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Witchy Witchy - Personal Essay

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I am a witch, now please kill me! Many innocent women happily welcomed death by confessing to witchcraft in order to end their excruciating torture during the witch hunt craze between 1450 and 1750. Since many records were lost, destroyed or never kept, the best estimation of the total deaths is several million (4). The main cause of the witch hunts was the Church inflicting fear upon the common and educated man by lying to them about what witches do and who they are. The Church also directly and indirectly increased the pain that accused women would go through during their torture. The Church made it clear, to all those who would listen, that all women were evil and capable of witchcraft. "The Bible's Apocrypha states, Ð''Of woman came the beginning of sin / And thanks to her, we all must die.'(Apocrypha, Ecclesiasticus 25:13-26.)" (2). Vicious comments like this caused even women themselves to fear what other women may do. This fear only lead to the distrust of woman. A book written by two German men, titled Malleus Maleficarum, "The Hammer of Witches", only furthered peoples fear of women's evil. It states that women are more likely to become witches: "Ð''Because the female sex is more concerned with things of the flesh then men; because being formed from a man's rib, they are only Ð''imperfect animals' and Ð''crooked' where as man belongs to a privileged sex from whose midst Christ emerged.'(Malleus Maleficarum, 1486)"(2). The men that wrote Malleus Maleficarum refer to the bible for reasons to why they consider women evil, so if the Church had never incorporated such things into the bible such things may have never been thought. Many ancient myths portrayed goddess's as evil. Consequently those images of evil were kept and later attached to witches who kept goddess worship alive centuries later (4). Even devotion to the Virgin Mary (who is the biological mother of Jesus) was considered an indication of evil (2). One women, named Aldonca de Vargas, was even reported just for smiling at the mention of the Virgin Mary (Henry Kamen, Inquisition and Society in Spain) (2). Once a women was accused of witchcraft she would first have to confess in order to be executed. The torturing of accused women was so unbelievably horrid and sadistic that you would think a man of low standing would be the one to carry it out, but sadly it was the men of educated positions such as bishops, judges, professors and others. By doing the torture themselves it set them in a position of fear throughout the community and it is even said that "after the execution of a wealthy witch, officials [would treat] themselves to a banquet at the expense of the victim's estate. (Barbara Walker)"(2). All of the victim's estate became the property of the government as soon as they were accused. The torture was done in such a businesslike fashion that the relatives were charged for the victims torture and death (4). They were charged for such things as the "ropes that bound them and the wood that burned them. (Barbara Walker)."(2). Some methods of torturing the accused witches into confessing were thumbscrews, whips, red-hot tongs, and the rack, this lead to there bones being crushed, limbs severed and flesh seared. After being locked up and tortured for days on end, most women would confess in order to die and some would also accuse neighbors and friends hoping to end their own pain (4). Another method of determining the guilt of the accused was to stab needles into her eyes and if an insensitive spot was found then she was considered guilty. A Spanish church even went as far as to conform a statue of the Virgin Mary into a device of torture. They did this by covering the front side of the statue with sharp knives and nails, then they used levers to make the arms of the statue crush the accused against the knives and nails (Jean Plaidy, The Spanish Inquisition) (2). Men would also brutally attack the breasts and genitals of accused witches if they became sexually aroused around her, because it was thought that the Ð''witch' caused them to be. They attacked the breasts and genitals with pincers, red-hot irons and pliers (2). The Churches not only condoned all method's of witch torture but some church members would even perform the torture themselves. A bishop of Wurtzburg was proud to claim the lives of 1900 witchcraft accused people in five years (2). "Churchmen portrayed the healing woman as the most evil of all witches. William Perkins declared, Ð''The most horrible and detestable monsterÐ' the good witch.'" (2). The Church declared this because they believe that God should be the only one to heal and consequently anyone who was found with herbal oils or ointments could be charged with witchcraft. Midwives were most often thought to be witches because of their knowledge of herbs to relieve labor pains. The Church thought it was a sin to help ease a women's labor pains because of God's sentence



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