‘Witchcraft’ an ancient threat
Out of the European forests, villages and cities into the African Savannah some of our grandmothers and grandfathers came, and with them bore invasive ways of thinking, old prejudices that took root in the psyche of this continent and these ways are still very much alive in our day and times, claws and teeth firmly secured across the folkloric tapestry of our multi-cultural society.
They say that the Truth is Timeless and Ageless, yet some lies are pawned off as truths and these truths echo in time. Just how antiquated are the superstitions around Witches and Witchcraft, and just how old is the Satanic panic dilemma?
In Montague Summers’ book Witchcraft and Black Magic ; Satanism … call it by what name you will. The Cult of the Devil is the most terrible power at work in the world today… “. What a mouthful and what a mother-load of prejudice in that title alone. Summers identifies in the very first paragraph what he means by Witchcraft, describing it as “this horrid craft” and explaining how a sorcerer, witch, necromancer and Satanist “are correlative” overriding their etymology in fascist-like manner. He elaborates on the Etruscan people whom he calls “masters of dark mysteries” calling their practices of “ghostly conjurations, accursed rites, fearfully banned by Mother Church”, mentioning Pope Gregory XV who ordered in his mandate to the Holy Office that “these carrion creeds of corruption and gods of the grave” be dealt with, without mercy, encouraging the Inquisition to “purge its rot and foulness of the infected countryside”.
But just how deep does this rabbit hole go, Alice?
In his A Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft, So Farre Forth as it is Revealed in the Scriptures, and Manifest by True Experience published in 1608, William Perkins dictates that all “Witches convicted by the Magistrate should be executed”. Those picked on included diviners, charmers, wizards, “good witches” and even jugglers. The “good witches” were those who “did not spoil or destroy” but healed the people, as well as the “Blessing Witch” who, as the name says, was one who blessed people, animals and farms in the ways of their Ancestors. They were all bombed together as “the right hand of the Devil”. None were to be spared.
In 1684 Richard Bovet in his Pandaemonium or the Devil’s Cloyster summed it up this way, “By Witch is commonly understood a Female Agent or Patient who is become Covenant with the Devil, having in a literal sense sold herself to work Wickedness … sometimes personally and sometimes in a Dream or Trance. They revel with the evil Spirit in Nightly cabals and Consults” and proceeds to explain the difference, according to him, between Black and White Witches (and this is not a racial thing, of course) who are described in this manner: “These by Diabolical Complaisance, or good-nature, are to unchain and give ease to those the others have afflicted: but sometimes it so happens that one or other of the Witches dies by force of the counter-charm. Both of these are condemned to death by the Divine Law (Exodus XX II,18). “The Grand Imposter, the Devil, deceiveth them, as they deceive those that seek unto them. All are “Black Scholars” learned in that “Hellish Science of Sorcery, Necromancy and Witchcraft”.
In an old manuscript, “The Power of Evil” a Witch is “a slave self-sold and dedicated to Satan” and unlike thieves, there was no honour amongst witches, for the good ones, the Blessing Witches, suffered dire consequences if they interfered with the work of the Black Witches.
We know too that many a wise woman or man, skilled in the craft of healing with herbs, was victimized by the medical profession, as testified by old country sayings such as “he’s a feaw (foul) witch”, witch coming from the Old English masculine non-substantive “wicca” , a man who practiced witchcraft or magic.
It is evident that throughout Medieval and Early European History, right up to our day, the reader is constantly bombarded with fear-filled images of fallen angels, entities, legions of demons and poltergeists, constantly reminded that the clash between good and evil will “remorselessly and inevitably” thrust itself upon them, affecting them in unthinking ways, projected and wished upon them by women and men who consort with the Christian Devil. Back then the Abbot Richalm declared that their numbers would “fill and crowd the whole world, the very air we breathe is infected thick with devils”.
They predicted that the numen Pantheists like me embrace and thank, whilst going about our daily ménage, would be plaguing and disturbing them. No wonder the neighbours believe the tree I have decorated with the white-washed and sun-bleached bones of road kill and prayer flags, is an omen of evil. As the Abbot wrote, “What are demons but foul spiritual bacilli engendered of the pestilence breathed from hell?” It was cast in stone, long, long ago, that Witches are bringers of evil and illness. They had to be killed and the priests and physicians would restore you to physical and mental health.
But how strange! It is not Pagans who believe in devils. The erudite E.H. Blakeney wrote in the Daily Telegraph of 21 June in 1938 “It is futile for those who profess themselves Christians to deny the existence of demonic powers.” His article makes it quite clear “that genuine Christians are bound to believe in the existence of the devil”.
Pierre Mamor, Canon of the Cathedral Chapter of St. Pierre wrote at the end of the 15th Century “that those who scoffing deny the existence of the Devil are themselves proved to be under the Devil’s influence”. He named this denial, “Satan’s most glorious triumph”.
This logic fails me! Those under the influence of the Devil, do not believe in him and fear him not, but those who believe in God, must necessarily believe in and fear the Devil, if they are not to be regarded as being under the Devil’s triumphant influence as well.
And so Montagu’s book goes on, talking about “commerce and confederacies” with the Devil, intercourse with evil spirits, blighting of crops, crimes committed against the pure, the causing of quarrels, sterility, the purposeful infliction of “diseases and consumptions”, pacts sealed with impious acts so disgusting and fornications of all sorts. He quotes archaic sources, such as Paul Layman who in his treatise against Witchcraft states that Witchcraft is an “offense so great and comprehensive that it includes in itself almost every other felony or crime”.
Ladies and gentlemen, we lost the battle at its very onset , it seems. Some of the books written then, are still in use today” Demonomania (1580), Concerning Witches and the Evil Women who traffic with the Prince of Darkness (1690), On the Awful Wickedness of Witches (1667), Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft (1680), Compendium Maleficarum (1608) as well as the infamous Malleus Maleficarum .
So much of what we are experiencing today in many countries (India, Pakistan, countries in the North African Continent and South Africa) are echoes of a distant past and the unbroken line-voice-mentality of prejudice, false testimony and senseless persecutions in the name of control, in the name of fear, in the name of subjugation to two entities created in man’s mind over and over again, throughout history and spiritual traditions of all times. Man who is dependent on the dichotomy of good and evil in order to understand and finally grasp the Divine All set a trap for itself, and who gets caught in it is the luck of the draw, or the dictation of sheer numbers and prevalence.
Occult experts and learned men have always debated at length on the matter of witches and their familiars. In his Melampronoeia : A Discourse of the Polity and Kingdom of Darkness : together with the Chiefest Objections brought against the Being of Witches (1681), Henry Hallywell, suggests that demons enter into animals for they are “eager for their bodily warmth”, to gain a corporeous essence with which they may move about freely, and “since they are athirst for and delight in the smell of blood” they seek gratification through sensual expression, serving the persons who are willing to nourish them with blood and for them accomplishing to injure and work mischief on the world surrounding them. Witches were said to pamper their familiars with sips of human blood, either as an incitement to do something, or as a reward for having executed some magical task.
This explains the cruelty against the stereotyped black cats, black dogs, snakes, etc. Strange, when Pagans debate cruelty to animals they are saddened, for the accusations often fall square on their shoulders, but it is those fearful of demons who are committing these shocking crimes and not the Pagans and Witches who “worship” their familiars bestowing on them love and equality.
Montagu Summers closes chapter 2 by saying that “the end and aim of all Witchcraft is power and evil, the cruel tyranny” of the Devil. This explains why old women and men are still being murdered for lucrative reasons (appropriation of pensions, land and homes), all lies which are justified by the perverted way of reasoning, this succumbing to the wicked fabricated memes and machinations of the religious liars whose Demonic Library goes back centuries; as many as the years of injustice and religious persecution, whatever its origin be.
Perkins was influential in forming English opinion and gave air to rumors of witchcraft and “meddling with magic” amongst the Cambridge men, Cambridge allegedly being the Headquarters of a witch society where bands of Satanists met for their supposed worship of hell. (1605). Of the Sister University, Cotton Mathers wrote that a certain Satanic fraternity met in “Hellish Rendevouzes” and furthermore that “the evening wolves will be much abroad, when we are near the evening of the World”.
These men, so obsessed by the presence of the Devil, predicted the resurgence of the Pagan heart closer to the “end of times”; they have feared the increase of our numbers for centuries and have dragged their sack of lies across the ages, an inheritance of hatred, spurned in the compost of fear-teeming-hearts-of-tin, pumping blindness into transfused minds, which through inculcation and indoctrination are no longer capable of seeing the at-One-ment as Godness which is equally in the ancient Circle of Stones, as It is in the rich-and-ornate Basilica or in the poor Chapel, close to the African shrine to the Ancestors or in the Lararium of my home!
Crimes are committed by criminals, and crimes leave evidence and proof of the crime committed or that is being planned. The self-confessed Armies of Satan are not the criminals, nor are the Wiccans, the Luciferians, the Witches, the Pagans and Methaphysicists or Theosophists. Individuals from every walk and class of society commit crimes. These are the disturbed minds, the sociopaths, those afflicted by pathologies and not by witchcraft.
In David J. Stewart’s review of the movie Pan’s Labyrinth, entitled “Pan’s Labyrinth, Satan, and Pedophilia!” we see the extent of lies inspired by fanaticism and how accusation of a “liquorice-all-sorts” crimes against society are attributed to the filmmakers, the script writers and all those who enjoyed the film.
According to these people witch societies gave worship to Satan and his infernal gods but the act of worship was not termed a religion but defined as a cult as we read in Summers’ book, on page 12. “To sum up, sorcerer, witch, necromancer are essentially all one, so it is convenient and perfectly correct to employ the word “witch” to cover them all, whilst witchcraft is the cult, together with the practices, of a witch”.
An Elizabethan writer, George Giffard, defined a witch to be “one that worketh by the Devil, or by some devilish or curious art, either hurting or healing, revealing things secret, or fortelling things to come, which the Devil hath devised to entangle and ensnare men’s souls withal to damnation”.
In a Latin Glossary, dating back to King Henry V’s reign, circa 1100, the words augur and ariolus are translated by the word “wicca”.
Still in Summers book, on page 19, he writes “Now wizard merely means a wise man, the termination ard being added to the adjective wise. Warlock is a far more impressive and ill-sounding term , with all sorts of eeriness lurking in the back ground … the old English woerloga is a traitor and an oath-breaker, since he has transferred his allegiance from God, to Whom it is due, unto God’s enemy, Satan, the arch-deceiver”. And the Church taught us that a Warlock was one who betrayed Witches to the Church during the Inquisition. A twist of the “tail” of the arch-deceiver? Makes me think!
I am a Pantheist. I claim not to believe in an entity called Satan, but in Stewart’s review of Pan’s Labyrinth, the all-pervading essence of God, Pan, is declared to be Satan, the god of sexual deviance, rape and torture!
We have been made to understand that the ORCU is there so that the SAPS can investigate crimes of an “Occult” Nature. But are not all crimes, simply crimes? We have crimes like tax evasion, there is a unit for that. There are crimes of violation of laws that regulate the use and sale of drugs; there is a unit for that too. If a Jew kills another Jew, it is termed murder and the SAPS will bring the criminal to justice. If a Christian kills a Muslim or vice versa; it is murder and the SAPS will also ensure that the guilty party is arrested and tried. Grave robbing is illegal. Any policeman can do the arresting of the thief as well as the person who commissioned the theft. Is an Occult Unit really needed?
The buzz word today is “occult”, for under that umbrella term, are classified all the alternative forms of spiritual expression, magic, philosophy, etc. For this “not-organized movement” this special police task force has been devised, implying that within this sector of the populace (and one arrives at this conclusion in the absence of Christian/Muslim/Hindu/Jewish Related Crime Units), the incidence of crime warrants and justifies the creation and training of a specialized unit. The attention the Media have given the Unit and those who’ve inspired it, testify to this very fact. Crimes by Satanists, Luciferians, Wiccans, Pagans, African Traditional Healers, etc. are allegedly on the increase. Really? Where is the evidence? Is it not perhaps that the press is paying more attention to “muthi-related crimes” of late? Is it not perhaps that “these horrors” have been there all along, ignored and dismissed as trivial by the people at large? Was it not the hardcore work of Advocacy Campaigns such as SAPRA’s ‘30 Days Advocacy against witch-hunts’ that has created public awareness? And is the section of the non-Christian population this Mandate is aimed at, being victimized by their indirectly implying that the “occult” breeds crimes and criminal minds and needs a special unit to keep it in line?
Would not opinion be the major criterion in deciding if the occult is present or not on a crime scene? And if the dynamics of the crime hinged on the presence of occult related paraphernalia and or ideology? Or would it not simply depend on the mental sanity or lack thereof in the guilty party’s psyche? How on earth will evidence for poltergeist, tokoloshe rape and psychic attack be presented in Courts of Law. Would the SAPS not be better off employing more criminal psychologists and forensic pathologists?
This rabbit hole goes deeper than we ever imagined. This is an ancient warren and the lies fabricated in its bowels are the necessity for a scapegoat, as needed is a scapegoat today to gain hold and control again for a “fundamentalist movement” (look at the latest Lady Gaga saga) that was fast losing influence in the police force, in the censorship boards, in the minds and hearts of the Rainbow Nation who were fast learning to be less fanatical and slowly learning to be more tolerant and accepting of spiritual differences, a freedom enshrined in our Bill of Rights.
If according to Statistics South Africa 79.5% (in 2001) of South Africans is Christian, would that not rightfully make the largest area of concern, the largest contributor to crime? We can’t however hand ourselves over to faulty fascist thinking. Everybody is innocent until proven guilty. This is what the Law stipulates. We don’t need special units. We need well-educated, non-corrupt policemen who care and who are willing to apply the Law with justice, fairness and disciplined conviction.
Montague Summers – Witchcraft and Black Magic – Arrow Books – 1965