The Sorceress, Jan van de Velde, 1626

Quantum malorum clausa nullo limite Cogit libido, quamque dulci carmine Purissimas mortalium mentes rapit Furias in omnes, sed cito quam fallimur. Vitam brevem breve gaudium Mors occupat momentulum quod ridet, aeternum dolet. 

“How many evils does Lust command, in the small secluded margins; who with enchanting spell the pure minds of mortals does subdue, and in everyone induces rage, but quickly each is deceived. Death, seizes fleeing Life and brief joy. He laughs for a moment, and forever despairs. “

This engraving by Jan van de Velde depicts a witch as thought of during the height of witchcraft hysteria in Europe. The bare-breasted wild woman stands proudly in her Circle of Art, while demons surrounding her wait to do her bidding to summon some misfortune. All around her are the tools of her craft: the grimoire, the diviner’s cards, flasks of potions, a horn of herbs and a wand, and the goat which she undoubtedly flew in on.

The witch at her cauldron, sets upon some foul brew with the aid of her demon familiars.

Medieval Torture Museum, St. Augustine

In the nation’s oldest city there is a new exhibition of replica and restoration torture implements popular from antiquity up to 1939 (the last public execution by guillotine). Even though the dummies are pretty kitschy and the fake torches very campy, the torture devices and demonstrations offer a boldly visual exposition on how barbarous humanity can be. Of course you KNOW I focused most of my attention here on the trial and punishment of witches and sorcerers, about which I was not disappointed. Contemplating on these instruments of brutality and pain is a very powerful way to remind yourself of the needless suffering religious tyrants have caused in the past, and will continue to cause in the future unless we stop them.

Shame mask for an eavesdropper

Collection of shame masks for different offenses, gluttony, gossip, eavesdropping, adultery and so on. A 16th century invention.

Clamps, chains, brands and the Breast Ripper (center)

The Pear of Anguish. Just Google it.

Heretic’s fork. This is what happens when your belief doesn’t match mine!

Catherine wheel. Particularly nasty, and used since ancient times

Iron Maiden. Did you catch their last tour? Ghost was opening for them it was spectacular. 

Young Witches in Britain, or The Golden Age of Witchcraft

Being a more “patriarchally” minded practitioner of magic, my opinion of Wicca has not always been a positive one. My rigid and narrow-minded Christian upbringing must have confined me to believing in a religion as valid, only if it had a mysterious and nebulous ancient origin. Wicca being a modern development (Thank you Mr Gardner), I took issue with what I perceived as artificial tradition.

I still don’t have much experience with Wicca apart from a bi-annual ritual gathering I attend, but I do appreciate it more now as I see it has inspired a new and growing revival of a modern brand of witchcraft. It is bringing young people back to nature, empowering women and the LGBT, and liberating society from the prison of the Church.

BBC Radio 1 released the short documentary below, interviewing five modern witches in Britain, who discuss the rising popularity of witchcraft in the West. We may truly be experiencing the dawn of a new Withcraft Revival, and that is definitely a good thing.

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