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The "burning times:"

The extermination of Witches and other heretics

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"Burning times" by Inkubus Sukkubus:



""Forget not the days of old / And recall the stories told / Of the burnings and the screams / Do they ever haunt your dreams?
"There was a time when freedom died / It was an age of genocide / The Inquisition at the door / The Church of Rome in a holy war ..."
Then the turning of the tide / From the truth they could not hide / Now the darkest age has passed / The Goddess has returned at last!"

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We are not going to win many friends in the Neopagan communities with the following two essays. However, we believe it to be accurate. It is a story that needs to be told.

The facts are that almost all of the information that is generally accepted as truth by the Neopagan community about the "burning times" is wrong. What really happened was:

bullet The total number of victims was probably between 50,000 and 100,000 -- not 9 million as many believe.

bullet Although alleged witches were burned alive or hung over a five century interval -- from the 14th to the 18th century -- the vast majority were tried between the years 1550 and 1650.

bullet Some of the victims worshiped Pagan deities, and thus could be considered to be indirectly linked to today's Neopagans. However most apparently did not.

bullet Some of the victims were midwives and native healers; however most were not.

bullet Most of the victims were tried executed by local, community courts, not by the Church.

bullet A substantial minority of victims -- about 25% -- were male.

bullet Many countries in Europe largely escaped the burning times: Ireland executed only four "Witches;" Russia only ten. The craze affected mostly Switzerland, Germany and France.

bullet Eastern Orthodox countries had few Witch trials. Stephen Hayes writes:
"In parts of the Orthodox East, at least, witch hunts such as those experienced in other parts of Europe were unknown...."The Orthodox Church is strongly critical of sorcerers (among whom it includes palmists, fortune tellers and astrologers), but has not generally seen the remedy in accusations, trials and secular penalties, but rather in confession and repentance, and exorcism if necessary...." 2

bullet Most of the genocide seem to have taken place in Western Europe in the times and areas where Protestant - Roman Catholic conflict -- and thus social turmoil -- was at its maximum.

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2019: A witch memorial is proposed in Scotland:

3,837 people are known to have been executed in Scotland during the 17th to 18th century, after having been found guilty of withcraft. 5 They were strangled, hanged, burned at the stake, beheaded, or drowned. Construction of a withcraft memorial to be erected in their memory is scheduled to be discussed on 2019-SEP-26 at the Torryburn and New Mills Community Centre in Scotland. 6

The proposal would involve relocating the Beamer Rock navigation beacon which was removed from the Firth of Forth during 2011, and rebuild it on the coast of the river Ness in Torryburn, which is located NorthWest of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Councillors Kate Stewart, Mino Manekshaw and Bobby Clelland isued a joint statement, saying:

"We'd love to see the creation of a memorial at Torryburn, dedicated to the memory of Lillias Adie and more generally to the many thousands of (mainly women) persecuted as witches in early modern Scotland.

"It would help to re-positioning them away from the misguided modern 'Halloween-style' perception of fun they have become. They were the innocent victims of an unimaginable injustice."

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Topics included in this section:

bullet Description of the phenomenon

bullet Witch burning timeline

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Related essay on this web site:

bullet Are all Witches equal? The Harry Potter books and how they highlighted public confusion over the meaning of "Witch" and "Witchcraft."

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Burning times Inkubus Sukkubus," You Tube, 2009-DEC-26, at:
  2. "Christian responses to Witchcraft and sorcery," at:
  3. Cornell University has a "Witchcraft Collection" with over 3,000 titles documenting the history of the Inquisition and the persecution of witches.

    "It documents the earliest and the latest manifestations of the belief in witchcraft as well as its geographical boundaries, and elaborates this history with works on canon law, the Inquisition, torture, demonology, trial testimony, and narratives. Most importantly, the collection focuses on witchcraft not as folklore or anthropology, but as theology and as religious heresy."


  4. Hugh V. McLachlan, "The Kirk, Satan and Salem: A History of the Witches of Renfrewshire," Grimsay Press, (2006) This book describes the witchcraft allegations and prosecutions in Renfrewshire, Scotland, in the 1690s. It covers points of similarities between this case and the more famous Salem case. Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store
  5. Kerry Mullen, "The witch reports: Torturing and executing in Scotland," DaIly Record, 2012-OCT-24, at:
  6. "Plans revealed for a national 'witches' memorial in Fife," BBC, 2019-SEP-19, at:

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Site navigation:

Home page > Laws & religion Genocide > here

or: Home page > Religious violence >   Genocide > here

or: Home page > World religions > Wicca > here

or: Home page > Christianity > Christian relations > here

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Copyright 1999 to 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 1999-DEC-14
Latest update: 2019-SEP-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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