Burning Witches: Medieval or Modern?

Mediums connect with spirits who have passed away or with ghosts. Witches, such as in Bewitched, whisper spells to chant or practice magic, while wizards like Albus Dumbledore, are another type, specifically a conjurer. Back in the day, all three types were forbidden, on pain of death, to practice their “deceptions.”

Witches Feet

Burnings came about from magic-use accusations, used to damage rivals. Modern scholars estimate between forty and fifty-thousand people (mostly women) were executed for witchcraft in Europe and the American colonies over several hundred years, particularly from the 15th -18th centuries. Typically, witches died by hanging, burning or drowning, but there are also records of other methods or burials, such as being crushed to death under large boulders. Burning was favoured, particularly in Europe, as it was thought to be a more painful way to die. In the colonies, hanging was generally preferred.

History shows that ‘magic’ or the ‘power of intention,’ as we call it today, was completely accepted as real and powerful; something society needed to be afraid of and control to be sure it was used in only positive or non-malicious ways. It was important that individuals caught practicing ‘black magic’ were put under torturous persecution as an example or deterrent to the masses, or least that was the aim of the justice system. The definition of ‘witchcraft’ and what was considered ‘black’ or not became very important over the years, as innocents could be wrongly accused. Many a ‘witch’ was sacrificed to ego or a power grab to block another person’s advances in society. A healthy dose of the ‘power of positive thinking’ or ‘white magic’ may have been at the base of some of these allegations, but how can you fight against that when fear and the law are being used against you? Admitting that you were trying to do something empowering and positive in your life may just get you hung or ‘better’ still, burned.

In 370 AD, female classical philosopher Hypatia from Alexandria was flayed alive for suspicion of sorcery by a Christian mob of monks for gaining knowledge of astronomy and mathematics (she had exacerbated a conflict between the governor Orestes and the Bishop of Alexandria).

This politically or religiously motivated fearmongering fed the ‘witch hunts’ throughout history. Consider the modern day McCarthyism in the 1950’s in the US. It all depends on who was using ‘it’ against whom, who is wielding the power and if the motives of both sides can be discussed openly.

If I asked you when the last big witch trial was in Britain, you might say, “Oh, perhaps about two or three hundred years ago.” In fact, it took place at the Old Bailey in 1944. Helen Duncan, a Spiritual Medium, was charged under the Witchcraft Act of 1735 for ‘pretending’ to hold a séance, even though those who attended the session could vouch for the validity of her work. She even offered to conduct a séance for the court to prove her authenticity. Her offer was rejected and she was sentenced to nine months imprisonment for ‘play acting’ to conjure spirits.

The fact remains that, to this day, the populace at large has believed that humans have this ability, whether it is called magic in the 15th century or the “Law of Attraction” by modern day greats such as Da Vinci, Einstein, Tony Robbins or Deepak Choprah, who have all used it for positive purposes to help human consciousness or the ‘new thought’ movement. It is about using one’s awareness of this intangible power to serve the greater good of all, on the side of right. We all share the responsibility equally. We all can and do use it, whether consciously or subconsciously. Like the law of gravity, it’s there whether we believe it or not. Attributing it to someone using another ‘God’ or worshiping another ‘God’ by exercising it, is misrepresentation and an attempt to wield personal or governmental power. As a generation, we are asked to acknowledge it, respect it and use it wisely.

The power of the Law of Attraction is huge and with the wrong intention, can inflict a lot of damage, hurt and chaos; look at Hitler, Saddam Hussein or ISIS. It comes down to motivation and intention. We see it in our everyday lives. Do you send positive or negative thoughts to your neighbor who lives above you, who walks around in her high heels until 2 am? Would you want to cast a ‘spell’ that would have her stop or would you rather get personal and wished she would have an accident and no longer be able to wear heels?

What if you went to talk to her, and she said, “Too bad – what were you doing up so late listening to me anyway?” Then what would you do?

This is one of the many daily situations to where the Law of Attraction or to cast a ‘spell’ is in play, whether we chose to acknowledge it or not. Negative or positive. It’s up to you. It always has been up to us. Do we think selfishly, good or bad? Greater good of all? Or our own? Darth Vader or Obi Wan Kenobi? Burned or celebrated. Modern or Medieval. There will forever be the battle between good and evil, light and dark. What can we do about it now? No matter who is vying for control, we can exercise the power of one like Malala Yousafzai.