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Witch history?


Runewriter

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In my research I have found mention of witches all the way back to the between the 18th century BC and twentieth century BC in Babylonia/ Mesopotamia. Mainly in Code of Hammurabi (Codex Hammurabi )

If a man has put a spell upon another man and it is not justified, he upon whom the spell is laid shall go to the holy river; into the holy river shall he plunge. If the holy river overcome him and he is drowned, the man who put the spell upon him shall take possession of his house. If the holy river declares him innocent and he remains unharmed the man who laid the spell shall be put to death. He that plunged into the river shall take possession of the house of him who laid the spell upon him.

Not very nice but at least the accuser was tested first. Don't you know thier real estate laws had to be interesting. Still searching ancient Egypt, no luck there. Have already gone back to Indus which is believed to have been the oldest civilization only to find out their language has never been translated.But on the bright side the Sumerians had witches and they existed from 3000BC and earlier. So as of right now witchcraft has been around over 5000 years. Has anyone seen references to anything older?

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Still searching ancient Egypt, no luck there./QUOTE]

 

Magic was quite common in Egypt, but it was practiced by priests in the temples, (Heka). I am not sure if there was a specific name for anyone outside of the priesthood who practiced magic (although, why would that make them any more a witch than the priests who practiced it??). I think many of the magical practices of the egyptians reflected in magic today, like using bodily fluids and such (particularly the saliva, which was seen as magical because ritual words were said from the mouth). I believe their ideas on Heka and Maat are kinda on a par with European ideas of Wyrd, too.

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Ok, on the Egyptian magic but those were definitely priests in charge of a major religion of the time. That is the main reason I am not categorizing them as witches. Even in the Sumerian times the witch was a fixture of the small villages, usually there were two, one who practiced herbalism and another one who was an exorcist. By Babylonian times the herbalists were being prosecuted by the exorcists. It is around this time the Maqlu tablets(The Burning Tablets) were created where spells were used to question and persecute one side on the other. These were supposedly the first burnings.

Cannot help but make a mental link to the medical field which at one time had the homeopaths(herbs) and the surgeons(leeches) , today almost all western medicine is surgically based with homeopathic finally coming back.

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those were definitely priests in charge of a major religion of the time. That is the main reason I am not categorizing them as witches.

 

Ah I see ... so the question is, were there practitioners of magic outside of the temples and religious structure of egypt. I think you are right to say that the priests working magic in temples should not be defined as 'witches'. Although both may practice magic, there is a feeling (to me) of the witch being a part of society which is seperate from priesthood; the cunning folk, who regardless of status or education were approached for help from the community for folk magic.

 

Hmm ... well as it was a society which believed in and practiced magic as part of daily life, perhaps most people would have had a general understanding of how to practice simple magic, because of the society they lived in. But I think you are onto something with the link between magic and medicine.

 

The temples were also libraries, and the only place that people could learn. Im pretty sure from what I have read that most of the professionals of Egypt, doctors, surgeons, and Magicians, all came out of the temples. Everyone else were illiterate. So, as a poor builder or pot maker of no social standing, do you pay the temple surgeon a mighty fee $?$? - or do you go to a cunning person who perhaps can't read and write, but can offer a cure for a cheaper price. Cures that he or she has learnt through family, oral tradition, not written words.

 

I would guess that temple magicians and doctors did not see the people of the lower class at all, because of their price. Who would have medically treated / done magic those people? Probably a local cunning person.

Edited by owlblink
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Not sure if you'll see the correlation but here goes:

 

If I understand my history readings correctly, the Goddess religions existed prior to the development of Egyptian society. Although I can't cite the exact text right now, my assumption is that during these days of matriarchal religions, magic was practiced. Whether its practise was in the context of religious worship or separate, I do not know. But there is archeological evidence going back to 30,000 BCE for instance.

 

http://www.sibyllineorder.org/history/hist_religion.htm

http://www.religioustolerance.org/goddess.htm

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Found the first link reminiscent of some of my college archeology. It is pointing back to the Indus society as I did in first post. Both the Indus society and the early Sumerian society were pre dynastic(occurring before Egypt climbed to power). There are some thesis papers on the web that suggest the Indus society went all the way back to 300000 to 400000BC (alot of damn zeros there,lol) and was migrating into Europe as time went by. So it is safe to say that witchcraft existed in the oldest regions of human history. Always heard prostitution was the oldest occupation, now beginning to wonder if it wasn't witchcraft instead.

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