Witchcraft/Witch Week (was Re: Rowling and religion in CL)

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Fri Feb 20 15:58:48 EST 2004


Otter wrote:

>On Friday, February 20, 2004, at 10:28 AM, Rowland, Jennifer A B wrote:
>> In Witch Week, I don't think any reference is made to religion-
>> witches are supposed to be evil, but I don't think "servants of the
>> devil" comes into it- although that must have been the idea
>> originally, since the split in the worlds was in 1605, at which point
>> King James was frothing at the mouth about witches.
>Yes, he was.  But, as Charles Williams points out in _Witchcraft_,
>although he believed
>in witchcraft, he never believed that any individual case he was
>presented with _was_
>witchcraft.  Deluded old women, yes.  Despised old women, yes.
>Witches, no.
>
>[The Spanish Inquisition, whatever its other faults, had a good record
>  on witchcraft, too.  It was Protestant Northern Europe that did most of
>  the burning, etc.]

And in England it was always "etc.", because the judicial penalty for
witchcraft was never burning.  So it is slightly surprising that in *Witch
Week* witches are burned in England; I suspect that when DWJ wrote it, she
simply didn't happen to know that burning for witchcraft wasn't what the
English did.  Pressing and drowning and hanging aren't somehow as good
theatre, are they?  Not so much of a nightmare spectacular for children to
have seen being done to their parents.

(Yeuch.)

Minnow


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