Scottish prosecution had occurred in 1727,” (Levack 171).

How were witches identified in England at this time? It’s not like they were in a school or in a town where normal folk have direct access to or, maybe they were?

Five hundred years ago, to accuse someone of witchcraft, one must bring evidence before a magistrate. It was as if it were a secret crime. SHH! The accuser must have not one, but two eyewitnesses. Then there would be a background investigation of the accused’s character. His family, including children, could testify for or against him. And there would have to be sufficient proof for conviction. It could be any one of the following:

A. Notorious reputation for being a witch. Which everyone wants that hanging over them. (Not)

B. Cursing followed by injury to victim. Neighbor, “Bob broke his leg cause of that spell.”

C. Malice to person or object.

D. Blood relationship to a witch. “Aunt Sally, now I am a witch gee, thanks.”

E. Successful counter magic. OPPS!

F. Confession, “Fine, I did it”

G. Diligent interest in a sick neighbor. Don’t care too much!

H. Unnatural marks on the body. Poke that didn’t bleed. “Did you feel it?” “No!” “You must be a witch.”

I. Two witnesses saw a pact with a devil or enticing familiars. Your neighbors see the way you feed and take care of your kitten and it is not how most people treat their pets.

Oh, England, and your mild witchcraft. Only 5,000 trials and somewhere around 2,000 witches executed, according to the very few records accessed.

These British witches dined with the devil. They also made poppets, a tradition that is still used to inflict pain upon one’s enemy. A doll is used to represent someone who is cursed. It is stabbed, burned, or drowned. In turn, the one who has been cursed feels what is happening to the doll.

Here’s a fun fact. Not only was Henry VIII, an “asshole”, to put it nicely, he was the first ruler in England to decree a law against witchcraft and conjuration. In 1542 his ruling was that witchcraft is a crime if used for love, magic, or hunting treasure. If someone was found guilty of witchcraft, and it was a first offense, they received 1 year in prison and one trip to the pillory.

NO not the Dead animals or feces

That doesn’t sound so bad, right? Well, let’s hope no one brings dead animal or feces, stones, or other blunt objects to you while you’re in prison. They tended to do that.

As if being in prison and humiliated with dead animals and having feces thrown at you wasn’t quite enough, a second offense sent the accused to prison for life and he have all his property taken away. But hey, what can a guy/gal do with property when locked up?

In 1563, Queen Elizabeth I took reign. Under her rule, the first time offense was 1 year of prison time, 4 times at the pillory. The second offense was death.

In Scotland, in 1563 Queen Mary had a different view on witches. In England there was no burning, however Mary liked the thought of burning, because to her witchcraft was considered heresy.

In 1604, King James I who ruled both England and Scotland ironically at the same time had another statute for witches. Under his rule the first offense was death. His punishment for witchcraft was morbid you can’t use dead bodies out of graves.

“An act to repeal the statute made in the First year of the reign of King James the first, entitled an act against conjuration, witchcraft and dealing with evil and wicked spirits, except so much thereof as repeals an act of the fifth year of reign of queen Elizabeth, Against conjurations, enchantments and witchcrafts, and to repeal in act passed in the parliament of Scotland in the ninth parliament of Queen Mary entitled Anentis witchcrafts and for punishing such persons as pretend to exercise or use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment, or conjuration,” (Levack 171).

And Ireland, how can anyone forget Ireland? They are slightly different. In 1586 the statute was that witchcraft was a crime. There were however, very few trials. The Irish believed highly in mischievous fairies. This meant that witchcraft was easily undone. The low level courts had more to be concerned with than witchcraft.

Now that we know what was going on with witchcraft in the British Isles in the mid-1500’s, we can begin to think about what adventure we can go on next week.

Dead Animals?


My familiar?


Feb 24 Blog 5

Bye Bye Europe Hello New World

Hey you guys, so excited you decided to join me on this journey. We are going to leave Europe and head across the pond, but how should we get there this time. It’s a long flight and brooms aren’t meant for that kind of travel. How about we use floo powder.

For a group of people moving for religious purposes and a few other reasons, they had a perfect destination. An uncivilized land occupied by savages. Savages are believed to be the true followers of the devil. It’s ironic they make this choice but these people leaving the old world to go to the new world to spread their religious beliefs, like a virus. The first wave were the Pilgrims starting in 1607 and the second wave of religious migrators were the Puritans in 1620.

Let’s visit Virginia first and see what is happening when the Europeans first arrive. Before they come over the Spanish had reported what they were experiencing from the Tupi Indians in Brazil were being tormented by the devil which must have meant he had a power over them to control their savage ways.

According to Theodo de Bry, “Devils are present where barbarians exist.” Our friend John Smith had even claimed that Powhattan himself was a devil. In 1613 William Crashaw “Satan reigns in Virginia more than any other place in the world.” Indians were described as black men.

With Virginia being the first settled land by the Pilgrims, the settlements were not like they were when the Puritans come along. The Ratio of women to men is 1:6. This was not in men’s favor, but the women had choices when they lost a husband at least. When it came to witchcraft in these settlements it was not based on large scale panics. Women were just bored and accusing each other of witchcraft, which brought on a high count of civil cases. This kind of gossip was a way for women to earn power and have influence in the community.

Virginia followed of course the mother lands law of 1604. If there was harm to a person or property, the accused would be charged with malificarum. They refused to burn so execution was by hanging. The first records of Witchcraft in Virginia came from 1626 to 1730. 10 of the cases go to trial for Malificrum. Only two of these cases were men.

In order to accuse a person of witchcraft there had to be circumstantial evidence such as: bewitching of livestock; foreseeing death; specters coming in at night turning into cats; or left handed midwifes.

The Order of 1655: any person who would accuse scandalous acts termed witches had to prove with oath and witness or the accuser would be fined 1,000lbs of tobacco and centered to the court. Husbands had to pay, but the women would continue to slander each other.

In 1652 the husbands got smart and caught on to the tricks of slandering women. The women became responsible for their crime. If she refuses to pay or can’t afford to she is dunked for every 500lbs of tobacco she owes.

1). Very few clergies in Virginia. Religion was not yet established Anglican clergy didn’t care about witches at this time they were more concerned with other issues, such as survival of the settlements. They main concern here was, “will we live?”

2). Like previously mentioned were a commodity. They were not going to kill off a reproduction resource.

3). By the 1700’s they were moving away from witchcraft.

Examples of Witchcraft cases and the legend of Grace Sherwood.


Joan Wright was the first case of witchcraft. She was a married midwife, but a number of her neighbors accused her of killing newborns, crops, and livestock. She was also accused of predicting the death of fellow colonist. Her case ended well for her however, she confessed to the knowledge of witchcraft and is acquitted.

John Bird and his wife Anne were being sued by Charles Kinsey in an action of Defamation setting forth by their petition that said Kinsey had falsely and Scandalously defamed them saying that Anne did ride him from his house to Elizabeth Russell’s, and that by such his Discourse she was Reported and Rendered to be a witch or such like person, praying, one hundred ponds damage with cost (Witchcraft in Virginia).

Let’s fly North for a moment and see what the Puritans think. Puritans are ubber religious. The believe you must be religious 24/7. The Puritans are a break off of the English Church but are much stricter in their faith. They come to the New World to build on John Winthrop’s Theory of the “City on the Hill”. In their traditions Puritans have 3 hour long services 2 times a week. Practice what they preach (no dancing, theatre, and drinking).

Puritans differ from Pilgrims in many ways. The pilgrims came over 40 families to start and they came with less women. The puritans came as family units of 200. The Pilgrims wanted to burn the church of England where Puritans just wanted to improve the church.

The beliefs of Puritans are: Predestination; the belief that God chose your Destiny before your birth. They believed they had to ready themselves for salvation. Puritan souls are gendered female, to marry Christ. Providentialism; the belief good= reward bad= punishment. Moral Stewardship; everyone has a responsibility to hold their neighbors accountable. All of these ways of thinking will somehow effect what happens with witch’s in the future. At this time, we just need to understand the puritan mind.


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