During the Middle Ages, preceding the Renaissance and the Age of Exploration, women generally were responsible for the health and care of their families. The medicines we take for granted today, were obviously not available.
Women and their families would grow what was known as a “physik” garden containing herbs, flowers and plants which had medicinal value and could be used to treat various illnesses and conditions. For example, peppermint could be used to treat upset stomach in the form of a tea made of the dried leaves of the plant (Why do you think they call it “Pepto-Bismol“? The name is a reference to the stomach-comforting properties of peppermint). Honey and anise leaves were used for the same purpose. The juice of poppy seeds were applied to the nipples of nursing mothers to curb colic in a baby. These same poppy seeds could be wrapped in a small piece of woven material and given to a sick or crying baby to suck on, and, not surprisingly, the baby was soon sound asleep. Chamomile leaves were dried and made into a tea which could sooth and calm both children and adults who were ill or restless. Dried primrose flowers were eaten to ease muscle aches.
These gardens were tended diligently because they were a valuable asset to the families and midwives who used them. These “wise women” who passed down the knowledge of these plants, flowers and herbs would later be branded, beginning in the 1300’s, as “witches” by the Catholic and Protestant churches of both the Old and New World.
Between the 1300’s and 1700’s in Europe, millions of women were executed for “witchcraft”, and men were also, at times, executed as “warlocks.”
During a witchcraft investigation in Europe in 1593 a man (who was married) was examining a woman for any unusual marks or disfigurements which could be interpreted as proof of a relationship with the devil. Quite by accident, he “discovered” her clitoris, but, not knowing what it was, labeled it as a “devil’s teat,” sure proof of the woman’s guilt. At first, he did not want to reveal this discovery because, “…it was adjoining to so secret a place which was not decent to be seen.” In the end he was not willing to hide such a serious and strange piece of evidence. When he showed his discovery to onlookers (all men), they were amazed because they had never seen anything like it. The “witch” was convicted and burned at the stake.
Despite this persecution, however, women grew and harvested their “physik” gardens for the good of their families. When the plants were ready to be harvested, they were cut and bundled and tied together by the stalks and hung upside down to dry. In Middle English the word for this process is “driggen,” meaning “to dry.” And, it is from this word that we derive our word “drug.”
One of the plants grown in these “physik” gardens was a plant that brought about violent vomiting (purging), and was used, according to the prevailing medical ideas of the period, to get rid of whatever was inside you making you ill. The dried powder/leaves of this plant were mixed with a slight amount of water and made into a watery paste. The concoction was then put into the mouth of the child or adult and, soon thereafter, vomiting would occur, and, hopefully, a relief of symptoms. This mixture was known as a “puke.” Today the word is used in English to refer to the act itself, rather than the substance that caused the reaction in the first place. Words have histories, too, and should be told.
On the other hand, apothecaries (pharmacists) of the Middle Ages (we’re talking about men here) dealt in some weird and fantastic remedies. They sold things such as viper’s flesh, crab’s eye, lion dung, earthworm oil, moss from the skull of a dead man, goat urine, powdered mummy, and that most rare of things, horn of unicorn. These and other substances were mixed to create remedies. It appears that women were more in touch with effective medicine than the male physicians and apothecaries of the day. During the bubonic plague which swept through Europe in the mid-1300s and killed anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of the population, the survival rate for patients who went to female practitioners (“wise women” or “witches,” depending upon your perspective) was higher than that of those who were treated by male physicians and apothecaries.
In the Middle Ages, and later, astrology was considered a science and was studied seriously and extensively. The belief that the planets, moon and stars had a significant influence in the affairs of “men” (and women), was widely accepted. One of the beliefs of astrology was that the planet Jupiter wielded a tremendous influence over the physical health and well being of human beings. The astrological symbol for the planet Jupiter was “Rx”, and as time went by this symbol came to represent the medicines/drugs given to people to improve their health or cure an illness. That is why on every bottle of medicine dispensed by a pharmacy, you see the symbol “Rx.” It is now virtually interchangeable with the word “prescription.” When you are asked for your prescription number, you immediately look for the “Rx” symbol, followed by a series of numbers.
In 1486, 6 years before Columbus sailed, two Dominican priests from Germany named Kramer and Sprenger wrote and published a book entitled Malleus Malefic- arum (“The Hammer of Witches”). It was a witch-burning manual, a sort of “how-to” book, which described in detail how to identify, detect, question, torture (to be piously done with the sprinkling of holy water and the saying of prayers), convict and cure those, mostly women, suspected of witchcraft. It became an instant best-seller and unleashed a pent-up hysteria that had existed in Europe for over 150 years.
In 1321, Dominican advisors to Pope John XXII agreed with him that his enemies were trying to kill him via the use of magic. The Pope and his Dominican advisors spearheaded a campaign throughout Christian Europe against what were commonly known as the “cunning arts,” the ancient folk traditions, knowledge and lore having to do with fertility, childbirth and medicine – commonly known as “witchcraft,” and its practitioners, mostly women, as “witches” – from the Anglo-Saxon word “Wicca.”
This campaign was slow to take root and few people were punished or burned for the crime of witchcraft.” However, this all changed with the publication of “The Hammer of Witches” in 1486. It cloaked, under the guise of Christian piety, a crusade to rid Europe of anyone suspected of practicing either the black arts or not conforming to church doctrine (heresy). This hysteria condoned the use of torture to extract “voluntary” confessions. It opened the doors to false accusations against neighbors, the settling of old hatreds, and the means of coveting and gaining lands of those who would not sell their ancestral homes. What did one have to do to be declared a “witch” or “warlock”? One had to renounce the Christian faith (any words interpreted as counter to Church teachings were deemed heretical), devotion to and worship of the devil, the sacrifice of unbaptised children to the devil (a missing child could set off a storm of accusations and lead to the arrest of someone, whether or not the child was ever found), and engaging in carnal lust with either the devil or his demons (the “incubi” and “succubi”). This was difficult to prove, but a confession under torture was a valid admission of guilt.
The panic that swept through Europe was most virulent in Germany, Switzerland and Scotland. In retrospect it is easy to point out that Protestant Europe practiced a male-oriented religion which denied the value of women as equal, contributing members of society. Women were viewed as the “weaker vessel.” After all, hadn’t the serpent in the Garden of Eden first approached Eve to ask her to pick the fruit of the Tree of Life? (According to The Koran , it was a banana, but The Bible states that it was an apple – BUT, there were no apple trees in that part of the world.) Thus, she was weaker and more vulnerable to the wiles of Satan.
Femininity itself became suspect as the search for practitioners of witchcraft continued through the 1700s. Some churchmen spread the idea that women had no souls, just as animals had none. Only men had souls and were the superior sex. Any woman who was thought odd or different was at risk of being accused, tortured and executed. To be accused was a death sentence in itself. If they confessed under torture they were burned at the stake (or pressed to death). If they refused to confess, they were burned at the stake anyway. If, as the flames began to rise about them, they finally confessed, they would be strangled at the stake before the flames consumed their body. Note how this occurs during the following scene.
In a sadistic turn of mind, some women were partially burned at the stake, the flames extinguished, and then they were taken back to a prison cell to suffer in agony for hours, and then, finally, brought back to the stake and the flames to finish the execution. It was an epidemic that would not stop for hundreds of years. Some places in Europe saw the complete disappearance of the female population. “Witch prisons” existed in many parts of Europe and were filled entirely with the accused and condemned. A male witness to the torture of these inmates, a man named Weyer, said they were “slaughtered with the most refined tortures that tyrants could invent, beyond human endurance. And this cruelty is continued until the most innocent are forced to confess themselves guilty.” The common practice was to continue torturing the accused until they named accomplices, who were then arrested and tortured until they named others, and on and on and on… Not surprisingly, then, whole regions of Europe were found to be infected with witchcraft.
The children of accused women were in great danger as well from the techniques of torture available to interrogators. Children of the accused were tortured (even “infants,” those under the age of ten, were subjected to the brutality their mothers suffered), to elicit evidence that their mothers were, indeed, witches, even though their testimony was not admissible in trials of any other kind. The tortures inflicted upon women were creatively brutal and beyond understanding, and I will not go into detail here.
Although it is impossible to know for sure, some historians estimate that between the 1300s and 1700s as many as 4-5 million women were executed for witchcraft in Europe and the Americas. Other historians place the number much lower, approx. 200-300,00 women executed. But no matter what the number, it qualifies as a holocaust of major proportions. It is for this reason that this period between the 1300s and 1700s in both Europe and America are referred to as “The Burning Time.” Travelers in Europe commented about coming upon whole areas/villages/towns/rural areas almost devoid of women. It truly was “The Season of the Witch.”
Clear this ancestral lineage through visualization. Disavow any responsibility or connection to any timeline where there is trauma. Dissolve any feelings or memories associated to traumatic timelines.
Giving all associated energy back to whomever it came, begin to draw your whole self back to presence in the now! Re connect to the truth, according to Divine Law.
You may decide to write down any memories and afterwards burn the paper. You may decide to do a releasing ceremony where you throw rocks into a river or lake, one by one letting go of any unresolved and unwanted energy. Whatever the chosen method, cleanse and clear your ancestral past and live in the knowing that you are a powerful woman!