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The Witchcraft Acts
#1
Many of us know that the practice of witchcraft has been misunderstood for thousands of years. It's also no surprise that it has been punishable by law in periods of time during those years. This includes the many Witchcraft Acts passed in England and Scotland, the last of which was enforced as recently as 1944.

The first of these acts was passed in 1541 under King Henry VIII, the first law to define witchcraft as a felony in England (funny thing coming from a man who ordered two of his wives beheaded). Not only was it punishable by death, but a legal loophole (yep..they had 'em then too) that spared one from the head-chopper was denied anyone that was convicted of witchcraft. In most cases, if a person could read a passage from the Bible, they were spared death in what was known as "benefit of clergy". Ol' King Henry decided that witches were not allowed this right.

In 1562, Henry's daughter, Elizabeth I, revised the law a bit, only making death an option if someone was actually harmed during the practice of witchcraft. However, lesser offenses were still punishable by imprisonment. In 1563, the Scottish Witchcraft Act made it punishable not only to be a witch, but to consult with one as well. In 1604, King James brought back the death penalty for ALL who practiced witchcraft. Burning was saved for those who not only practiced witchcraft but had also committed treason. Most of the time, a death for a witch was hanging.

The Witchcraft Act of 1735 saw a few changes in attitudes. While it was still punishable, by this time, many of the lawmakers were seeing a bigger issue of people claiming to have abilities and fleecing people of money. This act punished people claiming to have these powers as vagrants, with fines and jail time. The last time this act was used was in 1944, for a woman named Jane Rebecca Yorke for practicing mediumship. Earlier that year, a woman named Helen Duncan spent nine months in jail for an accusation that she was using her communication from the spirit world to reveal sensitive military information. Her trial was quite the sensation and caused Winston Churchill to make a statement about the ridiculousness of spending the court's time and resources on this charge.

In 1951, the Fraudulent Mediums Act was passed, which attempted to narrow it down to those who were charging fees for abilities they did not have. This took the name of "witch" off of these laws and finally began to address the issue of those who fake abilities for money.

Witchcraft never should have been classified as a crime..the crime was in those who thought their way was the only way.
“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.” ~Philip K. Dick

http://paranormalinreview2.zohosites.com/home.html

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#2
Witchcraft never should have been classified as a crime..the crime was in those who thought their way was the only way.

When the formation of a commonwealth occurs, the values and laws of the sovereign/government must be rooted from somewhere. For the most part, the majority of the population end up being the ones which influence these laws. When you have a majority of God-fearing people, and then you read in His "book" that you should not practice witchcraft, well that is when those people begin to seek, judge, and punish accordingly.

Aside: The fact that it is God's choice on whether or not that person gets to heaven and it is His judgement that matters in the end, doesn't even come into light when the society decides to break one of the 10 commandments to ensure that these "witches" are not in their midst, or trying to influence their future generations.

IE. It makes perfect sense to me why witchcraft was criminal, and punishable. IMO the witches should have left and survived outside of said commonwealth. If they have no place there, (do not follow the same laws) then they are putting themselves at risk. Sorry, but true.
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#3
Very interesting post. I didn't know that the punishment for treason when the perpetrator was female was burning at the stake, I thought it was Drawn, hanged and quartered. I read up on it after reading your post. Thanks for all the information!

A great book that explains in detail how the populace in Enlgand was drawn into a Witch hunting hysteria is "Extraordinary Popular Delusion and the madness of crowds" by Charles Mackay.

"Beware the man of one book."
— St. Thomas Aquinas

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
— Aristotle
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#4
As we know SG, those in power who believe their way is the only way are always the ones who mandate what is or is not a crime and often it is religion based no matter what part of the world one lives and this has been since the beginning of time. No, it shouldn't be a crime, but it was and we cannot change history. Fakes of any walk of life should be penalized.. a con is a con no matter from where it originated.

Ishmael, any belief system not falling within a majority of the populace of a state or country or even county or city could fall within a minority category such as witchcraft. I don't think the answer lies in them relocating to a place outside their homeland....but then we all have opinions and that is mine. Smile To me what you're saying is ... anyone who differs from the mainstream acceptance of beliefs regardless of what that difference may be (race, creed, religion, gender preference, etc.) needs to go somewhere else. Pretty sure that's what Hitler was trying to do. Wink
The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.

- Kahlil Gibran
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#5
(04-03-2011, 05:15 PM)1TxLady Wrote: I don't think the answer lies in them relocating to a place outside their homeland....but then we all have opinions and that is mine. Smile To me what you're saying is ... anyone who differs from the mainstream acceptance of beliefs regardless of what that difference may be (race, creed, religion, gender preference, etc.) needs to go somewhere else. Pretty sure that's what Hitler was trying to do. Wink

Not at all what I am saying. What I am saying is that we leave a state of nature and enter into commonwealths so that we can help the public good, or if you prefer Hobbes, to secure ourselves more so. When it comes down to it, in these commonwealths, the main thing to look after is the law. Whether a Hobbesian sovereign, or just a government based off of democracy, people breaking the rules of the law will be punished as the sentences have been placed. A commonwealth is a place where everyone has come into a society where everyone has agreed to accept following these laws. If you cannot follow the laws, or they restrict your belief in any way, this is not the commonwealth for you. You then have three choices: 1) Leave the commonwealth, and find another one more suitable to your beliefs and values; 2) Leave the commonwealth and remain in a state of nature yourself, or; 3) Stay in the commonwealth, and learn to conform to the values of the people inside of it.

This is not from a racist, elitist, or any prejudicial standpoint. This is simply from my studies of Poli-sci, and philosophy of law/government. The witches just lived in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
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#6
Thank you, Ishamael, for clarifying that although it was me who took it beyond simply witchcraft. My apologies for misunderstanding.

Unfortunately, as you know throughout history, governments took (and currently take) over areas (and still due through annexation and more strongly through conquering). I just don't see returning to nature necessarily as much of an option ... then or now. JMO .. not debating.
The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.

- Kahlil Gibran
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#7
Hey, I agree with you there. What's the point of "returning to nature" if the time countries come and take that over is just around the corner?

You might as well pick your poison, and try to make sure it is not that fatal, eh?
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#8
Yup that pretty much sums it up .. but . if it were a perfect world .... it wouldn't matter anyway lol
The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.

- Kahlil Gibran
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#9
I found a website I thought might interest you, as well as share some light on the Salem Witchcraft Trials to those who don't know much- it even include names of the executed
http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ft.../SALEM.HTM
Ignorance is Bliss but Knowledge is Power
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#10
Thanks for sharing that link, Jenova...that was a horrible mark on history for sure. I had found that link a while back I think, and you're right...it is very informative.

It never ceases to amaze me how fear and ignorance feed on each other..and the horror in Salem as well as witch hunting throughout the ages is a textbook example of how that happens. It's just sad that so many people had to die unnecessarily.
“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.” ~Philip K. Dick

http://paranormalinreview2.zohosites.com/home.html

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