Discussion 8

The Witches Discussion Question The first discussion started with Kelly Pang’s definition about the origin of the witch stereotype. Robin Evans supported the views by presenting a detailed analysis about some paintings by Hans Baldung Grien like ‘The Witches Sabbath’ and the ‘A Group of Witches’. Nicole Aydt also supported Kellys views in reference to Malleus Maleficarum or the Hammer of the Witches. Robin Evans pointed out though the depictions of people like Albrecht Durer and Grien show the witches performing utterly cannibalistic activities like collecting male penis and engaging in grave digging, there is no proof that these events actually happened. Kelly pang said the usage of trident and flying in the animals showed the pagan beliefs.
I added to the discussion putting forward my views about Kramer’s works on witch stereotype. Most of the witches were particularly shown as extremely young and beautiful women or old hags using certain objects like cauldron, brooms and cooking sticks. Most menopausal women turn frightening and cursing depicting changes in their physique. The ancient people who failed to understand the biology behind the menopause women termed them as possessed failing to help them.
We concluded these stereotypes were a result of women’s common image in the society. Women mostly held the position of cooks and maids in the ancient days and these mundane objects were particularly used to emphasize their connection with their inferior position in the society. The discussion left us wondering whether the witches really used these objects and what sort of modern equipments would be used to depict modern witches, if any.
Discussion Question 2
The second question discussed about fair trail and how religion was used as a tool to hinder fair justice by the Church in the witch hunt. Nicole Aydt mentioned double standard of the church which banned all forms of cruelty, but consented to untold forms of torture in the witch hunt. While Aydt rightly pointed out torture authorized by the church led to false confessions and suffering of thousands of innocents, Evans mentioned how witches were portrayed as extremely evil women who would go to the level of letting devilish creatures satisfy their carnal lust directly as shown in the painting ‘Witch and Demon’. Kelly Pang also said the depiction of the witches were particularly made erotic to kindle interest in the art and therefore convince the general public how demonic they were, isolating them from the rest of the society.
I added there is no proof whether the Malleus Maleficarum was actually followed in the cities where Grien lived. The painters might have created these works with exaggeration influenced by the rumors which spread around them. The later day historians could have easily connected the art works with the witch hunt which occurred around the same period. The Church which sought to curb the ancient Pagan beliefs could have depicted all practicers of that ancient religion as cannibals or uncivilized people, fit to be hunted down.
The discussion ended with all of us agreeing there is no historical evidence to prove the guiltiness of the witches. Women as powerful as practicing levitation and astral projection simply lost their voices and the chance to express their side because the dominant religion feared and failed to acknowledge an alternate living style and God.