Witch Hammer - Genesis of the Burning Times
First published in 1486 the Malleus Maleficarum (Witch Hammer) was the primary guide for the identification, persecution, and punishment of Witches by the Christian establishment.
The Maleficarum set in stone many of the misconceptions and fears associated with Witches and Witchcraft. The infamous text was the handbook of the "burning times" - the period associated with the persecution of Witches, the genesis of which stemmed from the date of its publication through the Salem Witch trials, to the last recorded execution of a witch in Switzerland in 1782.
Authored by Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger, it was submitted to the University of Cologne on May 9th 1487, and was approved and welcomed by all of the Doctors then in the theological faculty.
The Maleficarum was given added weight by the Bull of Pope Innocent the VIII (whats in a name eh?) which was issued two years previously to the Maleficarum's submission to the University of Cologne in order to allow Kramer and Sprenger to continue with the good work of the Inquisition of the Alpine region. The Papal Bull was included with the original edition of the Maleficarum to make it appear as though the tome enjoyed papal sanction.
The book attempts to illustrate the various (imagined) nefarious means by which Witches were viewed to control, poison and subvert the known world. Examples such as: why women roast their first born child, how to raise tempests by torturing washerwomen, various means of making formal pacts with Satan and how Witches steal the penis's of men they despise are all explained in glorious medevial technicolor.
The Maleficarum is a document that allowed the powerful patriarchial christian establishment to persecute herbalists, mid-wives, and any independent women for over 250 years. General feeling is that few actual Witches (representatives of the Old Matriarchial religion, which Christianity was threatened by, though for little reason)were killed. Accurate figures as to the number of people killed in the Maleficarum's name are impossible to come by, as estimates are usually much higher than recorded deaths, guesses range from 35,184 - 63,850, sources for these numbers are provided here.
Witch Hammer - Genesis of the Burning Times (first published on www.disinfo.com 26/08/2003)