Part 2 - We Are The Witches that the Patriarchy Burned
Malleus Maleficarum, "The Hammer of the Witches" - AKA the witch hunters 'bible' - the most popular medieval text with legalized tactics of how to identify, torture, and persecute a witch.
This text, written in 1486, was produced in 1559 under the direction of Pope Paul IV. It was the only text of this time to receive the stamp of approval of the Church. It is said that the author enticed the Pope with a sum of money.
"Between the 16th and 17th centuries, researchers speculate that over 30,000 copies were in circulation throughout Europe, during which an estimated 60,000 'witches' were put to death.
The text contains three separate sections: the first is a philosophical explanation of witches’ existence, the second is a clergy guide to recognize a witch, and the third is a legal manual for the accusation, persecution, and death penalty for witchcraft" (National Geographic).
And those who were primarily targeted were womxn - especially ones who were mentally ill, midwives, herbal medicine practitioners, and wise womxn. Also those who exhibited 'promiscuous' behaviour, who were caught sneaking out at night, who had land, and who were impoverished.
This book evoked mass fear and conspiracy within Europe. It stated that witches are the hand-maidens of the devil - those who had sold their souls in exchange for power, and was written from the Biblical command "(t)hou shalt not suffer a witch to live" (Exodus).
Some torture tactics included in this book were placing fingers in a contraption to be squished, having a rope wrapped around the skull and then pulled in opposite directions, hanging by the arms from ropes until the shoulders dislocated, and so on, so forth...
These tactics were horrific, gruesome, and inhumane. Malleus Maleficarum stated that there would be some type of 'mark' of the devil to prove they were a witch - this could be a birthmark, a mole, even a discolored portion of skin. The accused were tortured often until death or confession.
Many cases record historical accounts of the accused admitting to being a witch and would tell a story of having consorted with the devil and would sometimes give names of other witches. In certain cases, the accused would even condemn their family members.
I can only imagine what torture, imprisonment, accusation and conspiracy would lead me to do if I was in her shoes - one accused of being a 'witch.'
Malleus Maleficarum was a powerful tool during the "Holy Inquisition," in which the mission was to combat heresy - the belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious doctrine. This inquisition spread beyond Europe into the Americas. Men and children were victimized during these times too - however, womxn were the majority of those condemned and persecuted.
It is my belief that the inquisition was simply a new form to perpretrate the genocide of womxn that had already been happening for thousands of years under different guises and different leaders. Womxn have been a marginalized community throughout history and this continues today, albeit the form has changed.
This historical period has become known as 'the burning times' - a tragic time in history that still lives within the DNA of all womxn. Not only are we the descendants of the witches who were burned at the stake - we ARE those womxn who burned at the stake.
And maybe not specifically during the burning times, or the Salem Witch Trials - perhaps somewhere else in the world at a different time in history in which you were persecuted in a past-life for being a 'witch.'
Maybe you were hung, burned, stoned, tortured, drowned.... and not always for being a witch, but for being a womxn too.
Let's reclaim this word 'witch' - a blanket term for a womxn unto herself, a womxn whose power is sourced from within and from Creator - a term for the medicine womxn, wise womxn, seer, priestess, prophetess, doula, midwife, healer...
Sister - can you feel within your bones that you are a witch and have been a witch - that at some point in your soul's history you have been condemned for knowing the Divine Feminine mysteries?
That fear to be seen, that fear to be heard, that fear that you are 'too much,' that you are not enough, that you are unworthy, shameful, tainted, that fear to claim your power, that fear that you may misuse your power....
Girl... those are all indicators that you have been persecuted.
The collective trauma that we have endured as womxn throughout history impacts you, whether you realize it or not. This trauma has been passed down through the maternal lineage since the beginning of times. And the patriarchal system that has been the matrix for the last several thousand years... it perpetuates a way of perceiving womxn and divine feminine wisdom that has been detrimental to our health, well-being, and self-worth.
This trauma - this system... it doesn't just impact womxn - it impacts our sons and our men too, it impacts Earth and the animals too...
Our opportunity right now is to weave a new paradigm - one that honours us all. One that honors men in their beauty, womxn in their power, children in their intelligence, Earth as our Mother, animals, plants, and minerals as our relations. One that honors all life - that encourages equality, peace, and sustainability. One that asks us to co-create with life and to be the stewards of Earth.
Do you wish to weave this collective vision with me?
It is time. The time for change has never been more alive than it is right. now.
(If this post has inspired you - part 1 "We Are the Grand-Daughters that the Patriarchy Couldn't Burn" can be read here).
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The Malleus Maleficarum - malleusmaleficarum.org - "Introduction"
National Geographic - "The Hammer of the Witches"
Bible - King James Version (KJV) of Exod 22:18
The Burning Times - Part 2 of Documentary Series Goddess Remembered by Donna Read
The Return of the Divine Sophia - Healing the Earth through the Lost Wisdom Teachings of Jesus, Isis, and Mary Magdalene by Tricia McCannon
The Crucible - play by American playwright Arthur Miller