400-year-old witchcraft trial resumes in Germany

By | February 14, 2012

Katharina Henot suffered her fiery fate in Cologne in 1627 after being found guilty of practicing black magic. Arrested, and tortured to such an extent that the right-handed woman had to scrawl her last letter of defence with her left hand, she was eventually paraded through the city in an open cart before being tied to a stake and burnt.

Now the panel on the city council whose predecessors found her guilty of witchcraft hundreds of years ago will review the evidence. It is suspected that Henot, head of the city’s post office, fell foul of a deadly game of political intrigue orchestrated by her rivals and detractors.

The fact that Henot’s name has a chance of exoneration is due largely to the efforts of Hartmut Hegeler, an evangelical pastor and religious education teacher, who has championed the woman’s cause in Cologne.

“We were taking about the witch trials in class and my students asked me if whether the judgment against Henot had ever been cancelled, and the answer was ‘no’,” said Mr Hegeler.

“Katharina had her own reputation in high esteem; she would want to have it cleared.”

Between 1500 and 1782 at least 25,000 Germans, mostly women but also some men and children, were executed for witchcraft. Many were made scapegoats for natural disasters or faced accusations because of personal vendettas or just because they failed to fit in with the people around them.

In one of the most infamous cases, a three-month burst of bloodletting in the small town of Oberkirchen in 1630 claimed the lives of 58, including those of two children, as accusations of witchcraft spread like wildfire.

Now across Germany towns and villages are beginning to rehabilitate the names of the executed in an attempt to bring a belated form of justice.

via 400-year-old witchcraft trial resumes in Germany – Telegraph.

Hegeler is completely insane. Since the charge of “witchcraft” is spurious in the first place, there is no need to “clear” anyone. Continuing any witchcraft trial, no matter what the motive, should result in a mandatory psych ward evaluation.

5 thoughts on “400-year-old witchcraft trial resumes in Germany

  1. Sepp Hasslberger

    “Hegeler is completely insane.”

    I don’t really agree with that. The fact is that the trials happened, and people were executed. That’s part of history. Not only in Germany, the US had their own stories of persecution of the witches.

    We can say that now we’re enlightened, and we of course don’t believe in witchcraft and all those things, so we can just forget about it. But I believe that looking at those things again in a new unit of time actually helps understand that part of our history, and to make double sure that it can never happen again. It makes the mistakes more real, and helps prevent it from ever happening again…

    1. Xeno Post author

      You may be right about his motives, but the way I read it he was genuinely wanting to clear a woman of the charge of being a witch. That gives implicit validity to an insane game.

      If he helps people see that the insanity of witch trials have resumed, that anyone can today be labeled a terrorist and then imprisoned forever without a trial (and presumably tortured and experimented on) … then I will agree that he is working for the greater good.

      1. Xeno Post author

        Now that I’ve cooled off, I do realize my blanket statement “Hegeler is completely insane” was an unwarranted attack on my part, and I take it back. I don’t know him. He may only be mildly or partially insane. For the record, I don’t believe anyone is 100% sane. I’ve never met such a person.

  2. licky

    Not sure why Xeno you would call clearing a woman of charges of being a ‘witch’ and insane game. It’s true, many women were persecuted. For something called ‘witchcraft’- which really is just the empowered goddess female, living in connection to Earth, and her other sisters. Witchcraft is greatly misunderstood- its not woowoo or black magic. At it’s finest, it is paganism and wisdom embodied in woman, where she holds her own council outside of male domination.

    It was, and still is, an issue of patriarchal culture trying to hold down women, and woman’s connection to healing herbs, plants, the cycle of Earth. Women who know how to abort babies safely, use herbs to heal illness, honor their bodies and intuition, use ritual to honor life’s cycles, speak to energetic spirits or nature devas, have great communication with the spirit realms… these are the powers of witches. And these powers have scared men and the church for many centuries.

    Pick up a Starhawk book, the famous political power of a conscious woman that would identify herself as a witch. She is a fantastic loving soul, doing work to empower women in connection with Earth.

    Long live the witches! May women fully flower into their empowered selves.

    1. Xeno Post author

      The way I imagine accusations of witchcraft getting started is as acts of revenge or crazy unfounded fear and superstition, like a woman’s husband looked too long at some other woman, or someone was out-competing another person in business, or some bad luck happened to a person like they slipped on a banana peel and another person laughed … in other words, really petty mundane stuff triggered the accusation, and then delusions takes over and “evidence” of supernatural evil leads to state sponsored murder spurred on by some sick people’s thrill at witnessing terror and grisly death. If there is not such a human instinct, why are many of the top 500 money making movies of the horror genre? What is so entertaining about terror? Sometimes it seems that empathy is one of the latest inventions of evolution, and that kind of love is still biologically at war with a more cold-blooded instinct.

Leave a Reply