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Forgotten Innocents: Witch Hunts, Past and Present

The past history of the witch hunt is still used today by powerful men in authority today forgetting the real victims of the past.

Europe Witch Hunts Map

Europe Witch Hunts Map

Scotland Witch Hunts Map

Scotland Witch Hunts Map

Centuries of Witch Hunts

Most of us in America are familiar with the Salem Witch Trials of 1692-1693 om Massachusetts where 200 were accused of witchcraft, 30 found guilty, and 19 executed. But earlier, centuries of witch hunts were carried out all across Europe as thousands were accused, persecuted, tortured, and executed as witches. Although many documents were scarce, upwards of 200,000 were conducted, 80% were women, between 1484 to 1750. In 1563, witches have been declared a capital offense in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, all under the realm of Mary, Queen of Scots. It seems King James VI of Scotland (later he became King James I of England).

As he was sailing to Copenhagen to wed Princess Anne of Denmark, he was caught in a severe storm. He blamed the storm on witchcraft and became obsessed with witches. Because of this obsession, he established a royal commission to hunt witches across his territory. Later, he wrote the Daemonologue and became involved with the North Berwick Trials in 1590.

The European Map above shows that Germany led the way in witch hunts. Religious motivation played a significant role in accusing mostly women and poor of Hersey and, by doing so, allowed the church to confiscate property and assets of the accused. They were said to be consorting with the devil. Neighbors were turning neighbors in for the simplest of problems.

Witches Well, Edinburgh, Scotland In Honor of Those Who Suffered

Witches Well, Edinburgh, Scotland In Honor of Those Who Suffered

Major Witch Hunts and Trials

Here are just a few of Witch Hunts and Trials:

1590-1592 North Berwick

1581-1593 Teier, most significant in European history and mass execution of 368

1603-1606 Fuida

1609-1611 Basque

1626-1631 Basque

1626-1631 Bamberg

1674-1675 Torsaker, 71, beheaded and burned at the stake

Prison and Torture

Almost always, the accused was placed in prison and tortured, forcing them to confess as witches. The torture was violent and prolonged until they admitted the offense. Sleep deprivation was commonly used; water dumping was frequent as it was believed the innocent wouldn't drown. An iron collar was attached to the wall holding the accused by the neck, unable to move. Barrels were used by placing the accused in the barrel, pounding iron nails in the sides, then rolling the barrel down a hill, completely maiming and killing the occupant.

Many were strangled then burnt at the stake, some still alive.

Spot Where Barrel Landed

Spot Where Barrel Landed

Witches Iron Collar

Witches Iron Collar

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Witch Hunts Today

Men in positions of power and authority feed the masses into hysteria. Remember the McCarthy Era of 1947-1965. Five million federal employees were subjected to loyalty tests. As a result, 2700 employees were dismissed, and 12,000 resigned. Considering that 45% of federal civil service employees were women, it's no wonder men again executed their power and authority over women. It's all about power and control.

Trump is often bellowing out 'Witch Hunt' and his base yelling back, "lock her up." He constantly attempts to switch from any meaningful policies, instead portraying himself to be a martyr. His favorite scapegoats are women, just like the witch hunts years ago. The crowds of the European Witch Hunts were also hypnotized into believing false claims and yelling 'lock them up.'

It is reminiscent of a three-ring circus with him in the middle ring as master of bullying.

Even more frightening is that witch hunts and executions worldwide in Africa, India, Paraguay, and others. Somehow this has to be addressed, and the atrocities stopped.

Further Reading

The Enemy Within 2000 Years of Witch-Hunting by James Putnam Demos is extensively detailed, covering centuries of research.

Laura Stokes has written an intense theory of social and religious beliefs breeding persecution. In her book, Demons of Urban Reform: Early European Witch Trials, Laura is an associate professor at Stanford Department of History researching witch hunts.

August 10th was the first time held called The World Day Against Witch Hunts to shed light on global problems still existing today. It was created by Pontifical Mission Sanctions.

A documentary film The Letter, was submitted by Kenya for "Best International Feature Film" to the Academy Awards. While it did not receive a nomination, it has called attention to the global problem of witch hunts. Human Rights and The United Nations are investigating the atrocities of women.

The Letter Documentary Film

The Letter Documentary Film

Sources Used



fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on September 27, 2021:

Joanne, thanks for your visit. Appreciate the suggestion regarding Hopkins and I will check it out. I always appreciate your insight.

Joanne Hayle from Wiltshire, U.K. on September 27, 2021:

Another great write Fran, have you checked out Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General? He made a career out of persecuting "witches."

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on September 27, 2021:

Rosina, thanks for your visit and I agree it is shocking these horrible witch hunts are still going on. I appreciate your visit.

Rosina S Khan on September 27, 2021:

This is an interesting account of witch hunts. That they were rampant in Europe once upon a time is amazing, and the fact that it continues till today in some places is rather alarming. Thank you, Fran, for sharing this piece.

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on September 27, 2021:

John, thanks so much for your visit. I agree and find it incredible it continues today.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on September 26, 2021:

Thank you for sharing about these atrocities, Fran. It is appalling that which hunts and trials were so widespread throughout Europe. It is concerning that it continues in some parts of the world today.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on September 26, 2021:

Interesting. But to witch hunt a person is bad and wicked.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 26, 2021:

This is a very interesting article, Fran. I had no idea witch hunts still happened. I have been to Salem, MA and heard all those details, but I didn't know about all the other witch hunts. Thanks for sharing.

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