Friday, May 28, 2010

witchcraft and Medicine

Belief in witchcraft goes far back into prehistoric
times. It continues today, not only among primitive
peoples, but also in many civilized nations. Witches’
covens, Satanism, black magic ~ these are among the
concepts recognized by numerous people both here
and abroad.

When early Christians incorporated the Old
Testament in their doctrines, they inherited with it
the pelief in witches manifested in such passages as
“Thou shalt suffer no witch to live” (Exodus xii, 18)
and “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” (I Samuel
15:23). The account of the witch of Endor (I Samuel
28:7-25) is familiar to most industrious Sunday
School pupils. While some scholars argue that the
original Hebrew terms should not be translated as
“witch” or “witchcraft,” those were the words
officially accepted and thus interpreted by the

The procedures and organization of witch trials
were based on the Church’s trials for heresy by the
Inquisition, a tribunal established by Pope Lucius III
in 1184 for the repression of all kinds of breaches of
orthodoxy. The dividing line between heresy and
witchcraft was not at first very clear. Every heresy
was diabolical, and anyone convicted of practicing
magic was a heretic.

The original attitude of early Christians to
witchcraft resembled provisions of Roman law -
witches were not punished unless they harmed
someone. With the exception of St. Augustine,
Church authorities opposed the belief in witchcraft.
Their opinions were expressed especially in the
so-called Carron episcapi (Council of Ancyra, 9th
cent.). However, in the 13th century, witchcraft
became a crimen magiue and witch trials started


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