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Southern Illinois University Press, 1989 - Body, Mind & Spirit - 189 pages

In this new edition Charles Alva Hoyt updates his research and offers fresh interpretations of the fascinating history of witches. Among his "Second Thoughts" are cautious examinations of the possible implications of the space-time continuum of Einstein’s special theory of relativity and the "Many Worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics to the observed phenomena of witchcraft.

Hoyt, a descendant of Susanna Martin who was hanged as a witch for walking through a Salem rain without getting her feet wet, carefully sketches the background and history of this least understood of supernatural phenomena as it has evolved from antiquity to the present. He identifies seven distinct schools of witchcraft—orthodox, skeptic, anthropological, psychological, pharmacological, transcendental, and occult—and thoroughly analyzes each of them. He explores witchcraft’s increased influence resulting from the New Testament’s personification of evil as Satan.

Especially enlightening are the ways that the nonwitch world has perceived and treated witches. Witches were often victims at the lower end of the social order, scapegoats for the misfortunes of neighbors, town officials, and family members. Many of them suffered decapitation, hanging, burning and torture, dismemberment, and removal of skin with red-hot pincers for their alleged witchcraft. Dietrich Flade, Rector of the University of Trier, for example, was burned on 18 September 1589 after having been "mercifully and Christianly strangled." He had been found guilty of causing "plagues of hailstones and snails."

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About the author (1989)

Charles Alva Hoyt has published two ear­lier books with Southern Illinois University Press: Minor British Novelists and Minor American Novelists.

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