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Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), [1999], at

                               The Burning Times, Some "Facts" 
                                         By: Marios
                 Okay, let's try "another subject". "Facts", a term which derives
           from the latin factum meaning to make or to do, are constructs. If you
           "change" history, you automatically change the  "facts". Let's take an
           example: during the so-called Burning Times, aprrox. 200,000 - 500,000
           people where executed  by either  mob action and/or  legal action.  We
           will  neven know how many people were arrested, sentanced and executed
           for  crimes of  witchcraft (and  please note  that there  were several
           different "crimes of witchcraft" at this time).
                 In  the late 1940' and early 1950's, several British Witches and
           occultists  started  talking about  9,000,000  "witches"  killed. This
           number appears  to have derived not from any research, but rather from
           an attempt to "one-up" the number of Jews exterminated by the Nazis in
           WW II.  In order  to support  this contention,  the definition  of the
           Burning Times was changed. First, the period of the major whitch hunts
           was extended from its peak, 1550  - 1675, backwards to the founding of
           the Inquisition (early 13th century). Second, the figures for judicial
           executions of heretics, notably the Cathari and the Waldensians, were 
           included  in the  total. Finally,  all judicial executions  which took
           place  during  the Catholic  "civil  war"  (the Avignon  Papacy)  were
           included.  In effect, the definition of "witch" was changed to include
                 This definitional change is most interesting, since it parallels
           the  definitional change  that  took place  in  the Catholic  churches
           construction  of demonic  witchcraft  (see,  for  example,  Ginzburg's
           "Ecstacies"). The "facts"  of the situation  where "changed" when  the
           definition of the  term "witch"  was changed. "Witch"  was defined  as
           "not-orthodox" and, as such, included all heretics and non-Christians.
           To me, the  interesting point is that this definition  was created not
           by the Catholic  church, but by Gerald Gardner in  an attempt to prove
           that "witches" had suffered more than Jews. 
               What does this say about the idea of "facts"? First, it means that
           what is  a "fact"  changes with  the definition  of terms... in  other
           words,  a fact is a human, and therefore inherantly biased, construct.
           Second, while  agreement between  opposing biases  may  be reached  on
           certain  "facts",  such as  the  date of  a  battle,  I doubt  whether
           agreement can be reached  on the motivations or causes  of the battle.
           Finally,  history is  basically mythology  that is  constructed around
           certain quasi-religious disciplines, e.g. Marxism, positivist science,
           etc. It is a  story that is told and,  in the telling, it  changes the
           Bright Blessings M 

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