Coming out of the broom closet…still.

So, I posted the following in an Ancient and Medieval Civilizations history college class. This is really my first time throwing wide the broom door in an open environment. It is incredibly short for the subject matter. The discussion direction is first, in orange then my response is in purple and black. 

One of the more fascinating aspects of medieval history is the concept of witchcraft.  While romanticized in books, movies, and tv shows, being accused of a witch was one of the most intimidating and dreaded events of medieval life. Witch hunts raged on and off throughout Europe and the New World on a irregular basis for over 300 years.  Overwhelming the majority of those accused, tried, tortured, and executed for witchcraft were women.  Why?  What about women made them targets for these accusations?  Was it a means of control of women who acted outside traditional gender roles?  If you look at some of the women who were “uppity” were often accused of witchcraft.  Joan of Arc who led France to victory over the English–burned at the stake.  Anne Boleyn–King Henry VIII’s second wife was accused of “bewtiching” the King before she lost her head.  Anne Hutchinson who dared to speak out in colonial America–denounced as a witch.  Did witches really roam loose brewing up good and evil or was it a scare tactic to keep women in their place?  Was the devil really at work in the form of a woman?  Or was this an extension of original sin and the inherent weakness of women?

 Before I address this discussion, I am not Christian. I believe everyone has the right to believe what is right for them and I hope each individual follows their beliefs in thought, word and deed. Because of my personal beliefs I have not climbed on my soapbox and preached for respect and acceptance, instead I have tried to answer the questions tactfully and respectfully. I am not against any religion but do not wish to be converted nor do I wish to change anybody else’s faith, however I do like to discuss beliefs and so I apologize for the length of this post.

Real or scare tactic? Is witchcraft real, what about the Devil or original sin?

I feel the answer to all three of those questions is both yes and no. How can it be both? I do not believe that a person can speak some angry words and the target person will receive something negative but I do believe that the person who prays or casts a spell or charm to protect or heal can influence another. This has more to do with willpower than the supernatural and, to me, is kind of like a placebo effect. These questions have to do with an individual’s belief and faith plays a large part in the formation of those beliefs. Religion is not the only aspect to play into beliefs. Traditions, fairy tales, superstitions, entertainment and literature all impact a persons view. As we approach Halloween there are many who will be unknowingly quoting Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Even the t.v. series Doctor Who paid homage to “Double, double toil and trouble.”

Are women inherently weaker than men? Original sin/Women’s weakness?

In the patriarchal society, which was reinforced by many of the teachings of the Christian Church during the Middle Ages, women were believed to be weaker because, as the stories go, Eve caused the downfall of humanity. Having the witch-hunts focused on women allowed male control to be reinforced by women caught up in the mass hysteria. The hunts also allowed grudges to be acted upon and inexplicable events (plagues, natural disasters and the like) to be blamed on someone/thing. The reasoning went that if the cause could be found and purified (fire had been traditionally purifying in many pagan societies) then the ‘trouble’ would stop.

The Witch-Hunts Targets

Women were specifically targeted and some relate this to the relative success of the witch-hunt hysteria. The Gendercide Watch site does a fantastic job of lining this point out. This site was really interesting to me because it relates the hysteria to both women and timing of other rapid transformations happening. It makes a great point later on about the countries which were strongly Catholic had fewer burnings (“4 in Ireland vs 26,000 in Germany) than those in transition and turmoil with the Reformation. Women were not the only target but were undoubtedly the main focus. This may have something to do with holding onto traditions or superstitions surrounding fertility practices. The Catholic church had declared, or was working on declaring, some pretty specific beliefs/principles regarding fertility and the place of women.

Did/do personalities play any role in the label of witch? Control: gender roles?

As is the case with Joan of Arc, Anne Boleyn and Anne Hutchinson many of the first targets were strong willed women who did not stay in their prescribed roles. Personality often times led to the naming of certain women as witches, now that label has changed a letter but the idea behind it still applies. The movie (based on the book) Practical Magic nods at this thought through the school children’s chant “Witch, witch, you’re a ***ch.” The carryover of this chant generationally also speaks to how prejudices, as well as traditions, are passed on and how change can take so long.

Was geographic location a factor?

Absolutely. If you study Africa and South America many magical practitioners are called Witch Doctors or Shamans and are male. However, in North America men or women could be Shamans, depending on the tribe. In Europe women were traditionally the healers, those with the ‘evil-eye’ and is why I think it was so easy for this mass hysteria be focused on women. We as a global society have not left these practices or prejudices behind. There was a witch doctor that cursed a soccer star at the 2014 World Cup! Not to mention the millions of women dead or maimed across India specifically, but Asia and Africa as well, by being accused of witchcraft. Even now, many who consider themselves pagan in America hide their beliefs for a long time, it is called ‘coming out of the broom closet.’ Assumptions are rarely accurate and can be very hurtful depending on the society.

I leave you with the quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth:

A dark Cave. In the middle, a Cauldron boiling. Thunder. Enter the three witches.

1 WITCH.  Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.

2 WITCH.  Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin’d.

3 WITCH.  Harpier cries:—’tis time! ’tis time!

1 WITCH.  Round about the cauldron go;

In the poison’d entrails throw.—

Toad, that under cold stone,

Days and nights has thirty-one;

Swelter’d venom sleeping got,

Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot!

ALL.  Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Seeing as it in now October, the timing was right. I have struggled recently in responding to a conversion effort. There is a traveling walk through theater called the 99. It is host by Christian churches and focuses on their belief in response to drugs, suicide, gang violence and the consequences as they see them. It is a good experience but at the end there is a opportunity to commit/rededicate oneself to Jesus. When talking with the lady I evaded her questions of “Are you saved, when were you saved” and so on. I could have taken the opportunity to speak to her about not being Christian and why I don’t believe I will go to Hell because of it. But I didn’t. Instead I kept silent. 3 days later I had the following discussion assignment in class. In response to my actions at the 99 I feel I was more open in my class. Long story short: it isn’t easy being open. 

Brr. :)

I am still singing Christmas songs, namely: “Baby it’s cold outside.” Hopefully, you had a wonderful holiday time, and if you have more left (like I do) keep your chin up and remember it is nice to spend time with family and friends. I got a white Christmas this year and for the first time ever, I am wishing it would have stayed clear. I am getting over that. The reason for this abnormal behavior is a particular gift. I received a telescope!

Yup, this one!

It’s huge and has an amazing tripod stand and multiple eyepieces and filters and even a motorized mount accessory to adjust the telescope to follow a celestial body through the night sky! So far, there are two things I have found that I deem are necessary for this particular awesomeness. A solar filter (so I can view the sun and watch sun spots move across the surface of the sun!) and a storage/carrying bag. That’s it, well and crystal clear night skies. I checked the forecast shortly after unwrapping to find that tonight should be partly cloudy and tomorrow clear. Yes! 

I took the time to study the owners manual yesterday and my husband put it all together for me. He even attached the motor part. Now I just have to calibrate it and start enjoying the night sky, up close! Well, I have computer software to download as well and I want to find a great astronomy app as well. Enjoy yourself, stay warm if its cold where you are or vice versa!

Grades!

Yes I only took one class per semester, I only feel a little under achieving for it. Some people can go out there and  take a full schedule of classes while working 40+ hours a week and raising a family. I am not one of those people. I took a class this past summer, I got a good grade(A in English Comp II). I just finished another class, I got another good grade(see below). I am enrolled for another class for the spring semester(Mythology) and I will get a good grade. /nods

So I got an A! I took American Humanities and as some of you may have gathered from previous posts the professor was not well organized. At all. She was also not very online course savvy. At all. <moving on> I had a research paper to turn in, in place of taking a final. I received a score of 95/100. :) For the class as a whole I received a 96.66%! Should I round? Nah, I am happy. The biggest reduction was my grade for the mid-term which happened to be a not so stellar rough draft of my final research paper. Well, really it was a rough compilation of what turned into 1-2 paragraph(s) in a 15 page paper. If I am completely honest though, the final I turned in was like the 3rd revision. I don’t think I actually proofread the thing in it’s entirety once. That’s how I write though, I go through and gather all my information, then type until my eyes cross. Revise a few times and turn it in. I understand just how amazingly lucky I am.

So now I can completely focus on the season! :) Which is good because today marks 1 week until the big “C” day. And all of the hectic running from one family gathering to another. While it is good to be involved and want to be at all the family gatherings, I really need to learn how to say no, to at least some of them! As it stands, I have 4 to attend, 1 on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas Day. When am I going to do something with my husband, just us? Good question. Maybe after…in place of New Years?

Final…ly

Schools out for … winter break anyway! I turned in my research paper which counts as my final this go round. I am not doing so well at switching gears though. Hmmm. I could not wait for this time but now that class is over I keep checking (it’s online) to see if there are any assignments I missed or anything else I could turn in or proof one more time. I refuse to allow myself to open my research paper back up though. There is such a thing as over-editing.

Well, time to focus on family and life. I have a tendency to schedule too much stuff into my holiday time and end up stressing myself out. Fortunately I work at a college so I get tons of time off from work to do this. I have a friend coming to visit family this year and we (and our spouses) are going to go see a movie and have dinner. Then the following night my husband and I are going to a F*** the Mayans party on the 21st and then Christmas Eve and then Christmas and then a birthday then New Years then back to work! Ah!!! Why do I do this?!?! Not to mention wrapping and purchasing those last few gifts before Christmas.

I will be fine, I will make time to bake something, if not to make (sew) anything. I hope this time of year doesn’t get too busy for you. Enjoy it!

Christmastime

Well, Holiday Season anyways. I went shopping yesterday. Ugh, I am worn out. I like shopping and finding treasures for my family, and I like the reminder to be thankful that I have the ability to treat them (without putting myself in a financial mess). However, the push to find exactly what I am looking for and make sure the nieces and nephews are even is tough. Not to mention the exhaustion of shopping all day after not doing that all year! In years past I have spent a little at a time and shopped roughly September through December. This year I waited for the Christmas bonus, which doesn’t appear until after Thanksgiving. I still have some things to pick up, stockings to fill for hubby and me (and maybe the animals). Plus wrapping everything and baking for the office. Nevermind that I am finishing up a class. I am not meaning to complain, I just realized that I am a bit overwhelmed this year. I will have to see what I can change next year without going crazy for Christmas in July. 

Good news though, I found this years ornament! I tried finding a traditional bell each year and finally switched to snowflakes as bells tended to be of the jingle variety and difficult or expensive to find. I am going to try to find bells for the big years, I have one for our first Christmas and one for our 5 year anniversary. So that leaves 10 year, 25 year and 50 and 75 to look forward to finding. Now I just need to convince myself that it will be worth it to me, to put our tree up and decorate it. 

I hope your pre-festivity activity is more exciting and jolly than mine has been so far. 

There is another thing to look forward to this year. My husband’s work’s Christmas party is a masquerade this year. How cool is that!?! We mostly have our outfits put together already. Basic clothes (no costume, that would be going a bit overboard as the company is not quite as Halloween-centric as we are) masks, top hat for him and I just need to decide what shoes I am going to wear. Luckily the weather is going to be nice, if a little cool. :) I may post pictures later. If I get any taken! lol

Procrastination

Needless to say posting every other day this month has not happened. Life happened. And school. And I should be schooling as we speak. I have a research paper to write as my final but I have been procrastinating. I received feedback about it all finally but now I want to go a different direction. From some of the comments I am sure this will be fine I just need to get on with it and write. My annotated bibliography is due by the end of this week and since I want to essentially scrap what I have I need to get off the procrastination wagon. /sigh
In other news… um yeah, I’m focused on that darn research paper. I suppose I just need to stop worrying myself about it and write. Just do it.
If you procrastinate like I do, have you ever figured out why you do? I haven’t. I have been trying to find my reasoning and just keep coming up with excuses. Change my ways, that would be the answer, maybe soon! lol /shakes head