Wise Women / Witches

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yve
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Wise Women / Witches

Post by yve »

Im looking for information on wise women in C14 and 15. The midwives and herbalists type, who would become known as witches later on - Were they accepted or tolerated by the Church, or was it a more unspoken thing the women knew about but didnt speak of openly?
I suppose Im looking for the old folklore of the period, the myths and legends brought back from Hollywood to reality!
Any book names worth reading or directions to look in gratefully received! :wink:
Love and Light, Yvonne

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sally
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Post by sally »

In terms of herbal/medical lore/knowledge and women you could start by reading the Trotula texts and also Hildegard of Bingen. Neither accused of witchcraft to my knowlege (Trotula may not even really have existed but was allegedly a Salerno trained doctor, Hildegard was a slightly earlier Abbess) but both talk herbs from a female voice. Also maybe read some of the women mystics to get a sense of what happened when you talked about wierd stuff in public, Margery Kempe is well worth reading for a sense of how people treated women who were a bit different.

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Post by Alan_F »

Unfortunately I've lost the sources for this, but from what I can remember, they were not only tolerated as part of the Western catholic tradition, but also seen as integral to the well-being of the people.

It should be noted that women themselves would have been devout catholics and not part of a different religion.

Sadly I loaned my source for this out and never got it back! :(
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yve
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Post by yve »

Thanks guys. Ive tracked down Hildegard, but I'll hunt for Trotula!
But its not quite what Im looking for - were there women who were wise women and not Catholic? (A bit like we have pagans and spiritualists now) able to communicate with the 'other world' but were not allied to the devil?
Were there things like rune stones or the equivalent of Tarot cards still used? :shock:
I understood that Catholisism didnt manage to totally stamp out heathen worship? ( If I got that wrong, blame it on my Catholic schooling........!) :lol: So where and how did it survive?
Love and Light, Yvonne

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Neibelungen
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Post by Neibelungen »

A good place to start would be Keith Thomas' Religion and the Decline of Magic in the Western World. Peregrine Books.

Although it's nearly 30 years old it's still probably the best introduction to the whole concept and it's interaction with orthodox christianity. That said, it's got a very 70's slant on sociology as an explanation. Definately worth reading though.

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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

Yve if they were pagans and communicating with spirits they would have kept bloody quiet about it, so you'll have a job finding the eviedence for that. Certainly there were occassions when women were accused of talking with the devil or demons (Joan of Arc for instance) but not of talking with elder gods or such like. By the 15th century Christianity had pretty much wiped out pagan worship, even in out of the way places like Latvia and Finland. There were still crusades being conducted against those countires in the 1400's. In fact Christianity was doing it's level best to wipe out Judism and Islam from the fringes of Europe as well. There were some places that held onto heritical Christian beliefs according to mainstream Catholicsm, such as Lollards/Hussites, Buggers in Northern Italy, and of course those schismatic Greeks and Russians. the idea that there were still followers of the Wyke holding out though is a bit fantastical. It's wannabe history as in what some people would like it to be, not what it was. Now tarots, magic, well given that most rulers had an on-call astrologer and that doctors consulted zodiac charts and used "magic" in their cures was okay, though the Pope said it was a wee bit of a naughty.
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yve
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Post by yve »

Thanks to all who replied - you sent me off in a totally different direction than the one I expected, but you answered the question I wanted answered but hadnt asked correctly!!!! :lol:
Love and Light, Yvonne

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ViscontesseD'Asbeau
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Post by ViscontesseD'Asbeau »

This book answers your questions re. the church's attitudes, and plenty more besides:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Popular-Magic-C ... 55-8862027

It's been a b**ger to get hold of but now I see is out in paperback, so should be more easily available.

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