The Witch-Figure and the Sabbat
Today, there remains a relic of the European witch-hunts predominant at this time of year. Halloween decorations are flooded with depictions of tall thin hats, and haggard old women flying on broomsticks. For a time period of approximately the middle fifteenth century to sometime into the eighteenth century witches were thought to be a serious threat to the community. Skeptical Roman authorities finally helped put an end to the continued persecution of unfortunate or disliked community members. The social aspect of witch accusations: “Witchcraft accusations allowed members of early modern European communities to resolve conflicts between themselves and their neighbors and to explain misfortunes that had occurred in their daily lives.” (Levack, 2006). How convenient! I have a list of misfortune I would like to blame on someone else, and maybe by watching someone suffer for it I will feel vindicated. I believe the accusation of witch was also used as a way of alienating a person due to a disagreement or an unresolved conflict. Today conflicts similar to these are handled quite differently, albeit not more intelligently. If, say, your neighbor continues to park in “your spot” on a public street, which happens to be right in front of your house, there are other ways to deal with it. There could suddenly be a key scratch in the door, or maybe an unexpected flat tire. Who could account for such strange occurrences? Witch prototype. There isn’t a child above the age of four who couldn’t point out, describe, or draw a typical witch. Look around in the next few weeks and one will see the caricature of a witch in windows, on doors and in trees, flying on a broomstick. This is in line with the type of person who was most often accused in early modern Europe, also a black cloak and tall hat was describing the normal attire for older women. Suspects were often ‘women which be commonly old, lame,...
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