The witch is a tool of religious social control

The witches from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth

My brother and I talked about the stereotypical witch and how we really hate it. You know, the ugly, wart-covered women who wear black pointy hats and sit around cauldrons making concoctions, possibly plotting something nasty. And you know where this comes from. It comes from the Medieval propaganda against people labelled witches made by the church establishment.

That actually looks pretty cool.

Much of the persecution was driven by a propaganda book called the Malleus Maleficuram (“Hammer of the Witches), written in the 15th century by an inquisitor named Heinrich Kramer. The book seems to be a campaign against women or female sexuality. Why? Most of the people accused were women, and showed the following traits.

  • A strong personality
  • Defying female convention
  • Stepping over the lines of female decorum

The book also claims women were more sexual and carnal than men, that carnal lust is the source of witchcraft and insatiable in women, and that libidinous women had sex with the devil to become witches. Obviously an attempt to crack down on female sexuality using religion. Older, uglier women were also vulnerable to accusations, possibly due the general description of witches.

This gung-ho persecution continued into the land that, years later, become the United States of America. In the Puritan colony of Salem, the book’s fundamental ideas lived on for a while, long after the Catholic Church declared the book was false (a move I found surprising, considering the Catholic Church). What’s unique is that when women were tried as witches in Salem, women actually stood up for themselves and denied their accusations, but to no avail, for those who resisted the accusation of witchcraft, or questioned the legitimacy of the trial were labelled as witches and burned.

Doesn’t this sound familiar? Prove me wrong otherwise.

And what was it all for? Nothing but a ploy designed to maintain the religious social control administered by Christianity. Nothing but a tool for religious authorities to keep their authority.


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