Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Halloween Witch

Photo by "Me"

Merry Meet Friends and Lurkers:

A friend of mine posted this on her website (Thank you, Prissy) In reading it, I was struck with profound sadness when I realized that this could quite possibly be an accurate account of how the classical Halloween Witch came to be. This actually happened, folks. Both women and men endured this kind of appalling treatment in the name of...well, all that was "Holy". It's an interesting read for the open-minded.

The Halloween Witch

Each year they parade her about, the traditional Halloween Witch. Misshapen green face, stringy scraps of hair, a toothless mouth beneath her deformed nose. Gnarled knobby fingers twisted into a claw protracting from a bent and twisted torso that lurches about on wobbly legs. Most think this abject image to be the creation of aprejudiced mind or merely a Halloween caricature. I disagree, I believe this to be how Witches were really seen. Consider that most Witches were women, were abducted in the night, and smuggled into dungeons or prisons under the secrecy of darkness to be presented by light of day as a confessed Witch. Few if any saw a frightened normal looking woman being dragged into a secret room filled with instruments of torture, to be questioned until she confessed to anything suggested to her and to give names or what ever would stop the questions. Crowds saw the aberration denounced to the world as a self-proclaimed Witch. As the Witch was paraded through town en route to be burned, hanged, drowned, stoned or disposed of in various other forms of Christian love all created to free and save her soul from her depraved body, the jeering crowds viewed the results of hours of torture. The face bruised and broken by countless blows bore a hue of sickly green. The once warm and loving smile gone replaced by a grimace of broken teeth and torn gums that leers beneath a battered disfigured nose. The dishevelled hair conceals bleeding gaps of torn scalp from whence cruel hands had torn away the lovely tresses. Broken twisted hands clutched the wagon for support, fractured fingers with nails torn away locked like groping claws to steady her broken body. All semblance of humanity gone this was truly a demon, a bride of Satan, a Witch. I revere this Halloween Crone and hold her sacred above all. I honour her courage and listen to her warnings of the dark side of man. Each year I shed tears of respect when the mundane exhibit their symbol of Christian love.

Author: angel © 6-26-99Petals & Thornspoetry by angel © 1993 - 1999


Carol said...

Yes, I agree this is the way they looked after the extreme torture.

this went on for centuries and people actually enjoyed seeing them suffer - especially the christians!!!!!!!!!!!

Tracy said...

Well, the thing one has to keep in mind was the climate of the day. I think the majority of what occurred was based in fear with a little greed, jealous and anger thrown in for good measure.

People were afraid of what they didn't understand. They acted on what they were being told. A lot of which (no pun intended) was propaganda to service whomever was going to benefit from it at the time. They were afraid of repercussions from their God, their Church and their community.

Tracy said...

Here's a alternative view:

The Burning Times
or the More Persecuted than Thou Syndrome

The Burning Times is a Wiccan term referring to the witch persecutions in Europe during the late medieval and renaissance periods. According to the theory, Christian witch-hunters were in fact attempting to root out practitioners of older pagan religions. The stories of Satanic worship was simply a rouse to convince the masses of the necessity of putting these people down or, at best, the result of confusion and miscommunication. The fact that women were targeted almost exclusively is a result of the fact that these pagan religions held women in much higher esteem and were generally considered the caretakers of magical and divine knowledge.

Not only is the myth of the Burning Times false, it's disrepectful to the real victims of the witch-persecutions who were at first heretics and then were generally Christians unfortunate enough to be swept up in a hysteria that swept half a continent. None of the victims were Wiccan - the religion did not exist at the time. Few, if any, had any knowledge of pagan religion. Worse, some Wiccans have taken up such slogans as "Never forget, never again" (originally used by Jews in reference to the Holocaust) and spout hugely exaggerated numbers in an attempt to win the Most Persecuted Group in History Award.

Nine million lives were claimed by the Burning Times
This number originated with Matilda Gage in the 19th century and has been repeated time and time again in an example of how even good writers can repeat stupid things. We speak out about hysteria and about how fallacy becomes accepted as fact when it's repeated often enough, yet that is exactly what we're promoting. History writers put the numbers squarely between 40,000 and 100,000, based upon trial records and taking into consideration that not all records have survived or were even taken in the frist place. Is a "mere" 40,000 lives not tragical enough?

This is the heart of the More Persecuted than Thou Syndrome. If nine million of "us" were really killed, that puts us above even the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust. And some people think that gives them permission to approach the rest of the world with a chip on their shoulder, because the world owes them something.

Those persecuted were Wiccans (or at least pagans), not worshippers of the Devil.
The Wiccan argument can simply be ended with the fact that Wicca didn't exist in the time of the witch-persecutions. So let's discuss instead the related argument that those persecuted were pagans, not worshippers of the Devil.

I'm always astounded by the number of people who can't seem to comprehend that those persecuted could have been neither. We are willing to claim that pagans were being wrongly accused of worshipping Satan, but we can't accept that it was simply Christians who were being wrongly accused of worshipping Satan.

The witch-trials didn't begin until more than a millenia after the founding of Christianity. If the Church found these supposed pagans to be such a threat, they sure took their time in dealing with them.

The trials have their origins in the persecution of heresy that mostly just got way out of control, in large part because of the destabilzation Europe was suffering at the time. The Hundred Years War was killing people by the thousands, as was the Black Death. People needed a scapegoat, and that scapegoat became the mythical witch. The simple fact is in areas where things were more stable, especially on the religious front, the witch-hunts were far less hysterical.

The persecutions targeted women.
Yes, and no. Most of the victims were indeed women, and being a woman certainly made you a suspect. But that is not to say that the point of the persecutions was to destroy women. The point of the persecutions was to destroy witches, but there were reasons why they thought women were more likely to be witches than men, and the reasons extend far beyond simple misogyny. For more infomation, read the Women and Witchcraft and Witches and Saints.

And on a final historical note, stop talking about those poor witches burned at Salem. No one was burned at Salem. One was pressed to death; the rest were hanged.

Carol said...

wow Tracy you really get down to the real nitty gritty. well being hanged is better than burning at the stake!!!

I will check out the Witches and Saints sounds interesting.

Carol said...

does this mean that I have to feel sorry for christians! LOL LOL

Tracy said...

You can try Carol.

Just keepin' it real }:)