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Working on The Notes

We’ve been tweaking the web site of late to make every aspect of it more useful to casual readers as well as researchers. One point of contention for a while has been the embedded Note links, which have traditionally pointed to the original straight HTML files we first uploaded in 1999 instead of being part of the WordPress content management system we currently used.

Please bear with us as we work to upgrade the Notes. We’ve noticed that not all of them display correctly on mobile devices. Which, honestly, is a bit of a surprise to us. I mean, they’re ancient files (relatively speaking), but they were still just old-school HTML files with no formatting or style sheets.

We’ll figure it out. And we’ll get it done. In the meantime, we’re sorry for any inconvenience. It may take some time to straighten all of these notes out because there are so many of them. We haven’t decided whether we’re going to configure them as WordPress pages or if we’re going to leave them as individual HTML files with a shared Style Sheet.

I’m on it.

~ Wicasta

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Accused Witch Beaten to Death in La Libertad, Peru

A 68-year-old accused witch in the La Libertad region of Peru was beaten to death by a group of citizen patrol members who call themselves “ronderos”. The group is reported to have killed the woman because they suspected she was using black magic to kill her own son.

The Lima, Peru newspaper La Republica reports that the woman, Elesmira Zárate, was held by the ronderos for two days and underwent punishment which included physical abuse and being forced to walk for very long distances. Her kneeling body was found in the town of Pichimpampa, after the victim’s family asked for assistance from the local district attorney’s office to retrieve her remains for burial.

The body was taken to a nearby morgue for examination. According to RPP Noticias, investigators found many injuries on the woman’s abdomen, as well as marks on her neck which indicated that she had been choked. Bruises found on her legs, RPP reported, may indicate that Elesmira Zárate was tortured before dying.

Local legal authorities have ordered the arrest of three of the ronderos who are suspected to have been involved in Zárate’s death. RPP reports that the ronderos maintain the woman died from a pre-existing illness and not because of any physical punishments inflicted by the group.

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Witchcraft And Women’s Rights In Nepal

Woman Thrashed in Nepal for WitchcraftLahan, Nepal: As incidents of women facing inhuman treatment and torture on charges of witchcraft continues unabated across Nepal, a conference of women rights activists underscored the need for endorsing the country’s proposed anti-witchcraft bill at the earliest.

The conference, which included women’s rights activists from five districts of the eastern region, was held in Lahan and demanded that the first meeting of the Nepalese Constituent Assembly should endorse the draft of a proposed anti-witchcraft bill prepared by National Women Rights Forum of Kahtmandu.

Before concluding Monday, the conference issued a 10-point declaration demanding safety for women and the assurance of an equitable society. It demanded that parliament pave the way for drafting a strong legal framework to ensure stringent punishment for perpetrators of gender-based violence.

The conference was organized by the Lahan-based Dalit Walfare Youth Club, and included women’s rights activists from Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusha, Morang and Dhankuta districts. After lengthy discussions and deliberations on the issues of the violence faced by women in Nepalese society, the conference concluded that the anti-witchcraft bill should be passed by the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly on January 22nd.

The conference also concluded that despite the protection from the law, women are subjected to various sorts of discrimination in society.

In its 10-point declaration, the conference also demanded a provision of amicus curiae to provide suggestions to the court on issues of gender-based violence, rape and sexual misconducts to facilitate fast-track decisions on the issues. The declaration also demanded setting up a Secured Home Service Center for the victims of gender-based violence and underscored the need for making the local authorities and NGOs responsible for the rehabilitation of the gender-based violence victims.

The provision of one-door crisis management centers, closed court hearings for the victims of serious offences of gender-based violence, introduction of new legal frameworks to provide recognition to the household tasks executed by women as well as strict implementation of law to combat social ills like dowry system, are other demands put forward by the conference.

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Zambia Civil Servants Flee Village for Fear of Witchcraft

Kapiri MposhiIn Zambia, civil servants flee village for fear of witchcraft in the chiefdom of Chief Mukubwe in Kapiri Mposhi. The civil servants included people from the Ministries of Education, Health and Agriculture, who began abandoning their offices and fleeing the area last week along with their families.

Kapiri Mposhi District Commission, Beatrice Sikazwe confirmed the development, saying that government workers have accused the local people in Mutenda, Chibobo, Mumba Chala, Iwonde, Chilwa Island and Chibungo areas of practicing witchcraft on them and their families.

Sikazwe said the workers and their families were being tormented at night by suspected witches and that they had discovered strange items on the door ways to their houses every morning as they wake up. Items such as Kwacha notes (the Zambian currency) drenched in fresh blood and strange herbs.

Ms. Sikazwe also said some female workers are allegedly being sexually harassed in their sleep by unknown people during the night.

“Civil servants have run away from Mukubwe… they have run away because of increased witchcraft that they have been subjected to by the locals” Ms. Sikazwe said. “…they have complained that they are not sleeping well during the night because of witchcraft.”

Meanwhile, Ms. Sikazwe has threatened to withdraw all civil servants working in the area if the local people continue with the tendency of harassing them. She said that government workers have chosen to work from the area for the benefit of the community and it is not in order that the same community they are serving should harass them.

The District Commissioner said that she, along with officers from the concerned government departments, will go to the area on Monday next week to have meetings with the community to resolve the matter. She noted that the alleged behavior by the community against government workers would cause underdevelopment in area.

Ms. Sikazwe said government was committed to delivering development to its people and will not tolerate any act that impeded its smooth implementation of its policies.

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World Condemns Murders As Papua New Guinea Seeks Answers

Kepari LeniataAn article posted to the Islands Business web site is worth a look. Islands Business International is a multimedia publishing company based in Suva, Fiji, and is the premier publishing group in the Pacific Islands region. Fiji is justly concerned that a fellow member country of the Pacific Islands Forum has a problem with people being murdered for witchcraft in 2013.

The surge in sorcery and witchcraft related murders in Papua New Guinea has drawn condemnation widely from international groups such as the United Nations and Amnesty International. A growing culture of insecurity and fear has been blamed for the unrest, and there are concerns it will impact on the country’s economic development in the long term. And why not? Who wants to do business in a country where people are being slaughtered as witches?

Women’s rights groups are also up in arms at the disproportionate number of women being targeted. Women in Papua New Guinea are six times more likely than men to be subjected to sorcery-related violence. Pressure is now being brought to bear upon the PNG government to take action against those who are justifying the killing of innocent people through sorcery accusations. Moves to repeal PNG’s absurd Sorcery Act, enacted in 1971 while PNG was still a colony, have been made. This comes after a number of women accused of sorcery and witchcraft were murdered in recent months.

In February, the world was shocked when graphic photographs circulated on the internet of a 20-year old mother, Kepari Leniata, being burnt alive in Mt Hagen in Papua New Guinea’s northern highlands.

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Malleus Maleficarum Joins Twitter

Twitter IconAfter much consideration, we decided to go ahead and create a Twitter account. There are a lot of good reasons for and against it, but in the end we decided to do it because so many articles are coming out of Africa right now detailing attack after attack upon people suspected of witchcraft. It is no exaggeration to state that witch are being burned. And just as during what Pagans and Wiccans call “The Burning Times”, the overwhelming majority of those being injured and killed are not witches at all, or even practitioners of folk religions.

Simply put, there are things we want to talk about. They don’t always lend themselves to a full-blown blog post on the web site. So if you Follow us on Twitter, we’ll try to keep you apprised of witchcraft related news stories, as well as our occasional discoveries of the Malleus Maleficarum in popular culture and rare editions of the work for sale on eBay and other sources.

The one thing we can promise you is that you won’t find a bunch of fluff on our Twitter feed. There’s enough of that going around already. We’ll stick to the facts, and the point of this web site, and leave the cute bunnies and cat photos for someone else.

Anyway, we look forward to seeing ya. As ever, thanks for your support and consideration.

Twitter

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Welcome To The Machine

AntikytheraLong time visitors to the web site may have noticed our recent redesign. We were way overdue for a makeover and decided that the web site needed to be much friendlier to mobile devices, so we knocked out two birds with one stone.

We’re proud of the new design. It’s painfully straightforward and simple. But that’s what we like about it. Some of our past designs were a little cluttered and perhaps got in the way of what people come to this web site to find – The Malleus Maleficarum.

Our goal, as ever, is to keep the Malleus alive in popular consciousness so that these horrors might never be practiced upon mankind again. It truly is the doom of men that they forget.

Hopefully along the way we’ve made the web site easier to use. Please let us know what we can do to improve your experience here. We would love to hear from you!

~ Wicasta

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Misplaced Anger

It always surprises us when people vent their anger over the Malleus Maleficarum at those of us involved with this web site. It’s misplaced anger. We understand that the Malleus is a disturbing work and that there are a lot of people who are still irritated over the Inquisition and The Burning Times. But the fact remains, we didn’t write the Malleus Maleficarum, and no one should assume that because we posted it here in its entirety that this web site was intended as a celebration of Kramer and Sprenger’s work.

You’d be surprised how many people assume it was. As such, I’ve added the following text to our “About Us” page, just to clear up a few things and, hopefully, avoid any unnecessary drama in the future.

Please Note: This web site is not affiliated with the Catholic Church in any way, shape or form. In fact, both Wicasta and Christie are Pagan. This web site is made available as a reference for a historical artifact, nothing more. We are certainly not responsible in any way, shape or form for the Malleus Maleficarum itself or any of the harm that came from it. In the end, if anyone wants to lodge a formal complaint about the Malleus Maleficarum or the Catholic Church in general, the appropriate place to do so would be the official Vatican web site – http://www.vatican.va/ – which could properly be considered the official web site of all Catholics. Recriminations about The Burning Times or the Malleus Maleficarum are misplaced here. You’re preaching to the choir.

As ever, I look forward to your feedback. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them here or to write us directly. Or, if you’re really pissed, maybe you should write The Pope.

Love ya! Never change.

~ Wicasta Lovelace

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Rare Manuscript Unveiled at University of Alberta

Rare Manuscript Unveiled at University of AlbertaA rare copy of the medieval manuscript Invectives Against the Sect of Waldensians, which, alongside the later published Malleus Maleficarum, detailed how to recognize, question, torture and burn witches, is possibly being resurrected at the University of Alberta. The originally miscatalogued book is one of only four copies in the world, with the other three housed in libraries in France, Brussels, and Oxford, and is a stunning historical artifact.

History professor Andrew Gow, who is now working on translating the work from medieval French to English, describes its content as “atrocious”.

“If I were to describe this book, I’d say, well, think of all of the most evil books in Harry Potter and the Malfoy’s library, well those were imaginary evil. This is real evil, right here,” he says.

The Waldensians were medieval heretics who disavowed the power of the priests and allowed women to preach. But for the author of this book, Dominican inquisitor Johannes Tinctor, “Waldensian” was a synonym for “witch”.

Due to the timing of the book’s creation around 1460, ahead of mass state-sponsored witch hunting in Europe, Gow also considers the text to be a priceless cultural artifact that holds great insight into the history of Europe, and perhaps explains much of what came later.

“It wasn’t until books like this appeared and spread the idea that witchcraft is actually a form of Satan worship, a form of service to the devil, that witchcraft becomes a capital crime,” he explains.

Twenty-six years before the publication of the infamous Malleus Maleficarum, Tinctor (also known as Jean Taincture) had pulled together various folk beliefs and ancient myths to concoct his own paranoid propaganda fantasy, a work that would fuel homicidal witch hunts for centuries, and bring to the world much of the Halloween imagery that still haunts our collective imaginations.

“It’s called the elaborated theory of witchcraft and this is its beginning,” explains Gow’s former PhD student, Rob Desjardins. “This is where a stew of ideas finally congealed into a coherent picture. This is where we get the first thorough statement of what witches do and why ‘we’ should persecute them.”

In addition to changing the way witchcraft was looked at in medieval Europe, the work may also be responsible for a common image we associate with witches: the riding of brooms.

“This is one of the first three known depictions of women riding on brooms,” Gow says. It’s also one of the first detailed descriptions of witches having sex with the devil. “It’s a mix of misogyny and prurient sexual imagination, and of course, sexual transgression is one of the things that frightened male clerics most.”

Before the mid-1400s, the medieval Church had, for the most part, been tolerant of “wise women” who offered folk cures or practiced pagan rituals that were mostly half-forgotten by the general populace. But in 1459 a witch hunt swept the city of Arras, where Tinctor was a canon at the cathedral in nearby Tournai (in today’s Belgium). Tinctor seized upon the chance to make his name and denounce witchcraft as Satanic heresy:

“It is certain that this crime is entirely new nor was its like ever heard of, and I dare well say that this sin of witchcraft is worse and more execrable than all the detestable errors of the pagans,” Tinctor wrote.

Witches, Tinctor insisted, summon storms, destroy crops and are “so caked in the mud of vile thoughts” that they “do not even shrink from having carnal intercourse with the devil transformed into the guise of an animal.”

Tinctor’s original 1460 text was published in Latin. The edition at the University of Alberta is a 1465 translation in medieval French, beautifully illuminated with gold leaf. It’s one of only four known copies in the whole world. The others are in the national libraries of France and Belgium, and Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Gow believes the University of Albera’s version is the oldest of the four. Yet until a few years ago, it was effectively considered to have been lost.

John Lunn donated it to the U of A in 1988. Lunn, who emigrated to Canada from England in 1957, was Alberta’s assistant deputy minister of historical resources in the late 1970’s, and later served as executive director of Alberta’s museums.

Gow and his grad student, Francois Pageau, hope to release the manual to the public once they finish translating it.

 

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Panic in Connecticut: Accused Witches Have Their Say

Actor Virginia WolfBetween 1642 and 1693, at least 40 people in the colony of Connecticut were tried as witches. The historical record indicates that at least 10 of them were hanged. In 1647 the state hung a Windsor woman named Alse Young, who was the first accused witch executed in New England. Most of those who were tried as witches, like Alse, were women. But who were they? How did these people come to be accused of practicing witchcraft? What were their lives like? Did they actually practice witchcraft, or were they simply the victims of other, unrelated factors, as were so many other accused witches, for which the accusation of witchcraft proved an easy way to exact revenge? How and why did the accusing of witches finally end? Or has it?

Witchcraft was punishable by death in the Connecticut Colony, but its 1642 witch hysteria occurred a full half a century before the notorious 1692 witch hunts in Salem, Massachusetts. Salem is more infamous for its witches, but all throughout Connecticut magistrates and Puritan ministers prosecuted alleged witches. Connecticut’s witch hunt was the fiercest in New England.

Many records are lost or non-existent, so piecing together details is a difficult task, but there is a way that we can learn more about the subject and begin to understand what life was like back then, and why witchcraft was such an obsessed upon subject of time.

To help bring the voices of the victims of those New England witch hunts to life, actress Virginia Wolf of Herstory Theater wrote “Panic in Connecticut: Accused Witches Have Their Say”, a one-woman show that sheds light on the Puritan society that condemned alleged witches to death in the decades before the hysteria in Salem. Ms. Wolf, dressed in period costume, takes audiences back to the 17th century and brings to life five women accused of witchcraft in Connecticut — Mary Staples, Lydia Gilbert, Judith Varlet, Mary Barnes and Mercy Disborough — who share their painful and horrifying stories.

“As a woman, I always wondered what it must have been like for these women,” Ms. Wolf explained, noting that men were also accused. “I tie their stories together so people [in the audience] can understand how the panic spread.”

Mary Staples of Fairfield was accused twice of witchcraft — first in 1654 and again in 1692. She was acquitted both times. Ms. Wolf depicts Mary as a woman in her 70s, and recalls the harsh reality of Puritan New England and the dominance of religion in everyday life. She explains society’s distrust of strangers and anything out of the ordinary, of Puritan settlers’ need to explain God’s will and how it was at work – especially when the inexplicable occurred.

“You can’t judge that time period by today’s standards,” Ms. Wolf said, noting that science was not even a glimmer on the horizon. “The only reason for something bad happening was witchcraft. They truly believed the devil was at work when milk curdled or cheese molded. When Hartford experienced bad blights or plagues, when people grew increasingly frightened and scared, it led to accusations. Sometimes it was out of greediness or envy, but usually it was caused by fear. They felt they needed to cleanse the world of evil for better or worse. That is how many people’s fates unfolded.”

Working forward chronologically, Ms. Wolf moves on to Lydia Gilbert of Windsor, who was accused of witchcraft, and was convicted and hanged in 1654. She, Ms. Wolf said, was unfortunately at the wrong place at the wrong time. Her mere presence during a series of misfortunes sealed her fate.

“The [Connecticut] trial proceedings aren’t well documented,” Wolf says. “I grew up in Salem Mass. I was in ‘The Crucible’ and we all know the history of those trials and the people affected by them, but the records for the Connecticut trials are scattered. It was difficult to research, but I hope people will walk away with a better understanding of the trials and what these women went through.”

Then there is Judith Varlet of Farmington, who was accused and acquitted between 1662 and ’63, and whose only real crime was that she was of Dutch descent, a woman of great intellect who spoke her mind, and who had amassed personal wealth. She was also the sister-in-law of New Netherlands’ governor, Peter Stuyvesant. Judith was eventually allowed to leave the colony for New Amsterdam, but only after a forceful protest by Stuyvesant against what he considered the Connecticut court’s fictitious accusations of witchery.

“It was certainly an interesting period in American history,” Ms. Wolf said. “Cheese can go moldy, milk will curdle, cattle get sick, but to these people, it was the work of the devil. They didn’t understand science as we do today. Some people never knew this happened in Connecticut and, sometimes, I’m lucky enough to have a descendant in the audience. People still find the panics in [New England] fascinating.”

Also represented is Mary Barnes of Farmington, accused in 1662, who was tried and hung in 1663. She was the last person to die in the Hartford witch hunt. Mary, Ms. Wolf said, lacked self-confidence, seemed quite helpless, and did not defend herself against her accusers. Rather, she acquiesced – after all, if so many people believed she were a witch, it must have been true.

“This is a busy time of year for me,” Ms. Wolf said, noting that the show focuses not only on a frightening time in Colonial history, but on the people it affected. “… What I’ve discovered is that most people don’t know this happened in Connecticut.”

The courtrooms were then quieted for over a quarter century with the return of Connecticut’s governor, John Winthrop Jr., who had been in England securing the royal charter from Charles II. During his absence, the witch hunt hysteria had reached its peak. Winthrop, according to state historian Walter Woodward, “forcefully intervened to end Connecticut’s rush to judgment on witch suspects, saving them from a sure trip to the gallows.” In fact, he said Winthrop drew on his own fascination with alchemy and magic to save, rather than condemn, the accused.

Connecticut, the fiercest witch hunter of all the colonies, then seemed to be the most tolerant until 1693, when the sharp-tongued Mercy Disbrough of Fairfield was accused and found guilty of witchcraft. But she never saw the gallows. Rather, she was acquitted. According to state documents, however, she was subjected to the water test – suspected witches were sometimes dropped into a body of water to determine if they possessed evil spirits. Theory dictated that if the person sank, he or she was innocent; if they floated, he or she was guilty because the pure water cast out the evil spirit.

“I hope I can offer a true picture of what it must have been like for these people,” says Ms. Wolf.

“Panic in Connecticut” can be appreciated on several levels. It is a superb theatrical performance by Virginia Wolf. And it is a cautionary tale – still valid today – about the importance of tolerance and the danger of gossip.

For more information or to schedule, contact;

Virginia Wolf
860-550-0936
info@herstorytheater.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Herstory-Theater/105412942894748

2012 Schedule

Friday, October 19
7:30 PM
Killingworth Fire Station
Killingworth, CT
for the Killingworth Historical Society

Wednesday, October 24
1:00 PM
“Panic in Connecticut”
The Arbors at Hopbrook
403 W. Center Street
Manchester, CT
Not open to the public

Thursday, October 25
7:00 PM
“Panic in Connecticut”
South Windsor Historical Society
Wood Memorial Library
73 Main Street
South Windsor, CT

Friday, October 26
6:00 PM
“In a Preternatural Way; The Witchcraft Trial of Mary Barnes”
Old State House, Hartford

Sunday, October 28
TBA
Rowayton Historical Society

Monday, October 29
3:00 PM
“Panic in Connecticut”
Stone Ridge Retirement Community
186 Jerry Brown Road
Mystic, CT

Monday, October 29
7:15 PM
“Panic in Connecticut”
Ashlar Village
Cheshire Road
Wallingford, CT

Tuesday, October 30
2:00 PM
“Panic in Connecticut”
The Lodge at Cold Spring
50 Cold Spring Road, Rocky Hill, CT
Open to the public

Wednesday, October 31
2:30 PM
Kennelly School, Hartford
(not open to the public)
Friday, November 16 3pm
“Panic in Connecticut”
Pomperaug Woods
80 Heritage Road
Southbury, CT