1975, researchers used the anti-witch sermons and manuals of the era
mostly from Roman Catholic sources. These manuals were deliberately
attempting to create witch hysteria, and aren't reliable. It wasn't
until after 1975 that researchers began to use the court documents of
the trials and the surviving letters of the accused. Court records gave
data collected by the people that were actually present at the trials,
such as the verdicts, the testimony of the accused, and property
confiscated. But most Wiccans still love to recite the faulty pre-1975
In a period of about 400 years, a more realistic number of people
executed for witchcraft is around 65,000...and that's the high end
estimation. The lowest estimation figure is around 4,500. The majority
of these executions happened in France, Germany, and Switzerland. Some
of them may have been actually guilty of some form of sorcery or
another. The majority of them were probably innocent of being
sorcerers, but just happened to get on the wrong side of the
authorities for whatever reason.
New examination of records from the period show that the
women executed were usually poor, unattractive and anti-social.
According to some authorities such as Rossel Robbins, the Roman
Catholic Church began to take an interest in executing witches
beginning in the 14th century A.D. because it had gotten rid of those
it deemed "heretics". In essence, they needed a new source of heretics,
according to Robbins, and witches fit the bill. The executions of these
people were carried out by the state, not the Church as is usually
supposed (Refer to The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology by
R.H. Robbins for more details). There were even cases where Churches
protected women accused of witchcraft by angry mobs! Yes, you read that
right, but don't expect it to appear in any Silver Ravenwolf books
In any case, these accused people were NOT Wiccans. The
execution of people accused of sorcery is a dark period in Western
civilization indeed, but we should get the facts straight about it.
Anyone who tries to make these poeple into survivors of an underground
religion when they were not, or inflate the figures of those executed
is doing nothing but exploiting the deaths of these people for their
own gain. They are not better than the people who used the executions
of these people to take their land and possesions.
Again, I am not trying to downplay the executions of
these people so long ago, even if the figures have been grossly
exaggerated. . It is a black mark on Western history. The point I am
making is that these people were NOT Wiccans! Nor is it likely these
people were part of any kind of a Pagan religion at all! As already
mentioned, even by liberal estimates, it is believed Paganism was
abandoned in even the most remote parts of Europe by 1200 A.D. Yes, a
spell or superstition survived here and there, but there was no
organized underground Pagan religion. If the Internet is any indication
however, most followers of Wicca believe they are the victims of a
Medieval holocaust, which would imply they believe by and large in the
"caveman Wicca" theory, as opposed to the "reconstructionist movement"
theory. But even most of the so-called "reconstructionists" still get
riled up about these so called "Burning Times" and state how "it will
always be a part of Wiccan lore". Why? Because these types need an
invented history replete with "xtian persecution".
The Witch Trials Were Really About Money
evil men conducted the witch trials not to stamp out some underground
Pagan religion, but rather for monetary gain! When The Witch's
Hammer was first published, the idea of hunting witches did
not catch on right away, and seems to have slowly developed over a
century. Some people out there realized there was money to be made from
these trials, and that's when the witch hunts got into full swing.
When witch trials were conducted, someone had to foot the bill.
The judges, witch-finders, jailers, executioners, etc., all had to be
paid. The property of the condemned witches were seized to make
payment. If the condemned "witch" had no property or money but worked
for a noblemen, then the noblemen was forced to foot the bill. Had the
funding for these trials never been allowed in the firstplace, the
Witch Hunt Era would have never happened to begin with.
Why The Witch Trials Finally Came To An End
Once the money dried up, it's no coincidence that the
witch trials vanished. In 1630 Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinan II forbade
the appropriation of property of accused witches by the courts. This
action (Surprise! Surprise!) caused accusations of witchcraft to
sharply decline and then cease altogether by the following year.
In Bamberg, for instance, there had been an average of 100
executions for witchcraft (again, not Wicca or Neopaganism, but
Christians wrongfully accused of sorcery) a year between 1626 to 1629.
There were 24 executions in 1630, and then in 1631 there were
none. In other regions where similar laws were passed, the witch hunts
also stopped. Obviously the motive in the hearts of these later witch
hunters had not been religious fanaticism and superstition as it had
been with Sprenger and Kramer and their ilk, nor had it been to stop
the Wicca or a goddess religion since Paganism had been abandoned
The real motivation behind this horrible practice was money and
financial gain, plain and simple, not the persecution of a rival
religion! Jesus of Nazareth was certainly right when he said the love
of money is the root of all evil.
HISTORIANS SUCH AS PROFESSOR RONALD HUTTON AND PROFESSOR R.H. ROBBINS
(AMONG NUMEROUS OTHERS) HAVE CONCLUDED THERE WERE NO PAGANS KILLED
DURING THE SO-CALLED "BURNING TIMES"! PAGANISM HAD BEEN ABANDONED
CENTURIES PRIOR AND WAS GONE FROM EUROPE BY THE 12TH CENTURIES EVEN IN
THE MOST REMOTE PARTS OF EUROPE! True, there was a superstition here or
there, but one superstition does not make an underground religion.
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