Historical context of witchcraft

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The word witch itself is subject to many meanings and responds to various clichés. Witchcraft is a field that contains multiple myths and exaggerations. When we currently speak of witches, the first image that comes to mind is the myth of the old Shakespearean witch, bad, ugly and with a cauldron full of toads. But the reality of witchcraft has little to do with this archetype; witches in a historical sense were never like this. In fact, witchcraft has been misinterpreted by the state and the church throughout its history, which has left a negative mark on popular perception. When we say witchcraft we can speak of different elements such as paganism, wicca, new witchcraft or biophilia, that is why it is necessary to separate the concepts and understand them in their entirety. In the next episode you will find out.

The word witch itself is subject to many meanings and responds to several clichés

Witchcraft is a field that contains multiple myths and exaggerations

When we actually talk about witches the first image that comes to mind is the myth of the old shakespearian witch, bad, ugly and with a cauldron full of toads, but the reality of witchcraft has little to do with this archetype

Witches in a historical sense were never like that, in fact witchcraft has been misinterpreted by the state and the church during the whole history, which has left a negative mark on the popular perception

When we say witchcraft we can talk about different elements such as paganism, wicca, the new witchcraft or biophilia, that is why it is necessary to separate the concepts and understand them in their totality

Paganism is nothing more than the belief in other non-Christian gods

and witchcraft could currently be identified with the belief that certain persons can exercise power through means dissociated with the logic considered normal or natural

Although the phenomenon of witchcraft occurs in numerous cultures and periods historical periods since prehistoric times, the events in the Europe of the Middle Ages were undoubtedly particularly remarkable, in particular in countries such as France, Germany, Italy, England or Spain

From an anthropological perspective, the practice of magic and its intensity conforms to a social order

In earlier and less socially oppressive historical periods the magical practice was more innocent and accepted

While evil magic flourishes at times of great tension or social pressure, something that began to happen from the 7th century onwards

The social misery of the Middle Ages seems to be the main external feature that propitiated the appearance of the devil in the minds of the Europeans of his time

and the association with witchcraft

Popular culture influenced by the church, the state and the literature has distorted the perception we currently have of witches, making it differ from the historical truth that we can get closer to by the books and documents collected over time

They were the so-called witches, in general women who transmitted for centuries their knowledge as women to woman

Apart from knowing people's secrets and perhaps magic, they were procuresses, healers, enchantresses, they possessed knowledge of empirical type that allowed them to practice as poisoners, manufacturers of cosmetics, perfumers, midwives and midwives

They used certain herbs that produced special states of reverie

and on many occasions they were also drunk, turbulent and powerful women who sometimes sought solace for their great suffering in the European flora

Belladonna henbane, mandrake and stramonium, are known as some of the hazardous substances what they used in their ointments, in their cooking smoked or in ointments

They were granted more as witches after their first failures in life, tragedies, frustrated loves or great embarrassments against which they revealed themselves with the power of their knowledge, desiring to do evil things or seen as evil even though they did not do them and sometimes falling into demonolatry

For the witch it was a rough pleasure to demean the great mistress and to take revenge on her by bringing often a leveling background of hatred

With mandrake they could transform men into beasts, pervert reason and drive other women to madness or alienation

Much more terrible was the thorn apple or datura, with which one could dance to death and suffer a thousand embarrassments of which one had no conscience or memory

They mastered the art or manufacture of poisons, oils substances for beautifying and sometimes they were mediators in erotic affairs

Everything that is known about the incantations and filters used by witches

is related to the fantastic, the malicious and in many cases the pernicious

By riskily mixing ingredients that included excitants and sensory altering agents

that sometimes could make you lose your will, it is doubtful that in most cases which concoctions could arouse passion beyond the high power of suggestion

and illusion

The knowledge of herbs could be linked to the inheritance of a remote epoch in which the women are dedicated to collect wild plants to cover the needs of the community

This is a search allowed them to know useful plants but also harmful

They are attributed the ability to fly smeared on a broom or stick an ointment of highly toxic plants, they are also granted acts of incitement to hate and love, to make amatory ligations, blocking of man's generative power, producing storms or catastrophes, spells against people or fields and even transform or transform other humans into animals

Women are known to be highly repressed who were blinded by vice, desiring adultery and sodomy

In this context it seems likely that the flights were caused by the use of narcotics

and the extreme passion of carnal acts, being rather a metaphor than a prodigious fact

There is still controversy among those who defend the high degree of reality of these legends

or those who think that it was all the result of a gigantic attempt of social control

coupled with enormous judicial errors

The historical reality shows us that the quality of the testimonies in the cases of the Inquisition was very low

and almost always based on the answers to terrible tortures

The simple accusation of a private person with the complaint made by a jealous person

was a sufficient motive to condemn a woman to the stake and in many cases the statement of a group of underage mythomaniacs was enough, clearly influenced by family contexts, interests or persuaded by threats to harm without turning back the life of a woman

We can perceive a clear increase of witchcraft in historical moments, in which the human being lives circumstances of anguish, catastrophe and collective misery, as were the darkest years of the Middle Ages

It also seems clear that in periods of insecurity like these

the fear makes the society to focus on the weakest or minority parts of it

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Audio:

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Subtitules:

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  • English

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