Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Web Witchery

The Malleus Maleficarum or The Witches' Hammer is a notorious testament to the occult hysteria that gripped medieval Europe. It's online at www.malleusmaleficarum.org.
Written in the late 15th century by German inquisitors Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger under a Papal Bull by Innocent VIII, it was an argument against skepticism toward witchcraft and also a guidebook for judges on identifying, interrogating and prosecuting witches.
Reverend Montague Summers brought the Malleus to the general English-speaking audience in 1928. Wicasta Lovelace and Christie Rice put this version on the web. Their introduction is a fascinating guide to the history of the book with links to other sources. The search function does not find every word, but it helps you to find specific witch-related doctrines quickly. And each section has an index with very detailed chapter headings.

Did witches allegedly change people into beasts?
Did they supposedly fly on broomsticks?
What was their pact with the devil?

It's definitely worth a look.
And it goes without saying, but I'll say it: The creepiness of the Malleus does not come from the actions of these supposed witches. The creepiness comes from the very real crimes judges, townsfolk, and political leaders committed against thousands of victims they accused of witchcraft. Whether there is a devil or not is the subject of metaphysical debate. But evil exists. And it's often committed by the most respectable of people.


  1. I like your blog a lot.
    Lots of creepiness out there.

  2. Thanks so much. I love it when people dig the same stuff I do.


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