We’ve all seen the bumper stickers and the t-shirts: Never Again the Burning Times! It’s a rally cry for many born-again Pagans and Wiccans, and indicates a need to reclaim what’s ours — our rights to worship and celebrate as we choose. The phrase Burning Times is often used in modern Paganism and Wicca to indicate the era from the Dark Ages to around the nineteenth century, when charges of heresy were enough to get a witch burned at the stake. Some have claimed that as many as nine million people were killed in the name of “witch hunts.” However, there’s a lot of discussion within the Pagan world about the accuracy of that number, and some scholars have estimated it significantly lower, possibly as few as 200,000. That’s still a pretty big number, but a lot less than some of the other claims that have been made.
The Malleus Maleficarum, a Latin book written in 1486 and 1487, is also known as “The Hammer of Witches.” This is a translation of the title. Authorship of the book is credited to two German Dominican monks, Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger. The two were also theology professors. Sprenger’s role in writing the book is now thought by some scholars to have been largely symbolic rather than active.
After decades of campaigning by the suffragettes, a 1918 Act gave a limited cohort of women the right to vote in parliamentary elections
Image courtesy of the National Print Museum
A few years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Eric Hobsbawm, the late eminent left-wing historian, and took the opportunity to ask him what he believed was the most significant revolution of the 20th century. Without hesitation he answered: “Undoubtedly, the women’s revolution.”
The region of Prussia in Central Europe is a unique place due to the large number of cultures which have resided and met there. These lands were also a hotbed for witchcraft and a cruel fate for those who dared to dabble in the practice.
A Mixture of Faiths
Witchcraft may have existed in this area since the settling of Eastern and Western Prussia. Before the baptisms of these regions, the territory of historical Prussia was pagan. The faith of the inhabitants was mixed and dependent on the tribe they were related to, but it was generally a combination of Baltic religions with inflated mythologies.
Saul and the Witch of Endor, 1526. Artist: Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Jacob (ca. 1470-1533). Heritage Images/Getty Images / Getty Images
The European witch hunts have a long timeline, gaining momentum during the 16th century and continuing for more than 200 years. People accused of practicing maleficarum, or harmful magic, were widely persecuted, but the exact number of Europeans executed on charges of witchcraft is not certain and subject to considerable controversy. Estimates have ranged from about 10,000 to nine million. While most historians use the range of 40,000 to 100,000 based on public records, up to three times that many people were formally accused of practicing witchcraft.
The original post generated a lot of comments, including from expert historians who strongly disagreed with my post. I put those comments at the bottom of the post so you can see them. I am sticking to my story that the consideration of people murdered as witches should include the 13th century, and does not for reasons having more to do with quirks of the practice of history than to the behavior of the Europeans at the time. I also maintain that typical estimates accepted by historians are by nature conservative.
While the Polish authorities focus on fighting an imagined threat to children from what they call the “LGBT lobby”, progress on combating pedophilia inside the Catholic Church, a well-documented phenomenon, remains slow.
Afew days after receiving her first communion in May last year, nine-year-old Julia told her mother she was sick and refused to go to church for further ceremonies planned in relation to this key moment in a Catholic family’s life.
The Catholic Church in India is only beginning to deal with the kinds of sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the institution elsewhere. A bishop in the state of Kerala has been charged with raping a nun, and other women have come forward with similar complaints.
The comments, shown in a new documentary, are the strongest yet from a pontificate that has taken a more tolerant and inclusive tone.
By Jason Horowitz – Published Oct. 21, 2020
ROME — Pope Francis expressed support for same-sex civil unions in remarks revealed in a documentary film that premiered on Wednesday, a significant break from his predecessors that staked out new ground for the church in its recognition of gay people.
The remarks, coming from the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, had the potential to shift debates about the legal status of same-sex couples in nations around the globe and unsettle bishops worried that the unions threaten what the church considers traditional marriage — between one man and one woman.
“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” Francis said in the documentary, “Francesco,” which debuted at the Rome Film Festival, reiterating his view that gay people are children of God. “I stood up for that.