10 Weird Facts about Witches by Sean Hutchinson

by Sean Hutchinson,  October 31, 2013 – 7:30pm

The practice of witchcraft is deeply rooted in history, and has—excuse the joke—conjured up some very interesting myths. Here are a few facts.

1. MOST WITCHES WEREN’T BURNED AT THE STAKE.

The common image of a witch’s execution shows a large group of hysteric people surrounding the guilty person on a burning pyre—but immolation was not the primary means of execution used for those accused of witchcraft. During the Salem Witch Trials, no one was burned to death; all of the accused that pled their cases and were found guilty during the Trials in 1692 were hanged. In fact, no one found guilty of witchcraft was ever executed by burning in the American colonies—immolation wasn’t permissible by English law. But one person was pressed to death by large stones: Giles Corey, a man who refused to plead guilty or not guilty for charges of witchcraft during the Trials. The court found Corey guilty despite staying mute by using the French legal precedent of “peine forte et dure.” Corey is the only person in US history to be pressed to death by court order.

Martha and Giles Cory

Giles Corey, a prosperous farmer, and his wife Martha were caught in the Salem Witch trials. Giles’ punishment was death by heavy stones pressed upon his body.

2. WITCH HUNTS DIDN’T SPECIFICALLY TARGET WOMEN.

Historically-rooted misogyny led many to believe that women were somehow more susceptible to the dark arts or temptation by the Devil, and therefore more likely to be witches. For instance, the Laws of Alfred, written by King of Wessex Alfred the Great in AD 893, specified witchcraft as an expressly female activity. But men practiced, too, and were called many different names, including a wizard, a warlock, or a sorcerer.

Countless women and men were indiscriminately persecuted for witchcraft throughout history. During the Trier Witch Trials in Germany, which lasted from 1581 to 1593, a total of 368 people were executed—and many of the victims were leading male figures of the cities and surrounding villages, including judges, councilors, priests, and deans of colleges. In the Würzburg Witch Trial, which stretched from 1626 to 1631, 157 men, women, and children were burned at the stake for such random reasons as allegedly humming songs with the Devil to being a vagrant unable to give an explanation as to why they were passing through the town of Würzburg.

Glinda the Good Witch of the South

Glinda the Good Witch of the North was played by actress Billie Burke in 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz.

3. NOT ALL WITCHES WERE BAD.

Even though we’ve got that common image of an evil witch—a warty old woman dressed all in black, riding a broomstick, with a pointy hat—anybody familiar with The Wizard of Oz knows that there can be good witches too! Glinda the good witch was a representation of the benevolent half of witchcraft, known as white magic. Historically, practitioners of white magic were known as white witches, and they were more folk healers than devious people out for double, double toil and trouble. However, writer C.S. Lewis reversed the notion for The Chronicles of Narnia saga, making one of the main antagonists the icy and evil White Witch.

4. PEOPLE COULD BE CONVICTED OF WITCHCRAFT WITHOUT ANY SOLID EVIDENCE.

During the Salem Witch Trials, most of the legally-recognized evidence used against those accused of witchcraft amounted to spectral evidence, or “witness testimony that the accused person’s spirit or spectral shape appeared to him/her witness in a dream at the time the accused person’s physical body was at another location,” which was accepted “on the basis that the devil and his minions were powerful enough to send their spirits, or specters, to pure, religious people in order to lead them astray.” Other evidence used against them were so-called “Witch’s Marks” on their skin that allegedly proved they had made pacts with the devil. Contemporary research suggests these marks were possibly small ordinary lesions or supernumerary nipples.

5. WE DON’T KNOW WHERE THE WORD “WITCH” CAME FROM.

All the etymology geeks out there may or may not be surprised to know that the word “witch” is of indeterminate origin. The closest and most obvious possible origin is the Old English word wicce, which means “female sorceress,” and is the basic linguistic root for the modern day pagan religion, Wicca. Another more specific possibility is a split meaning coming from the Old English wigle, meaning “divination” and wih, meaning “idol,” both coming from the Proto-Germanic word wikkjaz, which means “necromancer,” or “one who wakes the dead.”

6. PEOPLE WROTE ENTIRE BOOKS DEDICATED TO WITCH HUNTING.

In the 15th century, witchcraft was of grave concern to a lot of people, and major pieces of literature were written about witches. The most famous was the Malleus Maleficarum, a legal and theological document that became the de facto handbook on how to deal with witches and witchcraft, and spurred the nascent hysteria caused by witch-hunting in Europe that would last well into the 18th century. The book was written by two clergyman of the Dominican Order—Jakob Sprenger, the dean of the University of Cologne, and Heinrich Kramer, a theology professor at the University of Salzburg—and used Exodus 22:18, “You shall not permit a sorceress to live,” as its basis to detect and persecute any and all witches.

Even people as important as kings got in on the action. James I of England’s 1597 book, Daemonologie, was a treatise that threw his support behind the importance of the practice of witch hunting. James himself even presided over the 1590 North Berwick Witch Trials when he believed a devious Earl plotted to overthrow the then-King of Scotland with the help of a coven.

7. A POPE ONCE CONFIRMED THAT WITCHES EXIST.

The Catholic Church saw witchcraft as a threat to all of its followers. In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII issued a papal bull titled “Summis desiderantes affectibus” (“Desiring with supreme ardor”) that recognized the existence of witches, saying, “many persons of both sexes, heedless of their own salvation and forsaking the Catholic faith, give themselves over to devils male and female,” and that they “afflict and torture with dire pains and anguish, both internal and external, these men, women, cattle, flocks, herds, and animals, and hinder men from begetting and women from conceiving, and prevent all consummation of marriage; that, moreover, they deny with sacrilegious lips the faith they received in holy baptism; and that, at the instigation of the enemy of mankind, they do not fear to commit and perpetrate many other abominable offences and crimes, at the risk of their own souls, to the insult of the divine majesty and to the pernicious example and scandal of multitudes.” The papal bull effectively gave Kramer and Sprenger—the writers of the Malleus Maleficarum—the God-given authority to begin their Inquisition.

8. LAWS ABOUT WITCHCRAFT WERE IN PLACE IN THE MID-20TH CENTURY.

Technically, England’s Witchcraft Act of 1735 was still official and on the books until 1951, when it was replaced with the Fraudulent Mediums Act. The language of the original Act wasn’t about persecuting witches per se, but rather made it illegal for people to claim that others were witches. Yet being legally convicted meant that you purported to have the powers of a witch—and in fact, a woman named Jane Rebecca Yorke was found guilty in 1944 under the law, though she was convicted mostly because she was defrauding people with bogus séances.

9. WITCHES PROBABLY DIDN’T WEAR POINTY HATS.

The origin of the association of the broad-brimmed, pointy hat with witches is murky at best. One school of thought is that it is based on the peaked cap Jews were required to wear after a 1215 decree by Pope Innocent III. Rampant anti-Semitism soon caused folks to associate heretics, pagans, and demons with wearers of the so-called Judenhat. In the early 1700s, the image was co-opted by artists who immortalized the image in paintings of the old hag in the witch’s hat we know today.

Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West in the movie The Wizard of Oz

Actress Margaret Hamilton dressed as the Wicked Witch of the West in the movie “The Wizard of Oz.”

10. WITCHES REALLY DID “FLY” ON BROOMSTICKS, IN A WAY.

The origins of the broom as a witch’s preferred mode of transportation is … pretty weird. People who practiced witchcraft experimented with herbs and potions in rituals that may have used the mandrake plant. Mandrake contains scopolamine and atropine, two alkaloids that cause feelings of euphoria in low doses and hallucinations in higher doses.

The rituals—performed in the nude—called for the participants to rub an herbal ointment containing the mandrake on their foreheads, wrists, hands, and feet as well as on a staff that they would “ride.” The friction of the ointment-coated staff on the witches’, uh, lady parts would absorb the ointment into their system and cause a floating sensation—and their description of that feeling is what perpetuated the symbol of the witch flying on a broomstick.

 

See the original post by clicking HERE.

“Candy Corn” Quesadillas

Yield: 24 Servings/2 dozen

Candy Corn Quesadillas

Photo by Taste of Home©

Ingredients:

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, cut up
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) salsa
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 8 flour tortillas (10 inches)
  • 1 jar (15-1/2 ounces) salsa con queso dip, warmed
  • 4 cups (16 ounces) shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 2-2/3 cups crushed nacho-flavored tortilla chips
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

 

Directions:

  1. In a Dutch oven, combine the first five ingredients; heat through, stirring occasionally. Brush butter over one side of each tortilla.
  2. Place one tortilla in a large skillet, buttered side down. Spread with 1 cup chicken mixture; top with another tortilla, buttered side up. Cook over medium heat 1-2 minutes or until bottom is lightly browned. Turn quesadilla.
  3. Spread 1/2 cup queso dip over quesadilla; carefully sprinkle cheese along outer edge. Cook, covered, 1-2 minutes or until cheese begins to melt.
  4. Remove to a cutting board. Sprinkle crushed chips over queso dip. Cut quesadilla into six wedges. Place a small dollop of sour cream at the point of each wedge. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

 

Nutritional Facts
1 wedge: 310 calories, 17g fat (9g saturated fat), 56mg cholesterol, 613mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 3g fiber), 15g protein.
Originally published as Candy Corn Quesadillas in Simple & Delicious October/November 2011, p11

 

 

 

Halloween Eyeball Appetizer Recipe

This recipe is best eaten the day it is prepared.

Halloween Eyeball Appetizer

Photo by Taste of Home©

Yield: 12 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 12 sliced ripe olives
  • 1 teaspoon ketchup

 

Directions:

  1. Place eggs in a single layer in a large saucepan; add enough cold water to cover by 1 in. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Place in ice water until completely cooled. Gently crack eggs (do not peel).
  2. In a large bowl, combine 3 cups hot water, food coloring and vinegar. Add eggs. (If eggs are not completely covered by colored water, add more hot water.) Let stand for 30 minutes. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon; peel.
  3. Cut eggs in half widthwise. Place yolks in a small bowl; set whites aside. Mash yolks with a fork; stir in the mayonnaise, onions, cilantro and mustard.
  4. To level egg white halves, cut a small slice from the bottom of each; place on a serving platter. Pipe or stuff yolk mixture into center of whites. Place an olive slice on each; fill olives with ketchup. Refrigerate until serving.

 

 

Nutritional Facts
1 each: 83 calories, 7g fat (1g saturated fat), 108mg cholesterol, 104mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate (0 sugars, 0 fiber), 3g protein.

 

 

Originally published as Bloodshot Eyeballs in Simple & Delicious September/October 2008, p35

 

 

National Pumpkin Day

October 26, 2016 is National Pumpkin Day!

Pumpkins are the harbinger of the harvest season, appearing every year as the first sign of autumn. Did you know that the word “pumpkin” comes from the Greek word “pepon,” meaning “large melon”?

Pumpkins can be grown on every continent except Antarctica, and the United States produces about 1.5 billion pounds of them each year. A Wisconsin farmer grew the largest pumpkin ever recorded. He used seaweed, cow manure, and fish emulsion to grow his pumpkin, which weighed a total of 1,810 pounds and was the size of a dumpster!

Celebrate National Pumpkin Day by carving a pumpkin in time for Halloween. Don’t forget to bake the tasty seeds for a healthy, autumn snack!

pumpkinsPumpkin Trivia

  • Pumpkins are grown on every continent except Antarctica.
  • Pumpkins are 90% water.
  • If your pumpkin shrivels up, soak it in water overnight to rehydrate it.
  • Pumpkins were once used for removing freckles and treating snake bites.
  • Pumpkins have high levels of lutein, alpha carotene, and beta-carotene that are responsible for the orange coloring and for transforming vitamin A in the body.
  • Pumpkin pulp can relieve burns.
  • Pumpkin flowers are edible.
  • Colonists sliced off pumpkin tops, removed the seeds, and filled them with milk, spices and honey. The milk-filled pumpkin was then placed in hot ashes to bake. This is the origin of our pumpkin pie.
  • Native to the Western Hemisphere, Central America specifically, pumpkins were originally used as a food crop.
  • Settlers to the New World sent pumpkin seeds back to their English relatives where the new seeds and fruit rapidly became popular.
  • During the Halloween season, about 99% of the pumpkins grown for domestic consumption are earmarked for the sole purpose of carving.
  • In Ireland, the original jack-o’-lanterns were made of hollowed-out turnips.  Turnips were plentiful throughout the British Isles.
  • Morton, IL is the self-declared pumpkin capital of the world.  It is the home of the Libby® corporation’s pumpkin industry, owned by NESTLÉ® USA.  The pumpkin packing facility prepares 90% of all processed and canned pumpkin consumed in the United States.

Click HERE to find out more!

Spiced Nut Mix Recipe

Yield: 40 Servings (10 cups)

Spiced Nut Mix

Photo by Taste of Home©

 

Ingredients: 

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 2 cans (12 ounces each) salted peanuts
  • 1 cup whole blanched almonds
  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup raisins

 

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, beat egg whites and water until frothy. Add nuts; stir gently to coat. Combine sugar, pie spice and salt; add to nut mixture and stir gently to coat. Fold in raisins. Spread into two greased 15x10x1-in. baking pans.
  2. Bake, uncovered, at 300° for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring every 10 minutes. Cool. Store in an airtight container.

 

 

Nutritional Facts
1/4 cup: 134 calories, 8g fat (1g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 87mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate (11g sugars, 2g fiber), 4g protein.

 
Originally published as Spiced Nut Mix in Taste of Home October/November 1997, p27

“Bewitched” Chili

Bewitched Chili

Photo by Taste of Home©

Yield: 12 Servings (3 quarts)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound bulk pork sausage
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cans (16 ounces each) chili beans, undrained
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
  • 1 envelope chili seasoning mix
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 round blue tortilla chips, halved
  • 12 triangular blue tortilla chips

 

Directions:

  1. In a Dutch oven, cook sausage and onion over medium heat 5-7 minutes or until sausage is no longer pink, breaking up sausage into crumbles; drain. Add beans, tomatoes, water, chilies, seasoning mix and sugar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 20 minutes to allow flavors to blend, stirring frequently.
  2. Top each serving with two halved round tortilla chips and one triangular tortilla chip inserted vertically into the chili between the round halves to resemble a witch’s hat.
    Freeze option: Freeze cooled chili in freezer containers. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Heat through in a saucepan, stirring occasionally and adding a little water if necessary.

 

 

Nutritional Facts
1 cup: 230 calories, 10g fat (3g saturated fat), 14mg cholesterol, 744mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate (8g sugars, 6g fiber), 9g protein.
Originally published as Bewitched Chili in Simple & Delicious October/November 2014

 

Halloween Candy Bark Recipe

Halloween Candy Bark

Photo by Taste of Home©

Yield: 44 Servings (2-3/4 pounds)

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1-1/2 pounds white candy coating, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups pretzels, coarsely chopped
  • 10 Oreo cookies, chopped
  • 3/4 cup candy corn
  • 3/4 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate M&M’s
  • 1/2 cup Reese’s Pieces

 

Directions:

  1. Line a 15x10x1-in. baking pan with foil; grease foil with butter. In a microwave, melt candy coating; stir until smooth. Spread into prepared pan. Sprinkle with remaining ingredients; press into candy coating. Let stand about 1 hour.
  2. Break or cut bark into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

 

 

Nutritional Facts
1 ounce: 152 calories, 7g fat (5g saturated fat), 1mg cholesterol, 84mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate (18g sugars, 0 fiber), 1g protein.

 

 

Originally published as Halloween Candy Bark in Taste of Home September/October 2013, p2-8

 

 

Solar Power – Sun Tea Recipe

Use solar power to create a refreshing drink.  No need to turn on the kitchen stove to boil water when there is a beautiful sunny day.

 

Recipe by Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes

Sun tea

Photo by A. Jones

Ingredients:

  • 4 to 8 tea bags
  • 2 quart or 1 gallon glass container
  • Water

 

Instructions:

  1. Put 4 bags into a clean 2 quart glass container; place 8  bags into a clean gallon glass container.
  2. Fill with water and cap.
  3. Place container outside where sunlight can strike the container for approximately 3 to 5 hours.
  4. When tea has reached its desired strength, remove from the sun and place in the refrigerator…or pour yourself a glass over ice with a garnish of lemon.  (Feel free to remove tea bags prior to cooling.)

 

The Pioneer Woman has her own take on how to make sun tea.

Sommer Collier states:

Sun Tea 101

First of all, tea leaves release their flavor into liquid. Period.

It does not matter if the water is hot, cold, or somewhere in between. When the liquid is hot, we call it steeping. If the liquid is cold, it’s technically a plain old infusion. Either way, it really doesn’t matter what you call it. When tea leaves get wet, flavor comes out.

The reason most people steep tea in hot water (other than just liking hot beverages) is that the tea releases its flavor faster when the water is hot. A fast release in a short amount of time usually results in an intense flavor and deep color.

That’s not to say that the same thing can’t happen in cool or warm water over a longer period of time.”

She suggests the general time frame for sun tea is between 2 to 3 hours of sunshine.

 

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the hottest time of the day is around 3 pm.

“Heat continues building up after noon, when the sun is highest in the sky, as long as more heat is arriving at the earth than leaving. By 3 p.m. or so, the sun is low enough in the sky for outgoing heat to be greater than incoming. Sometimes the hottest time is earlier because a weather system moves in with cool air early in the day.”

 

Recipe for a Simple Syrup

Yield: 1-1/2 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

Instructions: 

  1. Combine sugar and water in a pan, stirring occasionally and bring to a boil.  Let cool then place in a container.
  2. Add desired amount to prepared iced tea. Enjoy!
  3. Place remaining syrup in the refrigerator.  It will last up to 4 weeks.

 

 

For another take on how to make Sun Tea and Cold Brew Iced Tea, check out Luzianne’s website.

 

Lipton’s Strawberry Iced Tea

Strawberry Iced Tea by Lipton

Strawberry Iced Tea by Lipton

Recipe by Lipton.com

Instructions:

  1. While your basic iced tea is still hot, pour in 1/6 – 1/3 cup superfine or powdered sugar and stir through.
  2. Add 1/8 – 1/4 cup lemon juice, balancing out the combination of lemon and sugar to taste.
  3. Puree a pint of fresh strawberries and sieve them to remove the strawberry seeds.
  4. Once the tea is cool, add the strawberry puree and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

 

So don’t be afraid to get a little experimental with your pitchers. Once you’ve got your iced tea base, let the adventure begin!

 

 

Chili Lime Pineapple Chicken Skewers — Your Homebased Mom

Chili Lime Pineapple Chicken Skewers are the perfect summer BBQ meal. Combine chicken with a favorite fruit such as pineapple or mango for a delicious meal (Jump to Recipe) One of my favorite parts of summer is using our BBQ grill on a regular basis. We use it year round here in Oregon but the…

via Chili Lime Pineapple Chicken Skewers — Your Homebased Mom