Words aren’t evil, though fixation can be a source of pain.
What do you know about witches?
Pointy hats and brooms. There was a period where everyone wore the pointy hats, and broom was originally a term used to describe any of a variety of herbs.
Puritans with the belt buckle on the hat? Yes. The buckle was also common. An inquisitor likely wore that sort of hat more likely than a woman would have been. The term witch wasn’t even used originally. The term would later change to good-wife, and many bits of old lore survived in subtly modified form, substituting the saints in the place of pagan gods.
What does good-wife mean? Ah, it was just a term of respect, like saying female pillar of the community. But it was known who among the women still held to the old craft, and though they usually kept it to a matrilinear chain of apprenticeship, they would sometimes induct a neighbours child, voluntarily of course. Until it became inconvenient to admit, it was voluntary.
The witches were the keepers of family and thus tribal tradition. So holidays, seasonal habits, as well as medicine and traditional aspects of their craft, things like what various symbols meant, and dream interpretation. The reason Christians didn’t like witches practising dream interpretation was not that they didn’t believe in dream interpretation, or even that they believed interpreting dreams was evil. The church didn’t like competition. Dream interpretation was supposed to be a priests job, but many occult practices were ongoing in the various cultures of the era.
I wonder if they charged for it. If they didn’t charge for it then they would use it as an opportunity to give spooky messages from god, so they gained something either way. Astrology, as much as it was publicly reviled, was routinely practised by scholars of the time who were by definition laypersons in the church, like a deacon or some other title, and it was even practised by priests as well. It is found in the symbolism on church relics in various places.
My reason for reviewing all this information is it’s Halloween, and Halloween was a day of remembering. The harvest season extended over a significant stretch of time, over the late summer as well as fall, but Halloween, then known as Samhain (pronounced sowen) was the end of harvesting. No more crops of food to gather. They would bring the herd in from the highlands, as the grazing there was no good after that point, and make decisions about which of their live stock to slaughter as the oncoming cold meant the meat would keep in the root cellar. Most of the Samhain festivals were about the slaughter, as well as reaffirming community unity.
So what occurs to you when you view slaughter?
Blood. I feel bad for the animal. Bone, skulls, death in the coming winter. Death was a much more likely occurrence, to the point that they had a fire ceremony in some places with stones set around it marked for each person. They would celebrate around that fire and then retire for the evening. If any stone was found to be displaced the following morning, it was seen as a omen of that persons death within the coming year. Just as we do now, they were concerned about and tried to predict their death, but this was not the only or even primary sentiment behind the season.
In the traditional reckoning, anything that passed from this world would enter into the other world, a place commonly called the summer land. As winter was approaching here summer would be beginning in the underworld, so the livestock were viewed as being shared with the ancestors. Many of the prayers and songs sung during this time were in honour of the livestock, blessing them for what they gave the people in their passing.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.