Halloween is looming and rather than rounding up the cheapest and easiest ways to dress like a slut (wear red underwear and be the colour red) I thought it would be fun and fitting to revisit something we learnt about in our year 5 history classes – Witchcraft.
Embarrassingly recently, people in Europe and America were fond of rounding up folk they deemed to be magical and then setting them on fire, because that’s what God wanted them to do or something. Wild charges of witchcraft and wizardry ended the lives of thousands – would you have been one of them?
Luckily, History Extra has put together a handy and informative questionnaire to help you determine whether or not your current lifestyle would have given off the ‘burn me’ vibe to paranoid lunatics of centuries past. Would you have creeped people out sufficiently enough to arouse suspicion? Let’s see shall we?
- Are you female? (80% of people executed for witchcraft were women)
- Are you a pet owner? (people in the olden days believed that witches had animal friends that helped them perform their diabolical spells)
- Do you live alone? (because everyone knows that a bitches be crrrraaaazy without a penis of reason to run the household)
- Have you asked for charity of late? (time to shut down your Just Giving page)
- Do you have beef with your neighbours? (Get baking some apology cakes you heavy-footed fatso).
- Do you have a temper and occasionally mutter semi-threatening things under your breath? (This is you saying spells. No more angry middle fingers at dude’s who whistle at you from moving cars)
- Do you dispense homeopathic or astrological advice? (Well stop… stop that right now)
- Are you a contrarian? (According to History Extra, some accused of Witchcraft would actually go along with all of the hysterical nonsense people were saying about them. Being on trial for witchery is no time for sarcasm – hyperbole dies here).
I took the test and this is what they said:
By answering ‘yes’ to the majority of our questions, it’s clear that an accusation of witchcraft against you would have been highly likely. Such an allegation would have seen you subjected to a number of ‘witch tests’, some of which may have involved ‘informal’ torture such as ‘witch pricking’ (the method of piercing the skin to find areas of flesh that do not bleed). If you lived in Scotland where the use of torture was once permitted, you may have been subjected to sleep deprivation, thumbscrews and leg crushers until you confessed. Once a confession was made, it would have been left up to the courts to sentence you.
So yes, as it turns out, I wouldn’t have faired so well in Medieval England or pre-independence America. I’d be accused of being a witch, however I’m sure my current and ex boyfriends (and probably my dad) could have told me that for free.
Would you be a suspect? Take the test here:
If your interest is piqued by Restoration Britain in general, this book is a rich and riveting tale about witchcraft and war. The protagonist’s sensuous descriptions about food are, quite literally spellbinding (sorry… sorry) and anecdotes about the correct cleaning and polishing of kitchen utensils are fascinating (goats urine and chalk). It’s one of my favourite books of all time. Food as seduction, art and disguise interspersed with the trivial everyday happenings of rural, 17th Century existence and the snobbery and opulence of the upper class British manor.