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Burn her, she's a witch
February 11, 2006 9:20 AM   Subscribe

Witches. Who they are, how to tell, what to do. One example.
posted by caddis (24 comments total)

 
the great witch craze of 1100-1700 AD

Man. Fads are so much shorter these days.
posted by sourwookie at 9:35 AM on February 11, 2006


And hellish arts from people she might hide,
And hurt, far off, unknown, whomever she envied.


Rhyme schemes are so much less forgiving these days.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:50 AM on February 11, 2006


What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?


You're right!
posted by sourwookie at 9:57 AM on February 11, 2006


envied is pronounced en-VYE-d, rhymes with tied and pied. Just as tea used to be pronounced tay.

How Long, my People, Oh how Long
Shall Dinner Hour delay?
Fly swiftly round, ye Idle Maids
And Bring a Dish of Tea.

posted by jfuller at 9:59 AM on February 11, 2006


Sir Bedevere: So, logically...
Peasant 1: If she weighed the same as a duck... she's made of wood.
Sir Bedevere: And therefore...
Peasant 2: ...A witch!
posted by keswick at 10:46 AM on February 11, 2006


Martha Corey: I, sir, am innocent to a witch. I know not what a witch is.

Judge Hathorne: If you know not what a witch is, how do you know you are not one?
posted by gsteff at 11:12 AM on February 11, 2006


If they drown, they're not a witch.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:24 AM on February 11, 2006


Pretty much anyone who wasn't liked, or who 'didn't seem right', or who was just unlucky, could be accused of being a witch (and being accused essentially meant being convicted). Of course, some of the social morés in force were so stupid and/or superstitious, that most people with an ounce of sense would be driven to flaunt them... thus seeming 'not right'.

That kind of mob paranoia has always terrified me... unfortunately, it still occurs in many places today (examples in India and Africa regularly crop up here, for instance.)
posted by Drexen at 11:28 AM on February 11, 2006


Well, she looks like one.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 11:41 AM on February 11, 2006


Who they are

"This is NOT a page about Wiccans or neo-pagans...This is a starting point for historical research into the great witch craze of 1100-1700 AD."

Shouldn't that be "who they were"?

So I wonder: if you were posting a link to Holocaust-era tips on identifying and persecuting Jews, would you still feel OK about titling the page "Burn him, he's a Jew" and linking to a comedy sketch?
posted by ottereroticist at 11:46 AM on February 11, 2006


if you were posting a link to Holocaust-era tips on identifying and persecuting Jews, would you still feel OK about titling the page "Burn him, he's a Jew" and linking to a comedy sketch?

If it were the year 2405, probably, yeah.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:05 PM on February 11, 2006


thanks for the post, caddis - it's a pretty fascinating site to dig around in.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:27 PM on February 11, 2006


An ironic thing is that there were 'enlightened' witch hunters who were skeptical of the 'drown-or-guilty' type trials. Instead they went on testimony of 'upstanding men' and birthmarks... it's strange how even every bizarre mentality has its share of 'progressives'.
posted by Firas at 12:36 PM on February 11, 2006


I was fascinated to learn (some years back) that some prominent and very conservative Christian theologians, such as Jonathan Edwards, worked long and hard to debunk the idea of witchcraft. To them, the idea of the Devil acting in the world was blasphemous. Edwards at least never appeared to doubt that people might try to do witchcraft, but he was never willing to admit that it could be efficacious. According to the accounts I've read (in, you know, those paper thingies that you put on shelves, borrowed years ago from one of those places that's in the business of lending them out...), he thought mose accounts of witchcraft were hoaxes perpretrated on the accused by someone bearing a grudge. (
posted by lodurr at 12:48 PM on February 11, 2006


Make a bridge out of them!
posted by rand at 1:02 PM on February 11, 2006


I'm afraid this site has one major drawback, it seems to uncritically mix up academic studies and unreliable popular histories, citing both as if they were equally reliable. Everytime I click to check out some particularly sensational claim that sounds false to me as a historian who has published in this field, I find the footnote pointing to works I wouldn't touch with a bargepole. Unless you know which sources on the bibliography are actually well-researched, you'll get caught out by the entries which are based on the less reliable stuff.
posted by Flitcraft at 4:00 PM on February 11, 2006


So I wonder: if you were posting a link to Holocaust-era tips on identifying and persecuting Jews, would you still feel OK about titling the page "Burn him, he's a Jew" and linking to a comedy sketch?
posted by ottereroticist at 2:46 PM EST on February 11 [!]


Oh, get a life.
posted by caddis at 5:06 PM on February 11, 2006


Oh, get a life.

Got one, thanks. How about you get a little sensitivity to historical tragedies?
posted by ottereroticist at 6:57 PM on February 11, 2006


Good point, Flitcraft. I'm fascinated by the history of belief in witches, but there is so much bad history out there about them (even some of the earlier academic history isn't that great), and it feeds many popular myths about the whole phenomenon.
posted by jb at 7:18 PM on February 11, 2006


Good point, Flitcraft. I'm fascinated by the history of belief in witches, but there is so much bad history out there about them (even some of the earlier academic history isn't that great), and it feeds many popular myths about the whole phenomenon.
posted by jb at 7:19 PM on February 11, 2006


Sorry - Opera does that sometimes. My apologies.
posted by jb at 7:19 PM on February 11, 2006


But just a comment about the tags - this isn't that accurate on the site, but the primary witchhunts were early modern (c1450-1750), not medieval.

Just standing up for early modernism - the medievalists get too much attention already! Sorry, just jealous, them and their latin and illuminated manuscripts and fascinating local cults.
posted by jb at 7:22 PM on February 11, 2006


...very small rocks?
posted by Foosnark at 7:49 PM on February 11, 2006


Preach it, sister! Our manuscripts may look like ugly, brown pieces of paper covered in atrocious scrawls but they're much more interesting than all those poncy books of hours people pay millions for. I was involved in this web site on Scottish witchcraft, if you like that sort of thing.

They'll pry our witches from our cold dead early modern hands!
posted by Flitcraft at 3:51 PM on February 12, 2006


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