Modern Day Witchcraft has its roots in the Goddess Religions, dating at least as far back as 25,000 BC during the Gravettian-Aurignacian Culture. Numerous female figurines and sculptures have been found throughout the greater part of Europe and the East, which supports the theory of a Great Mother Cult during those early years.

Naturally, many attempts have been made during the ages by various cultures and religions to destroy Goddess worship. She was married off to Gods in her various aspects in order to reduce Her standing and sometimes even executed and killed. Still Her worship prevailed.

The establishment of Witchcraft was a gradual evolution, and not a conscious action. The use of the term Witch was also broadly applied and encompassed everyone from seers to healers and everything in-between. These Witches were not necessarily Goddess worshippers either. They were found in every religion and in every culture across millennia.

Until 1021AD, witches were seen by society as the Wise Ones and highly regarded as healers. They assisted with child births, were skilled in divination and understood the medicinal qualities of plants. They offered comfort and help to those in need. Many Witches of that era were Christian, which made them even easier to accept and respect.

In 1022AD, under Pope Benedict VIII's reign, all that was set to change. The execution of the first "heretic" during 1022 heralded the start of a 753 year reign of terror, generally referred to as the Burning Times, which was to last until 1775 when the last execution of accused Witches took place; that of nine old women in Poland. Millions of people (including children!) accused of Witchcraft were killed in the most gruesome of ways during this period resulting in what is probably one of the biggest acts of genocide this world had ever seen.

The deaths of accused witches were not always at the stake. Many witches died during torture and during "provings". Looking back on the methods employed, it sends a shudder down one's spine. James I (1566-1624) of Scotland even wrote a book called Daemonologie. The purpose of this book was to explain how to identify a witch. Some of the methods employed were:

Identifying the Witch's Mark: James I held that the Witch's mark was a place on the body where a witch can experience no pain. The location of this area allegedly differed from one witch to another. Hence, every inch of the accused witch's body was pricked with needles to locate the Witch's Mark.

The Water Test: In Daemonologie, James I proposed that only real witches can float in water. He based this theory on the fact that water was a holy substance and as a result it would not take a Witch to its depth. As a result, an accused Witch's hands and feet were bound before being thrown into a lake or a river. If innocent, the accused would drown. And die. If guilty, the accused would be burnt at the stake. Either way, the accused ended up dead.
Rose Ariadne has been practicing ancient forms of Witchcraft for over 25 years. Get more info about the history of witchcraft here: http://www.askroseariadne.com/editorials/great-history-of-witchcraft.html

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