PMP: The Inquisition & Witchcraft in the Early Americas (pt 1)

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On 20 July 2013 RevKess presented the first part of a series on the history of the Inquisition in Europe and Witchcraft in Early America. KaliSara took the weekend off.

A rather ambitious topic to attempt to tackle, even within a series. The first part of the series introduces the topic and contains an interview with musician and composer Robert McClung from Telergy. Robert visited the show in May to talk about Telergy’s latest release Legend of Goody Cole. This visit he will talked about the upcoming Goody Cole Memorial on 11 August 2013.

As an introduction, the first of the series will just touch upon the topic.

Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition

Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition

The Inquisition began in Europe during a time of feudal wars, Catholic and Protestant schisms and an economic atmosphere that left the old, the infirm, and the poor to struggle for their mere survival. Interesting to note that there is a very similar atmosphere and circumstances around the world today.

After the “discovery” of the New World, these sentiments towards the “other” moved across the Atlantic into Colonial America with those who immigrated to a land of “new found freedom”. Accusations of witchcraft and devilry increased in both Europe and the Americas as death and disease swamped the population. In both parts of the world, the haves and the havenots were just as likely to make accusations or be accused.

Even before the institution of the Inquisition was created by Pope Innocent VIII trials for witchcraft and other heresies occurred within the Catholic Church. As early as 319, according to Sommers, the Catholic Church was codifying laws that were used to protect the believers from the evils of witchcraft. As with the later Inquisition and the witch-craze in New England, many “innocents” were accused, tried, convicted and executed under cannon law.

During the Inquisition, it was not the Church herself who carried out the physical punishments for those convicted of witchcraft and other heresies. The convicts were handed over to the secular arm of the government. The punishments for these “crimes” was well known by the Church and the secular government, it is hard to believe that the Church was not fully aware of the extent to which the government or local authorities would go to punish heretics. Thus, many believe that the Church is just as culpable in the deaths of the innocent and guilty alike.

Court proceedings in Salem, Mass.

Court proceedings in Salem, Mass.

Men, women, and children throughout history have been accused of witchcraft and not just by the Catholic and Protestant churches. Around the globe, people often point to the other out of fear, greed, and ignorance whenever they cannot explain the problems of the day. Disease, famine, death, drought, and many otherwise natural but tragic events were often explained away as witchcraft and devilry. Out of fear, greed, and ignorance – three of the prime motivators – people of walks of life were (and still are) capable of blaming that which is different – the other – for all their problems.

Even today, in places like South Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and still in Europe and the United States, people look to witchcraft as an explanation of why they are suffering. This series will attempt to look not only at the Inquisition and witch-craze of Colonial America, but to look to modern witch hunts and come to an understanding as to why these events took place in history and still happen across the globe today.


  • Wikipedia’s article on the Inquisition. RevKess understands that Wikipedia is not the best source for information on the net, but it is one of the most easily accessible to the general web surfer.
  • Sacred-Texts has Montague Sommers’ translation of the Melleus Maleficarum on their site for you to read.
  • From the History Channel, an article about the “first witch hunt” in Colonial America.
  • Visit Telergy‘s website for more information on the CDs Legend of Goody Cole and The Exodus. Listen to an early interview with Robert McClung here. Visit the Hampton Historical Society and Tuck Museum for more information on August 11th event.
  • You can download or read the full text of Margaret Murray’s The Witch Cult in Western Europe here.


  1. Telergy – Incarceration – Legend of Goody Cole
  2. Telergy – Accusations – Legend of Goody Cole
  3. Telergy – Voyage – Legend of Goody Cole
  4. Telergy – Escape – The Exodus
  5. Telergy – Meeting House Green Pt 1 – Legend of Goody Cole
  6. Featherscale – Chapel Perlious – Gypsy Heart
  7. Telergy – Exoneration – Legend of Goody Cole
  8. Telergy – Verdict – Legend of Goody Cole
  9. Telergy – Ghost – Legend of Goody Cole
  10. Paradiso  – Time Lapse – Shaman’s Trance

Suggested Reading

Coming soon to the Pagan-Musings Podcast  Channel, the second part to this new series on the Inquisition and Witchcraft in the Early Americas. RevKess will be putting together a number of episodes for this series. He wants to provide as clear of information as possible, as well as provide intelligent discourse on the topics at hand. These episodes will be recorded and edited for clarity. The series will air in installments as the episodes become available. Check with the Pagan-Musings Podcast Channel on BTR for upcoming episodes.

About pmpchannel

Launched in July 2009, the Pagan-Musings Podcast Channel has been growing and evolving to bring the Pagan community unique perspectives and views, interviews, music, and news from you average Pagans to well known Elders.

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