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The Witches Hammer


drummed

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Malleus Maleficarum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The above book written around 1486 by a German priest went on to play a large role in inspiring the witch hunting craze which spread around Europe for the following 300 years. During this time it is estimated anything between 35,000 and 70,000 people were executed for practising witchcraft throughout Europe. Other factors in this unfortuanate story of intolerance and persecution were tensions caused by Luthers reformation movement, the thirty years war and the basic superstition and ignorance which were common at the time to followers of all religions.

Whatever the underlying motives or explanations it was not christianities finest hour by any means.
This week one German court will attempt to redress the situation in its own way by re-opening one 400 year old case and attempting to re-evaluate the evidence.

Cologne witchcraft trial reopens after 400 years - The Local

If one long dead and unjustly executed witch (woman? witch?) can be retried can all the victims be given the same right? Should we do so before we can morally point fingers at other faiths we deem to be unjust or cruel in modern times? The last European woman (85% of victims were women) to be executed for witchcraft was commonly believed to have been in Glarus in Switzerland in 1782 however a woman was also executed in Prussia in 1811 in unclear circumstances. This may all seem a long time ago but the concept of the evil female survived a lot longer in popular memory and folklore and there are reports of such accusations being made in Spain during the civil war in the 1930's.

The defining characteristic of all the various persecutions and purges (also illustrated by Salem in 1692) is religious zealots who are convinced they are doing god's work and that the god they serve has given them the right, the duty even to persecute harmless women (unless you believe there are witches:shock2:) in his name for the greater good.

This story might lead some to imagine that the treatment of women as second class citizens in society for so long and the still common disregard for their rights is largely a hangover produced by and inspired by religion. Not Islam, Judaism or Christianity specificlly, though all have their share of blame to carry, but religion as a concept as its very nature requires an evil force to counter. For too long all the worlds major religions have cast women in this role.

Many of the persecutions did occur without official church sanction and there are cases where the clergy tried to stamp out the practice. Some of the victims were chosen for motives which had nothing to do with religion. Nonetheless, the overall inspiration was religious in nature.

Should christians formally apologise and admit the error before feeling the moral superiority required to criticise others?
Should the very nature of religious beleif which at all times in all places seeks an enemy to persecute be questioned?
Or should we just carry on as we usually do, forget the whole sorry episode and pretend we're really different to any other religion which seeks to control and demonise its followers?
 
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dresden8

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Religion is not the cause of wars but religious people really are idiots.
 

drummed

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Religion is not the cause of wars but religious people really are idiots.
I'm not proposing it as the cause of war (this time, note of idea made), rather as the underlying cause for the persecution of women worldwide and that no religion has clean hands in this regard. The witch craze from 1450-1750 is merely a good and relatively recent example.
 

Mitsui2

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To put this in context, I first read the Malleus in a paperback edition in something like 1978 - not sure if it was a banned book, but I got it in that place at the Stephens Green entrance of the Dandelion Market that kept its thought-provoking (so usually banned) books in a curtained niche. That was a great little outlet at a time when the major Dublin bookshops hesitated to stock even no-longer-officially-banned books lest Holy Ireland might notice.

I've had the book in some form or fashion ever since, which was no mean achievement in Dublin in pre-internet days - there was an (I think) Arrow paperback that turned up occasionally in Banba bookshops (god bless their memory) back in the day, and I had two or three of those. It was a book that people borrowed and didn't give back, because they put it on their bookshelves as a claim to some obscure kind of cool (god help us!).

My current copy is an inherited, well-thumbed 1960s Folio Society edition that was formerly the property of a rather snooty would-be Satanist of the sort that wasn't entirely uncommon among the decayed "gintry" in the latter half of the 20th century - an acquaintance I valued highly for her wonderful wit and hilarious gossip about the great and good (with whom she was well connected, the connection being due more to their peasant regard for her bloodline rather than any fondness she may have had for the sort of folk she insisted on regarding - and who am I to say she was wrong? - as counterjumping gombeens). Her daughter gave it to me after her ma died.

It's a gas book, which speaks with the eternally certain voice of the RCC: the one it still uses about some stuff, but will (on the historical evidence) frantically explain away once it's changed its mind on yet more eternal verities - "the Church has never really been against women priests - of course not!" &c.

The book's purpose was to prove beyond doubt that those who doubted the reality of witchcraft were damnably wrong, and to this end its authors, Kramer and Sprenger, collected a body of "evidence" that ranged from the silly to what was hopefully even at the time identifiable as barking mad - though the story about witches buiding giant nests in trees in which they gathered the stolen cocks of men is possibly still secretly believed by TA and some of the other more extreme RC types one sees hereabouts (I kid you not, drummed - see Journal of Folklore Research: The flying phallus and the laughing inquisitor: penis theft in the Malleus Maleficarum http://http://www.accessmylibrary.com/article-1G1-87146072/flying-phallus-and-laughing.html.

The reputation of the Malleus as some kind of sinister book on a par with Lovecraft's imaginary Necronomicon is due to its use in horror stories/movies. Its use by inquisitors to question suspects under torture about witchcraft is far more sinister than any of the mad sh1te in the book itself. It pululates with the innate RC hatred of women and sexuality, but if you enjoy horsesh1t it's actually a highly entertaining read.
 
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Dame_Enda

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The Catholic Church should apologise for its role in the witch-trials via the Inquisition.
 

drummed

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The Catholic Church should apologise for its role in the witch-trials via the Inquisition.
The Spanish inquisition cautioned against using The Hammer as a source of information regarding witchcraft. The Protestant churches were not exactly slow in lighting up the odd fire themselves so its not a catholic issue alone. Its an issue that organised religion has to find a source of scapegoats in order to justify its existence and purpose. For centuries women were the victims, in more recent times attention has turned to other religions as persecuting women and setting them on fire went out of fashion.

Religion by its very nature is the primary source of the centuries old and ongoing maltreatment of women.
 

Dame_Enda

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The Spanish inquisition cautioned against using The Hammer as a source of information regarding witchcraft
Not until 1538 and even then it wasn't exactly a denunciation of everything in the book:
wikipedia said:
In 1538 the Spanish Inquisition cautioned its members not to believe everything the Malleus said, even when it presented apparently firm evidence.[41]
 

drummed

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Well ok, some of what's in it is fairly remarkable i guess (as has been outlined by Mitsui) so even the zealots were having doubts by 1538. Kramer appears to have been a deranged crank and even the clergy of the day could see that.

He'd make a first rate poster on here if he was still around.:)
 

Narcissist

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The title of this thread misled me into thinking Margaret Thatcher was bringing out an instructional DIY video.
 
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Tea Party Patriot

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Quite interesting to see that Googling misogynistic atheists bring ups 1,190,000 hits with an awful lot of articles to choose from.

Of course atheism wouldn't have a history of violence on a par with the inquisition, but then it is by and large a rather modern concept (with the exception of a brief period in ancient Greece).

I think the real answer is that women have suffered from misogny in every walk of life in the past and that religion is only one area of many where this happened. That is not to say that there isn't misogyny in religion but religion cannot be the sole cause of misogyny.

Of course religion by its nature being largely conservative is slow to move and therefore there would be more vestiges of historical misogyny remaining in religion than in secular life, where lets be honest women haven't even marked the centenary of obtaining the right to vote yet.
 
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ocianain

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The Catholic Church should apologise for its role in the witch-trials via the Inquisition.
To which Inquisition do you refer? There were no witch trials in the Spanish as the Inquisition did not recognize the existance of withes; claimed they were mentally ill. While on the topic of the Spanish Inquisition, do you know people blasphemed in civil court to get the case transferred to the Inquisitional court? Higher evdentiary standards and all that. Also, in the 360 years of the SI approx 2000 to 2500 people were executed. See, Kamen and Netanyahu.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_revision_of_the_Inquisition

http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/history/world/wh0008.html
 
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drummed

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Quite interesting to see that Googling misogynistic atheists bring ups 1,190,000 hits with an awful lot of articles to choose from.

Of course atheism wouldn't have a history of violence on a par with the inquisition, but then it is by and large a rather modern concept (with the exception of a brief period in ancient Greece).

I think the real answer is that women have suffered from misogny in every walk of life in the past and that religion is only one area of many where this happened. That is not to say that there isn't misogyny in religion but religion cannot be the sole cause of misogyny.

In fairness the above sounds more like a heart felt hope lacking much conviction than any sort of alternative theory. I think religion has always been the chief cause and remains so today. It has been the main factor in determining womens role in society for a very long time now. If not religion you will need another theory.
 

drummed

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To which Inquisition do you refer? There were no witch trials in the Spanish as the Inquisition did not recognize the existance of withes; claimed they were mentally ill. While on the topic of the Spanish Inquisition, do you know people blasphemed in civil court to get the case transferred to the Inquisitional court? Higher evdentiary standards and all that. Also, in the 360 years of the SI approx 2000 to 2500 people were executed. See, Kamen and Netanyahu.
How many were female and do you think the executions were just?
 

Tea Party Patriot

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In fairness the above sounds more like a heart felt hope lacking much conviction than any sort of alternative theory. I think religion has always been the chief cause and remains so today. It has been the main factor in determining womens role in society for a very long time now. If not religion you will need another theory.
My own theory is that "when might was right" in most cultures women didn't have the same strength to swing a sword, drawn a 100lb bow, or stand behind a spear in a phalanx. This cultural imprint took a long time to evolve beyond this.
 

drummed

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My own theory is that "when might was right" in most cultures women didn't have the same strength to swing a sword, drawn a 100lb bow, or stand behind a spear in a phalanx. This cultural imprint took a long time to evolve beyond this.
We're still waiting if you ask me.
 

ocianain

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How many were female and do you think the executions were just?
I don't know how many were female.

I would assume most were just, that is comported to the contemporary standards of justice. I expect you believe they Inquisition should of conformed to early 21st century standards of justice? As should then contemporary Spanish society? Abortion on demand and all that?
 

Mitsui2

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The Spanish inquisition cautioned against using The Hammer as a source of information regarding witchcraft. The Protestant churches were not exactly slow in lighting up the odd fire themselves so its not a catholic issue alone. Its an issue that organised religion has to find a source of scapegoats in order to justify its existence and purpose. For centuries women were the victims, in more recent times attention has turned to other religions as persecuting women and setting them on fire went out of fashion.

Religion by its very nature is the primary source of the centuries old and ongoing maltreatment of women.
The great mythographer Joseph Campbell attributed many of the excesses of religion (and of the Middle-East-derived monotheistic religions in particular) to the mistaking of Heroic or Poetic Truth (in which their holy books were written) for literal Truth - i.e. basically the mistaking of metaphor for fact...as though you took phrases such as "If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out" literally, and actually popped the bloody thing out whenever the appropriate circumstances arose. Statements such as "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" were, alas, taken the same way.

Taken as metaphor the great religious statements - from many, many religions, famous and obscure - sort of chime with one another and suggest bigger truths that mere language was not built to convey; but taken as facts their myths often lead to folks being stoned, burned and tortured.

So-called Christians who rail against Muslim stonings, etc, tend to ignore the place of such events in their own history - a place that might still be central except for the secular social advances for which some of the nominal Christians one sees hereabouts express such loathing... e.g.the historical process which results in people such as themselves being literate in the first place. Attitudes to literacy were from the first one of the great defining divides between Protestantism and the RCC, the latter seeing popular literacy as a direct threat.

Similarly, one has seen posts here railing against modern technology from people who seem blithely unaware that they are using what is still the most cutting edge form of same to publicise their puerile rantings in the first place.

In the end the Christian loathing of women can really only be seen as originating - in terms of popularisation at least - with Paul. The magician Aleister Crowley, who wrote with some insight on the historical figure of Jesus (collected in the book Crolwey on Christ) insisted that the religion known as "Christianity" should really be called "Paulianity"), which is a definiteky arguable position. It would be simply unimaginable that it had an origin in the Gospel Jesus, who was so close to so many women when his male disciples give such evidence of being often so obtuse. And Paul's dislike would in turn seem to have been - apart from his traditional OT mistrust of the female - a reaction to his own frequent dependence on them - to be, in short, one of those typical resentful "guy" things.
 

Tea Party Patriot

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I don't know how many were female.

I would assume most were just, that is comported to the contemporary standards of justice. I expect you believe they Inquisition should of conformed to early 21st century standards of justice? As should then contemporary Spanish society? Abortion on demand and all that?
The main thrust of the Spanish inquisition was targeted against Jews and Conversos (Jews or Muslims who converted to Christianity), I don't think the persecution of anyone's religion could be considered "just".
 

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