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The Malleus Maleficarum is a historical book that was written in the middle age. The term Malleus Maleficarum means ‘The witch hammer’. The book guided investigators as they eradicated witchcraft in the society. The effect of this historical book is intensive in the modern society despite the time that has elapsed since it was first published.
The essay will discuss women’s victimization and affirmation in relation to witchcraft. Moreover, the relationship between witches and demons will be outlined. Historical ideologies based on witchcraft as discussed in the Malleus Maleficarum and how such ideas can be transformed by fiction will be scrutinized.
Christianity doctrines failed to accept the existence of witchcraft and dismissed the ideology of Malleus Maleficarum as mere superstitions.
Witchcraft victimized women to a great extent as sentence of witches was fatal. The historical book solved the problem of uncertainty, as witches would only be branded if they fitted the description. In fact, approximately 9 million women were hanged or burnt alive after they were regarded as witches.
Before the guidelines, witches were branded based on mere suspicion or failure to comply with Catholic doctrines. The Malleus Maleficarum intensified the works of investigators and was regarded as a book that was soaked in blood. The witch hunting exercise took place for a period of 250 years and realized good results (Kieckhefer 24).
Witchcraft Fiction Transformation
Witch hunting was meant to eradicate evilness that was associated with witchcraft in the society. Emphasis was on witches and not wizards since women engaged in witchcraft more than men did. The investigators’ court judged both witches and those that were accused of sacrilege.
The Catholic doctrines did not agree with ideology of existence of witches who could transform nature permanently. According to Christians, belief in magic powers of witches was regarded as blasphemy. The devil and witches could not cause permanent transformation on human beings, according to Christian doctrines.
For example, the suffering that was inflicted on Job involved natural factors like diseases, which are manipulated by God. Christians argue that if witches and demons had power to transform nature, then there would be a lot of disorganization in the world (Ankarloo and Clark 11).
The Malleus Maleficarum argues that the power that is influenced by physical factors, like that of a witch cannot exceed natural phenomena (Broedel and Hans 9).
The devil has power to study the stars and witches call on his intervention in their evil acts by observing certain star patterns. It should be noted that, the devil and witches cannot manipulate the pattern of stars; nature cannot be transformed by demons or witches. The craft that is used by the devil, like in the instance of studying the stars, can never be adequate to transformation nature permanently. Permanent situations like disease or cure can only exist by other power and not that of devils and witches (Ankarloo and Clark 16).
Power influence among the witch, devil and God has been scrutinized in the Malleus Maleficarum. Permanent transformation can only occur when the superior power influences the weaker powers. For example, the devil could cause permanent transformation of nature only when permission is granted by God.
There are those scholars who postulate that witchcraft and magic do not exist. Others argue that there is witchcraft although its influence and effect on nature exists in the mind. In addition, there are postulations that although magic may be imaginary the cooperation between the witch and devil is real (Kieckhefer 20).
The three postulations have been nullified in the Malleus Maleficarum as none of them adequately explains the effects of the devil and witches. According to Thomas S., witchcraft exists and it is a sacrilege to argue that there are no witches. However, transformation of nature by demons and witches is only possible if permission is granted by God. Notably, it is wrong to postulate that effects of witches are imaginary.
Devils have power over men and can transform them if God permits. According to Malleus Maleficarum, angels who fell from heaven became devils and were more powerful than human beings. Witches are defined as women who try to behave like these devils and win more people to their religion (Kieckhefer 12).
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The belief that the effects of witchcraft can only be presented mentally was also misplaced and its application led to false persecution of people. For example, there are women who were branded as witches simply because they confessed having a strange illusion. According to the Canon law, witches were supposed to be killed as stated in the Holy Scriptures.
Malleus Maleficarum has been associated with death and suffering of many people based on social structure. The book encouraged hunting of witches and in the process innocent people were killed. It should, however, be noted that Malleus Maleficarum also had positive impact especially on women.
Witch branding was more specific and there were more investigations than judgments after Malleus Maleficarum was introduced. There are arguments that the historical book was discriminative as women were the only victims. Moreover, the method used to suspect and brand witches was not fair. Witch hunting was the only way to cleanse the society off evil and prevent spread of crime to male gender (Ankarloo and Clark 17).
The scientific field was regarded as being sacrilegious in the middle age. The historical book used the information that was well known to enable people cope and understand nature. Malleus Maleficarum tried to unite people by eradicating witchcraft in the society in the best way possible.
Although Christians differed with the analogy of witchcraft, the effect of Malleus Maleficarum was intensive and penetrated all levels. It should be noted that, before the Bible, Malleus Maleficarum guidelines were universally used to save people from evil (Broedel 16).
Women Victimization and Affirmation
There are different approaches that have been used to comprehend the nature of witchcraft. The female gender has been associated with a higher incidence of witchcraft as compared to the male gender. The Malleus Maleficarum compares a woman, tongue and Ecclesiastes as they commonly reach extremity.
When a woman is holy and righteous she is known for the best virtue and when she becomes evil her wickedness is extreme. A woman is described as evil that can never be avoided by the society. Women are portrayed as being naive and are easily tricked by the devil into witchcraft.
Moreover, women are easily influenced by spirits than men thus are easily converted into witchcraft and superstitions (Kieckhefer 18). In addition, women are portrayed as gossipers and, therefore, spread evil to fellow women at a higher rate than male gender. There are postulations that the subordinate role assigned to female gender renders women vulnerable to witchcraft and superstitions. Society victimizes women and they shield themselves with witchcraft.
There are perceptions that women are less intellectual than men are and are thus likely to fall into witchcraft. For example, according to Malleus Maleficarum, only one woman could comprehend philosophy. Furthermore, the first woman was formed from a bent rib, which shows that women are imperfect and cunning. Women are described as being weak in faith and easy trusting, traits that are required in witchcraft (Ankarloo and Clark 11).
There are allegations that the women who were weak and intellectually challenged by men saw witchcraft as the only means of vengeance. Women are associated with poor memory and most married men said that their wives were the cause of their sorrow. Women who practiced witchcraft had their love converted to hatred and by all means sought vengeance.
The voice of a woman is said to be deceitful, as she does not mean what she says. Most of kingdoms have suffered due to women wickedness. For example, wicked Jezebel was cursed due to her wickedness and led to destruction of Jews. Women are also known to go to extremity to get what they desire.
For example, women dress and adorn themselves to capture the attention of men. According to Malleus Maleficarum unsatisfied sexual desires that are more pronounced among women are the root causes for witchcraft and superstitions. It should be noted that witches are more likely to be infidel, ambitious and sexually unsatisfied. Since women were most likely to be involved in witchcraft as compared to men, Malleus Maleficarum aimed to reduce the majority (Broedel 27).
Despite the wickedness that is associated with women, there are instances where they are praised in the Malleus Maleficarum. When the naive nature of a woman is not corrupted by witchcraft, then she will be holy and righteous. For example, God appointed Mary to be the mother of Jesus Christ because she was righteous.
Women innocence is greatly valued as virgins are seen as being pure and not evil. Sex was sacred and adultery was punished by death. Women accused of having sexual relations with the devil were branded as witches and killed (Kieckhefer 22). On the other hand, those who valued their purity were greatly rewarded.
Women, Satan and God
According to varied arguments, witches work in conjunction with devil and it is impossible for them to cause harm on human beings without cooperation. The Malleus Maleficarum uses various approaches to determine whether harm can be a sole responsibility. The analogy of Job in the Bible has been used to show how devil inflicted suffering on him in absence of a witch but with permission of God (Ankarloo and Clark 21).
The superior power of the devil must not consult the inferior power of the witch before any action. Consequently, inferior power only consults superior power when the task is beyond its ability. Christians dismiss the idea of existence of any power that can transform nature permanently. The Malleus Maleficarum states that permanent transformation can only be done in accordance to the will of God.
The devil does not need the witches to complete his mission but rather uses them and in the end destroys them. According to this perception, witches are used involuntarily by the devil and should not be punished for actions that are beyond their control. On the contrary, there are arguments that evil is voluntary and should not be seen as a responsibility. For example, a person rapes for pleasure and not obedience to some power. Witches should be punished because they find pleasure in evil deeds (Stewart 8).
Since the devil is in a spirit form, he requires witches to get in contact with humans. It is impossible for the devil to cause harm or cause permanent transformation without any intervention by witches. There are arguments that transformation can be realized by power of imagination and not necessarily by body contact. For example, a person is not likely to sit on a broken chair simply because he imagines the possibility of falling.
Transformation in this case is not caused by body contact but by invisible power of imagination. Malleus Maleficarum argues that magic should not be associated with evil powers simply because we are not aware of how the effect of transformation is realized (Broedel and Hans 23).
Malleus Maleficarum played a great role in eradication of witchcraft in the middle age. Women have been prejudiced and affirmed in this literature. Scholars and psychologists have different perceptions in regard to Malleus Maleficarum. There are those who criticize the book for being responsible for deaths of many innocent people in the middle age while others appreciate its efforts.
Historians should appreciate the efforts of Malleus Maleficarum in eradicating witchcraft. The guidelines could not be perfect to ensure that no innocent soul was lost during the witch hunting exercise. The approach was directed to women because they were the majority, and this should not be seen as discrimination.
Ankarloo, Bernard, and Stuart Clark. Witchcraft and Magic in Europe in the Middle Ages. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 2002. Print.
Broedel, Peter. The Malleus Maleficarum and the Construction of Witchcraft: Theology and Popular Belief. Manchester: Manchester University. Press. 2004. Print.
Kieckhefer, Richard. Magic in the Middle Ages. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 2000. Print.
Stewart, Maxwell. Witchcraft in Europe and the New World. New York: Palgrave publishers. 2001. Print.