A TRUE HISTORY OF WITCHCRAFT
©Copyright 1992 by Allen Greenfield. All rights reserved.
Still, as to the mythos, Farrar informs us that the "two
personifications of witchcraft are the Horned God and the Mother
Goddess..." (ibid, p 29) and that the "Horned God is not the
Devil, and never has been. If today `Satanist' covens do exist,
they are not witches but a sick fringe, delayed-reaction
victims of a centuries-old Church propaganda in which even
intelligent Christians no longer believe..."
(ibid, p 32).
One could protest:, "Very well, some case might be made for
the Horned God being mistaken for the Christian Devil (or should
that be the other way around?), but what record, prior to the
advent 50 years ago of modern Wicca via Gerald Gardner, do we
have of the survival of a mother goddess image from ancient
Wiccan apologists frequently refer to the (apparently
isolated) tenth century church document which states that "some
wicked women, perverted by the Devil, seduced by the illusions
and phantasms of demons, believe and profess themselves in the
hours of the night to ride upon certain beasts with Diana, the
goddess of pagans, or with Herodias, and an innumerable
multitude of women, and in the silence of the dead of night to
traverse great spaces of earth, and to obey her commands as of
their mistress, and to be summoned to her service on certain
(Quoted in Valiente, WITCHCRAFT FOR TOMORROW, Hale,
1978, p 32.)
I do not doubt that bits of pagan folklore survived
on the Continent through the first millenium -- Northern Europe
remained overtly pagan until the High Middle Ages. But what has
this to do with Wicca?
Farrar, for his part, explains the lack of references to a
goddess in the testimony at the infamous witch trials by
asserting that "the judges ignored the Goddess, being
preoccupied with the Satan-image of the God.."
(WHAT WITCHES DO, p 33).
But it is the evidence of that reign of terror which
lasted from roughly 1484 to 1692 which brings the whole idea of
a surviving religious cult into question. It is now the
conventional wisdom on the witchburning mania which swept like a
plague over much of Europe during the transition from medieval
world to modern that it was JUST that; a mania, a delusion in the
minds of Christian clergymen and state authorities; that is, there
were no witches, only the innocent victims of the witch hunt.
Further, this humanist argument goes, the `witchcraft' of
Satanic worship, broomstick riding, of Sabbats and Devil-marks,
was a rather late invention, borrowing but little from
remaining memories of actual preChristian paganism. We have
seen a resurrection of this mania in the 1980s flurry over
`Satanic sacrificial' cults, with as little evidence.
"The concept of the heresy of witchcraft was frankly regarded
as a new invention, both by the theologians and by the public,"
writes Dr. Rossell Hope Robbins in THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF
WITCHCRAFT & DEMONOLOGY,
(Crown, 1959, p.9)
"Having to hurdle an
early church law, the Canon Episcopi, which said in effect that
belief in witchcraft was superstitious and heretical, the
inquisitors cavilled by arguing that the witchcraft of the Canon
Episcopi and the witchcraft of the Inquisition were
The evidence extracted under the most gruesome and repeated
tortures resemble the Wiccan religion of today in only the most
cursory fashion. Though Wicca may have been framed with the
"confessions" extracted by victims of the inquisitors in mind,
those "confessions" --- which are more than suspect, to begin
with, bespeak a cult of devil worshipers dedicated to evil.
One need only read a few of the accounts of the time to
realize that, had there been at the time a religion of the
Goddess and God, of seasonal circles and The Book of Shadows,
such would likely have been blurted out by the victims, and more
than once. The agonies of the accused were, almost literally,
beyond the imagination of those of us who have been fortunate
enough to escape them.
The witch mania went perhaps unequaled in the annals of crimes
against humanity en masse until the Hitlerian brutality of our
own century. But, no such confessions were forthcoming, though
the wretches accused, before the torture was done, would also be
compelled to condemn their own parents, spouses, loved ones,
even children. They confessed, and to anything the inquisitors
wished, anything to stop or reduce the pain.
A Priest, probably at risk to his own life, recorded testimony
in the 1600s that reflected the reality underlying the forced
"confessions" of "witches". Rev. Michael Stapirius records, for
example, this comment from one "confessed witch": "I never
dreamed that by means of the torture a person could be brought
to the point of telling such lies as I have told. I am not a
witch, and I have never seen the devil, and still I had to
plead guilty myself and denounce others...." All but one copy
of Father Stapirius' book were destroyed, and little wonder.
A letter smuggled from a German burgomaster, Johannes Junius,
to his daughter in 1628, is as telling as it is painful even to
read. His hands had been virtually destroyed in the torture,
and he wrote only with great agony and no hope. "When at last
the executioner led me back to the cell, he said to me, `Sir, I
beg you, for God's sake, confess something, whether it be true
or not. Invent something, for you cannot endure the torture
which you will be put to; and, even if you bear it all, yet you
will not escape, not even if you were an earl, but one torture
will follow another until you say you are a witch. Not before
that,' he said, `will they let you go, as you may see by all
their trials, for one is just like another...' "
(ibid, pp 12-13)
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