Sunday, October 27, 2013

Witches Sabbat by Jennifer Scelsi of CSI: Paranormal

Throughout the Middle Ages, people in Europe believed that the Devil and his minions were a very real presence in the world. Not only did these demons seduce and torment humanity, but they also recruited certain mortals to their side, gifting them with unholy powers. The fear of witchcraft held the people of Europe in such an awful grip that they lashed out against their neighbors, torturing thousands of people to death in suspicion of practicing the black arts. These witch hunts were a dark period of European history that lasted roughly from the fourteenth through the seventeenth centuries. It was called the witch craze by some scholars, such as Anne Llewellyn Barstow and Jeffery Burton Russell. This terminology reflects the hysterical nature of the witchcraft fears of the time.

The vast majority of people accused of practicing witchcraft were marginalized individuals and second-class citizens. An alarming number of women were accused, and while they were not the only people tortured and killed for practicing witchcraft during this time, the popularized image of a witch was that of a woman - usually decrepit and old.

Central to the notion of European witchcraft during this time was the Witches’ Sabbat. This was a gathering often described as an orgy that took place in the woods. Witches were thought to fly there, either by leaving their bodies or by riding through the sky in sieves or on brooms. At the Sabbat, witches were said to dance naked in the woods, feasting on foul foods and sometimes sacrificing children. They were thought to plot against their neighbors at this wild gathering, dreaming up the harm they would do in the coming months. And of course, they met with the Devil often in the form of a tall man with soot-black skin or in the form of a great black goat.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, nearly all of the confessions of witches described flying to the witches’ Sabbat, or sacrificing children to the Devil, were acquired under extreme torture. The few accounts that were volunteered often came from individuals that even some inquisitors had to admit were simply mad.

Fear of the Devil and, more than that, fear of one's neighbor, inspired a truly dark period in European history, the impact of which we are still working to understand.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Only members of this blog can comment. Sorry. Too many trolls and jerks ruined it for everyone.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.