by Hrafnkell Haraldsson
October 22, 2010
You too could be a witch. All it takes is an accusation.
Why is it as the year 2010 draws to a close that we find ourselves talking about Witchcraft? I don’t mean Wicca, the religion that sees historical witchcraft as survivals of ancient Pagan religion, but of the medieval ideas about witchcraft, the sort circulated in the 13th century, the sort of nonsense you’ll find in Heinrich Kramer’s 1486 classic, The Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches).
What is ironic is that both witches and Christians agree that witches exist. The medieval Christian mindset was so determined that witches existed that it gave birth to the book named above, which was a treatise designed to refute claims that witches did not exist. It was a sort of Dummies Guide to Witchcraft for authorities; it told them how to find and convict this pernicious societal cancer.
Witchcraft is all the craze again, and we can’t blame Bill Maher for it, or even Christine O’Donnell. After all, it was Sarah Palin back in 2008 who found a video of her receiving blessings against witchcraft being administered flying around the internet. And who should be doing the blessing but a genuine, witch-hunting pastor from Africa, Pastor Thomas Muthee, who in true Malleus-fashion accused a woman of causing car crashes through witchcraft. Substitute a horse drawn wagon and old Thomas would fit right into the Salem community.