Think of witches the first thing that pops in your memory is their broom ride. Are witches real? Do they ride a broom? Here we are set to explore the Witchcraft / Witchcraft History and how they perform their magical acts. The history of witchcraft dates back to the Bible book of 1 Samuel written between 931 BC and 721 BC. Here the story of a King called Saul took the help of the Witch of Endor to bring dead upon prophet Samuel’s spirit inorder to defeat the Philistine army. Samuel was aroused by the witch who prognosticated death of Soul and his sons. The Bible states that Saul killed himself and his sons died in the battlefield.
In another old testament phrase that condemns witches is the Exodus 22:18 that says “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” There are additional passages from the bible that talk about witches contacting the dead and cautions against chanting and divination.
Witches in Early Europe
The emergence of witch hysteria was prominent in the mid 1400s in Europe. It was during this period that the witches were tortured and the accused confessed to wicked behaviors. Within a span of a century, Witch hunting became common and the accused were burnt alive or sentenced to hanging. In the year 1500 and 1600 around 80,000 accused witches were sentenced to death in Europe among these 80% were said to be women. They were said to be in collusion with the Satan and are lustful. In Germany the incidence of witchcraft execution was higher while in Ireland it was the lowest.
The credit to witch hunting goes to the book Malleus Maleficarum written by prominent German Dominicans in the year 1486. The book contained information on how to identify witches, interrogate and execute them. The book called witchcraft unorthodox and this became an authority among Catholics and Protestants. The book was in vogue for the next 1100 years and sold most number of copies only next to the Holy Bible.
As the witchcraft menace came to a culmination in Europe, it started to peak in the new world. Some of the most popular trials happened at Salem Massachusetts in 1692. The trial started with two sick girls claiming to be witches accusing neighbors of witchcraft practice. Around 150 were accused and 18 were executed. Massachusetts was not the lone case, in Windsor, Connecticut; Alse Young was executed for witchcraft in the year 1647. The final witchcraft trial in Connecticut around 46 people was accused and 11 were put to death for practicing witchcraft. Virginia was the least affected and in fact a law was passed in the Lower Norflolk County in 1655 that it is a crime to accuse someone falsely of witchcraft. Despite two dozen trials taking place in the region between 1626 and 1730 none were executed.
Benjamin Franklin wrote about a trial in the Pennsylvania Gazette in the year 1730 and it brought out the truth about the absurdity of the accusations. Soon the witch mania came to an end and new laws were passed to protect the people.