Two items appear below:
1    Malleus Maleficarum               Dean Dowling

2    The Bible and Witch-Hunts     Anonymous



Dean R. Dowling

(Investigator 112, 2007 January)

James 6 of Scotland became James 1 of England when Elizabeth 1 died. In 1590 James wrote a treatise for finding and prosecuting witches, the Demonologic, and included one infallible sign for a witch – if she had the Devil's Hood, the clitoris (The clitoris was the teat on which devilish "familiars" sucked). Read the Tyrannicide Brief by Geoffrey Robinson, page 73.

The infamous 1486 Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer for Witches) by Dominicans Sprenger and Kramer and justified by Exodus 22:18, Deuteronomy 18:10 and Galatians 5:19 was the Inquisitors handbook of questions and torture to be used by the best legal and judicial brains at the witches trial. The Malleus is still in print, Dover Paperback.

The 1928, 1948 prefaces for the English translations by Rev Montague Summers is an eye opener as to the modern religious mentality. Quoting the 1948 preface page (viii),

"The Malleus lay on the bench of every judge, on the desk of every magistrate. It was the ultimate, irrefutable, unarguable authority.–

"The Malleus is among the most important, wisest and weightiest books of the world." Page (ix) "From the point of psychology, of history, it is supreme – what is surprising is the modernity of the book – there are cases which occur in the law courts today, set out with the greatest clarity, argued with unflinching logic and judged with the scrupulous impartiality."

Read the 1928 preface, page, (xviii). Realise Summers wrote this in 1948, 1928 not 1486

(1) The actual Malleus page 6 says, "For witchcraft is high treason against God's Majesty. And so they are put to torture to make them confess – all their goods sold by public auction – those who consulted or resorted to witches were punished with exile and confiscation of all their property."

Confiscation of all their property, whether lawfully acquired or not, except for personal clothes and photos happens now in 2006 for those identified and not even charged with the production and/or trafficking in the illegal drugs like cannabis, heroin etc.

This is of the same religious mentality as the Malleus. (See the W.A. Criminal Property Confiscation Act 2000)

(2) Page 47 Malleus, "All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which in women is insatiable."

Midwives who carried the knowledge of the ancient contraception methods (including herbal) were special targets of the Inquisition.

Anonymous dobbing in was much encouraged and children denouncing their parents justified (Matt 21:16).

The Protestants were just as bad, Luther in the Wittenberg sermons urged his followers to hunt and torture witches. Calvin advocated mass executions and thought the court at Geneva far too lenient. Read "The Misery of Christianity" by Dr Joachim Kahl, ex Protestant theologian, Page 83.

There were 50 odd questions to be considered in the witch trial e.g.

Question 1: "Whether the Belief that there are such Beings as Witches is so essential a part of the Catholic Faith that obstinacy to maintain the Opposite Opinion manifestly savours of Heresy."

Note how the religious/legal mind put itself in an infallible position – to deny the existence of witches was a burning-alive offence in itself. Similarly with our present Drug laws.

Anyone criticising the torture was in danger of despising the word of God and being a heretic. More legal infallibility.

Question 3: "Whether Children can be generated by Incubi and Succubi."

Incubi were when the Devil changes into a man to make a woman pregnant.

Succubi were when the Devil changes into a woman and can be made pregnant by a man.

The monsters conceived in this way (wolves heads, fishes tails) had to be fed with ordinary children. ("The Misery of Christianity" Dr. J Kahl, page 82)

Question 6: "Concerning witches who copulate with Devils – Why is it that Women are chiefly addicted to Evil Superstitions?" and so on.

The Malleus had more than 30 reprints by 1669 in an age of high illiteracy and the official witchhunts lasted more than 600 years – 1234 to the last witch drowned 1836.


The excuses used by Christian apologists:

(1) Ignore and pass it over in silence.
(2) "Luther was a child of his times." But religion set the spirit and laws of the time.
(3) Admit the vague and abstract and then say the atrocities were not committed by "true" Christians.

But why didn't God send Angels to tell Sprenger and Kramer and the Popes they had "misinterpreted", "taken out of context," Ex 22:18, Dt 18:10, Gal 5:19? As he sent an Angel to tell Joseph, Mary's adultery and pregnancy was due to the Holy Ghost (Matt 1:20). God has the power to send Angels anywhere, anytime.

But perhaps the Malleus is very formal, logical, academic, legal and utter bullshit??

(4) This excuse beats the lot. It was not the witches themselves, but the mad delusion of those who persecuted them that came from the Devil. The Inquisitional judges were the deluded agents of Satan. (Kahl, page 94, Nigg 1962).



(Investigator 113, 2007 March)

Witchcraft and The Maleus

"Formal, logical, academic, legal and utter bullshit." That's Dean Dowling's evaluation of The Maleus Maleficarum. (#112)

The Malleus (1486) gave instructions on interrogating people accused of witchcraft. Guilt was assumed and accused persons were either found guilty or died during interrogation.

About 30,000 "witches" were executed in Europe in 300 years commencing about 1450, the last ones in Switzerland in 1782.

In Germany the witch-hunt craze reached its highest intensity in the early 17th century. Contributing factors were:

Life was "nasty, brutish and short" and people sought scapegoats. Judges, accusers and prosecutors got a share in the confiscated belongings of convicted witches. Therefore, it was a matter of self-interest to accuse people of witchcraft.


In the 15th century belief in witches who cast spells, ride on broomsticks, cause natural calamities, and have sex with the Devil became commonplace. The belief developed over the previous 1,000 years as story-tellers added juicy details to existing beliefs in pagan magic, herbal medicine, veneration of relics, demons, the evil eye, etc. (Maxwell-Stuart 2000)

Not everyone in the "witch craze" centuries was stupid, cruel, and irrational. The era coincided with the rise of science. Hundreds of men, enthused by belief in the Bible and its "God of order", founded scientific disciplines that subsequently benefited billions of people. (Investigator 13)

With the rise of education and Bible-distribution, Bible understanding improved. The Bible nowhere sanctions interrogation by torture – rather investigation by evidence and questioning of "witnesses".

Friedrich Spee (1591-1635) a Jesuit in Germany authored Cautio Criminalis (1631). Spee argued that people who are tortured will confess to anything to avoid further torture and therefore confession obtained by torture is unreliable.

The Bible verses witch-hunters relied on were:

You shall not permit a sorceress to live. (Exodus 22:18)

There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a wizard, or a necromancer. (Deuteronomy 18:10)

The word "sorcerer/ess" appears as "witch" in the King James Bible (1611) but is mistranslated and has nothing to do with European witchcraft.

The two verses were part of the law "covenant" or contract between God and Israel and there is no sanction for anyone else to carry them out. (Psalm 147:19-20)

Compare a modern contract, perhaps for a bank loan with penalties for non-repayment. The contract is solely between the bank and the borrower. Other people are uninvolved and they neither do the repayments nor are penalised for not doing so.

The bahaviors listed in the two quoted verses were Canaanite religious practices, which if widely copied would destroy Israel. Adopting them was betrayal of religion and country. By the Law of Moses, Israelite promoters of such evil deserved death to stop Canaanite evil from spreading. We can compare this to the death penalty in 20th-century countries for traitors who worked to undermine their country's sovereignty.

However, I repeat, that was under the Law Covenant of Moses.

The New Testament contains the "new covenant" or new contract. In this, people are to "do no wrong", "cast off the works of darkness", "love your neighbor" and let the secular authorities deal with crime, traitors and whatever. (Romans 13)

"Sorcery" in the New Testament (Galatians 5:19-21) referred to religious practice in the Roman Empire. The New Testament penalty is excommunication not killing or torture. (I Corinthians 5:9-13)


Dowling lists "excuses" of Christian apologists for the witch-hunts. (p. 45)

However, "excuses" seems the wrong word.

In the 20th century, government by atheists and others who rejected the Bible inflicted more violent death and torture in a few years than all misguided ecclesiastical rule over centuries. Hitler – 30 million deaths; Imperial Japan – 25 million; Communist Russia and China – 120 million; North Korea – 5 million; Pol Pot – 1 1/2 million; Idi Amin – 400,000.

Does Dowling, if he's an atheist, consider it his responsibility to give excuses?


Dowling asks why didn't God send angels to intervene?

Here I need to summarise in a nutshell some deep theology on why God's permits evil to occur. The Bible teaches:

From these four premises the whole witch-hunt program with torture to extract "confessions" is seen as an example of humans insisting on their own ideas of good and right, contrary to God, and botching it.

Point "4" answers Dowling's question: "Why didn't God send angels to tell Sprenger and Kramer [guys who interrogated "witches"] and the Popes they had misinterpreted?"

The answer is that Sprenger's and Kramer's ideas of good and evil were getting a tryout as everyone else's. Similarly with every successive generation: People reject points "1", "2" and "3", insist on their own way rather than God's, and consider themselves good and right but end up exposed as deceived evildoers.

Angels, in the Bible, came on rare occasions to prepare the setting for the "Messiah" (Christ) through whom humans finally realize how wrong they were and can become friends of God again. (John 3:16)


Another opponent of witch-hunts and torture was German physician Johan Weyer (1515-1588) author of De Praestigiis Daemonum (1563).

Weyer explained symptoms and manifestations of witchcraft as medical and psychological conditions and condemned the use of torture to extract confessions.

Jesus warned, "With what judgment you pronounce you will be judged." The Bible often states that people will be judged by "what they have done". As a Bible believer Weyer echoed these stern warmings to witch-hunters of his time:

But when the great searcher of hearts, from whom nothing is hidden, shall appear, your wicked deeds shall be revealed, you tyrants, sanguinary judges, butchers, torturers and ferocious robbers, who have thrown out humanity and do not know mercy. So I summon you before the tribunal of the Great Judge, who shall decide between us, where the truth you have trampled under foot and buried shall arise and condemn you, demanding vengeance for your inhumanities.


Mr Dowling's evaluation of The Malleus as "bullshit" was correct. Yet, many people still believe in witches:

Even today people believe that they have a witch's spell on them… If things go wrong, animals and people fall sick and property is damaged people quite regularly begin talking about the "evil people," about witches and magicians.

Modern belief in witchcraft had gone in cycles, frequently related to social change: between 1860 and 1890 with the replacement of aristocratic land ownership and in 1945-1946 with the flood of female refugees without men. The fantasy often soars prompted by envy and resentment. (Kopp 1990)

False belief in religion, science and politics is all around us. It's relatively easy to recognize error and evil of past centuries but what about in our lifetime? Without constant vigilance, self-scrutiny, humility and careful inquiry we will succumb.


Investigator Magazine No. 13, July 1990; No. 104, September 2005

Kopp, E. The German Tribune, 25 February 1990, p. 15

Maxwell-Stuart, P.G. The Emergence of the Christian Witch, History Today, November 2000

Pickering, D. 1996 Dictionary of Witchcraft, Brockhampton Press

Witchcraft 2000 Geddes & Grosset (Publishers).