History of magic, sorcery, love spells
From time immemorial, magic has been an explanation for various mysterious phenomena which prehistoric and later ancient man could not explain in any way. That is why the belief in the existence and operation of magic has accompanied people since the dawn of time. Probably the oldest drawing depicting a shaman dates back to about 20,000 years ago. In every culture and region of the world there have been people with secret knowledge, beyond the gray man’s or the general public’s comprehension. One of the main, though probably not the only task of sorcerers, witches, hags, shamans and others was to foretell the future, another concerned bringing rain and medical practices. In ancient times, it was quacks and magicians who largely took on the tasks of physicians. Medics emerged in a very basic way and separated from the “magic sections” much later. People with forbidden knowledge and paranormal abilities were respected and feared at the same time. After all, according to ordinary people, they could both help and harm, and they had all the necessary strengths and attributes in their hands.
In the early Middle Ages, the Church’s position was that witchcraft, curses, charms and other such matters did not exist in official circulation. But there was also a so-called unofficial circulation, of which the ordinary people were well aware. Witchcraft and magic as such were also an important part of pre-Christian, pagan culture. It was considered a part of life. It was only when the leaders of Christianity, for the sake of gain, linked the sphere of sorcery with unclean forces in the minds of the people, with Satan as the enemy of man and his soul, that magic and its adepts (adepts) began to be combated.
In 906, the journal Canon Episcopi calls witchcraft “an invention of the devil,” writing, among other things, about the importance of those qualities and attributes of witches that were related to pagan worship, such as night flights to meeting places. Over time, the opinion propagated by the church that some witches and sorcerers, acting under the dictates of demons, wanted to destroy Christianity, and actively harm people directly and indirectly – destroying their possessions – became popular.
In 1486 two Dominicans, papal inquisitor Heinrich Kraemer and theology professor Jacob Sprenger published the work “Malleus Maleficarum” (“Hammer on witches”), while in 1595 Nicolas Remy’s treatise “Demonolatriae” was published.(In Polish demonolatria which means “worshiping demons”). Both publications aimed to manipulate people by showing what evil witchcraft supposedly is. They were also intended to “warn” against the “plague of witches,” thus becoming the basis for numerous trials. This was more intensified in western Europe. In Poland, neither the “Hammer on Witches” nor the science of demons, i.e. demonology, enjoyed such a huge following and interest as elsewhere.
Witchcraft was clearly defined as a crime, the author of the work “Demonolatry” strongly advocated a clear link between these practices and Satanism, citing, among other things, a detailed description of the Sabbath. The issue ceased to have only a religious dimension, it was transferred from the religious to the legal plane. The aspect of Satanism and “carnal intercourse with the devil” quickly dominated witchcraft trials, as during the investigation fewer and fewer questions were asked about activities as mundane as taking milk from a neighbor’s cow or poisoning a well, while more and more revolved around issues of a decidedly intimate nature. For example, questions were asked about how many times a witch had sexual intercourse with the devil, where Sabbaths were held and who participated in them. If the unfortunate women were accused of flying – then the issue of sabbaths also came up in the background, because, after all, they didn’t fly anywhere without a reason. And the most important reason was supposed to be alleged trysts with the devil, in the presence of other witches and sorcerers. As for the flying procedure itself, the defendants testified that they lubricated their entire body or certain parts of it (such as armpits or anus) with a special ointment, the recipe of which they were supposed to have received from the devil himself. If the witches were accused of killing an infant – it was for the purpose of sacrificing it. Such accusations were made by relatives or neighbors, and not infrequently by judges themselves, with suitably crafted testimonies simply planted by witnesses. Also the defendants, extremely frightened and psychologically broken by the inhuman torture, tried to improve their tragic situation a bit. So they simply testified what the accusers, judges and sensation-hungry people wanted to hear. And so flowed tales of sexual orgies, during which only positions and configurations were changed (and how specifically, it depended on the region), of opulent costumes that the usually poor women could only dream of, and often, of food they were curious about, which was also beyond their reach – from the utterly ordinary – jaggery and beer, to exquisite dishes native to the noble court, of which they had only once heard. Secret knowledge does not have to be used solely to deliberately harm people and their living possessions. However, in the medieval era, the distinction between white magic and black magic was rather non-existent – everything was “scraped into the same bag”, and the person with paranormal abilities and secret knowledge had custody of it. Everything depended on the intentions of the one who “commissioned” the sorcery and the attitude of the sorcerer himself. There was an opinion that a quack or witch who can heal will also be able to take life, remove a charm, but also cast it. It was generally believed that magic – as a derivative of evil and impure powers, could not be “good”. Into the unmerciful and deadly hands of the Inquisition, therefore, came quacks and midwives, who could easily be accused of kidnapping and killing newborns. Newborns and slightly older infants were allegedly sacrificed to unclean forces, or used as a “storehouse” of ingredients for making devilish concoctions. As people believed, black cats , frogs, lizards and other strange creatures could be encountered in the witches’ hut. They were also sure that it was full of all sorts of herbs, medical and non-medical specifics, as well as various hideous ingrediences (bat wings, frog legs, animal hair, etc.), from which she makes magical decoctions and other products. She can turn into an animal to feed on the blood of innocents in her altered form. She can heal from illness, but also drive one into it and even put one to death. He can cast a charm by word, gesture or sight. He can see the past and the future. She communes with demons and has power over the weather. This is the image of the witch, popular in every era and culture.
Witch a scapegoat
The more difficult and troubled the situation in the country, the easier it is for people to look for someone on whom to proverbially “lay” all the blame. Such a sad role fell to women considered witches. In many cases, a person was simply accused of being disliked, quarrelsome or too eccentric for local customs. Similarly, people of the Jewish faith were accused of kidnapping children and ritual murder to add their blood to matzah. Of course, these and an excellent number of accusations sound painfully absurd from today’s point of view. However, these absurdities sometimes decided a person’s life or death, and most often death in agony. It was also sometimes the case that the accused died of exhaustion as a result of injuries and torture, without hearing a guilty verdict. This, too, was treated as an aggravating circumstance, i.e. proving guilt.
Witchcraft was practiced by both men and women, but separate stereotypes developed about the sorcerer and the witch. A sorcerer could be a good magician, a scholar, while a witch was always associated with evil. Women in general were considered inferior beings, associated with nature, intellectually weaker and incapable of deciding for themselves. It was therefore impossible for them to learn witchcraft without the help of demons. The typical witch was a lonely, old and poor woman from the plebs. It was against such women that suspicions were most easily leveled. However, when the accusation machine went into motion, neither wealth, age nor the social status of the victims mattered, although representatives of the nobility were accused the least often, they were practically untouchable. While thousands of women were tortured and sentenced to death at the stake, sorcerers openly admitting to connivance with the dark side of power could operate quietly almost under the nose of the Sancte Officjum (i.e., the Inquisition). Paradoxically, magicians were respected, received at courts, even in the palaces of bishops. They also strongly attacked various magical practices, or so-called witchcraft, without, after all, applying the term to themselves. According to Trithemius, a master magician and also abbot of the Wurzburg monastery: “sorcerers are foul people, and especially women among them, they cause incalculable harm to the human race by resorting to the aid of evil spirits and sorcerous drinks.” According to Trithemius, witches live “in every tract of the country,” and because of their malice “people and cattle die, and no one would think of it happening because of these witches.”
The rapid development of medicine has made magic lose its importance. Some consider it a relic of the Middle Ages and a collection of superstitions. However, in many parts of the world, a shaman or witch is still an important figure in his community or tribe. Although it will sound unbelievable in this day and age, witch hunts still take place. Most often it happens on the African continent. In the spring of 2001 in the Congo, some 400 people were the victims of such a hunt, lynched by a mob for allegedly practicing witchcraft. In Africa and in many countries, there are peculiar witch ghettos where women who have been expelled from their communities for an extended period of time for allegedly practicing magic are sheltered.
Peculiar ghettos of witches exist, moreover, not only in Africa. In Poland, such a community is located in Podlasie, in the triangle-forming region of Hajnówka-Bielsk Podlaski-Siemiatycze. A dozen old women live there, who are said to be involved in casting curses and charms. They differ from the stereotypical witches in that they try not to harm their neighbors in any way and generally live in harmony with the local community. This community most often does not even know what these elderly women do for a living. The old women in their “trade” take advantage of the fact that their neighbors are very pious people. Surprisingly, to cast a charm they supposedly use various devotional items, fill them with bad energy and leave them in some place. Apparently, after picking up such an object and taking it home, one feels its evil influence in everyday life.
Youth and magic
Recently, in a wave of fascination with the fairy tale character of the little wizard Harry Potter, interest in magic has increased among young people. It is possible that they are playing at conjuring as if it were magic. Children’s games are harmless, and it’s also well known that kids have a vivid imagination. More worrisome may be an interest in magic in earnest. And in this regard, series about teenage witches aimed at adolescent girls may be more dangerous. It may happen that, fascinated by the subject, they themselves want to become shamans. At least one such case is known, a girl began her flirtation with the subject through the aforementioned series, and after a few years became a wiccan, that is, a sort of priestess of the neo-pagan wicca movement.
It is not worth getting into the magical sphere, for the sake of spanking or fun, it should be a conscious and thoughtful choice, for mastering magical techniques requires years of practice, and incompetent use of magic can lead a person to tragedy.