Ancient Mysteries Witches/Goblins/Evil Witch-Cult in Western Europe

Witch-Cult in Western Europe

Witch-Cult in Western Europe
Catalog # SKU3200
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Margaret Alice Murray
ISBN 10: 1610335546
ISBN 13: 9781610335546
 
$21.95
Quantity

Description

The
Witch-Cult
in Western Europe


A Study
In Anthropology

Large Print


by
Margaret Alice Murray

The sources from which the information is taken are the judicial records and contemporary chroniclers. In the case of the chroniclers I have studied their facts and not their opinions. I have also had access to some unpublished trials among the Edinburgh Justiciary Records and also in the Guernsey Greffe. Large print 15 point font.

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Excerpt:

The subject of Witches and Witchcraft has always suffered from the biassed opinions of the commentators, both contemporary and of later date. On the one hand are the writers who, having heard the evidence at first hand, believe implicitly in the facts and place upon them the unwarranted construction that those facts were due to supernatural power; on the other hand are the writers who, taking the evidence on hearsay and disbelieving the conclusions drawn by their opponents, deny the facts in toto. Both parties believed with equal firmness in a personal Devil, and both supported their arguments with quotations from the Bible. But as the believers were able to bring forward more texts than the unbelievers and had in their hands an unanswerable argument in the Witch of Endor, the unbelievers, who dared not contradict the Word of God, were forced to fall back on the theory that the witches suffered from hallucination, hysteria, and, to use the modern word, 'auto-suggestion'. These two classes still persist, the sceptic predominating. Between the believer who believed everything and the unbeliever who disbelieved everything there has been no critical examination of the evidence, which presents a new and untouched field of research to the student of comparative religion.

Among the believers in witchcraft everything which could not be explained by the knowledge at their disposal was laid to the credit of supernatural powers; and as everything incomprehensible is usually supposed to emanate from evil, the witches were believed to be possessed of devilish arts. As also every non-Christian God was, in the eyes of the Christian, the opponent of the Christian God, the witches were considered to worship the Enemy of Salvation, in other words, the Devil. The greater number of these writers, however, obtained the evidence at first hand, and it must therefore be accepted although the statements do not bear the construction put upon them. It is only by a careful comparison with the evidence of anthropology that the facts fall into their proper places and an organized religion stands revealed.

The common beliefs as to the powers of the witches are largely due to the credulous contemporary commentators, who misunderstood the evidence and then exaggerated some of the facts to suit their preconceived ideas of the supernatural powers of the witches; thereby laying themselves open to the ridicule of all their opponents, past and present. Yet the ridicule is not fully deserved, for the facts are there, though the explanation is wrong; for even the two points, which are usually considered the ultimate proof of the absurdity and incredibility of the whole system-the flying on a broomstick through the window or up the chimney, and the transformation into animals-are capable of explanation. The first can be accounted for when the form of early mound-dwellings is taken into consideration, and when it is remembered that among savage tribes there are often taboos connected with the door, the two-faced god being essentially a deity of the door. Besides this the fertility rites connected with the broom should be taken into account. The second should be compared with similar accounts of transformation into animals among the cults of other nations. Mr. A. B. Cook's comment on the Greek ritual applies quite as well to Western as to Eastern Europe: 'We may venture on the general statement that within the bounds of Hellenic mythology animal-metamorphosis commonly points to a preceding animal cult.'

It is interesting to note the class of mind among those contemporary writers who believed in the reality of the facts confessed at the trials as compared with those who disbelieved. It will be seen that the most brilliant minds, the keenest intellects, the greatest investigators, were among the believers: Bodin, Lord Bacon, Raleigh, Boyle, Cudworth, Selden, Henry More, Sir Thomas Browne, Matthew Hale, Sir George Mackenzie, and many others, most of whom had heard the evidence at first hand. The sceptics were Weyer, pupil of the occultist Cornelius Agrippa; Reginald Scot, a Kentish country squire; Filmer, whose name was a byword for political bigotry; Wagstaffe, who went mad from drink; and Webster, a fanatical preacher.2 The sceptics, with the exception of Weyer, appear to have had little or no first-hand evidence; their only weapon was an appeal to common sense and sentiment combined; their only method was a flat denial of every statement which appeared to point to supernatural powers.

They could not disprove the statements; they could not explain them without opposing the accepted religious beliefs of their time, and so weakening their cause by exposing themselves to the serious charge of atheism; therefore they denied evidence which in the case of any other accusation would have been accepted as proof.

The evidence which I now bring forward is taken entirely from contemporary sources, i.e. the legal records of the trials, pamphlets giving accounts of individual witches, and the works of Inquisitors and other writers. I have omitted the opinions of the authors, and have examined only the recorded facts, without however including the stories of ghosts and other 'occult' phenomena with which all the commentators confuse the subject. I have also, for the reason given below, omitted all reference to charms and spells when performed by one witch alone, and have confined myself to those statements only which show the beliefs, organization, and ritual of a hitherto unrecognized cult.




400 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover
ISBN-10: 1610335546
ISBN-13: 9781610335546

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