Free «Limit occultism to witchcraft» Essay Sample

In Africa, mainly Ghana and Nigeria, occultism or Witchcraft was   seen to be a very serious crime and those people who were convicted of practicing witchcraft were subjected to the death penalty. It is understood that thousands of people who majority were women were tried for the crime of occultism, and almost half of these were executed. Occultism can be described as magical practitioners, owing their evil powers to a pact they had made with the Devil. It later came to the  realization of theologians and  Christian  that  witches  were not  isolated  individuals  dabbling  in the occult ,but  members  of a demonic , anti –Christian  heretical sect (Stearne 1648). To the societies that believed in witches, the witches were regarded as persons who possessed extraordinary or mysterious power to perform evil deeds. The vital  characteristic of  these evil deeds  was that they   seemed to be magical  instead  of religious deed  and  in addition to the  above they were  harmful  and not beneficial in any way or the other. This paper therefore seeks to establish and analyze the process of witch-hunting in England and it effect on the community.

According to Briggs (1996) witches beliefs existed in two different mindset witch was that of intellectual and that of the peasant. The great  African witch-hunt  took place  because of the  members  of the ruling elite  in particular  those individuals controlling the operation of judiciary  who subscribed  to  the beliefs  related  to diabolical  activities and practices  of occultism. The practice of occultism was closely associated   with a tight face to face pact a witch made with the devil. The pact was the instrument that gave the witch power to perform   ‘Malecia’ but also initiated her into the Devil.’ Malecia refers to extraordinary or mysterious power to perform evil deeds (Briggs1996).  The conclusion of the pact was a formal ceremony which took place after the Devil had appeared to the witch, usually as a handsome, well-dressed man and enticed her with the promise of material reward or sexual pleasure. The witch agreed to reject her Christian faith and then paid homage to the Devil either by bowing down before him or by kissing his buttocks. The Devil would imprint a distinctive mark on the witch’s body, usually in a concealed spot, as a sign of her allegiance. He would then give her careful instructions for the performance of her maleficent work (Briggs 1996). When  the witch-hunt process  started  it is  presented that Ghana was the  only country in Africa that  had an elaborate structures  into its legal  system .In Ghana judges could not be able to  start  a trial  or legal proceeding  but were to wait  for an accusation to be made against   a witch. With its legal system Ghana depend on juries to find proof and duly determine the outcome of the case. In the preceding  the accusers, watchers, searcher  and investigator  were the main source of evidence .In there consideration  of the proceedings the juries  were concerned with the accuser motives  towards the witch and  the  history of the witch  in regards to  evil acts. The occultism - hunt led to enactment of The Witchcraft Act of 1563 witch was to compel witness to attend to the   trials. It provided for statement to be given on oath  whereas without the stamen being given on oath the magistrate  would not be   in position  to take the case  with the seriousness it deserve statute provide that   testimony of a minor was to be taken  without consideration of the oath.

It should be noted that during this period, a trial was only one of the possible methods of resolving cases of occultism. Alternatives included the employment of doctors, Godly ministers and counter magic. A legal trial was often a last resort because it was an expensive process. Sharpe (2001) present that King James played an important role in the development and belief of witchcraft, encouraging belief in witches and witchcraft and increasing the punishments for convicted witches. King James was brought up under the control of the Presbyterian clergy and was an intelligent man, who was fascinated by witchcraft. He came to believe in and fear witches around 1590 when a conspiracy against his life was revealed. He was convinced that he, as a divine right monarch, was the chief enemy of Satan. On his return to Scotland in 1590 with his new wife, Princess Anne of Denmark, James encountered storms at sea. These were subsequently blamed on a group of North Berwick witches.

The same case as Africa, witch-hunting throughout Ghana was, to all intents and purposes, a judicial operation, but occasionally, agitated villagers would take justice into their own hands, executing suspected witches. In Ghana the process of occultism culminated with the political and religious chaos reigned throughout the period of the Civil Wars (1642-49) and Matthew Hopkins, assumed the job of witch hunting   getting the title of  Witch-finder General in 1645. Hopkins found out that there were seven or eight witches regularly practicing their evil arts close to his house, this gave him a strong motivation to destroy the "works of the devil" and, as an impoverished lawyer, he could see the financial incentive of pursuing the hunt on a wider scale. In his fight to finish East Anglia of witches, Hopkins operated John Stearne who was his close associate. While Hopkins was able to organize, direct, analyze and ensure the success of the witch campaign, Stearne provided the relentless, fanatical element. Hopkins and Stearne   perfected a system of examining witches that shed no blood and non-torture method which remained within the legal requirement of Africa. Hopkins was very careful in describing these techniques to the villages he traveled to. The primary means of securing a confession were “watching”, “searching” and “walking”. Hopkins offered three means of distinguishing witch’s marks from natural marks, which all people have. First, a witch’s mark was to be found in an unusual place, for example “bottom of the back-bone” (Paylac 2009 and Johnson 1911). Secondly, “they are most commonly insensible, and feel neither pin, nor needle thrust through them” (Paylac 2009 and Falcott 2006). The third means of detection involved familiars. Hopkins would keep strict surveillance of a witch for 24 hours, making sure none of her familiars came and sucked blood from the hidden nipple on the witch’s body. According to Hopkins, the “teat” in that time would noticeably fill up with fluid and become visible. Thus, a witch who had a familiar also had a mark, and it was just a matter of finding it. Many of the confessions during the Hopkins period make reference to sexual intercourse between the occult and the Devil. Sexual references were rarely noted prior to this time and did not form part of the prevailing occultism-beliefs of the masses. Their inclusion in confessions suggests leading questions from the interrogators assisting the witch in fashioning her offence (Hopkin and Stearne 2007).

By 1646, 18 months since the occultism-hunt began; Hopkins and Stearne had taken their war against witches out of Essex and Suffolk and into the surrounding shires where another 20 occult met their fate. In order to make their occultism-hunting operation more efficient John Stearne and Matthew Hopkins had split up at this point, Stearne covered the western part of Africa. Hopkins had accomplished some 100 hangings and had achieved a degree of notoriety throughout East Anglia. Wherever Hopkins and his assistants went, fear and apprehension surfaced, it seemed no one was beyond his power or reach. However, to the hundreds of ordinary men and women in these counties who detested the witches they believed to live in their midst, Hopkins was a respectable man, even a hero for delivering villages from the scourge of their witches

In conclusion it can be noted that the occultism-hunt in Ghana was successful and occurred because of support of the central government institute laws to govern the witch hunt. It can be depicted that Africa from the peasant intellectual and the elite from James IV and I believed threat their existed supernatural forces with mysterious power. The large population believed in existence of occultism. There was no distinctive characteristic that the majority of accused witches shared; not gender, not age, not wealth, not religion. The only thing that united them was the fact that they were accused of witchcraft. The diversity of those accused of occultism is one of the predominant arguments against theories claiming the witch hunts were a deliberate massacre aimed at a specific group. From the literature can be demonstrated how little the fundamental nature of human behavior has changed over time; the only variable being that of social context. It can also be understood that  after the  witches had been brought under control  the hunt  was halted with  the last execution  carried  out  in March 1684.It is important to understand that the   analysis of legal history  provide valuable information  to understand the  rule of law  within the social  environment and situations, which provide a vivid forum for society to learn from, past mistake and be in a position to manage the future occurrence.


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