Nocturnal Rumination: Malleus Maleficarum

26 Nov

Hardly anything enters into the public imagination like the Malleus Maleficarum did in the 1400s.  Seeing as the day has provided music and imagery from witch hunts, I did not feel referencing Der Hexenhammer to be far from the realm of thought.

Christianity and magic have a stormy relationship.  On one hand, especially at the time of its writing, the Catholic faith relied heavily off magical traditions from Roman paganism, including the transubstantiation of the flesh and blood, smoke as a vehicle of prayer, light as a ward against darkness, and so on.  On the other, heath magicians were common through Europe, solving many problems from crop and personal infertility, keeping out negative spirits, and keeping the good ones happy.

Very early in the Holy Roman Empire, Charlemagne outlawed the burning of witches at the stake for instead more just punishments that involved more social shaming.  The previous punishments to the use of magic came directly from the polytheistic heritage of the peoples of Europe and were, most likely, only used against black magic users instead of white or gray magic users.  It is important to note here that all genders were considered able to use magic at this point.

The Malleus Maleficarum focuses solely on the weakness of women (as related to Eve’s decision to eat from the Tree in the Garden of Eden), becoming a primary focus of the later institutionalized misogyny of the Western World.  The Spanish Inquisition used it specifically during the Reconquista; it furthered the war between the Reformation of the Catholic Church versus the Counter-Reformation; and, the book was instrumental in the punishments of Protestants throughout Europe.  For more information, refer to the following sources:

Wikipedia Entry

The Malleus Maleficarum

As a side note, this week’s weekly writing log will appear tomorrow.


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