12 Crazy Reasons Why Your Ancestors Were Accused Of Witchcraft

"She's so pretty. She's definitely a witch... Let's burn her."

During the Early Modern Period, Europe played host to the witch trials which were caused by moral and religious panic. People believed that the Devil had possessed and convinced mankind to join his allegiance on Earth and would do his bidding to help spread evil by practising witchcraft and dabbling in the Occult. Whilst this may seem silly to you, fear of those who don't know any better created mass hysteria and the presence of witches, as well as the Supernatural, were believed to be very real. Of course, who could label the witch hunts and trials as irrational and inhumane when the King himself imposed the law to burn witches and even participated in the trials? If anyone had any doubt about the existence of Dark Magic then all they had to go was follow the law like a good citizen and help to abolish this evil. James VI published a book, Daemonologie, in 1597 defending his rights to torture and kill witches (male and female) who were threatening his position and the authority of the Church with their wicked ways. The fear of the Supernatural and the distrust that the public then had with their neighbours led to the mass execution of thousands of innocent people across Europe. They were tortured to the point where they confessed to performing witchcraft just so that they could finally die, and the most popular methods of execution were burning witches at the stake or drowning them. Witches were thrown into a river or lake, tied to a stone, and if they drowned then they were innocent, but if they floated they were guilty and would then be burned at the stake. Either way, they died. So what would you need to have done to get you accused of practising witchcraft in the Early Modern Period?

12. You Were Poor

Throughout history, poor people have been the most tortured and mistreated souls, simply because they don't have the money to buy their way out of things. Whilst many people hoard and value gold above all other things, the peasantry were more concerned about when their next meal would come and if they were able to survive the long Winters. But of course, the poorer you were, the more corrupt that you were thought to have been, simply because you had nothing to lose but a lot to gain. So naturally, the gentry turned on the poor and accused them of witchcraft for their lack of wealth and their assumed immorality. Many people who went from door to door to beg for money or food were the first ones to blame if anything ever went missing and they were trialled for being a witch. Alternatively, if you were well off and able to financially support yourself, then you were also accused of being a witch... Up until the start of the 20th Century, women were considered inferior to men and the fact that they were considered to be second class citizens was a universal societal norm. It's because of this that women who were financially independent and stable were also considered to be witches. How else would they be able to live without the support of a husband or male family member if they weren't a witch and using their powers to steal money?
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Lover of Tolkien's world, Harry Potter and baked goods. A camel once put his head on my shoulder and it was the best day ever. sara@whatculture.com