The Babylonians and Assyrians believed that myriads of evil spirits or devils hovered about the face of the earth and caused all the evils of humanity; and that there was a special class of these malignant beings who moved about at night, inspired bad dreams, and even sucked the blood of sleepers. This belief in … Read more

Witch Hunt today

Witch hunts still occur today. Africa Witch-hunts against children were reported by the BBC in 1999 in the Congo and in Tanzania, where the government responded to attacks on women accused of being witches for having red eyes. A lawsuit was launched in 2001 in Ghana, where witch-hunts are also common, by a woman accused … Read more


During the early Middle Ages, the Church did not conduct witch trials. The Council of Paderborn in 785 explicitly outlawed the very belief in witches, and Charlemagne later confirmed the law. Among Eastern Christians belief in witchcraft was regarded as deisdemonia—superstition—and by the 9th and 10th centuries in the West, belief in witchcraft had begun … Read more

Witch Craze

Initially, the Church had not considered witchcraft to be heresy, but this changed in 1320, when Pope John XXII authorized the Inquisition, an organization designed to root out heresy, to persecute witchcraft as well. This marked the beginning of a period of witch-hunts which lasted about 200 years, and in some countries, particularly in North-Western … Read more

The Burning Times

The phrase “the burning times” was introduced in reference to the European and North American witch trials by Gerald Gardner in 1954 in his book Witchcraft Today. Gardner claimed he had discovered an Old Religion based on an ancient tradition of witchcraft; the “burning times” were its period of greatest persecution, and a major reason … Read more

Death Toll

Ever since the ending of the Witch Hunt, various scholars have estimated how many men, women and children were executed for witchcraft across Europe and North America, with numbers varying wildly depending on the method used to generate the estimate. In the 19th century, historians were still unsure as to the exact number, for instance … Read more

Witch hunt victims

Names of the victims Adamson, Francis: executed at Durham, England, in 1652 Albano, Peter of: died in prison circa 1310 Allen, Joan: hanged at the Old Bailey, London, England, in 1650 Allen, Jonet: burned in Scotland in 1661 Amalaric, Madeline: burned in France in mid-1500’s Ancker, (first name unknown): beheaded at Wurzburg, Germany, 1628-1629 Andrius, … Read more

Witch Hunters

A number of these “witch hunters” wrote books on witchcraft, including Nicholas Eymeric, the inquisitor in Aragon and Avignon, who published the Directorium Inquisitorum in 1376. The most notable of these works was published in 1487, written by the German Dominican monk, Heinrich Kramer – allegedly aided by Jacob Sprenger – known as the Malleus … Read more