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Comments

CraigC

The attitude of the Church toward witchcraft in the Middle Ages was highly skeptical

What a coincidence, so is mine.

Ana

Obviously you and the Church never met my grandmother.

BillyDinPVD

The skeptical approach sometimes caused more problems than it solved. In the American Southwest, Indians had long believed in witchcraft. Under the Spanish, when your neighbors suspected you of witchcraft, they would haul you before the local authorities, often the priest. "Thank you for bringing this to our attention," the Spanish would say, "You are quite right to be concerned about the pernicious practice of witchcraft. However, upon further examination, it turns out that this person is not actually a witch, for the following reasons... Keep up the good work." The accused would be released, the people's concerns about witchcraft were addressed, and everyone (especially the accused) was happy.

When the US took over, they refused to have anything to do with witchcraft accusations. "There's no such thing as witchcraft - go home and stop bothering us," was the basic message. Whereupon the people would go back home, and lynch the accused, since the authorities were not taking the subject of sorcery seriously themselves.

gail

Very interesting. I was aware of the widespread belief in and persecution of witches among Native Americans, but not of the different approaches by the authorities. Wouldn't people have eventually figured out that they were being blown off by the Spanish, though?

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