Welcome to BeetleMilk's Occult Facts.
The first thing that I’d like to get out of the way is that this blog will go in depth on some pretty disturbing subjects. In my opinion, there is no way to justify the actions of the individuals that perpetrated the crimes against humanity brought on by witch hysteria, nor any productive historical reason it happened in the first place. Normally, I try to approach these blogs with humor, but there is no humor in this subject. Make no mistake: the history of the persecution of witches is a history of sexual violence, hysteria, sexism, and false flags. It’s intense, so if any of this is too much, please stop reading. I understand entirely.
“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” - Exodus 22:18
The Bible is an interesting book. Seen by some as historical fact, and by others as a guide by which to derive morality for living. I believe that neither of these groups of people have ever read the Bible in any meaningful way, or, more likely, they aren’t in any of the groups that the words of the Bible actively do harm to; namely women and homosexuals. The purpose of this essay isn’t to bash the Bible or Christians, but the justifications for this type of behavior, even to this day, is often derived from the Bible, so it’s a natural place to start.
I believe that the fear of witches expressed in holy texts is very simple to explain – it’s an extension of a historical fear of women that dates back to the days when we were banging rocks together in an attempt to create fire. Women, generally physically weaker (generally because there are some women out there that are amazingly physically strong), are also, I shouldn’t have to say this but here it is for the people in the back: Women are smarter than men on average (Info HERE), and work better under pressure than men (Info HERE – although there is a lot more research on this. I advise you to look it up.). Not to mention the whole giving birth thing. Women rule. Being that this is the case, it’s no surprise that the bible was so sexist. Men fear women, even to this day, and the power they hold over them. The Bible demonizes this fear. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s an article that summarizes neatly the biblical fears of women. I especially like the part about leaving a woman that won’t be a submissive wife. As far as I can tell, this is a completely straight-faced conversation of Christian marriage and dating. It’s… something else, man.
By this point, you might be asking yourself what this has to do with witches.
Before getting into that nastiness, I believe that I should clarify a point. By “Witch”, I am not referring to either the modern interpretations of the word (Pagan, Wiccan, or Hollywood portrayals such as The Craft), but instead individuals ACCUSED of Witchcraft in the years 1580 to 1630. Many people today do not believe that true Witchcraft is even possible – I do, and highly respect my Wiccan friends, but I do not believe that 99.999% of accused Witches from this time frame were the real deal. This perception is backed up by research I’ve done on the subject – I'll put together a list for part 3.
Moving on, are you familiar with the term “Hysteria”? It can mean many things, including a wonderful album from Def Leppard, but in this context I’m referring to a group of people believing in an evil that is infiltrating their lives. It takes many forms, and the Witch Craze was not the first or last (illustrated beautifully with communism in the 1940’s) but it was an incredibly deadly one – to the tune of 11,000 deaths or so. In order to set up a proper hysteria, you need a few fundamental things. Firstly, you need a society that is held by its members in high regard, with a shared (publicly at least) set of values. In this instance, it was Christian values.
Secondly, you need a victim that cannot fight back/ prove themselves innocent/ disprove your charges in any meaningful way. Thirdly, if it comes to it, you need people willing to torture and murder the accused.
There’s an excellent podcast, Hardcore History, by Dan Carlin, that actually has an episode on ancient torture methods. It’s not directly relevant here, but is an excellent thing to be aware of.
You can see where I’m going with this. But just to drive the point home, I’m going to engage you in a fictional conversation that you cannot win. I win every time. Let’s try.
Me: Today, you, faithful reader, stand accused of being an ethereal being. I made it illegal five minutes ago. How do you plead? You should also know that should I prove you guilty it’s an automatic death sentence.
You: I’m not! Why would you even think that?
Me: Shut up, I’m asking the questions. Can you prove that you are, in fact, human?
You: I can. I bleed, I have organs. I poop!
Me: Cut them. (My goons cut you, a small cut on the arm. You bleed.)
Me: So you bleed. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you know who else was ethereal and also bled and felt pain? Jesus. This proves nothing. Tell me, reader, do you dream? What did you dream last night?
You: I normally don’t remember my dreams…
Me: THE SLEEP OF THE DEAD LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
You: …But last night I dreamt I was flying.
Me: Visiting other Ethereal beings, I see. Probably having ethereal sex and sinning. You disgust me.
You: I never sai…
Me: SHUT UP. I ask the questions! Now, I have one last test. In my hands I have a revolver. An ethereal being can manipulate matter, so you should already have taken the five rounds out. I left one blank for God’s Mercy. I’m going to place this gun against your temple and pull the trigger. If you are human, you will likely die unless you get God’s Mercy. If you are an ethereal being, you will have removed all of the rounds and we will convict you. Are you ready?
You: NO YOU CANT DO THIS
Me: Let the trial begin. (Bang) … Hm. I guess they were human. Well, they were a sinner anyway, otherwise they’d have gotten God’s Mercy. Dispose of this filth.
Now, in this conversation, you’ll have likely noticed many logical fallacies and goalpost shifting. The definition changed over time. There was no way for me to be wrong. It was impossible for you to prove me wrong because I’d just make something else up. The number of “Witches” that were proven innocent and released was so pathetic that it barely merits mentioning – but it did happen.
Chances are even if you’d have gotten mercy in our fictional trial, we would have declared some fault with the gun and tried again. The statistical probability of you surviving this Is almost nil. So, after I murder you, what happens? Well, naturally the church gets your stuff. Can’t have the limited assets of an ethereal being floating around. Or a witch. It’s cursed, remember?
There’s an interesting book, that I forget the title of at the moment (I loaned it to a friend), that went into the terrible details of the nature of the torture that many accused “Witches” endured, but I can’t stress enough how fucking arbitrary it all was. Had a birthmark? Witch. Had a black cat, or any cat? Witch. Were pretty and someone’s husband noticed you? Witch. It was so vicious.
But, why? Why did it happen in the first place? Why is Salem, MS, important?
You might be surprised to learn that the occurrence of all of these atrocities were interconnected, but not all related. For example, King James (Yeah, THAT King James) was instrumental in putting forth the idea that Witchcraft existed in Europe. Ever want to get sick to your stomach? Read the Witch Hammer, or the Demonology of King James. Most importantly, what ended this madness?
In the next part of this series on Witchcraft, Execution, I will go into the societal justifications and various publications that led to these atrocities, and in the third part I will go into the closing of this era, the historical significance, and how I believe we can prevent it from ever happening again.
Thank you for reading.