An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links to Mythologies,
Fairy Tales & Folklore, Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.




 Earth-Based Ways:

Witch Hunt Craze, or "The Burning Times"


When the Pain is Over at Last,
and Light Comes as Balm

["Druidess" by J. K. Williams,
Used with the kind permission of Green Man Graphics] [Link updated 8/5/00]

"Witching Hours: Medieval Through Enlightenment Period European Witch History."  Shantell Powell created this exceptionally thorough, chilling, somber, and elegantly designed site as "a starting point for historical research into the great witch craze of 1100-1700 AD."  She looks in depth at such subjects as witchtrials, tortures, spells, magic, animal familiars, shapeshifting, modern parallels, and personal experiences.  The site includes documents (e.g., excerpts from the Malleus maleficarum) and letters from 1100-1700 AD; folklore about all aspects of the witch craze; graphics; and excerpts from Shakespeare and others.  She also provides a solid  bibliography and well chosen related links (see below for a direct link).  This site is a model of balance and intelligence. [Link updated 8/5/00]
This page from Shantell Powell's site (see directly above) is a direct connection to her collection of links.  They are organized into categories that include anti-Semitism (including its relationship to the witch craze); demon possession; witch trials; faeries; feminism; Jeane d'Arc; literary links (e.g., Chaucer); folklore links (e.g., werewolves); modern parallels; details of torture; witches in the Bible and the Talmud; and witches in Salem and New England.  [Link updated 12/27/99]
This paper, named "The Witches' Sabbath: Christmas Witchcraft in 17th-century Finnmark (Northern Norway)," is by Rune Hagen of the University of Tromsø.  Hagen looks at allegations against several 17th century Norwegian women (who were eventually burned at the stake) and then sets this account into the larger context of Norway's persecution of accused women, both Norwegian and Sami.  Hagan also has an excellent, chilling report of a Sami witchcraft trial in 1627 (for additional information, see below on Joan Pontius' site at Rutger's).
This is another fine collection of witch craze links, but also essays and books, some of them with reviews.  It's done by Stella Australis' Laren, who is both a pagan and a trained historian.
This simple site by "Marios" offers a disturbing essay on the numbers actually killed during what many now call the "Burning Times."  He estimates between 200,000-500,000.  Although unfortunately he doesn't document his claim, he traces exaggerated estimates of up to 9 million to several post-World War II British occultists who redefined "witch" (by including earlier Cathars and other "heretics" who had no involvement in witchcraft) and who then further inflated the numbers "in an attempt," Marios writes, "to prove that 'witches' had suffered more than Jews."  [Link updated 4/24/01]
"How Many Witches" is Richard J. Green's site on the same issue as Marios' (see directly above).  Green eloquently expresses the importance of the debate when he writes:
...The victims of these trials died one by one. I sincerely believe that each of these deaths was a great tragedy. To the people that died it makes little difference whether millions were killed or only thousands. Yet, I believe it is important to report history as accurately as is possible in such affairs.  The exaggeration of atrocities tends to play into the hands of those who would deny the horror of such events....
Green's carefully footnoted examination of the evidence leads him to suggest that 60,000-300,000 is a realistic estimate. [Updated 8/6/00]
Stella Australis' Laren, in "How Many Were Killed?," continues the exploration, pointing out yet other useful perspectives.  Laren, a trained historian, estimates 100,000-300,000. [Link updated 12/26/99]
This is the carefully researched, powerful eighth chapter from The Dark Side of Christian History, by Helen Ellerbe. It is both engrossing and horrifying. [Broken link 12/26/99]
This page by "Herne" offers excerpts from the infamous late 15th century "Hammer of Witches" (Malleus maleficarum) as well as Herne's own excellent, lengthy essay on the horrific tortures and witchtrials of the period.  (Note: Herne often cites data from "Barstow" without providing bibliographic data, but I did some checking on my own and found his source: Anne Llewellyn Barstow.  Witchcraze: A New History of the European Witch Hunts. San Francisco: Pandora. 1994. Update 12/26/99: I've e-mailed to ask about the broken link.)  [4/24/01: gone -- e-mailing BestWitches for update]
(Added 7/16/99): This is an exceptional site by Joan Pontius, full of texts, hypertext, chillingly detailed art on tortures, and fine bibliographies.  There is a huge amount of material here.  For example, if you follow the link on Scandinavian drums, you'll come to data from Rune Hagan and others on Sami (Laplander) shamans and the Christian persecution of the ancient drumming ways of these peoples.  Other links will take you in yet other little-known directions.
(Added 7/16/99): Jenny Gibbons, who has an M.A. in medieval history, has written this lucid, brilliant essay, "Recent Developments in the Study of The Great European Witch Hunt."  Here is how she begins:
Since the late 1970's, a quiet revolution has taken place in the study of historical witchcraft and the Great European Witch Hunt....[and] many theories which reigned supreme thirty years ago have vanished, swept away by a flood of new data. Unfortunately, little of the new information has made it into popular history. Many articles in Pagan magazines contain almost no accurate information about the "Burning Times", primarily because we rely so heavily on out-dated research.....
Gibbons makes this new data available.  Highly recommended. [Link updated 7/16/99]
Finally, W. J. Bethancourt III created this site, "The Killings of Witches," to honor the memories of those killed during the height of the witchcraft craze in both the Old and New Worlds.  The opening graphic of the defenseless old woman is stunning.  Bethancourt lists nearly 500 known names, dates, and places of execution.  There is also a page of recorded burnings of those whose names will never be known.  His "References" page provides a lengthy bibliography (not always the best sources, however, so be discerning) as well as related links.

Overall, this is a fine site (and vastly improved by the July 1999 move from Geocities' intrusive ads and clutter! -- hopefully, the removal of pop-up Javascript memos will soon follow).  There is power in names, and they deserve to be remembered.  Joe Bethancourt gives us the means to do this.  (FYI: If you go to another of his pages, this time on Celtic harps, you'll find good links to several more of his pages on other topics of interest.)

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Page created and begun:
22 January 1999; continued and uploaded: 23 January 1999.
Latest updates:
16 July 1999; 26 & 27 & 30 December 1999; 5-6 August 2000; 24 April 2001 (checked all links).