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History of Witchcraft

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History of Witchcraft Early-European Witchcraft The earliest historical records of witchcraft in Europe [such as law codes, poems, heroic tales] reveal that it was divided into two distinct traditions of magical belief. In the far north, from Iceland eastward to the Baltic lands and Russia, magic was the preserve of specialists, the shamans, who drummed, danced, and chanted their way into trances in which their spirits left their bodies to accomplish the necessary work. Every tribe or clan needed to have one, and misfortune was blamed on hostile shamans. Most were male, but a female shaman was acceptable if no man with the necessary gift was available. ...read more.


They also featured prominently as natural healers; conversely, they were especially feared for their ability to use that innate power for evil purposes. Hence to most ancient Europeans witches were usually female. Hence, also, the pagan peoples of Europe regularly executed people for the alleged crime of witchcraft. This situation was ended by the coming of Christianity, which suppressed witch-hunting with a simple theological argument; if there was indeed a single all-powerful God, then no magic could be worked except by his will, and therefore witches were actually ineffective, and deluded. The result was an almost complete halt to executions for witchcraft in Europe for most of the Middle Ages. ...read more.


In 1542 a law was passed which said that witches should be punished by death. This law was abolished in 1547, when Henry VIII died. Elizabeths I [1558-1603] was persuaded by her fellow Protestants that she should introduce new and tougher laws against the act of Witchcraft. In 1563 a new law was introduced. This law said that death penalty will be sentenced if a witch kills a person using their magic. Witches who harmed people were put in prison for life. Many of James I's ministers were Puritans. They told the King that he should introduce new, harsher laws against witches. In 1604 who was seen of having contact with evil spirits could be hanged for witchcraft [it did not matter if they did no harm]. ...read more.

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