Photo credit: Google, labeled for reuse
Ghostly greetings, citizens of the weird. I hope you enjoyed my Theory of the Weird on the pyramids last week. It is important to remember that spider-people were a very real threat to early humans. We still are rolling hard through Spooktober, so I will keep things consistent by talking about witches. Specifically, this week I will talk about signs for spotting a witch and a certain famous witch trial in the United States. Before we get to that, I will first attempt to answer yet another question: where did this witch hysteria come from throughout history?
Accusations of witchcraft have been around since the Medieval period. I was unable to find any information on witchcraft before this period. This implies that witchcraft was considered acceptable before this time, or witches suddenly became a thing in the 1300s. Either possibilities are equally likely and amusing. Most of the accusations of witchcraft in the 1300s stemmed from accusations of heresy towards Christianity. The countries and people issuing these accusations considered the individuals internal threats during a time when there were so many external threats like Vikings, Celtic warriors, and space demons. One of the famous witch trials during this period was the Wurzburg Witch Trial in Germany 1626 to 1631. The witch accusation party was so bumping that the people decided to continue it for seven years. In that time, citizens accused shifty vagrants, people humming songs, and single women of practicing witchcraft and colluding with the devil. Overall, 900 people were estimated to have been killed at this time through beheadings and stake burnings.
The people in Bamberg, Germany sought to break this record of witch hysteria. From 1626 to 1631, the authorities in Bamberg executed nearly 1,000 people for witchcraft. The reason for this hysteria stemmed from a small ice age that was affecting the planet at this time. This resulted in colder temperatures and crop failures. The people of Europe believed that surely the devil had something to do with this. While accusations of witchcraft are sporadic after a certain famous witch trial in Massachusetts in the 1600s, they are not unheard of. Accusations and executions of people for witchcraft happened in Poland, France, and England in the 1800s. In the present, people in Russia and Tanzania have been killed for being seen as witches. It seems like there has never been a shortage of people fearing other people for their perceived collusion with dark forces.