Witchcraft in Early Modern Germany

Alison Rowlands, professor of English at the University of Essex, examines the role of magic and ritual in early modern German popular culture. She explores the impact of the Reformation on German society and the witch persecutions, as well as the evolution of interpretations of early modern German witchcraft. Rowlands also discusses the importance of ritual and function in magical practice, as well as the pushback against curtailment. This engaging and informative study is recommended for anyone interested in the history of German witchcraft.

While persecutions of witches began in the Middle Ages, they were most severe in Germany and Switzerland. Religious wars reached their height in Germany, with about 40% of Europeans executed in the name of witchcraft. Fortunately, the Peace of Westphalia (1648) ended these religious wars by mandating that all mainstream Christian sects tolerate a wider range of beliefs. The craze for witchcraft reached its climax during the 1600s.

Humana German witchcraft was often accompanied by a repressive, violent and terrifying process of torture. The accused was often tortured on hearsay evidence and ignored when contrary evidence emerged. In addition, the trials were often hurried, lasting anywhere from three weeks from the time of accusation to execution. But the victims were not merely tortured and executed without a trial. In some cases, they were deprived of their rights in exchange for confessing.

While searching for authentic traditions and practices is difficult, the key to finding authentic material is following local folk beliefs. In some cases, finding the area where your mother was raised can give you a better idea of what local customs were like. In addition, some interviews mention five children being lured into cars by ‘Germans’. Getting in touch with local German spirits can be a challenge, particularly in America. However, Behringer’s approach to this subject is both compelling and engaging.

Despite widespread practice of witchcraft, there is no consensus regarding the exact time and place when German witchcraft was first introduced. Witchcraft in the early modern period was often linked to changes in the female role in society. In some areas, witchcraft was practiced in a religious context, while in others it was used in politics. Despite these changes, the practice of witchcraft continued in the country, albeit under different interpretations. This article presents a history of the different ways in which witchcraft was perceived and documented.

Hexe is the most common German word for witches. The word is derived from the Old High German hagazussa, a female spirit straddling the worlds of men and gods. The word has several distinct connotations, including female comedian, promiscuous woman, and night-flying female spirit. It also implies a “spirit” that is a witch. In some cases, this is an attempt to disprove the practice of witchcraft.

The pamphlet also includes stories about alleged witches in the region. During the persecutions, witches were accused of committing various crimes. Many German pamphlets also mention the belief in wonder doctors. Nevertheless, the accusations of witchcraft rocked West Germany in the 1950s. The author, Barbara Black, takes the reader into a village in northern marches called Dithmarschen, where witchcraft dominated the local culture. The pamphlet’s protagonists include Hans and Erna, innkeepers in the village, and Waldemar Eberling, a cabinetmaker with magical abilities.

The earliest documented history of German witchcraft comes from the Harz Mountains, which were a hotbed of pagan superstition. Witches were believed to gather at Brocken, a place in northern Germany where “Witches’ Sabbaths” took place. These were wild gatherings attended by Satan, who married the goddess Freya. Among these ancient traditions is the legendary Walpurga, an English nun who became abbess of the monastery of Heidenheim.

In contrast to English witchcraft, German witch trials were far more numerous and discussed at length in news reports. Additionally, German witch reports often described a wide range of witch identities, especially in southern Germany. While these reports do not offer a complete breakdown of the stereotype of witches, they do reflect the diversity of witchcraft during this time period. So, despite their differences, the similarities and differences between German and English witchcraft are remarkable.

Many people associate Germany with transgression. Several key accounts from Honde depict the consumption of children and abductions attributed to Germans. In the context of the transgressions, Germans denote the predatory consumption of human flesh in order to ‘appropriate’ their ‘life force’. In addition, these accounts are connected to centuries of colonial violence and extractive rule. They even evoked the Germans in a wave of violent robberies in Chimoio.