“What do you call two pieces of bread with meats and cheese in the middle?” Mr. Crocker a.k.a. the witch-hunter asks.
“A sandwich,” Timmy says.
“He said witch! Burn him!” Mr. Crocker shouts.
Taken from memory from the Fairly Odd-Parents cartoon.
Witch-hunters have been mocked and satirized by everyone from Monty Python to the writers of the children’s cartoon The Fairly Odd-Parents. Yet, if you really want to see just how absurd the witch-hunters of the yesteryears were you only have to look at their authority tome “The Malleus Maleficarum.” One of my coworkers gave me a copy for my birthday, and I was astounded by not only some of the topics of “study”, but the fact that each crazy topic had sited sources to back up the arguments! The sad thing is judges and clergy used The Malleus Maleficarum to identify witches, and many of the accused were killed.
Do you want to know if “children can be generated by Incubi and Succubi” (i.e. can women get pregnant by devils)? Well, consult page 21-28 to find out! Yes, seven whole pages—small print and two columns each page I might add—are devoted to the subject!
Do you want to know “whether witches can sway the minds of men to love or hatred?” Wonder no longer, because the answer is on pages 48-51. Sorry if you’re disappointed by such few pages. I guess the writers Kramer and Sprenger just didn’t feel that mind control was as important a topic as whether women could get knocked up by devils.
I really suggest getting a copy just so you can have a laugh at the people of 1484. You’ll definitely want to read “Remedies prescribed for those who by Prestidigitatory Art have lost their Virile Members.” For more info, go to page 173. Is it just me, or do we live in a much less interesting time? Men back in the fifteenth century apparently were occasionally put under a “glamour” which made them think they’d lost their penises. I don’t think anyone in the twenty-first century is that imaginative.
If you’re interested in the study of witchcraft or the persecution of women, you definitely need to read The Malleus Maleficarum. It puts the actions of the witch-hunters in perspective, and helps to understand where some of our mythology about witches comes from. It also (sadly) helps to understand why men believed women were inferior or even dangerous (of course, some people still believe this). Maybe they’re right. We have the power to make guys think their penises have fallen off, after all.
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