The Sword
     Untitled
The Cabiri Chronicles
     Life of a History
     Under the Hood
     Hunger

     Balancing Act

     I was just acting!
     Lucifer as a Player
     Player Types Defined
     Railroading
     LARP Boredom
     LARP Survival

     Economics in D&D 3.5

     Sept 11, 2002
     Columbia Disaster

     A Letter of Vocation
     Evidence of Evil
     In Defense of a Reflection

     A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
     Hello
 

          Author's Comments: I still have several essays that I wrote in college, but this one was fairly significant to my spiritual development.  It caused a great deal of soul-searching on my part, which continues to this day.


Evidence of Evil
the legal torture of witches in our history
December 1, 1994

          "If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, entices you secretly, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods,' which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples that are round about you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him; but you shall kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
                                  -- Deuteronomy 13:6 to 13:10 (God, c. 1250 B.C.)

          "If there is found among you, within any of your towns which the Lord your God gives you, a man or woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord yourGod, in trangressing his covenant, and has gone and served othe rgods and worshipped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, which I haveforbidden, and it is told you and you hear of it; then you shall inquire diligently, and if it is true and certain that such an abominable thing has been done in Israel, then you shall bridge forth to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and you shall stone that man or woman to death with stones. On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses he that is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from the midst of you."
                                  -- Deuteronomy 17:2 to 17:7 (God, c. 1250 B.C.)

          "You shall not permit a sorceress to live."
                                  -- Exodus 22:18 (God, c. 1250 B.C.)

          Some philosophers claim that there is an innate need for people to hate. It is hatred that easiest solidifies a nation of people, and it is hatred that permits people to commit unspeakable acts against fellow human beings. Moslims hated jews, the Irish hated the English, Hitler hated jews, the colonists hated native Americans, the Catholics hated the jews (poor jews); hatred can even grow out of something as meaningless as different economic systems. One factor that often comes up when hatred is examined more closely is simple, human jealousies of power, either real or perceived. One such hatred of perceived power is important, if not essential, to Christian belief throughout most of its history. Lucifer, Ol' Scratch, Puck, or simply 'the Devil' has haunted Christian philosophy for what many Christians believe was the beginning of mankind. It is this "Adversary" (a rough translation of "Satan" from the Hebrew) that has been the foil of all mankind (and especially womankind) since Eve's tooth first pierced that forbidden apple. Many Christians, knowing that they could not dream of truly defeating a former arch-angel, sought to seek out and destroy that evil's servants that, they believed, walked among them. Perhaps the most famous persecution of these servants, or witches, occured in Salem, Massachusettes of 1692, but such attrocities also occurred in Spain and England, with the same amount of fervor, if not more, among people of a religious philosophy that was very different from those Purtians in Salem. What follows is an examination of the physical torment these people that occurred in the righteous man's obeyance of religious doctrine.
          When a young sprite or old hag was brought before to be judged, there were certain methods used to determine if an individual was a witch. Obviously, one could not simply ask someone who debauched themselves in wild orgies with many-horned demons to make their statement of innocence under something as malleable as an oath.
          Examination of the body of the accused was one means to discover evidence of evil. One such evidence was the closeness of a person's eyebrows. One 1579 source[1] suggested that someone ". . . hath obserued in olde Women being Wytches, which were ledde to be burned, whose eye browes were such. (sic)" Even as recent as 1895, it was written that "Those who have the eyebrows met are witches and warlocks."[2] (Opie & Tatem, 1989). Of course, there was also the ill-placed mole or wart to determine if a person was a witch. An 1889 author[3] wrote that ". . . A mole 'abeen [above] the breath' in a woman shows she is a witch." (Opie & Tatem, 1989). Even in our own beloved Virginia, the search for the witch's teat, as it was called, was utilized for evidence. In 1706, Grace Sherwood was ". . . テarched again 'by five antient Weamen, who all declared on Oath, yt ピhe is not like them, nor no other Woman yt they knew of; having two Things like Titts on her private Parts, of a black coller, being blacker then ye Reフ of her Body.'" (Drake, 1869). It was believed that this particular mark, if pricked, would not bleed (Boothe, 1975). It would seem, at least, our zealots were well-informed on their Shakespeare. The practice, it would seem, was based in the medieval belief that the soul was carried in the blood of a mortal, and that those areas suckled by the devil would not draw blood, or even pain, from their carriers. In England, people were specially trained to insert long needles three inches into a person's 'teat', while that person was blindfolded. If the person felt the pain, the teat was obviously a natural blemish. Some trials even mirrored a scene in Monty Python's Holy Grail, where the witch was weighed against a Bible, to see who was heavier[4] (Boothe, 1975).
          Trial by ordeal, similar to the medieval trials by combat, were also utilized. The belief was the God directly affected the outcome of the trials, and he enlightened the righteous accuser as to nature of the accused. Luckily, some were merely verbal tests. During a Scottish witchcraft trial[5], the accused was ordered to say her prayers. If she stumbled on any word, she would be admitting her guilt as a witch, and two stumbles would result in her execution. (Opie & Tatem, 1989). One woman, in a case observed and reported by Cotton Mather, could not ". . . possibly avoid making nonsense of it [the Lord's prayer]. . ." Unfortunately, it seems that the woman, a Goody Glover, only spoke Irish. (Booth, 1975). Other tests, however, were more deadly. Pliny wrote[6], in 77 AD, that an enchanter ". . . will not sink in water, even though weighed down by their garments . . ." (Opie & Tatem, 1989). The idea that a witch would not sink in water was also reaffirmed by either King James I or Matthew Hopkins[7], who claimed that "'. . . as ブch Perバns have renounced their Baptiノ by Water, バ the Water refuテs to receive them.'" Some wise citizens of Hartford, Connecticut, decided to test out this theory in 1662. They took a couple accused of witchcraft and tossed them, bound, into a river. They floated "'. . . after the Manner of a Buoy.'" (Drake, 1869). In the Town of Barkhamsted, in Hereford, England, in 1751, a woman was ducked to determine her guilt or innocent. She died in the trial, and a man (presumably one who had ducked her, or perhaps one who had accused her) was executed as a result (Draek, 1869). There is even a place that is, to this day, referred to as Witch Duck pond, where the aforementioned Grace Sherwood was supposed to be ducked in her trial of sinking or swimming[8]. It was also believed that forcing the accused's hands into boiling water was an adequate test; if their hands had not become burned or scalded by the water, obviously, their skin had been hardened by their visitations to Hell. It was also believed that a witch could only cry three tears from her left eye, and the accused were sometimes watched very carefully, so they could not put spittle on their faces.
          There were, of course, many things that the accused might have done that constituted Witchery. In 1486, in a work entitled Malleus Maleficarum[9], an individual was told that a witch could bewitch a person's cow if she was lent some milk from that cow, and that the only way to remove the hex was for the owner of the cow to borrow butter from the witch and, slicing the butter into three parts and invoking the name of the Holy Trinity, dump the butter into a churn full of that cow's butter (Opie & Tatem, 1989). It was suggested in a work entitled The Athenaeum[10] that a witch, while putting an 'evil eye' on someone, would stare into the coals of a fire and picture the evil that he or she would bring to someone. Thus, it followed that ". . . a person seen musing with his eyes fixed upon the fire is looked upon with great suspicion." (Opie & Tatem, 1989). During a Scottish witchcraft trial3, the witch was accused of cutting ". . . the hair of Robert Munro, your brotheris heid, and plait the naillis of his fingeris, and tais, socht be their devilisch meanis to half cureit him of his seiknes." (Opie & Tatem, 1989). In a manuscript of the Ely Diocesan Records11, a woman is accused of having said her prayers backwards, much ". . . to her infame and greate disgrace . . ." (Opie & Tatem, 1989). Even native Americans were not immune to the accusations of witchraft. In 1675, the General Court of Connecticut, in a set of laws created for the government of the Pequot tribe, proclaimed that "'Whoバver ドall Powau or vテ Witchcraft, or any Worドip of the Devill, or any fals Gods, ドall be convented and puniドed.'" (Drake, 1869). The Indians of New England seemed to have even gotten their own name for the devil, listed in 1653, in the town of New Haven, as Hobbamock (Drake, 1869). One Hugh Parsons, of Springfield, Connecticut, in the mid seventeenth century, was accused of bewitching a pudding, sharpening saws at night, making a light appear in a woman's room, torturing said woman, appearing as a dog, bewitching Moxon's children, bewitching a brick maker, causing a girl to have fits, drying up a cow, stealing a knife without touching it, bewitching his own child, dreaming of a fight with the devil, bewitching a trowel, bewitching a beer barrel, bewitching another pudding, bewitching one Sarah Miller, bewitching one Goody Stebbing, frightening horses, betwitching bags of meal, and bewitching William Branch (Drake, 1869). One wonders how our evil Mister Parsons had time to eat and sleep.
          When[11] the accused was found guilty of his or her crime, death was usually the result. A 1642 statute in Connecticut Colony stated clearly that "'Yf any Man or Woman be a Witch, that is, hath or conブlteth with a Familiar Spirit, they ドall be put to death.'" (Drake, 1869). Most of the trials described by Drake ended with the hanging of the accused. Death, however, was not always the end for one accused of consorting with the forces of Evil. In 1652, in the New England town of Ipswich, ". . . a Man was テntenced to be whipt, or to pay twenty Shillings 'for having familiarity with the Devil'". It was determined that this man, a known magician, had seen the devil in his dreams, and had been told to build a bridge over the sea; unfortunately, he told others of his ludicrous dream, and they accused him of consorting with the Devil (Drake, 1869).
          In 1736, the English government determined that a trial of someone for witchcraft was illegal. It was not until 1768, however, that Rhode Island finally removed its sentence of execution for witchery from its law books (Boothe, 1975). However, it was not until 1951 that the Witchcraft Act was finally repealed by the British Parliament, to be replaced with the Fraudulent Mediums Act. However, there is still a certain stigma surrounding witches and witchcraft trials. Most people concerned about witches have either joined a popular sub-culture or could rank themselves among the religious zealots of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Televangelists lead the 'crusade' against modern witches, going even so far as to accuse games as teachers of witchcraft[12]. Though we have succeeded in condemning the paranoid murder of people based on such superstitious accusations, we may never completely remove those elements from society who can move a crowd to such atrocities.

Endnotes
          1 The source is entitled Thousand Notable Things, of Sundry Sortes, and was written by Thoman Lupton.
          2 The work, entitled Denham Tracts, was authored by J. Hardy.
          3 The work, entitled The Folk-Lore Record, was published in five volumes, and was the journal of the Folklore Society.
          4 In Holy Grail, a woman, accused of being a witch because of the false nose and hat placed on her by villagers, was weighed against a duck to see who was heavier, after a long comparative discussion. She was discovered to weight the same, and was burned.
          5 The source of the quote and paraphrase was from Criminal Trials in Scotland, from AD 1488 to AD 1624 . . . compiled from the original records and MSS, written by Robert Pitcairn. Both trials (or perhaps 'the' is more appropriate, the references were under two different headings) mentioned took place in 1590.
          6 Matthew Hopkins was renowned in Essex, England, for his talents as a witch-hunter. He was empowered by the crown to search out witches and try them.
          7 Mention is made of this case (which took place in 1712) in Drake's work, but I have left it uncited, as the fact was mentioned several times in class. The cite was located by Drake as an inlet of Lynnhaven Bay, in Princess Anne county.
          8 My novice attempts to translate the title of this work suggest that it's title means Hammer of Ill-Deeds. Admittedly, this draws little understanding on the exact purpose of the work. Certainly, a more learned scholar of late Medieval and early Renaissance Latin could provide a more apt translation. The original work is listed as being written by Sprenger, J., & Kramer, H. and translated in 1928 by Montague Summers.
          9 It is unclear exactly when this work was written. The authors have it listed as 1846, but it is suggested that it may have been written in 1299. The title, directly translated, means Athenian. The work contained articles and correspondence on folklore, and it may have been a periodical, and the mention of the number 1299 a volume or issue number.
          10 The manuscript, held by the University Library of Cambridge, is dated 1619.
          11 The use of the word 'when' instead of 'if' was intentional. The accused was rarely found innocent of witchcraft.
          12 I am referring to the role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons, of which I have thoroughly enjoyed (along with its fellow role-playing games) for the last nine years. I am, admittedly, a bit biased against those who would accuse me of witchery.

Works Cited
          Booth, Sally Smith, The Witches of Early America. Hastings House: New York, 1975.
          Drake, Samual G, Annals of Witchcraft in New England. Boston; 1869. Reissued by Benjamin Bloom, Inc.: New York; 1967.
          God, The Bible. Mt. Sinai; 1250 B.C. The books quoted were translated and perhaps edited first by Moses, but have seen many editors since. The version utilized for the quotes was the Concordance.
          Opie, Iona, and Tatem, Moira, Ed., A Dictionary of Superstitions. Oxford University Press: Oxford; 1989.
          Many sources were used in the compilation of this work, and the reader is referred to the endnotes for the original sources of this material.