If you've read The Old Religion page, Triumph Of The
Moon by Ronald Hutton, or Crafting The Art of Magic by Adian Kelly then
you know Wicca isn't thousands of years old, but started in the 20th
century. When faced with this, many
Wiccans are faced with giving up one of their most cherished myths:
millions of Wiccans being killed during the witch hunt era (called the
"Burning Times). Since Wicca didn't even exist until around 1954, and
the witch trials were over by the 18th century, one has to realize no
Wiccans were killed unless they hopped in a time machine!
The Wiccan Burning Times Myth has been a part of Wiccan lore for 60
years or more, and this is due to misinformation presented by Wiccan
authors. Gardner forged the Book of Shadows to make it sound as though
it was written by someone during the witch hunt era, and the lie has
stuck. It's still being repeated now...to even younger believers.
Here's a few examples from Wiccan authors if you don't believe me (I'm
agnostic myself these days, so don't email me).
“Burning Times: You will hear this often. It is in reference to a
historical time from about 1000 [A.D.] through the 17th century when it
is said that over nine million people were tortured and burned by
church and public officials on the assumption that they were the
Christian version of Witches [sic]...” (Silver Ravenwolf, page 19 Teen
Witch. The implication here is that Wiccans were the ones executed
during the witch hunt era, when in fact none were, and almost all of
the people killed were actually Christians. Also, the figure is closer
to 40,000 over a 500 year period. This book was published in 2001,
showing many prominent Wiccans still don’t accept the fact their
religion is a modern invention. )
Today all "xtian" churches get the blame for the
witch burnings, even though the vast majority tried and executed by
civil courts, not by any church. Switzerland, Germany and France were
the countries where the bulk of these trials were held. Ireland ,
supposedly some kind of a hotbed of Wicca and Druidism during these
times, had only 4 witch executions. Even in these 4 trials the words
"Wicca" "Goddess" or "Druid" are never mentioned in the records.
Even Russia, known for it's many pogroms and being serfdom holdout into
the 19th century, had just 10 (yes, ten) witch executions in its
history! The witch trials largely escaped the Orthodox Church countries
because confession, repentance, and exorcism were the usual remedies
for witchcraft there. The countries where witch trials took place where
countries where Roman Catholic and Protestant conflicts were taking
place, with much social upheaval to fuel the fire of witch hysteria.
Ignoring these facts, Wiccans have promoted many fraudulent claims,
such as the execution of 400 women in one day in France (or Germany,
Switzerland, or Italy depending on the version you read) that simply
The falsehood was first written in a French book titled
Langon's Histoire de l'Inquisition en France, written in 1829 by
Etienne Leon de Lamothe. Scholars doing research on the subject noticed
no other French historian had noted these supposed witch trials that
executed so many hundreds of people at a time, such as the 400 in one
day mentioned. It turns out it never happened. Hansen included large
sections of Lamothe-Langon's work in his book on medieval witchcraft.
Later historians cited Hansen's book, and Lamothe-Langon's fictional
French trials became a part of the Wiccan "Burning Times" baloney.
Hansen had previously been an author of horror stories, and apparently
turned his talents for scary fiction into fraudulent history.
The period between 1400-1800 A.D. in which people
were executed for witchcraft (not Wicca, but sorcery) has been called
"The Burning Times". The term was coined by Gerald Gardner, Wicca's
founder, and it's been used by Wiccans ever since.
The actual number of people killed was probably some
40,000 to 65,000 according to the most recent estimates. Some figures
put out by the Roman Catholic church even put it as low as 3,000. This
is a lot of people, but one must remember this took place over a 500
year period. The 9,000,000 figure cited by most Wiccans is derived from
faulty data from the 19th century. In The Power of the Witch, Laurie
Cabot claims the figure might have even been 13,000,000, but of course
does not cite the source. Gerald Gardner himself coined the phrase "The
Burning Times" to describe this period, and it has stuck every since.
Wiccans despise Christians for these "burning times"...yes, including
the Christians alive today who have never killed anybody. The reason is
Wiccans feel that it was their fellow Wiccans who were killed during
this era. Of course, when the history of this period is examined, this
idea is ridiculous!
percent of the people excuted during the witch hunt era were men. This
shows it wasn't something directed against women (supposedly midwives
in particular) since there was a large number of male victims involved.
Some of the people killed were probably sorcerers of
some sort as in the cases of Thomas Weir and Madame LaViosin. These
type of people were Satanists; they were not Neopagans or the members
of some surviving goddess cult. Then there were probably some sorcerers
who did some sort of spell or practiced fortune telling, but were not
true Satanists. There probably were a few people executed who were
healers... perhaps a person who's homemade remedy for gout might have
accidentally caused death for instance... but most seem to have been
unattractive and unpopular or anti-social types.
By and large, the majority of people executed were
probably innocent of any occult activity, and just happened to get on
the wrong side of the authorities. So in other words, the majority of
people killed during this time were not sorcerers of any kind...they
were Christians. It is a sad chapter in Christian history, but it is
not a valid reason for Neopagans to hate "xtians". If they want to hate
someone, why don't they hate Nazis? Or why not hate Communists, who
have slaughtered even more people than the Nazis? Why don't we see
catchy little bumper-stickers like "Never Again The Great Leap
Forward", "Never again Dachau" or "Never Again The Killing Fields of
Khmer Rouge"? Well the reason is, they need a scapegoat to vent their
frustration on, and Christians fit the bill.
Are the Burning Times going on today? A popular
internet rumor perpetuated ironically by the so-called "Ontario
Consultants For Religious Tolearnce" (a front for the Church of
Scientology run by militant athiests and Neopagans) mentions on their
website a quote from a Wiccan who said a friend told him a story about
a Wiccan who was "lynched by Christians" in the 1980's. But not the
name of the person who told the story, the name of this mythical Wiccan
who was lynched, the year, town, state, nor even the country are
mentioned. The only source for this urban legend is none other than the
OCRT website when Googled. Even when it is pointed out to the OCRT,
they still want to hold on to the myth. The total number of Wiccans
killed by Christians to date is ZERO.
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