I'm currently reading a little book called 'Witchcraft, a brief history of demons, folklore and superstition' by Lois Martin. I read a lot of such books, it's where I get a lot of my nasty-story ideas.
It's not some New Age book of spells and potions (I do have some of those, but the curses contained in them don't work on politicians), it's a serious look at how the whole witch craze developed. A scientific look, with no woo-woo support and no derision either. Because whatever your views on witchcraft, magic, Pagans, etc, in human terms the witchhunts were no joke. Things happened that make the 'Saw' films look like children's tales.
Some of it I already knew. The flying on brooms, sailing in sieves, turning into bats and so on were the product of the deranged torturer's minds. Witches, even those few who really were witches, never claimed any such thing. When your legs are in a wooden box and someone is hammering wedges in to the point where your bones are crushed, you would confess to being solely responsible for the atom bomb, the Plague, the bank crash, Scientology and Nick Clegg. If the torturer says "Did you fellate a weasel on the night of the full moon?" you will say "Yes, and he enjoyed it" because any other answer is going to hurt. A lot.
Most of those accused and tortured had no witchy connections at all. Those who actually were practising witches couldn't really turn people into frogs, nor could they really place curses. People believed they could and sure, some would take advantage of that belief and torment the gullible idiots for a twisted bit of fun. Such people exist today. I'm not the only one.
The whole witch-craze was just an excuse to torture people and kill people and get rid of inconvenient people, all on the basis of claims that any sane person would have to dismiss as ludicrous. Seriously, if those who were burned really had the power to change shape, to fly, to cast spells, how come not one of them used these powers to escape the torturers? How come they were all tortured and killed when all they had to do was turn into a bat and fly away or call up Satan and set him on their accusers? There is not one instance of this in the whole of history. Not one. Yet the people of the time believed these to be common events.
It was all made up. Not by the witches but by their accusers. No claim was too nonsensical, no accusation too idiotic, to allow them to drag you to the torturer and then to court. Pacts with the devil, blasting crops, making the neighbour ill, devastating livestock... oh, wait a minute.
Pacts with Big Tobacco/the alcohol industry/the fast food demons.
Second hand smoke that passes through walls, passive drinking, obesity as an epidemic.
Now cigarettes kill fish, even though there are only around a quarter as many smokers as there used to be and it didn't kill anything at all back then. We're devastating livestock now. It's all the same technique all over again. No claim is too nonsensical for the gullible to accept, they soak it all up and spout it on command. These are the same Middle Ages peasants reborn. They'll have us flying on cigars and sailing in pipes next. At least they can't burn us this time. Think of the nicotine in us!
I think it's time to get a broom, a sieve, a black cat and a pointy hat.
And practice those curses. Maybe I can get one to work.
What the hell, I'm going to get the blame for it anyway.