Archive for the 'witchhunts' Category

A book about the SRA scare by Paul R McHugh

July 7, 2009

I’ve come across some reviews of a book, written within the past year, about the recovered-memory aspect of the Satanic Ritual Abuse scare: Try to Remember: Psychiatry’s Clash over Meaning, Memory, and Mind by Paul R McHugh.

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San Fernando Curt on the SRA scare

July 3, 2009

I recently came across a very interesting blog post about the “Satanic Ritual Abuse” scare of the 1980’s and early 1990’s: Inconvenient untruth, San Fernando Curt’s Blog, Talking Points Memo (TPM), June 22, 2009.

San Fernando Curt observes that the Satanic Ritual Abuse scare isn’t talked about very much anymore. He quotes and links to a Summer 2001 Women’s Quarterly article, Sex, Lies, and Audiotapes – hysteria over rape and sexual child abuse by Rael Jean Isaac, who points to the role of feminists in launching the panic. Curt claims that the reason why the SRA scare isn’t talked about very much anymore is because the feminist movement is, allegedly, a sacred cow whose mistakes no one dares discuss.

I disagree.

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History of European witchhunts: Jenny Gibbons, and a response to Beastrabban

May 16, 2008

I highly recommend the excellent article Recent Developments in the Study of The Great European Witch Hunt by Jenny Gibbons.

Too many modern Pagan writers still cling to outdated ideas about the European witchhunts. Jenny Gibbons shows where many of those wrong ideas came from and how they were eventually corrected.

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Witchhunts and (real) ritual murder, in Africa and India – roundup of recent news

April 26, 2008

Some interesting speculation: Does Climate Change Mean More Witch Hunts? by Freakonomics, New York Times Blogs, NY, 4/25/2008:
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African witchhunts

April 14, 2008

Here on WordPress, I just now came across a blog with some fascinating, very informative, and disturbing posts about today’s African witchhunts:

They pretty much confirm what I already knew, but provide more historical details. The author is apparently South African and a believer in Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

P.S.: I just now came across an old post on Marie Ravensoul’s blog, Christian Rapper Calls for the Killing of Witches and the Slaying of Demons. It seems that the song is paralleling real-life trends, alas.

More bad history by a Pagan Witch

June 8, 2007

Yet another Pagan Witch public relations piece containing the same old historical nonsense: So…Your Friend Is a Witch?. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Consider that you’re spending time with a good friend over a nice meal, some good wine, and friendly conversation. Your friend tells you that she is Pagan. As a matter of fact, she says, she’s a practicing Witch. What does this mean to you?
[…]
It is also likely that some part of you was at least a little frightened by the word.
[…]
In the simplest of terms, your newly found (no matter how fleeting) doubt about your friend is the result of a centuries long media assault on the Pagan way of life.

No, it’s the result of 20th-century neo-Pagans deliberately choosing to refer to themselves by a scary label like “witch.” Once again, the theory that the post-Renaissance European witchhunts were primarily about persecuting an underground pagan cult of the “Horned God” has long since been discredited among reputable historians. (For more up-to-date scholarly ideas about the witchhunts, see Recent Developments in the Study of The Great European Witch Hunt by Jenny Gibbons, another copy here.) Furthermore, Christians certainly have no monopoly on witchhunts. There are all-too-many witchhunts going on today in Africa and India, rooted not in Christianity but in local tradition.

The ongoing worldwide spread of the more fanatical forms of Christianity, and their propaganda campaign against all other religions, is indeed a significant worldwide threat to religious freedom. But, in facing that threat, let’s try not to distort history, okay?
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“Taking elements of” older religions and “warping them into something else”

May 26, 2007

On both the blogs To slam a revolving door and A Blog of 2 Witches, there is an entry titled “10 Things Everyone Should Know About Witches, containing the following:

4) We are NOT Satanists (a Satanist actually takes elements from Christianity and pagan traditions and warps them into something else. Satan is a Christian myth, so it is NOT something associated with witches)

Well, this is a little better than the commonly-heard claim that all forms of Satanism are “just upside down Christianity.” At least there’s an acknowledgment here that most Satanists draw ideas from other sources besides just Christianity.

However, the intended point here seems to be that modern Pagan Witchcraft, supposedly unlike Satanism in this regard, is supposedly a pure and pristene ancient pagan tradition – which it most definitely is not.
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Witchhunt in India

May 5, 2007

Horrible witchhunt story: Couple burned alive for “black magic”, Reuters, Hyderabad, India, Thu May 3, 2007. Another copy of this story, with a few more details, can be found on the website of Reuters India (Andhra Pradesh couple burnt alive for “black magic”).

More detailed versions of this story can be found on India eNews.com (Couple burnt to death for practicing black magic), on RxPG (Couple burnt to death for practicing black magic), and on the Independent Online site in South Africa (Couple burned alive for ‘witchcraft’).

Even the short version says: “Belief in black magic is common in some parts of rural India, despite the country’s robust economic growth and cutting-edge high-technology industries. Dozens of women are murdered each year after being accused of witchcraft.”

Some of the longer versions add, “In the last decade, about 300 people were killed in the region on the suspicion they were practising black magic. The practice is prevalent in Medak, Nalgonda, Ranga Reddy, Warangal, Karimnagar, Nizamabad and Adilabad districts. The actual number of deaths could be higher as many of the ‘bhanamati’ deaths are treated as deaths caused by illness.”

The short version ends with the following, on the separate issue of human sacrifice: “Last year, a barber in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh killed his four-year-old son by slitting his throat with a razor after the man started seeing visions of the Hindu goddess Kali demanding a sacrifice.”

Satanic panic in Russia?

April 17, 2007

A Russian Orthodox public movement called the “People’s Council” has made some ill-informed, panic-stricken claims about Satanism:

  • “People’s Council urges authorities to equate Satanists to terrorists,” Interfax-Religion, Russia – Apr 2, 2007

It released a statement claiming that “ritual murders” and various other nasty activities are all “characteristic of Satanic organizations.”

The statement is said to mention several ritual murders including the allegedly notorious “murder of three Optino monks killed by a Satanist on Orthodox Easter.” (I found no further information about this crime via Google.)

The statement also says, “There is an enormous number of Satanic organizations and groups acting in Russia today. Many of them are united in a single branchy network.”

Yeah, right.

The statement then goes on the mention the “Church of the Satan” [sic], failing to note that the Church of Satan has been an above-ground organization for over 40 years and does NOT endorse any kind of criminal activity.

I found the following blog entry:

  • “‘Satanists as dangerous as terrorists! World at risk from Satan cults’ claim Russian Orthodox,” Signs of Witness

It closes with the comment, “It could be that Religious Right Hysteria is the real ‘danger to Society…'”