Tuesday, 27 November 2012

More on witches

Here is a great article by Blake Morrison from the guardian:

It began ordinarily enough. On a road near Colne, in Lancashire, a woman called Alizon Device met a pedlar called John Law and asked if he would give her some pins. Perhaps she was offering to buy them; more likely, being poor, she was begging. Whichever, the pedlar refused to undo his pack for her and she cursed him. The two parted company and continued on their way.

Immediately afterwards, though, just a few hundred yards down the road, the pedlar collapsed with a stroke that paralysed him down the left side and left him unable to speak. He was taken to an ale house, from where a letter was dispatched to his son. By the time the son arrived, the pedlar's speech had recovered sufficiently for him to describe how he'd been bewitched. The son tracked Alizon down and brought her to his father, from whom she begged forgiveness. Unappeased, the son reported her to a local magistrate, Roger Nowell, "a very religious honest gentleman", who set about interrogating her.
At this point the story became stranger. Alizon not only admitted having bewitched the pedlar with the help of a black dog (which had offered to lame him), she also recalled how her grandmother – known as Demdike – had initiated her in the malefic art. As Nowell pressed, increasingly lurid tales came out: of how the black dog had first appeared to Alizon and "did with his mouth suck at her breast, a little below the paps, which did remain blue half a year"; of milk turned sour and cows falling sick and children bewitched to death; of the enmity between Demdike and her deformed daughter Elizabeth and a neighbour called Anne Whittle (Chattox) and her daughter, all of whom were witches living in Pendle Forest. After further interviews, Nowell sent four of these women to await trial in Lancaster, leaving Elizabeth behind at her home, Malkin Tower.
Malkin Tower seems not to have been a tower, just a simple cottage. But there, on Good Friday, emboldened by drink and a feast of roast lamb (the sheep having been stolen from a local farmer), Elizabeth and her friends and neighbours conceived a plan of travelling the 40-odd miles to Lancaster, blowing up the jail, and freeing the Pendle Four. It's improbable they'd ever have acted on the plan, but Nowell – hearing word of it – was taking no chances, and 15 more men and women were charged and sent for trial.
The trials took place over two days, Tuesday 18 August and Wednesday 19 August 1612, with the jury asked to consider a variety of offences, including murder and cannibalism. Crucial to the proceedings was the testimony of nine-year-old Jennet Device, whose mother Elizabeth, "outrageously cursing … against the child in such a fearefull manner", had to be taken away before the evidence could be heard. Standing on a table in front of the court, Jennet testified against her mother, brother and grandmother, along with others who had gathered at Malkin Tower. Whereas the judge discounted the evidence of an older child witness against three other alleged witches, Jennet's modesty and innocence were taken to guarantee her reliability. The court was impressed.
As a result, 10 of the accused were found guilty and sentenced to death; they were hanged next day on the moor above Lancaster. Demdike had already died during her four months in prison. "Although it pleased God out of his Mercie to spare you at this time," Justice Bromley told those acquitted, "yet without question there are those amongst you that are as deep in this Action as any of them that are condemned to die."
Many similar witch trials took place throughout Europe and America both before and after 1612, including a second case in Pendle in 1634, when the adult Jennet Device was herself accused of being a witch on the say-so of a child. (She and her companions were eventually acquitted.) Many more witches were put to death before the law against witchcraft in England was finally repealed in 1736. The Lancaster case remains the most notorious, however, in part because of the number of those involved (it was rare for so many witches to be tried at once), and partly because the clerk of the court, Thomas Potts, published a detailed account of the proceedings, The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster, which gives a fascinating insight into the legal processes and socio-religious attitudes of the day.
The Pendle witches don't conform to modern stereotypes. Spells are cast, clay images pricked with pins, and supernumerary nipples or warts (the mark of the devil) diligently searched for. But there are no broomsticks, no steaming cauldrons, no pointed hats, no witches' sabbaths, no black masses. Satan has a role to play but he appears in the guise of a dog or hare, not as a devil with horns. And there's nothing especially spine-chilling about the motives for witchcraft. It happens when someone behaves meanly or intemperately and has a curse put on them in return. Grudges, superstition, a belief in charms and otherworldly spirits: all this seems perfectly familiar. The witches may look ugly but they're also homely – the dysfunctional neighbours across the way.
The events of 1612 are now an established part of English folklore, and a large tourist industry flourishes around them. When I was growing up on the Lancashire-Yorkshire border, with Pendle Hill visible in the distance, talk of witches was commonplace; every local village seemed to have one – or rather, every village had an old woman whose behaviour and appearance struck fear into the hearts of children. Even the methods of punishment seemed close in time. Our village still had a wooden stocks, and it was easy to imagine witches being placed in them. Sorcery and spookiness weren't reserved for Halloween.
Potts's account of the Pendle witches may have been the first book on the subject, but other less legalistic treatments soon followed, including plays, novels and revisionist histories. The Late Lancashire Witches, by Thomas Heywood and Richard Brome, was performed in 1634 (at the time of the second Pendle witch-craze), and later adapted by Thomas Shadwell. William Harrison Ainsworth's novel The Lancashire Witches was a huge success in its day (1848) and prompted comparisons with Dickens and Walter Scott. Robert Neill's Mist Over Pendle (1951) is the best known of the author's many historical novels.
Now the 400th anniversary has brought a spate of new work about the Pendle witches. Simon Armitage got in first, with a television documentary that included animation as well as scholarly interviews. And in both Pendle and Lancaster there's a year-long festival, with art installations, exhibitions, lectures, guided walks, two plays – Sabbat by Richard Shannon and Devilish Practices by Richard MacSween – a sculpture trail, a folklore camp and a specially commissioned poem by Carol Ann Duffy carved into stones by the textual artist Stephen Raw and placed along the 48-mile route from Pendle to Lancaster. There's even a witch-themed flower show.
There are also two new novellas on the subject, by Jeanette Winterson and Livi Michael. Winterson's, The Daylight Gate, takes its title from the dialect term for dusk: it's when night-time horror begins, and that's appropriate given Winterson's publishers, Hammer, which in partnership with Arrow Books is tapping the genre made famous by its film studio. Livi Michael's Malkin Child, narrated by nine-year-old Jennet Device, is aimed at younger readers looking for a witch story that isn't Harry Potter fantasy but grounded in fact. Her Jennet is slangy, unsensational and determined, above all, to set the record straight. "Everyone's got a story, and if they don't tell it, then other people'll tell it for them," she says. "That's why I'm telling it now."
Stories about witches have been told since the beginning of time. In classical literature, they're either wily seductresses (such as Circe in the Odyssey) or malicious hags (such as Dipsas, who deprives Ovid of his lover in the Amores). On the Elizabethan and Jacobean stage – with John Lyly's Endymion, Ben Jonson's The Masque of Queens, Thomas Middleton's The Witch, and Dekker, Ford and Rowley's The Witch of Edmonton – they became more bloodthirsty ("I had a dagger; what did I with that? / Killed an infant to have his fat"). The three weird sisters in Macbeth are Shakespeare's most celebrated contribution to the genre ("What are these / So withered and so wild in their attire / That look not like the inhabitants of earth / And yet are on't?"), but with her "mischiefs manifold, and sorceries terrible", Sycorax in The Tempest runs them close (though dead, her spirit lives on in the "hag-seed" Caliban). Othello is also charged with witchcraft: how else could a black man have successfully wooed Desdemona?
Dr Johnson defended Shakespeare's use of the supernatural from the charge of implausibility on the grounds that, "The reality of witchcraft … has in all ages and countries been credited by the common people, and in most by the learned." In the age of Enlightenment, superstition was waning, though Joseph Addison confessed himself divided on the subject: "I believe, in general, that there is such a thing as witchcraft, but can give no credit to any particular instance of it." Romanticism and the Gothic allowed a resurgence of witches, along with elves, fairies, goblins and ghosts. Stories about them might defy reason but, said Scott, made better reading when left mysterious: "The professed explanation of a tale, where appearances or incidents of a supernatural character are referred to natural causes, has often, in the winding up of a story, a degree of improbability almost equal to an absolute goblin narrative."
Witches might have been expected to die out in a secular, scientific age. But ever since Dorothy took on the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, they've multiplied. From Roald Dahl and Mary Norton to Celia Rees, children's books abound in them – and exult in their destruction ("And through the town the joyous news went running / The joyous news that the wicked old witch was finally done in"). In films and television series, from the 1960s sitcom Bewitched to Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the aim is laughter rather than shivers down the spine. In the Harry Potter books and the Vampire Diaries series, the supernatural is the norm.

Two major 20th-century authors found the witch-craze in Salem in 1692 – which had parallels with that in Pendle 80 years earlier – indispensable when making sense of America in the 1950s and 60s. To Arthur Miller, the House Un-American Activities Committee and the Salem witch trials served the same ritualistic purpose, requiring "that the accused make public confession, damn his confederates as well as his Devil master, and guarantee his new allegiance by breaking disgusting old vows". When The Crucible opened in 1952, during the heyday of McCarthyism, the response of the New York audience was predictably hostile: there never were witches but there are communists, was the common objection. Two years on, with paranoia abating, the play was better received.
From 60s anti-war protesters to the Manson murders, recent history was also on John Updike's mind when he wrote The Witches of Eastwick. His coven of divorcees – Alexandra, Sukie and Jane – wreak havoc in the local community, making feathers, dead wasps and bits of eggshell appear from the mouths of victims, and (thanks to the spells they cast and the pins they stick in Alexandra's dolls or "bubbies") subjecting their worst enemies to grisly ends. "Wickedness was like food," they found, "once you got started it was hard to stop." The main power the trio revel in is sexual, and Updike has his usual fun with that. But he put in some serious research for the book, drawing on works of history (Michelet, Norman Cohn, Margaret Murray) and novels including Sylvia Townsend Warner's Lolly Willowes.
The latter – her first novel, published in 1926 – is also a novel for its time. Written in the wake of the suffragette movement and the enfranchisement of women, it reinterprets witches as proto-feminists whose only cult is a benign one, that of self-discovery. Suffocated by middle-class life in London, the spinster heroine takes off to the countryside and there, in a village called Great Mop, finds herself becoming a witch – not, as she explains to Satan (who appears as a gamekeeper and gardener), in order to plague people or do harm, but "to have a life of one's own, not an existence doled out to you by others … That's why we become witches: to show our scorn of pretending life's a safe business, to satisfy our passion for adventure."
The last witch-hanging in England was in 1685 but witchcraft goes on living, it seems. Certainly the issues surrounding the trial of the Pendle witches resonate to this day. The use of child witnesses is as contentious now as it was then. Rushed proceedings resulting in harsh sentences were a feature of last August's riots as well as of August 1612. And confessions continue to be extracted from innocent parties. "Loath they are to confess without torture, which witnessed their guiltiness," wrote King James in Daemonologie, and many security forces around the world today operate by the same principle. Once witches were ducked in ponds and rivers; now there's waterboarding.
The Pendle witch story also appeals to writers because it lends itself to different readings. Take young Jennet Device. Livi Michael shows her being conned into betraying those she loves. "Wouldn't you like to save your family?" Nowell asks her, and she submits to his coaxing and coaching, not realising what he's up to until it's too late. By contrast, the nine-year-old in The Daylight Gate – Winterson's Jennet – fully understands the consequences of her actions:
Jennet looked at them. Her brother who had sold her. Her mother who had neglected her. Her sisters who had ignored her. Chattox who frightened her. Mouldheels who stank.
She named them one by one and condemned them one by one.
Much of Winterson's book focuses on a protagonist even more intriguing than Jennet: Alice Nutter, one of those hanged. "She was a rich woman; had a great estate, and children of good hope," Potts's account of the trial records, making a distinction between witches who live "in great miserie and povertie" and those like Alice who, "though rich, yet burne in a desperate desire of Revenge". Why would a woman of means associate with beggars? Was she the victim of a plot? Winterson's story builds a new life for Alice that involves an earlier career in London, friendship with the famous magician John Dee and a passionate love affair with Elizabeth Southern, aka (in later life) Demdike. There's even a walk-on part for Shakespeare, who sits with Alice watching a performance of The Tempest at Hoghton Tower, near Preston.
Winterson tackles the issue of Catholicism, too, as anyone telling this story must. Anti-Catholicism was rife at the time, all the more so after the gunpowder plot of 1605, and Lancashire was regarded as a hotbed of the "old" religion. To those of a Calvinist persuasion there was little to choose between Catholic prayers and magic spells or incantations. "Witchery popery popery witchery. What is the difference?" as Winterson's novel has it. Or to put it another way, Catholics = witches = deviants = enemies of the state. The wild talk of blowing up Lancaster jail sealed the fate of those on trial in 1612. A group of impoverished labourers and elderly widows were presented as dangerous conspirators in the tradition of Guy Fawkes.
The previous year had seen the publication of the King James Bible, in which the religious justification for executing witches was clearly stated: "Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft" (I Samuel 15:23) and "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" (Exodus 22:18). James himself had helped induce anti-witch hysteria while king of Scotland: convinced that a group of witches in North Berwick had plotted to murder him and his new queen, he ordered an investigation and mass arrests. His ideas were set out in his book Daemonologie, and enshrined in the 1604 Witchcraft Act, one of the first pieces of legislation passed under his reign in England. Later James became more sceptical about the prevalence of witches but his thinking influenced magistrates. Severe sentences had the king's blessing. They also did right by God: "The giving up witchcraft is, in effect, giving up the Bible," John Wesley said.
The persecution of witches also offers insights into misogyny, as Caryl Churchill showed in her 1970s play Vinegar Tom. "More women in a far different proportion prove witches than men, by a hundred to one," ran a treatise of 1616, and explained why:
First, women are by nature credulous, wanting experience, and therefore more easily deceived.
Secondly, they harbour in their breast a curious and inquisitive desire to know such things as be not fitting and convenient …
Thirdly, their complexion is softer, and from hence more easily receive the impressions offered by the Devil …
Fourthly, in them is a greater facility to fall, and therefore the Devil at the first took that advantage, and set upon Eve in Adam's absence …
Fifthly, this sex, when it conceiveth wrath or hatred against any, is unplacable, possessed with insatiable desire of revenge, and transported with appetite to right (as they think) the wrongs offered unto them...
Sixthly, they are of a slippery tongue, and full of words: and therefore if they know any such wicked practices, are not able to hold them, but communicate the same with their husbands, children, consorts, and inward acquaintance.
Some women writers have retaliated against such prejudice by laying claim to sorcery as a form of empowerment – witches and proud of it. "I have gone out, a possessed witch / haunting the black air," Anne Sexton wrote, and Sylvia Plath imagined herself as a witch exulting when burnt at the stake: "My ankles brighten. Brightness ascends my thighs. / I am lost, I am lost, in the robes of all this light." This kind of hag-ography exists not only in Wicca circles but in academe (Mary Daly: "Our foresisters were the Great Hags whom the institutionally powerful but privately impotent patriarchs found too threatening for coexistence"), with the female body seen as a site of atrocity and with witch-burnings equated to the Holocaust. The complication is that men were also hanged for witchcraft (two of the 1612 victims were male), and that many of the accusations against women were made by members of their own sex.
One popular new age myth is that witches were beneficent healers and midwives persecuted by the establishment – white witches not black. It's certainly tempting to recruit witches as symbols of paganism, nature worship, herbal remedies, earth-wisdom and ecological right-mindedness, if only to confound those who see them as purveyors of madness or Satanic child abuse. There have even been petitions for those convicted under anti-witchcraft legislation to be retrospectively pardoned. But no evidence exists to suggest that the Pendle witches were healers and midwives. On the contrary, they convinced themselves that they possessed malign powers. Demdike described how she and her followers used clay images to afflict their enemies:
When they would have them to be ill in any one place more than another, then take a thorn or pin and prick it in that part of the picture you would so have to be ill; and when you would have any part of the body to consume away, then take that part of the picture, and burn it. And when they would have the whole body to consume away, then take the remnant of the said picture and burn it: and so thereupon by that means, the body shall die.
It's sad and desperate stuff: that a marginalised group could delude itself it possessed such powers is a sign, more than anything, of powerlessness. But even the best minds of the age were unforgiving. "Witches think sometimes that they kill when they do not," wrote John Donne in his sermons, "and are therefore as culpable as if they did." Hobbes said the same: "I think not that their witchcraft is any real power; but yet that they are justly punished, for the false belief they have that they can do such mischief."
In many parts of the world, people still believe in witchcraft and its mischief. Evangelical churches in Africa offer exorcisms: "Are you in bondage, affliction, oppressed or tormented by witches? Come to us for deliverance." The cure comes at a price, of course, but anyone who has experienced "strange dreams, delay in marriage, miscarriage and barrenness, stagnancy in business, financial struggles, premature death in the family, sickness resisting medication and strange occurrences" is said to be in need of deliverance – ie most of us. Even more insidious is the belief in child witches. In 2010 a 15-year-old French Congolese boy, Kristy Bamu, was tortured and murdered in London by his elder sister and her fiancĂ© because they believed him to be a witch. The Lancaster-based charity Stepping Stones Nigeria, which campaigns on behalf of children in the Niger delta, recently had a case on its own doorstep of a child being accused of witchcraft.
Hannah Arendt's phrase "the banality of evil" sums up the events of 1612, which began as a feud between two families but escalated into a panic about maleficium. When misfortunes occur, it always helps to have someone to blame. It's only the names of the scapegoats that change. A few years ago, when the British National Party was making gains in the Pendle area, I interviewed one of their candidates. His grudge was against immigrants and their "otherness". But I couldn't help noticing he had books about witchcraft on his shelves.

Blake Morrison, (2012) Under the witches spell. Retrieved from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jul/20/blake-morrison-under-the-witches-spell

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Definitions for the term 'Witch hunt'

a. A single-minded and uncompromising campaign against a group of people with unacceptable views or behaviour, spec. communists; esp. one regarded as unfair or malicious persecution.
b. A campaign against an individual.
It has taken on this less literal meaning since the 1930s. The term is used to mean that a group of people is being persecuted for their beliefs unfairly. This can be used when there is a potential problem or not, but the group of "witches" is not being treated fairly. I think it is safe to say that the term applies to both of your cases: when there is no problem (like the Salem Witch Trials) and when due process is ignored (like communists in the US).

1. English language and usage, (2011) Does the term “witch-hunt” apply when referring to dealing with a real problem? Retrieved from http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/40663/does-the-term-witch-hunt-apply-when-referring-to-dealing-with-a-real-problem

Child witches in present times

An increasing number of children in the Niger Delta are being forced to the streets and trafficked as a result of a deeply held belief in child ‘witches’ and also due to persistent violent conflicts, poverty, abuse, torture, rape, or being orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
The deeply held belief in and fear of child witchcraft cuts across all tiers of society. This fear stems from the belief that a spiritual spell can be given to a person through food and drink. The soul of the person who eats this spell will then leave the body to be initiated in a gathering of ‘witches’ and ‘wizards’. The initiated person will then have the power to wreak havoc, such as causing diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria, hepatitis, typhoid, cancer. All problems in life are seen to be the handiwork of these ‘witches’. In recent times, it is thought children have become the target for initiation by the elderly 'witches' as it is believed that they are more susceptible to their spells and are quicker in action.
The following have being identified as the major causes of child witchcraft, abandonment and killing:
  • Religious profiteering
  • Extreme poverty
  • Disintegration of the extended family structure
  • Ignorance and superstitious beliefs
  • Broken marriages

The Role of the Church

Stepping Stones Nigeria wishes to engage with all faith organisations who believe that children should be protected from harm and cared for. We do not wish to denounce any faith organisation. However, the role of the church, especially some of the new Pentecostals, in spreading the belief in child ‘witches’ cannot be underestimated. There are numerous so-called pastors in the region who are wrongly branding children as 'witches' mainly for economic self gain and personal recognition. We therefore call for all people of all faiths to stand up and support the fight to protect innocent children from the abuse that is caused due to the belief in child witchcraft.

The Role of 'Home Movies'

Stepping Stones Nigeria's research has shown that the belief in child ‘witches’ in the Niger Delta is linked to the widespread viewing of Nigerian or Nollywood 'home movies'. These movies are widely available in markets and are watched by the vast majority of people in this region. Many of these films promote superstitious beliefs, such as that of child witchcraft. By far the most provocative and influential film in this genre is 'End of the Wicked'.

How Suspected Witches are Treated

  • Abandoned, isolated, discriminated, ostracised from the community
  • Taken to the forest and slaughtered
  • Disgraced publicly and murdered
  • Bathed in acid
  • Poisoned to death, often with a poisonous local berry (asire)
  • Buried alive
  • Chained and tortured in churches in order to extract confession

1. Steppingstonesnigeria.org, (2012) Stepping Stones Nigeria’s Stance on the Belief in Child ‘Witches’ Retrieved from http://www.steppingstonesnigeria.org/witchcraft.html

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Setancing and execution in depth

A convicted Witch's sentence varied. She could be killed, banished, imprisoned, or assigned a lesser penalty like penance. Religious courts used non-lethal penalties more frequently than secular courts did. But since secular courts held most of the trials, the most common penalty for a Witch was death.
All executions were carried out by the secular authorities. Religious courts who sentenced a Witch to death handed her over to the government for actual execution, to "keep the Church's hands clean", so to speak.
In England and New England Witches were hanged; elsewhere the most common form of execution was burning. Burning, by the way, didn't mean being burned alive. If you recanted (admitted you'd made a mistake and were sorry), you were killed beforehand, and then your body was consigned to the flames. Nobles were beheaded, commoners were hanged -- being burned alive was an extreme and unusual punishment except in Spain and Italy where the Inquisition did regularly burn people alive.
Executions were popular events. The largest had thousands of attendees, who often travelled many miles to see the deaths. Crowds were so large that the Inquisition would sometimes erect bleachers, so that everyone could see and hear.
Why did the Church care about the spectators? Because executions were dramatic "teaching" tools. Scholars are beginning to study the ways in which executions helped spread Witch hysteria. Before the actual execution, an official (often a priest) would stand before the crowd and deliver a sermon against Witchcraft. At the very least, he'd recite a list of the Witch's crimes. Thus by attending executions, the "average" person could learn a great deal about what Witches were "supposed" to be like. Executions are one of the avenues through which intellectual stereotypes (from, say, the Malleus Maleficarum) made their way into popular culture. They're one of the reasons why the longer trials went on in a country, the more they all sounded alike.
The actual hanging or burning could be preceded by a bout of monstrous public torture, especially where local officials controlled the trial. The case of the Gamperle coven (see the biographies) gives a graphic example of how inhuman these tortures could be.
The manner of your execution also depended on who you'd tried to bewitch. Treasonous magick -- attempting to harm the king, queen, or local noble -- was treated most harshly. One Baltic Witch who was convicted of killing the Count of Audru was sentenced to be "repeatedly squeezed with red-hot irons, have his limbs severed at the joints, his heart ripped out, his head chopped off and impaled upon a stake by the roadside, his body burnt."
In England the sentence for using Witchcraft on Queen Elizabeth was "ye shall be drawn through the open City of London upon hurdles to the place of execution, and there be hanged and let down alive, and your privy parts cut off, and your entrails taken out and burnt in your sight; then your head to be cut off and your body divided into four parts, to be disposed of at her Majesty's pleasure." (Did you see the movie "Braveheart"? If so, the execution at the end was an accurate, slightly watered-down version of a real treason execution.)
England also had a crime called "petty treason," treason against a lesser "lord" than the Queen. A servant who killed his master or a woman who used magick against her husband was a petty traitor and could be sentenced to be burned alive. Thus there actually were a handful of English Witches who were burned at the stake.
I point this out because many Gardnerian Books of Shadows (handwritten collections of rituals supposedly handed down from generation to generation of Witches) mention the danger of being burnt alive. This is often cited as evidence that these books are not ancient, since English Witches were hanged, not burned. While I agree with this line of reasoning, I also believe it's important to note that there were English Witches who were burned alive and, as one historian points out, "many people still had a confused idea that [burning] was the appropriate penalty for a witch in England, as it was on the Continent." We know that at least one English magistrate (Brian Darcy) threatened to burn accused Witches who wouldn't confess, even though legally speaking this was impossible. Therefore the fact that Gardnerian Books of Shadows mention the stake doesn't automatically make them modern inventions.
Practice stayed pretty close to theory. The only thing writers neglect to mention is that a priest or minister generally escorted the Witch to the stake or gallows, pestering her all the while to confess and make peace with God. There was nothing like a good stake-side confession and recantation to reassure the populace that the court had done the right thing.
Why were Witches burned? Margaret Murray theorized that they wanted to be, that the victims of the Burning Times were willing sacrifices who wanted their ashes to be sprinkled over the crops to ensure fertility. This is nonsense. Murray only produces one Witch who said that she wanted to be burned. I could easily show you a thousand more who begged not to die by the fire. One of the most successful "interrogation" techniques was to offer a Witch a merciful death in exchange for her confession. When they knew that there was no way they could prove their innocence, many Witches jumped at any chance to escape the flames.
Witches weren't burned because they wanted to be, they were burned to protect the community. A Witch's dead body was considered tainted and polluted. Fire cleansed it, and broke any residual spells that might linger. Throughout much of Europe it was thought that the body of a dead Witch would cause the plague. Christians, like Pagans, believed in the purifying power of fire and burned the body to prevent disease. One Witch hunter reports, "It was a received opinion amongst many that, the body of a witch being burnt, her blood is prevented thereby from becoming hereditary to her progeny in the same evil, which by hanging is not." In other words, burn a Witch and her family is cleansed of the "taint" of Witchcraft. As early as 1459 a Witch was burned and her ashes thrown into a river "so that no further harm may ensue therefrom."

1. Summerlands.com, Jenny Gibbons (2012) Stage #9: sentencing and ecucution. Retrieved from http://www.summerlands.com/crossroads/remembrance/_remembrance/sent_execute.htm

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Sustainability in design

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is the capacity to endure through renewal maintenance, and sustenance or nourishment in the contrast to durability, the capacity to endure through unchanging resistance to change.

Why is it necessary?

Because mostly everything in the world is made or uses fossil fuels or metals they are nonrenewable, plastic is made from oil, and petrol comes from oil and so on. These resources will run out unless we stop using them which won’t happen anytime soon as everyone relies on them too much. Although using Sustainable design we can overcome this problem. To make something renewable to improve the environment, economic and social, the 'Triple bottom line'

The benefits?

Here are a few benefits of Sustainable design.

-Cost reduction.

-Less of an effect on the environment.

-Good publicity, more positive advertising.

-Encourages innovation.

Case study

Case study on the Hybrid car.

What is it?

A hybrid car is one that uses more than one means of propulsion. At the moment this is done with a conventional internal combustion engine with an electric motor.

What drove the invention?

The main advantage of a hybrid car is that it uses less fuel and emits less Co2 than a conventional non-hybrid vehicle. Major car manufacturers also has a major incentive with tax breaks for making more fuel efficient cars, so by doing so able to pay less tax therefore making more money. Businesses and companies don’t usually do things to be 'nice' they have to make money.

What innovation has come about with the hybrid car?

Main points are advanced aerodynamics, low resistance tires and more lightweight materials.

But the hybrid car also has features to reduce fuel usage such as, at low speed the engine is turned off and the electric motor only drives the car. Then when maximum acceleration is needed, both work together at stages between, only the excess power generated by the engine is used to power the electric motor.

How does the Hybrid car contribute towards sustainability?

-Less fuel usage= better for the environment.

-Less cost- Better for consumer.

-Less emitions= better for the environment.

-Charges its own batteries when using the car at higher speeds.

How can Sustainable design be achieved in video games design?

Sustainable design can also be applied to games as long as it fits into the 'Triple bottom line'

if it improves environment, economic and social then it is a Sustainable design.
Large MMO's achieve this because they are sociable, people from all over the world can speak and play together, such as World of Warcraft. These games also have constant updates with new gameplay or festive events witch increase the longevity of the game meaning its more environment friendly as no packaging is needed its all-digital. It also helps the games industry

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Witches influences and events

This event is said to come from the Celtic day of the dead, and the Christian era. It was said that on the 31st of October the souls of the dead were out among, fairies, witches and demons. Because of this people often left offerings of food and drink out to keep the spirits and evil a bay. Now Halloween is a large event around the world where people dress up as witches, ghosts and demons and go from door to door to gather treats which closely resembles what people used to do in the past.
Bonfire night is also closely linked to Halloween, before guy forks the event was on a earlier date and used to scare of these evil spirits by having large fires, this is why this tradition has been carried forward and most present events have large fires and fireworks.

Website dedicated and themed around the pendle witch trials. http://www.visitlancashire.com/witches2012 The event has turned out to be quite a tourist attraction, people can come to learn about the famous trial and event, there are tours, walks. The local shops are even dedicated to the witches and there is even a brand of beer dedicated to the pendle witches. lots of information and goings on can be found here https://www.facebook.com/pendlewitchwalk?ref=tn_tnmn
There are also TV shows on the BBC about the story of the pendle witches.
Because of the pendle tourist attraction the event has helped bring in large amounts of money to the local community creating more jobs and opportunities, here is a quote from the BBC news, "These visitors help boost the local economy and bring in £78m a year, helping to support local jobs and services."

1. Festivals and celebrations. (2010) The history of Halloween. Retrieved from http://resources.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/Halloween/history.htm
2. The American folklife centre. (2011) Halloween .Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/folklife/halloween.html
3. Pendle Witch walk. (N/A) .Retrieved from http://www.pendlewitchwalk.co.uk/register/
4. BBC (2012) Events mark 400th anniversary of Pendle witch trials. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-17385768

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Back to the Pendle witch trial

Nowadays children can be used to give evidence in court, they are judged on their understanding not their age. But in the past children younger than 14 were seen as unreliable witnesses and could not be sworn under oath, the Pendle witch trial changed this.

I’ve talked and researched the Pendle witch trial in previous posts but here I will look more into 9 year old Jennet Device and leading up to the trial and execution. At the time of the event Lancashire had a reputation for trouble-makers; surrounding villages even described the grandmother Demdike as a "Cunning woman"

After Alizon confessed to bewitching the pedlar she also accused their neighbours of murdering people with witchcraft, this then backfired and the neighbours Anne redferne and her mother Chattox accused Demdike of using witchcraft. This lead to all of the people accused being arrested and put on trial.

This is where Jennet Device was called to court to give information on her own mother and family. It is said that her mother screamed and pleaded at her when she entered the court room. Young Jennet then climbed on top of a table and said her family were guilty of using witchcraft. She had condemned her own family to death, the next day they were hanged at Gallows hill. It’s a mystery why Jennet sent her own family to death, but people say she was too young to understand what was going on, all the people and the pressure of the court room saying her own mother killed a man with witchcraft she could just be agreeing scared for herself without realising the consequences. or she could have been a bit of an outcast of the family, information on her father is not clear she could have some sort of resentment to her family, personally I don’t think she meant to send her family to death. She’s young scared and pressured into something she doesn’t fully understand.

It is said that Jennet was later accused of being a witch herself around 20 years later by a 10 year old boy called Edmund Robinson. Laws had changed then, courts needed more evidence. Eventually Edmund confessed to lying because he has heard stories about Jennet and her past of the Pendle witch trial. 

1. BBC News (2011) The witch trial that made legal history. Retrieved from http://gouk.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=gouk&cdn=travel&tm=448&f=00&su=p531.60.342.ip_&tt=11&bt=1&bts=1&zu=http%3A//www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14490790