THERE ARE NO WITCHES IN GERMANY?
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You’ve read my posts on witch trials and the procedures outlined in THE HAMMER OF WITCHES -- if not, check them out below. But now let me backtrack: Not everyone believed in witches. Here is what German reformer Martin Luther thought about them:
“When I was a child, there were many witches and sorcerers, who worked their magic on animals and human beings, and especially on children, and did great harm otherwise. Now in the light of the gospel these things are no longer so common, for the gospel drives out the devil with all his illusions.” But in a way the devil still “bewitches” people by giving them “a false opinion of Christ and turning them against Christ.”
A generation after Luther, the German physician Johann Weyer declared that witchcraft was an illusion, a “trick played on the optical nerves.” So-called witchcraft could usually be explained by “the stupidity of old age, the inconstancy and fickleness of females, a weak mind, despair, and mental illness.” Like Luther, however, he suspected that the devil was behind those illusions. People might be “deceived by their imagination or by the wiles of the evil spirit”. Weyer’s book was so popular that it went through four editions (1563-68).
But Weyer's arguments did not save Walpurga Hausmann, widwife of Dillingen. Her judges were convinced that she was actually in league with the devil. Here is a list of her confessed misdeeds:
- Solicited one Hans Schlumperger with lewd words and gestures,
- rode on a pitchfork,
- killed infants at birth before they had a chance to be baptized,
- made a child fall into the millpond and drown,
- caused miscarriages,
- sucked blood from a child,
- brought about the death of cows, pigs, and geese,
- caused hail once or twice a year.