Wise women, healers for women and the poor, counsellors, midwives, pharmacists, herbalists … all of them called “hag”, “sorceress”, “witch”, “sibyl” or “Druidesses”. When hysteria took over, at a certain point in history, no compassion was shown! The ancient pagan tradition, revering the feminine, with its women cultivating and using healing herbs, gathering plants for different ailments, helping local sick villagers, underwent a reign of terror! Knowledge of local flora and fauna became a threat, as those women could possibly be too powerful and literally had to go.Being women, the blame was put onto them, they had to be eradicated, in times of male power, religious power, these women were not supposed to be around.
It’s never nice, even nowadays to be called a witch, but in the old days it was deadly for sure! Their mistake was to have a colourful garden with lovely scents, full of healing flowers and herbs, to have a cottage with a stack of medicines, potions and dried herbs. People came to them and asked for help for their loved ones, in response they were nurtured, given comfort and could pay with whatever they had: food, animals, bread…
I often think about all these innocent victims, when picking the stingy nettles that grow in my garden, drying tomatoes in the sun, using ginger root for infected wounds (I rather use natural remedies than antibiotics straight away), having toads in my garden…
By the way, I love using for example stingy nettles and turn them into a great spinach recipe (if you don’t tell people they’re nettles, they’ll all believe it’s the best spinach they’ve ever eaten). Ideal for allergies and your immune system!
Just this behavior would already have been suspicious in those days. Plus I have a birthmark on my left (!) knee, am a woman living a bit secluded… Even local envy could be enough to put the suspicion on you.
Anything potentially referring to paganism (which actually just means “country dweller” in Latin), or the sacred feminine power, any female ability for that matter, was enough for being accused of witchcraft in the 1500s and 1600s. Heaven’s forbid that the world would go back to admire a woman, the original goddess as she was as primary deity!
All through history, being a woman, meant getting no power whatsoever, if you had some, it had to be an evil one, think of Eve, Pandora, the Norns, and many others. “Gatherings” of women meant suspicion, even if they came together in their own private homes to compare good remedies, ideas. Even later, letting them vote was an unbearable thought!
All that judging, fear as that is what it is, to me is frightening. The historical records show nothing but persecution and horrible deaths. So let’s learn one wise lesson from the history of witches, let’s try not to be too harsh and judge too quickly in our lifetime.
Looking into her wishing well