Demon Lovers: Witchcraft, Sex, and the Crisis of Belief by Walter Stephens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Perhaps we should ask ourselves , who loves demons more the Church or the witches ? It was during the end of Medieval times that the Church was having a crisis in faith. Many were questioning the reality of the spiritual world. The only way it seemed to sustain belief was to hunt out demons. The proof of demon meant proof of the spiritual world. When the Church could not answer questions then what could prove to be a better scapegoat then the devil himself or his demons.
The churches view of Demons, Witchcraft and women went on a continuum. Going from less extreme to the more extreme as science became more advanced. Interviewing witches and asking them about demons was the church's way of gaining insight into the other world spiritual reality. Demon at first were thought of strictly as being with a body made of another substance, a spiritual substance. There was no way it could interact directly with the earthly plane. They did not have solid bodies. Of course they could possess people but that was rare. They could also possess animals. As time went by the demons, or church members , found other ways the demons could interact with our plane. Some said that it was entering into the human imagination, later on they could materialize bodies by collecting different particles but it was not a real body. toward the end of the burning times They did in fact have a body of their own. Demons came from the name Daimon which was an intermediary between the gods and men. So demons became a more solid reality as time went by.
At first it was believed that demon could not mate with humans but then as time went by the demons could make their own body and steal denial fluids from a man and use it to impregnate a woman. Finally it came down demons being able to procreate with human beings. This was all gleaned from church father interviews with suspected witches. Might we keep in mind that torutre was used and often times the church fathers themselves added details of their own imagination .
The witches sabbat was another witchcraft demon thing that got blown out of proportion. At first there was not a single mention of it. Later on witches were able to fly in their mind to meeting rot a sabbat. Things always got more elaborate . legend abound about a flying ointment that made witches cirtually able to fly through the air. At the first it was thought that demons tranported them or used transvection. Legend than stated that witches themselves flew there. Scientific experimentation revealed that the witches never even left the area when they anointed themselves and the witch hunters stood watch. THe witch hunters of course made some excuse as to why the witches did not fly on that particular occasion and the belief of the sabbat stuck.
The subject of witchcraft itself was not so bad. At worst it was thought that maybe someone of a week mind would engage in such practice. Many church fathers thought that witchcraft did not even work. Later on it would a ssume a much more siinister meaning. In the beginning men and women would be accused of witchcraft and then things centered on the women. The witch hunts got more anti female.
Witches were also thought to have killed children to obtain their power. This was achieved by turning into cat or a wolf sneaking into a house and drinking a babies blood. Dead baby fat was supposedly used for an ointment that gave witches more power. They would also use illusions to stamp out male viritilty. If someone could not conceive a witch was to be blamed.
As we see witches like Jews, alternative Christian sects and witches proved to be excellent scape goats. If something went wrong you know who to blame. If chidden die mysteriously then you know who's fault it was. All these groups were accused of dancing naked for the devil. All the groups were accused of stealing sacrament and using it's power for negative magic. After all baptism and other sacrament meant that one had god's protection from demons unless a human agent got involved, be it Jew, witch or heretic.
The Church needs to the devil in order to survive. Without it no onee would be afraid.
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