Have you, or an ancestor, been called “Crazy” or “Witch”?
Do you feel nervous about those words?
You are not alone.
After many years of tending to the Soul Restoration needs of Sensitive People in my community, I have noticed a common feeling expressed by some men, and so many women- the conscious and subconscious fear that one might be CRAZY or BAD, for being who they are, or even existing. This is especially true for those who feel the Spirits of Nature, hear one’s Guides and senses the Ancestors. Again and again, I hear women with intuitive abilities doubt and talk themselves out of their experiences. I have seen that this denial of personal reality leads to creating a block to trusting one’s inner voice, intuition, and spiritual gifts.
To women with European ancestry, and/or those with ancestry of cultures colonized by the Christian church, I say this, “Your self doubt, denial and fear is not a flaw in you as an individual, it is an inherited response to trauma, handed down from your ancestors.”
For many generations the word “witch” was used against Earth honoring People (mostly women) as a weapon of punishment and death. When women have been judged to be CRAZY, they lose their legal capacity, freedom and power. So many of us have ancestral soul wounds and fear related to these words, and the very real abilities that scare(d) people so much.
It is time to heal these cellular memories and ancestral soul wounds.
A bit of HERSTORY- (Trigger Warning!)
When one enters the word “Witch” into a search engine, a definition such as below is likely to be the first entry shown- today…in 2017-
A woman thought to have evil magic powers. Witches are popularly depicted as wearing a black cloak and pointed hat, and flying on a broomstick.
One that is credited with usually malignant supernatural powers; especially : a woman practicing, usually black, witchcraft often with the aid of a devil or familiar
If you do not know about Europe’s long Witch Burning history, with a simple internet search you will find many pages of historical information documenting the horrific terror campaign by Christians against women. All over Europe, and in colonized places worldwide, millions of women were tortured and murdered, often in front of everyone, or “disappeared”, never to be seen again, thereby imprinting primal fear in the ones who remained.
Do not be a “witch”, or do not get caught.
In 1322 a woman named Jacoba Felicie was arrested and prosecuted as a “witch” by the medical faculty of the University of Paris for practicing medicine, although, the record said “she was wiser in the art of surgery and medicine than the greatest master or doctor in Paris.” (The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets by B. Walker, page 1083)
Early in the Middle Ages, almost anything women did could be described as “witchcraft”- Martin of Braga said women must be condemned for “decorating tables, wearing laurels, taking omens from footsteps, putting fruit and wine on the log in the hearth, and bread in the well, what are these but worship of the devil? For women to call upon Minerva when they spin, and to observe the day of Venus at weddings, and to call upon her whenever they go out upon the public highway, what is that but workshop of the devil?” (The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets by B. Walker, page 1082)
The 1578 edition of the Directorium Inquisitorum (a standard Inquisitorial manual) spelled out the purpose of inquisitorial penalties: … quoniam punitio non refertur primo & per se in correctionem & bonum eius qui punitur, sed in bonum publicum ut alij terreantur, & a malis committendis avocentur (translation: “… for punishment does not take place primarily and per se for the correction and good of the person punished, but for the public good in order that others may become terrified and weaned away from the evils they would commit”).
Hypatia was a philosopher in Alexandria. Her knowledge of astronomy and mathematics led to suspicion of sorcery and she was flayed alive by a mob of monks. She is considered by scholars such as Soldan and Heppe to have been the first famous woman to be persecuted for witchcraft by the Christians.
Many generations of fear and death followed, as anyone could be called a “Witch”, for almost any reason.
- A person was caught in the act of positive or negative sorcery
- A well-meaning sorcerer or healer lost their clients’ or the authorities’ trust
- A person did nothing more than gain the enmity of their neighbours
- A person was reputed to be a witch and surrounded with an aura of witch-beliefs or Occultism
By the 15th century belief in witches was widely accepted in European society. Previously, those convicted of witchcraft typically suffered penalties no more harsh than public penances such as a day in the stocks, but their persecution became more brutal following the publication of the Malleus Maleficarum, as witchcraft became widely accepted as a real and dangerous phenomenon. The most vigorous persecutions took place between years 1560 and 1630.
In the region of Bonn a late spring frost of 1610 ruined crops and was officially described as an act of God. Twenty years later, after the witch judges came to the area, the same kind of natural disasters were blamed exclusively on witches. (Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology by Rossell Robbins)
This terrifying era resulted in an estimated 35,000 to 100,000 executions.Including illegal and summary executions it is estimated 200,000 or more witches were tortured, burnt or hanged in the Western world from 1500 until around 1800. The last executions of people convicted as witches in Europe took place in the 18th century.
In some places, the terror is present today. People in Sub-Saharan Africa and Papua New Guinea still live in fear, and official legislation against witchcraft is still found in Saudi Arabia and Cameroon (See Witch Hunt entry in Wikipedia)
|Region||Number of trials||Number of executions|
|British Isles and North America||~5,000||~1,500–2,000|
|Holy Roman Empire (Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Lorraine, Austria including Czech lands – Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia)||~50,000||~25,000–30,000|
|Central & Eastern Europe (Poland-Lithuania, Hungary and Russia)||~7,000||~2,000|
|Southern Europe (Spain, Portugal and Italy)||~10,000||~1,000|
In the recent past in the U.S., and in other countries now, a woman could be sent away to an “insane asylum” for any reason at all. See this video from India.
“Because divorce was a rarity during the pioneer/frontier days, men devised other ways to get rid of unwanted wives and children, and that was by declaring them insane and placing this unwanted loved one in an insane asylum.”
The following photo is from the museum at the Oregon State Mental Hospital- Note the number of “Housewives” (all women) admitted between 1934-1936, especially compared to the rest of the “occupations”. These women were committed for reasons of depression, talking back to their husband, masturbation, “hysteria”, and acting “crazy”.
We are the descendants of the women and men who lived through these terrible times. They lost loved ones, yet they survived. They learned how to move on with life. They tucked away their pain in their DNA. We thank them for doing what was needed to live. We can now help those ancestors, thereby helping ourselves.
It is now our time to collectively and lovingly call upon those parts of us, and our heritage, that have been wounded by these words and the actions that follow(ed) them.
In honor of our ancestors, and our own experiences, Quynn Red Mountain of Intuitive Shamanic Animists hosts Soul Retrieval Ceremonies to hold space for those who feel called to do Soul Retrieval and Restoration work, in the company of others who “understand”. Together, we share the shamanic journey, guided meditation, flower essences, rhythm, song and community to do this gentle, loving, intense and inspirational work.
For those in Tucson, please join us on Sunday, July 16 2-4pm.