Witch Craft Essay, Research Paper
Witchcraft and its Social Origins
Witchcraft is it real or is it imaginative? This question is one that has been on the mind of historians for years. Witchcraft is defined as the use of supposed supernatural power for antisocial ends . So how can we look at the formation of witches? What factors, if any, may have played a role in the rise of witchcraft? Was witchcraft just a onetime thing or did it exist before the rise of the trials in Salem? The social origins of witchcraft are important to understand if we are to be able to confirm the acts of many people that where supposed witches. We need to trace the past events, cause we may be able to trace the chain of events that lead to the rise of witches. But if no chain exists than we must explore new concepts and ideas that may have lead to the formation of witchcraft. This may give us a better understanding of why many people choose witchcraft as a way of life.
To get a better understanding of witches and witchcraft it is important that we understand the origins of witchcraft. There were witches before the outcry in Salem. The beginning of witchcraft has been traced back to the monotheistic faith in the Old Testament times (US. World News witches ). Witches back then clung to the old idolatries of the time period. Back in this time period though witches were not as obvious as they became to be. It wasn t until the Middle Ages did the concept arise that witches existed, but they received a small amount of attention that they were seeking. In this time witches were believed to have received their powers under a formal contract from Satan. It wasn t until the mid 19th century on, that the real outbreaks of students of medieval witchcraft started to express their beliefs publicly. The problem however is not believed to be the witchcraft, but the state of mind of many people that made widespread panic so successful. Historically the real problem in witchcraft has not been in the witch per say, but in the victim s capacity for self-decision making. The person finds that witchcraft is the way out of a hard time. Little does that person realize that witchcraft is another hard time on it s own. In addition, many accusation of malicious witchcraft, especially in some societies and early Europe and North America, have been founded and have sprung from irrational fears and social anxieties .
Popular belief in witches was universal in Europe and other parts of the world. In fact the early Christian centuries the church was relatively tolerant of magical practices . Soon after in the middle ages opposition towards witchcraft had grown dramatically. Witches started believing that all magic and miracles that did not come from God per say came from the devil himself. The church upon hearing of this classified witches as individuals in the league with Satan. St. Thomas Aquinas had already concluded that witchcraft was a reality, that Satan had the power to transport witches through the air, into animals, and to enable them to raise tempests and cause epidemics . As soon as the churchmen had agreed that witchcraft was wrong and out of control they launched what would be a three-century witch-hunt.
In this time period people accused of witchcraft where put to trial and some even to death. Mostly all of the people who fell under suspicion of witchcraft were women, but some men were also accused. What factors contributed to the growth of the belief in witchcraft? The first believed cause of witchcraft is the church s experience with such dissident religious movements as the Albigenses and Cathari, who believed in racial dualism of good and evil, led to the belief that certain people had allied themselves with Satan . The other believed cause of witchcraft was developments that created a climate in which alleged witches were seen as representatives of all sorts of evil. Since the middle of the 11th century, the theological and philosophical work of scholasticism had been refining Christian concepts of Satan and evil . So the way society looked at evil and the devil was how the concept of witchcraft was defined. The society viewed witchcraft as a form of evil due to changing times and witches were persecuted for this. Many churchmen denied that natural acts could have existed by anything but God himself. This led to a division between those who believed in God and those who believed in other ideals.
This idea of not only God controlling the earth and its actions was far fetched for this time period. People in this time period believed in God and all his creations and had many religious revivals. Since religion was important to the daily life of the puritans the idea of witchcraft and the act of people not believing in God was considered to be wrong to them. Theologians, influenced by Aristotelian rationalism, increasingly denied that natural miracles could take place and therefore alleged that anything supernatural and not of God must be due to commerce with Satan or his minions . In the Reformation period, the rise of science, and the new modern world, were challenges to the idea of traditional religion. This created deep anxieties in the orthodox population and a growing concern for the future of religion. At the dawn of the Renaissance some of these developments began to coalesce into the witch craze that possessed Europe from about 1450 to 1700 . The societal changes were greatly developing and the idea of new horizons and ideals was not to far behind. This altered the beliefs of so many women, and some men, on their faith. This alteration caused the outcry of witchcraft and the development of punishment towards those who were found guilty.
So the answer to the question of weather or not witchcraft is real or imaginative is still confusing, the answer can go either way. To the people who believe that witchcraft is nothing but an act of nonreligious people, the answer is that witchcraft is imaginative. As for those who perform witchcraft, they believe that it is just as real as any other religion. It all depends in what the person believes. The act of persecuting and killing alleged persons under the influence of them being a witch was due to the ideals and religious beliefs of the time. These people were not wrong in what they practiced, they were only exploring new ideas and beliefs. However, the fact that they went out and discovered new religions was wrong in the eyes of the puritan s. Those who chose to explore witchcraft were not popular at the time and this lead to the accusation and senseless killing of so many innocent people.