Dark History of Witches is part of the Ancient Mysteries Series and is featured on the History Channel YouTube Page. This documentary looks at the legend of the witch. It is narrated by Leonard Nimoy.
What do we know about the witch? Who were the women that were accused of being witches? Are they a remnant of a long-lost goddess? How did a child’s game go so wrong in Salem? Why are there practicing witches today? This documentary seeks to answer those questions. The historians look at the beginnings of witchcraft and what it meant to be a practicing witch.
For psychologists, the witches represented the dark side of a woman. For others, they are a figment of one’s imagination. Yet for others, witches are a very real thing. In myths and legends, witches took different forms. Some were ugly. Some were beautiful. They could turn men into pigs. They could steal children and men’s seeds. The witch over history has been despised. It was the worse thing you could be accused of doing. Being a witch meant you were a nightmare to society.
However, in early history, witches were not a source of evil. They were kind and powerful beings who helped you. They may have developed from early goddess cults. The goddess was revered for their fertility and the ability to take care of the land. They were all-powerful and divine. The people were appreciative of the goddesses. The goddesses were served by priestesses and they were important members of their community.
The priestesses were known as wise women. They made visits to houses and dealt with everything. The ceremonies they did would eventually be known as witchcraft. Kings relied on them. People would not act without their advice. How did this wise woman transform into the hideous witch? Some would point to the decline of the goddesses and the belief in strong male gods. The goddesses were demoted in the writing of the scribes.
The story of witches and witchcraft eventually shifts to the Witches’ Sabbath. During the 14th Century, Europe was rocked by the Black Death. It decimated villages. It fueled hysteria and that the Black Death was caused by the Devil. The Church established the Inquisition during this time and the Inquisition targeted witches. Witchcraft was the most heinous crime of heresy. It could harm society. Now, witches were believed that they could fly. Some scientists believed that witches used hallucinogenic drugs and they would fly to their Witch's Sabbaths.
The Witch’s Sabbaths were where the witches met face to face with the Devil. It reversed all the norms of society. There was naked dancing. They feasted on the flesh of babies. It shocked the people at the time. During this period the Malleus Maleficarum was published and it was a publishing hit. This book assisted witch hunters in finding and prosecuting witches. The monks that wrote this book believed that the women were vulnerable beings and easy prey for the devil. A precursor to the Malleus linked lust to witchcraft. The most important question of the witch hunter was “when did you become a witch?” It was the second most popular book.
The Malleus targeted the people who were helping the people the most: wise women. It was easy for villagers to suspect the women because they practiced the things most associated with magic. They were midwives. They knew how to use herbs. They were cooks…
To continue to learn more about the Dark History of Witches, continue to watch the rest of this documentary.
This would be a good documentary to mine for lecture clips and research purposes. Leonard Nimoy sets the pace for this documentary and is a good pace. I enjoyed his narration for this documentary and would listen to him in additional documentaries.
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