The Hammer of Witches

By the late 15th Century belief in the witch cult was widespread, and one book would cement European opinions for more than a century. The invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg likely also played a role in speeding up the spread of this viral, murderous meme. Finally in 1484 Pope Innocent […]

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The Witchcraft Virus

By the early 14th Century, all the ingredients were in place for witchcraft’s horrible rise to prominence. Now all that was left was for this heady brew to simmer. From about 1300 to 1450, the image of the witch grew stronger across the generations and accusations and trials began to rise. In 1320 Pope John […]

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The Magicians of Solomon

Magic’s cultural stock in Western Europe experienced a healthy resurgence during the 13th Century. In its infinite capacity for irony the primary driver behind magic’s new vogue status were the Crusades. In a very rudimentary sense the call to religious war had expanded the cultural and economic exchange between the Greek and Islamic worlds and […]

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The Heresy of Popes and Saints

Erring on the side of massacre became the mantra of the Catholic Church when it came to responding to new heresies. And there were always new heresies to worry about, like the Waldensians in France or the Fraticelli in Italy. In both cases greater elements of the Witch’s Sabbath crept into the arguments used by […]

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God Will Know His Own

In the end, the story of witchcraft was regrafted onto the less acceptable branches of the Christian tree as a means of slandering would be reformers. Evolution is a slow process, with countless failed starts and mutations. In an institution like the Catholic Church, reform movements represented this part in the theological life cycle of […]

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The Boston Molassecre

Note from the author: We’re interrupting our witchcraft filled schedule to bring you a piece of odd history from my home state. Consider it a morbidly sweet, 100th Post special treat. Corporate greed can often lead to some sticky situations, but only once has it caused a literal 25 foot high wave of molasses. The […]

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The Sorceress of Berkeley

Even as the pieces fell into place the sorcerer remained a solitary figure in European lore, albeit one associated with demonic forces. One of the earliest stories historians trace the more modern ‘witch’ to is the Sorceress of Berkeley, relayed by William of Malmesbury in 1142. Malmesbury pegs the incident as occurring in England around […]

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