Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?

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Long memories of Witches in Pendle

Despite opposition from the Bishop of Burnley the 400th anniversary of the notorious Pendle witch trials will be commemorated with the date 1612 painted on the hillside in letters 500 ft high.

The Right Reverend was concerned that  it would be celebrating the “injustice and oppression of elderly women“.

The local Council got cold feet after the Bishop’s protests but Moorhouse’s Brewery stepped in as the new sponsor.

The numbers will be painted in biodegradable paint which will wash out after a few weeks.

It will be completed in time for the annual witch walk on August 18th when hundreds of people in fancy dress climb Pendle Hill raising money for Pendleside Hospice.

The trials at Lancaster Assizes are remembered as miscarriage of justice with 10 of the accused being hanged after accusations that they killed 10 people using witchcraft. One other person was cleared and one died in prison.

Learn more about the history of witches in the Pendle area


A curse on the revenue

Witches in Romania are up in arms because they are going to be taxed.

The tax office says they earn a good living from casting spells and putting curses on people. The witches, led by “queen witch” Bratara Buzea,  are now planning to retaliate in the only way they know how – by putting a curse on the tax collectors.

The witches are thought to earn about €15,000 (£12,500), which is thirty times the national average gross wage, and are being asked, along with body embalmers and driving instructors, to register as self-employed when they will become liable to a 16 % tax rate and pension and social security contributions.

Now the practitioners of the dark arts, including tarot card readers, astrologers and mediums, will be required to give a receipt for every prophecy and curse they deliver which then has to be filed with the tax authorities.

Since the fall of communism witches have come out of the shadows;  a Hungarian Witches Association was formed in 1991 (and received tax exempt status in 1998) and a Bulgarian witch is said to have predicted the death of Princess Diana and the 9/11 attacks.

Given that Romania and Hungary have, at different times, included Transylvania – the ancestral home of the vampires – I suppose the tax collectors think it could be worse. But if I were them I think I’d carry a wooden stake in my laptop bag and eat lots of garlic to be on the safe side.

Meanwhile the catholic truth society has just published a guide on how to convert witches to Christianity. Written by a former witch Wicca and Witchcraft: Understanding the Dangers, says that young women – who make up 70% of its practitioners – are particularly attracted to the pagan religion because of the positive depiction of witches  in TV programmes such as Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the last census (2001) there were 31,000 neo-pagans in the UK of which just under a quarter were Wiccans.

The author says that there are grave psychological risks behind the glamour but that catholics should be aware that Wiccans are also on a spiritual quest. They are interested in nature and worshipping creation so that is the ideal starting point from which to convert them.

Wicca is also feminist in nature so its followers are unlikely to be impressed by what they see as a patriarchal cult which opposes women having any authority in the church. The Druids rightly point out that christianity appropriated many pagan festivals to persuade people to convert and the chairman of the Druid Network thinks the catholic should:  “talk less about ‘converting’ and ….. explain how they misled people in the past”.