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Witchcraft: Mythology and Reality

David Griffiths The figure of the witch is one that has been subject to more misrepresentation, mythologization and romanticism through the ages than just about any other. From the decree of Yahweh in Exodus 22:181 to the brief period of heightened persecution in the late 16th to mid 17th Centuries, the witch has been perceived by the Judeo-Christian world as a threatening, supernatural - yet pathetic - figure of moral weakness, revulsion and purely malicious intent. This mode of thought has birthed a culture of rumour, fear and misunderstanding. In turn this has led to a degree of false and fantastic speculation regarding the nature and existence of witches that was still detectable in the reaction of the modern press to Gerald Gardner’s Wiccan religion in the 1950s and 1960s. With the exception of a few sympathetic portrayals that movement was, like its historical forebears, largely perceived as being one which consisted of morally dubious outcasts living on the peripherals of society. To an extent, that judgment of the character of the historical witch has a ring of truth about it. The historian Robin Briggs2 argues that the witch hunts of Early Modern Europe were local, chaotic, societal manifestations of the need to project frustration and anger onto scapegoat figures during times of social change and upheaval in places with relatively weak government. Those tried and executed as witches usually represented badly behaved or poorly socialised older women3 without a sufficient degree of financial, familial or social support who struggled to fit in with their neighbours and often threatened or bullied them into providing food or assistance that they could scarcely afford to spare. When a refusal to provide help was given any misfortune that subsequently befell those who refused4 was seen as cumulative evidence that the ‘witch’ was practicing evil magic against those who declined to accept them and aid them. This is not to suggest that such a parallel exists in the neo-pagan community of today of course, but a degree of disenfranchisement and disaffection with society, religion and the modern world may very well play a role in the ‘fringe’ nature of that community in the modern era. It is the perceived purpose and intent of witches however, rather than the perception of their roles as social misfits, that has led to the terms ‘witch’ and ‘witchcraft’ becoming words with powerful psychological connotations. Although witchcraft was taboo in early medieval Europe, we can see from the cultural attitudes expressed in the Synod of Reisbach in 799, Charlemagne’s law prohibiting the burning of witches on the symbolic grounds of it signifying continuing pagan beliefs and the Anglo-Saxon laws of Athelstan5, that belief in witchcraft in the early Middle Ages was discouraged and that punishment for practicing it at that time was not particularly severe. In the 11th Century, the Canon Episcopi of Burchard of Worms revealed that the thought of that time was still one which expressed that the existence of the witches’ sabbat was inherently untrue. It was not until the development of a more overt religious paranoia became established, following the heresies of sects such as the Cathars and the Waldensians and the persecution of Ritual Magicians, that we begin to see the first major examples of accusations of organised Satanism being used as unscrupulous tools to literally blacken an opponent’s reputation6. By the time of the Renaissance, the belief in witches sabbats, which involved flying to a remote location, with or without one’s physical body (or in animal form), eating foul meats, copulating with devils, spoiling crops, cursing villages, plotting the downfall of Christendom and, ultimately, kissing Satan’s backside, had entered popular folklore and were occasionally used as a particularly vindictive means to bring the attentions of the torturers and executioners of the religious and secular authorities upon a rival. Following the political, religious and societal disturbances of the Reformation, Early Modern Europe became a hotbed, in parts7, of occasional and short bursts of witch-hunting activities, which, in the majority of cases, had an entirely local flavour and were rarely sanctioned by either the crown or the church. On some occasions, official complaints of witchcraft were made to a magistrate which would

pagan religion. would eventually base their hypotheses about the nature and origins of the witch cult upon. in the majority of cases. although such relationships are by no means linear in nature. magical. This makes the claims of radical feminist American Wiccans in the 1970s . fragments of ceremonial magic and genuine charisma in their art. Norman Cohn’s breakthrough work on the reality of the European witch-hunt. thumbscrews and the boot tend to generate . Cohn however.that dubious writers such as Margaret Murray. would result in the trials – based on the ‘evidence’ that confessions under the torture techniques such as strappado8.a form that she herself also had a predilection to taking . It appears to be with Murray that the largest portion of blame can be firmly laid.conspiring to sink a ship and digging up a baby’s corpse and eating it in a pie12. the application of hot irons. Cohn reveals that Murray’s work The Witch Cult in Western Europe. as ‘white witches’ served God and waged war against the ‘black witches’ of Satan. the period of witchpersecution acted as a vessel for those who genuinely did practice magic (as it seems likely that the majority of those actually accused and executed for witchcraft did not) to ply their trade as benevolent magicians for hire. revealed the means of deliberate deceit by which the modern misunderstandings were made possible. charlatanism. it can be seen that the misrepresentation that comes with the modern mythologization of witchcraft is very much based on the same kinds of logical errors and manipulations that it was subjected to in the past. Briggs discloses that study of the documentary evidence of the trials reveals that the majority of those who accused others of witchcraft were in fact women. As well as serving as a vent for societal frustration and insecurity.even more implausible. matriarchal Dianic. ironically. Combined with the historical mashing of data that the aforementioned Margaret Murray committed. These were the ‘cunning men’. Murray portrays the ‘historical’ sabbat (from a document relating to the trial of Helen Guthrie in Forfar in 1661) as a fairly innocuous event that consisted of nothing more than sitting at a table eating. folk magic.had she left those vital pieces of information in place. who.then lead to the state becoming officially involved in the administration of justice. They therefore relied on finding and countering the work of witches wherever they went and. these true ancestors of modern witchery were actually responsible for the deaths of those who were later claimed to have been the victims of the oppressors of the purported pan-European. to supplement their living financially. was in fact based on large and deliberate falsehoods which were only uncovered when Cohn thought to do what no-one else had actually yet done and examined the source documents that Murray cited in her work. reveals that the gaps that Murray worked into her presentation of the document represented the parts where Guthrie. The discrepancies revealed in her editing and presentation of the source material are quite unbelievable.that nine million witches were killed by men as an act of ‘gynocide’ (which were in turn inspired by an act of creatively exaggerated guesswork by 19th Century proto-feminist author Matilda Joslyn Gage10) . The cunning folk used their art. pagan cult that had survived from antiquity into the Early Modern period. Europe’s Inner Demons11. when it was brutally oppressed . for over forty years since its intellectual inception in 1929 (which was also the forty years that the Wiccan religion was largely developed in) was held to be the authoritative work on European Witchcraft. It would have doubtlessly been very difficult for Murray to choose to portray her hypothesis – which posited the existence of an ancient. seeing the devil appear as a horse . made them at least dependant on – and occasionally quite wealthy from .their extra curricular work. of whom more shall be said later. when it occurred (it is believed to have been a relative rarity). . In certain ways the cunning men would prove to be more accurate forerunners to the modern witch tradition9. in times of turmoil such as those that led to the witch persecutions. who employed a measure of trickery. which. racking. As a further matter of irony. Such involvement. in many instances. which. drinking and dancing with ‘the devil’. confessed to witnessing her fellow witches flying to the sabbat through a hole in the form of bees. clearly under the torturer’s scourge.

continues this dubious line of assertion. but a simple and impressive formula of the Sorceress's way of life. seemed inspired by the radical proto-feminism of Gage’s works. that Maddalena wrote the text herself. Church and the State . interpretation of truth that succeeds in creating a contradiction of purpose and a deliberate confusion of fact and fantasy. On having the assumptions of the primacy of a goddess cult in her work challenged by archaeologist Peter Ucko in 1962. condescending and wholly irrational response was that ‘he had no right . Unfortunately. Murray’s contemptuous. In balance it would seem (especially when considering Leland’s citing of Michelet18) that Leland’s work probably cannot be considered to be as genuine as it is presented to be. Secondly. Perhaps to crown all. 15 the vervain crown above her brow.When we consider Murray’s influences. her eye deep-set. My strong point is to start. at least to some extent. and the practice of witchcraft. known as the Vangelo manuscript. and. As far as the history of witchcraft was concerned. the Sorceress. Michelet states his purpose was purely to give. not a history of Sorcery. and restless. represents a genuine text from an otherwise undiscovered religion. The main problem with this text was the use of a poetic. not from the devil. a warm. Leland’s claim was that the ‘gospel’ he presented was a collection of Tuscan peasant religious traditions centred around the worship of Aradia. and the violets of death. falling round her shoulders wildly like writhing snakes. Murray’s furious defence of any attempt to question the authority of her work reveals a tenacious and sometimes vindictive nature propped up on a forebear of radical feminism which. which my learned predecessors darken by the very elaboration of their scientific methods and the excess of detail. quasi-fictional hypothesising as history. The work of the American anthropologist Charles Godfrey Leland. Queen of the Witches. the practice of breaching the lines between historical fact and subjective agenda did not end with Michelet. who allegedly had the face of a Medea and the beauty of Our Lady of Sorrows. rather than factual. fictional representation of the priestess of the supposed religion. Firstly. Ronald Hutton17 asserts that there seem to be three ‘extreme positions’ that can be taken when considering Aradia. which was supposedly an attempt to provide ‘a sociological explanation of the Witch trials’13. This is seen at its most fantastic in his description of the ‘living reality’ of the priestess of the sabbat.the work which claimed nine million witches had been slaughtered in what would later be labelled ‘the Burning Times’. rich in results and possibilities. Aspects of these ideas were incorporated into Jules Michelet’s 1862 publication La Sorciere. it was the French historical fantasist Etienne-Léon de Lamothe-Langon and the German writer and publisher Karl Ernst Jarcke who respectively fabricated a series of trial documents relating to a dualist heresy tradition in 14th Century France and posited the existence of an organised society of witches dating back to pre-Christian times. her decision to rebuke objectivity and replace it with her own personal agenda with such conviction becomes easier to understand. or Gospel of the Witches. The first of the final two sources that inspired Murray’s position appear to be the aforementioned proto-feminist writings of Matilda Joslyn Gage in Women. like the efforts of Lamothe-Langon. And finally. This is clearly a purely romantic. stains the historical attempt to discover the truth about European witchcraft. possibly drawing from her own background with folklore or witchcraft. whom Michelet quotes as a Principal Authority16. that the entire document was forged by Leland. from an empty conception. her hair a dark untameable torrent. either with or without Leland's assistance. tragic. that the document allegedly received by Leland from a practitioner of the religion named Maddalena. in his 1899 book Aradia. the funereal ivy. but from a 14 living reality. breathing reality. Her work follows the tradition established in the 19th Century of presenting works of subjectivised.

heroic.‘those skilful in incantations’ and scinlæcan . as Murray did. ‘female practitioner of magic’23 and cræft. has always been close to the imagination. From these words alone we already have some idea of the kinds of practices that those involved in the arts of wiccecræft were purported to have been involved in. If witchcraft is largely not what it has been purported to be. The original cultural understanding of this definition can be augmented by looking to extant cultural evidence from Anglo-Saxon England. to fear. the works of Gerald Gardner. Witchcraft.‘necromancers’ or ‘sorcerers’. ‘strength. the Modern English word ‘witchcraft’ originates from the Old English wiccecræft. what then. a composite of wicce. far too young. What becomes increasingly clear. based his 1949 novel21 High Magic’s Aid very closely on the ideas set out in the Murray hypothesis. Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough. just as the witch figure has been at the peripherals of the imagination and fears of society22. feminine folk cult invented by 19th and 20th Century writers. is the prominence of personal (or political) agendas.are equated in categorization to gealdorcræftigan . Witchcraft Today. in isolation. As the perception of witchcraft. the raising of or communication with the dead. conjectures and egoism that surround those who have shaped the beliefs in it. to excitement and to the unnatural. The second of those final influences was the mainstay of early twentieth century folkloric research. Her view was. a man’19. To be inspired by The Golden Bough was not an uncommon occurrence in the early 20th Century. In the laws of Alfred and Ine wiccan24 – that is. semantic correlations also seem evident in the terms lyblacs26. Equally tellingly. free from the false religious connotations of the vilified sabbats of Medieval and Early Modern Europe and the secret. in its purest meaning. skill’. it is of no great wonder that it has been so common for most people attempting to define what witchcraft is to end up producing a picture of what witchcraft. power. divination and the knowledge and use of herbs and drugs. as a psychological phenomenon. Murray was to write the preface to Gardner’s opening commentary on the Wicca movement. second. from expressions and ideas about the ‘old’ witchcraft to those of the ‘new’. in terms of the lineage of contact and ideas. romantic fantasies. Thus ‘witchcraft’ can be more accurately defined as simply meaning ‘one who is skilled or powerful in the practice of magic’. was not a sufficient act to restore truth to otherwise false assertions. and to draw assertions from it (which is itself not without flaws) based upon a backing of weak evidence.to speak about the goddess because he was first. in reality. the bringing of death and woe. in 1951. morþdaeds27 and wiglere28. is not. ‘wizards’ or ‘soothsayers’ . and. is a very specific term relating solely to the practice of magic and is. Elsewhere in Anglo-Saxon law25. is it? Etymologically. Tellingly. Murray’s own work was to prove to be the lynch pin between the romantic view of the witch portrayed in 19th Century pseudo-history and the academic acceptance of similar beliefs in the 20th Century. who claimed to have discovered and subsequently publicised20 a mystery religion based on the principles of witchcraft named Wicca. accepted theory on witchcraft and was party to only a few voices of objection (which were often shot down by Murray’s sharp derision). between the 1940s and the 1960s. . Witchcraft has often been a phenomenon at the peripheral of the conscious mind and imagination. the dominant.

and do not objectively require the belief in the intervention of a specific god – be it Amon-Ra. Neptune or Jehovah . although pre-Christian societies tolerated the practice of magic while Christendom.to fulfil the purpose of the working30. but can also detect the ultimately arbitrary nature of the god names being invoked by the operator29. and ‘pagan’. In the instance of a spell designed to prevent an oncoming storm. magic has roots which. brewing. did not. Boscastle. despite often employing a certain amount of religious symbolism. in its original form as a solely magical practice. at least nominally. we can again see that wax figures were prominent in magical operations. Like farming. Moving on to examples from Ancient Greece32. Museum of Witchcraft. from the Egyptian Book of Overthrowing Apep. burnt. the remains were spat on several times per hour until the storm was prevented. * Although Wicca has become an accepted. trampled by the left foot. it has only become such by continuing with the ruses set up by the likes of Michelet and Murray in its adoption of a specific. warfare or any other ancient human endeavour you could care to think of. spat upon. does not necessarily equate to the expression of pagan religiosity. Ares. in my view. A variation of this ritual represented the overthrowing of one’s enemies by carving their names into the effigy which would be bound with black rope. suggests that magical practices can be separated from religion. mixed with urine and then pressed into yet another fire. hunting. I would personally argue that witchcraft. This. If we briefly examine different cultural manifestations of magic throughout the ages we can not only see very clear threads of similarity running through them in terms of practice. A Greek spell to obtain the love of a woman sees the magician construct two waxen figures. religious function. The first example31. music. The female figure is placed into a kneeling posture with her hands tied behind her. the remains of which were then mixed with excrement before being placed onto a second fire. concerns the application of the magical figures that were used as part of the daily ritual at the Temple of Amon-Ra. relatively popular and not entirely false expression of modern witchcraft. After that. To begin with. a wax representation of Apep was burnt on a fire made of khesau grass. and the other in the form of a woman. stabbed with a spear or sword.Collection of herbs. are essentially independent of religion. magic is by no means a purely non-Christian phenomenon. while the male figure stands over . one in the form of Ares.

A pin was dropped into the well in the name of the victim. the forms and mechanics behind them remained very similar. the lover must take thirteen bronze needles and stick them in her limbs while saying "I pierce……. for hereunto by vow are they vowed unto my Lord God Jesus. which must once have had a guardian priestess. spinning her wheel and addressing the Lynx. may you consume his blood 37 and take it away. the religious aspects of magic are far more pervasive. with the god to aid." The lover must next write certain words of power on a leaden plate. a place of execution or a battlefield to give the lingering spirits of the dead power over the victim. where magic was taboo. the only Great and terrible over all who be in His Army. An excellent instance of a cursing-well is that of Fynnon Elian in Denbigh. which all feature similar methods relating to the practice of ‘sympathetic’ magic. Who possesseth and defendeth me by His Grace. into a spring. The Roman practice of inscribing curses upon tabellae defixionum34 provides the third example of the ways that differing cultural expressions act as a front for what are essentially identical practices35. show that despite the different gods and cultural surroundings evident in them. blood of him who has been privy to that taking-away. as the religious devotion and symbolism evident in its ceremonial magicians reveal: O Saint Michael bring thine aid unto all mine Operations. As far as cursing was concerned. A victim of theft might seek the god's vengeance or double the likelihood of divine help by transferring ownership of his stolen property to the god who would then want to retrieve the item for his or her self. She wrote the name of the victim in a book. which must be tied to the wax figures with a string containing three hundred and sixty-five knots. health.her with his sword at her throat. the Romans considered it effective to write the victim's name upon a thin sheet of lead covered with magical formulas or symbols before burying it in or near a fresh tomb. be ever mine in every Day and 39 moment of my life as my Father and God. The thief who stole this. and if all these things are done in a proper manner the lover will obtain the woman's affections. and to Neptune the life. The above examples. whether male or female. so speedily may he by love be molten!" She also keeps a fringe from her lover's cloak which she shreds and throws into the fire. upon which would be inscribed the victim’s plea to favoured gods for justice. receiving a gift at the same time. A. Niskus. Also may the Lord God Jesus having imposed upon me His Law. He must then recite a long incantation to the infernal gods. for who is like unto the Lord of Virtues. the Roman use of the tablet was combined with the traditional beliefs in the power of springs to bring about harm to enemies36. On the limbs of the female figure a large number of the names of demons are to be written and when this has been done. Lord Neptune J. Typically the aggrieved would make a statement such as: Lord Neptune. The mind which stole this and which has been privy to it. In Christendom. So I give you. This type of operation was carried out by throwing pieces of rolled or folded lead or pewter. says "even as I melt this wax. MacCulloch38 describes a relatively modern account of how a similar practice remained in use in 19th Century Wales. whether boy or girl. may you take it away. and assuredly there is none else but my Lord God.that she may think of me. Theocritus also reveals to us some evidence of the magical use of wax figures in Pharmakeutria33 where Simaetha. So I give the names who took them away. I give you the man who has stolen the solidus and six argentioli of Muconius. . and thus truly my beloved Emmanuel. the spirit of the well acted upon him to his hurt. and through it and through knowledge of his name. before both figure and plate are buried in the grave of someone who has died young or who has been slain by violence. In the British Isles. for in 1815 an old woman who had charge of it presided at the ceremony.

In reality. Jah. which stone must be fixed upon a frame in the centre of the table. in many respects. being involved in the practice of an eclectic mix of various postmodern. Boscastle. When contextualised in this manner. Sadai. Jehovaschap. that the inclusion of religious symbolism is a common but entirely interchangeable factor in the practice of magic. which he must repeat thrice every morning for seven days before the invocation… When the day is come wherein the magician would Invocate his prayer to Genius he must enter into a private closet. and two waxen candles lighted. are practicing a religion that summarises the dominant culture of the age quite succinctly. Museum of Witchcraft. Cursing Doll. Jehovah. having a little table and silk carpet. It would appear then. Where modern witchcraft falters however. Son. Immanuel. he must thrice repeat the former prayer concluding the same with Pater Noster. Then he must begin to consecrate the candles. fantasy and opinionated conjecture that the heredity of witchcraft has been subjected to by those with an agenda of interest in it over the centuries has made the distinction . Anepturaton. * The level of falsehood. is in its conclusion that witchcraft is connected to a specific. Amen. who. as also a crystal stone shaped triangularly about the quantity of an apple. After this is done. also displayed a strong connection to the Christianity of Ceremonial Magic in their practices. post-Christian ideas. Archonton. Eloi.. Sadai. Jah. in the 40 name of the Father. table and crystal. Agian. Archon. Eloi. and saying: ‘I do by the power of the holy names Agalon. to the modern pagan witch tradition. etc. it seems plausible that this is still the case with today’s neo-pagan witches. let him compose an earnest prayer unto the said Genius. Sabbathon. and Holy Ghost. and a Missale de Spiritu Sancto. and then proceeding with great devotion to Invocation. as recalled here in the papers of the famed Harries family of Cwrt y Cadno. those who have historically practiced the art of witchcraft have practiced the extant religions of their time. self contained religion. sanctifie and consecrate these holy utensils to the performance of this holy work.The cunning folk. carpet. who were the practical forebears. etc. sprinkling the same with his own blood.

his portrayal of the reality of the figure of the witch in Early Modern Europe is that of a particularly obnoxious. When it comes to defining what witches are not and were not. A contemporary equivalent of this sociological model of the witch can be found in the example of an elderly lady by the name of Dorothy Evans from Abergavenny. as I have stated . the cunning folk refuted the term ‘witch’ as that which belonged to the servants of the Devil. merely because they themselves are practitioners of magic. Although he does not equate witchcraft with the art of being a bad neighbour. Her activities included calling one of the neighbours a prostitute. and provided services flushing out suspected witches and negating the perceived effects of the spells they were purported to have cast. and probably should. charms and potions by means of trickery and genuine need between the 16th and mid 20th centuries provide what is the closest historical example of ‘witchcraft’. accusations of witchcraft were equated with long running neighbourly disputes in times of hardship and pressure. attempting to run her off the road on several occasions and telling the 13 year old daughter of the family that ‘she was a witch and would cast a spell on her family and kill her pet dog’41. Neither were they the imaginary groups of organised Satanists who flew to sabbats at night on their broomsticks as the religious extremists. who appeared in numerous news articles in 2007 for the anti-social behaviour she subjected her long-suffering neighbours to. This is the position that states a witch is one who is simply skilled in the practice of magic. malicious and quite likely eccentric and lonely person of poor means. Murray and those who followed their lines of thought purported them to be. who is probably female. This is a deliberately broad and unspecific categorisation which naturally covers the practitioners of Wicca and other neo-pagan groups who have developed sentimental attachments to the terms ‘witch’ and ‘witchcraft’. In the social line of thinking presented by Robin Briggs. the cunning folk who supplemented their living dispensing spells. regular proximity to those she alienates and is in turn alienated by. it would appear to be a sensible and objective concluding statement to reiterate that they were not the elite priestesses of the ancient feminist goddess cults that Michelet. She may also make threats to get her own way. dubious politicians and superstitious peasants of the 15th to 17th Centuries purported them to be. Ironically. Monmouthshire. hitting her with her stick. though. Dorothy Evans In lines which are more fitting to the generally accepted view of the witch however. though probably out of great fear.between mythology and reality very blurred indeed. we can. Nor do they purely consist of those who practice the religions that followed the example of Gerald Gardner in the modern era. Despite this. including ones that could involve the casting of spells. advanced in years and in close. draw some lines of distinction between what witchcraft actually is and probably is not. The final example of what a witch can be perceived to actually be lies in the definition that I have highlighted from the strict etymological semantics of the word.

that he be liable in his life. that he be 120 days in prison: and after that let kindred take him out. 282. archaeological. central and southern Germany. 8 This consisted of binding the arms behind the back and then hanging the suspect from the chamber ceiling by the arms. Athelstan (924-939) proclaimed ‘and we have ordained respecting witchcrafts.com/pag/sor/index. She appears to have plucked this number out of thin air. magic with Ceremonial elements.above. adding further wrenching and agony to their limbs. For extra effect. that he evermore desist from the like’. Switzerland. placing the weight of the body – which was sometimes augmented by the attachments of weights to the feet – upon the dislocated shoulders. the Basque region of northeast Spain. 1975. including. southern Scotland. 6) suggest that about 20-25% of the 40-60. 144-149. 10 In Woman. there are reasons why such practitioners’ claims to be witches. or the loss and illness of cattle or horses. and enter into borh for him. 102-6 19 Triumph of the Moon. In Memorandum Lindisfarnae 1 2 “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” In Witches and Neighbours: The Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft. 1893. the estimates of modern historians quoted by Briggs (Witches and Neighbours. and lyblacs. Church and State. 104. and pay the wer to his kindred. the illness or sudden death of a family member.000 people believed to have been executed for witchcraft in the period in question were male. and at threefold ordeal shall be guilty. many gains have been made in the uncovering of more accurate depictions of what witchcraft actually was and is. as well as other forms of reconstructionist paganism. 155-156. 14 La Sorciere. 16 In the section ‘Principle Authorities’ in Part Two of La Sorciere. Lamothe-Langon’s Inquisition de France is cited. Blackwell Publishing. p. sociological and folkloric evidence as possible. 6 th Phillip the Fair’s dismantling of the Knights Templar in the early 14 century being the best known example. Denmark. the mistakes made in believing the pseudo-historical obstacles that cropped up between Lamothe-Langon and Gardner are ones which need to be capitulated upon and replaced by a greater need to pay attention to as much empirical.htm. Pimlico.sacred-texts. where they shall become twisted out of all remaining proportion by those who are more concerned with furthering their own positions and interests than preserving and promoting the genuine remnants of our deep and ancient cultural roots. But if he will deny it. The creation of subjective. In terms of new religio-magical traditions such as Wicca. accessed 30/03/2008. Sweden. Iceland and the Low Countries. Oxford. 18 Aradia. 3 Though not exclusively. 1999. like Wicca. 9 As they actually practiced magic. Eastern England. 15 Ibid. and he could not deny it. In the past thirty years however. 12 Ibid. 7 Namely France (particularly Lorraine). and give to the king 120 shillings. Austria. neo-mythologies will ensure that any attempts to revive the ancient traditions of Europe will only ever remain on the margins of society. 11 Europe’s Inner Demons: the Demonisation of Christians in Medieval Christendom. and morþdaeds: if any one should be thereby killed. 13 From http://www. in the semantic sense at least. Bavaria. historical. 17 In Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft. 326. 4 Such as failed crops. Hungary. 20 Despite allegedly being sworn to secrecy . 5 On the punishment for Witchcraft. 1996. are valid. the suspect could also be winched up and ‘dropped’ from the attachment that they hung from. Tradition needs the fuel of serious thought and discovery to survive and to be taken seriously. The creative and fantastic arguments that have been presented as explanations on the origins of witchcraft in the past two centuries have created many obstacles to the truth about that particular cultural phenomenon.

22 They were often the scapegoats for the kinds of activity that produced the greatest amounts of fear and insecurity in a society. 37 http://www.csad. This is reflected today to a certain extent in the accusations of ritual child abuse made against supposed ‘devil worshippers’. http://news. Richard C. cited in Allen. 30 Though it may be the case that belief in the god or gods being invoked plays an important psychological role in the operation. 38 In Religion of the Ancient Celts. in such systems.stm accessed 30/03/2008.ac. Specified in The Laws of Alfred. children.Gmc.ox. 1911. Ghost-Raising in Wales. the cultural matrix that surrounds a human being is.uk/rib/ribiv/jp4. Routledge and Kegan Paul. A deadly sin.. crops. Anne. 2 (Summer 2001). See Pagan Celtic Britain: Studies in Iconography and Tradition by Ross. MacGregor Mathers. 31 Taken from Chapter 3 of Wallis-Budge. *wikkjaz ‘necromancer’ 25 The Laws of Athelstan 26 Sorcery or witchcraft dependant on the use of potions.. An evil deed.uk/ ‘Curse Tablets of Roman Britain’ for further archaeological examples. Wizards or Charlatans Doctors or Herbalists?: An Appraisal of the "Cunning Men" of Cwrt Y Cadno. 23 Wicca being the term for a male practitioner 24 Which may correlate with the P. 36 The ‘Water Cults’ of the Celts are well documented in the British Isles and may have influenced the magical practices of their Roman occupiers to a certain extent. 1967. Carredig J.co. whether known to the individual or not. plays a large role in the effectiveness of their magical work. Definitions from the Bosworth-Toller Anglo-Saxon dictionary. Clearly creative writing is a required skill when one has a sensational claim to make about the subject. from the 19 Century to the present. A. such as the destroying of loved ones.ac. herbs. 1.ox. 1901 32 Ibid 33 ‘Witchcraft’ 34 ‘Curse Tablets’ 35 See http://curses.bbc. th .htm accessed 06/06/2008. Guthrum. 40 Extract from Davies. 28 Diviner. and Edward the Elder 29 Despite the ‘arbitrary’ nature of the names. E.. 328-9. 39 From The Grimoire of Armadel. Egyptian Magic. North American Journal of Welsh Studies. and livestock with curses. deeply and irreversibly connected with the psyche and identity and thus. and the authorship of fictional works. the soul. drugs and poison. 41 BBC News article ‘Neighbour from hell' OAP jailed. tr.csad.uk/1/hi/wales/south_east/6560537. Vol.21 There is a frequent correlation between writers on the subject of Witchcraft and Wicca. Carmarthenshire. 27 A deed which causes destruction of a) the body and/or b).