Your browser does not support script
TWV Presents...

Articles/Essays From Pagans

[Show all]

Views: 16,474,498

April 13th. 2014 ...

Magick and Consequences: My Experience with Sigils

Don't Talk Yourself Out of Trying Something New!

Being a Worrisome Witch

What to Do When the Spell/Ritual Flops

April 6th. 2014 ...

The Elements and the Quarters

Dark Moon Scry: Aries 2014

13 Keys: The Understanding of Binah

How the Wheel of the Year Works “Down Under”

March 30th. 2014 ...

Manifesting the Dream: On Religious Organizations, Pagan Abbeys and our Order

True Meaning of Community

Thoughts on Unverified Personal Gnosis

My Beautiful Grove- A Matter Of Perspective

March 23rd. 2014 ...

Spirituality and Social Change

The First Step to Anywhere!

March 16th. 2014 ...

From Christian to Pagan (Part I)

Nature And The Celtic Tree Calendar

The Teeth in the Darkness

March 9th. 2014 ...

Healing the Witch Within

Incarcerated Witches

Discovering Wicca as a Young Child

March Pisces Energy: Pre-natal Memories and Standing Upright

March 2nd. 2014 ...

Lessons of Ostara: Six Ways to Move Forward

The Wiccan Priest - The Misunderstood Role

Which is Which? Am I a Warlock or a Witch?

The Secret Teaching: Selected Aspects

February 23rd. 2014 ...

Wicca or Traditional Witchcraft: Some Differences

Everything is Not Under Your Control: Making Sense of the Senseless

The Wonders and Gifts of Paganism and Community

What Makes Us What We Are

February 16th. 2014 ...

The Stones of Fear: Anxiety Relief

Death, Grief, and Psychopomp Work in Shamanic Healing

Spiritual Traveler: Form To Essence

Alternative Medicine – What Is It?

February 9th. 2014 ...

Words of Power!

The Allure of Glamour in the Apocolypse

Lunar Insight Planetary Preponderances: Year of the Horse, Imbolc and Mercury Grazings

February 2nd. 2014 ...

The Magick of Jewelry and Metals

Building a Magick Mirror

The Golden Bough: a Study Guide (Part 2)

January 26th. 2014 ...

Love of Self: The Hardest Thing To Do

The Golden Bough as a Seminal Work in the Neo Pagan Movement (Part 1)

13 Keys: The Mercy of Chesed

Lightworking In The Screen Age: Staying Connected

January 19th. 2014 ...

Open Letter to the Goddess

A Southern Girl's Guide to Hospitality

Social Conventions and the Pagan World

Reclaiming Independence

January 12th. 2014 ...

Never Once Was There a An Athame Near My Chalice: My Very Sheltered Occultist Upbringing

One Wiccan's Journey Through Depression

January 5th. 2014 ...

Religion vs Practice: Defining Witchcraft in a Modern Age

Traditional Apprenticeships: Training in the Modern Pagan Abbey

2014's Magickal Magnificent Manifestations!

Lunar Insight Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances: Wise and Wild

December 29th. 2013 ...

My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 3)

13 Keys: The Might of Geburah

Beyond The Season of Greed

December 22nd. 2013 ...

My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 2)

December 15th. 2013 ...

The Hex Murder of 1928

My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 1)

Lady of the Forest Mist (A Story of the Woods)

Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Hunting, Fires and Parting Shots

December 8th. 2013 ...

Help and Thoughts for Pagans New to the Journey

Using Your Wand in Reverse

The Cry of the Soul

Leaving a Group - Part 2: Leaving, Healing and Moving Forward

December 1st. 2013 ...

The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness

A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism

Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?

November 24th. 2013 ...

The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective

The Pagan and the Papacy

November 17th. 2013 ...

Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca

For Love of the God

A Threat to Religious Liberties?

November 10th. 2013 ...

Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?

Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return

The Celtic Tree Calendar

Nine Creeds: A Statement and Explanation of My Beliefs

November 3rd. 2013 ...

The Mundane/Spiritual Mirror: What Does it Say About Your Life?

October 27th. 2013 ...

Thoughts On a Miley-Cyrus/ Robin-Thicke Society

Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them

NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.

Article Specs

Article ID: 14381

VoxAcct: 335670

Section: words

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 1,154

Times Read: 2,274

RSS Views: 15,239
Dark Ages Paganism and Burchard of Worms (Part II)

Author: Zan Fraser
Posted: February 20th. 2011
Times Viewed: 2,274

Burchard (Bishop of the German city of Worms at the turn of the eleventh century) found himself much aggrieved by continuing Pagan customs and beliefs among the People. Therefore he compiled the Decretum (Corrector) , a penitential to be used by the clergy in his diocese, intended to uncover whatever Pagan “malingering” might be present. As Burchard apparently worked upon his project between the years 1008-1012, its median date of 1010-1011 would place its composition exactly one thousand years ago.

Text is taken from Witchcraft in Europe (400-1700) : A Documentary History, second edition, Alan Charles Kors and Edward Peters, ed. (revised by Edward Peters) : University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001, p. 63-67.

Item #64 addresses in particular fashion a certain type of “women’s magick, ” to judge, the weaving of Magickal Intent into a piece of cloth, binding the intent and the fabric into one charmed unit.

64: Have you been present at or consented to the vanities which women practice in their woolen work, in their webs, who when they begin their webs hope to be able to bring it about that with incantations and with the beginning of these the threads of the warp and of the woof become so mingled together that unless they supplement these in turn by other counter-incantations of the devil, the whole will perish? If you have been present or consented, you shall do penance for thirty days on bread and water.

Burchard is concerned that a penitent might have “been present at or consented to” such Enchanting practices (which he considers a female “vanity”) . This not only implies an audience for such virtuoso workings, it suggests a certain widespread habit of commissioning Charmed Cloths. According to Burchard, what we might think of as “Web-Magick” (“web” being something woven on a loom, or I guess even knitted) works thus: women who “practice” in this wise start a “web” or weaving project “hoping to be able to bring ‘it’ about”- “it” being presumably the Intention that they wish to manifest.

Incantations are necessary, and with “the beginning of these [incantations], ” the threads of the warp and woof (the yarn or wool that is hung up-and-down on a loom, and that which is woven back-and-forth) become “mingled together”- certainly as cloth, but presumably also “fastened” with the Magickal Power of the incantation as well. Indeed, the charm appears to be so very great that only “counter-incantations” can possibly break it- counter-incantations of the devil, one notes.

A really, really common bias (I suppose one could call it a bigotry) among these early Church Fathers was the automatic identification of anything Pagan as “devilish” or “inspired by the devil.” This proclivity became first apparent in Burchard’s case in Item #63, wherein he discussed outdoorsmen (“evil men”) who “say diabolical formulae” over bread or grass, as well as “nefarious bandages, ” before throwing the same into trees or at crossroads, in order to protect their animals from illness (something that I expect would be a concern to an eleventh century outdoorsman) .

I am fairly certain that it is not actual “diabolical formulae” that these men say; I would be reasonably confident that these “formulae” are actually the time-honored incantations of the Germanic Pagan past; however, as Burchard is clearly not the sort of man to give Pagans a break of any kind- these “formulae” are “diabolical, ” that is to say, “of the devil!!”

In like form: only “counter-incantations of the devil” can (one imagines, to judge from Burchard) break the potent Spell woven into the “webs” of “Web-Working Magick-Women.” (All this reflexive attributing custom and practice to “the devil” will, of course, come to literally deadly consequence four hundred years later, when “Pagans deceived by the devil” and “Pagans misled by the devil” become and turn into- “Witches who actually and for real Worship the Devil!” Much Burning ensues.)

The penance that Burchard feels appropriate for “being present at or consenting to” such weaving-spell-bindings is notable for being among the harshest in the bunch (although even so, it does not compare to being broken on the rack and burned at the stake) . Thirty days of bread and water is to be the penalty for such a transgression against Christian thought and practice as being present at, or consenting to, an act of web-magick. Prior penances imposed were confined to various fast-days, over a small period of a few years. A month’s diet of bread and water seems a markedly more intense punishment. Perhaps it is the fact that weaving-magick will necessarily be a female business in 1011 that challenges Burchard so.

The next Item is one that I find extraordinary, in that it seems to concede the vital necessity of herbal-healing (I expect the only real form of healing known in the 1000s) .

65: Have you collected medicinal herbs with evil incantations, not with the creed and the Lord’s prayer, that is, with the singing of the “credo in Deum” and the paternoster? If you have done it otherwise [than with the Christian formulae mentioned] you shall do penance for ten days on bread and water.

One notices that it is not the collecting of “medicinal herbs” (i.e., “medicine”) to which objection is placed; it is collecting same with “evil incantations.” It appears as if herb-gathering is so established that it would be foolishness itself to attempt to forbid it; the best that a conscientious Christian Pastor can do is to link this activity with singing the “Our Father” and the “credo in Deum.” Anything else- any previous Pagan-influenced “incantation, ” for instance, is Evil, and subject to ten days’ bread and water (a mitigated version of the punishment before, although more severe than “penance on appointed fast days”) .

I kind of get a kick out of the next:

66: Have you come to any place to pray other than a church or other religious place which thy bishop or your priest showed you, that is, either to springs or to stones or to trees or to crossroads, and there in reverence for the place lighted a candle or a torch or carried thither bread or any offering or eaten there or sought there any healing of body or mind? If you have done or consented to such things, you shall do penance for three years on the appointed fast days.

Basically, this Item describes for us places where Pagan-minded folks are wont to pray- “other” than a church or “other” such appointed religious spots. We may see here that Germanic Pagan sorts-of-people often traveled to springs- or stones- or trees- or crossroads, in a sort of Pagan religious devotion. There, “in reverence for the place, ” they were apparently inclined towards lighting candles, if not torches, and offering bread (or other offerings carried “thither”) . Perhaps they ate in such places (I guess in a sort of Natural Communion with what I guess they recognized as a Sacred Spot) - perhaps they even “sought healing of body or mind.”

Well, this sounds like any number of modern Pagan Nature-Gatherings; however, according to Bishop Burchard’s way-of-thinking, it was grounds for three years’ penance, on the fast days.

And lastly, a rather extraordinary statement- but one well established in European Witch Folk-lore- the Causing or Generating of Tempests (which is kind of oddly mixed in Burchard’s brain with the “changing of men’s minds.”)

68: Have you ever believed or participated in this perfidy, that enchanters and those who say that they can let loose tempests should be able through incantation of demons to arouse tempests or to change the minds of men? If you have believed or participated in this, you shall do penance for one year on the appointed fast days.

A “perfidy, ” one notes, widespread enough to warrant inquiry, is the belief that “enchanters” can unleash and let loose tempests- storms- wreaking havocs of Nature. Granted, this is performed through “incantation of demons”- and such “incantations” are also effective in “changing the minds of men, ” that is, in shaping the thoughts and impressions of others (magickal mind-control, in other words) .

The thought that Witches and Wizards were able to control the elements, letting slip storms of ferocious might when it so pleased them, was deeply ingrained enough in European culture that more than one Witch-Hunt exploded out of a belief that a ruinous hailstorm or crop-destroying tempest must have been caused by malicious Witches.

[Coming next: women who control the minds of men through “spells and incantations”; and Burchard’s discussion of women who “believe and affirm” that they travel in a flying band (atop beasts) at night with the “Witch Hulda” and “Diana, a Goddess of the Pagans.”]


Zan Fraser

Location: New York City, New York


Other Articles: Zan Fraser has posted 22 additional articles- View them?

Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE

Email Zan Fraser... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)

To send a private message to Zan Fraser ...

Pagan Essays

Pagan Web
8,000 Links

Pagan Groups
Local Covens etc.

80,000 Profiles

Home - TWV Logos - Email US - Privacy
News and Information

Chapters: Pagan/Heathen Basics - Pagan BOOKS - Traditions, Paths & Religions - Popular Pagan Holidays - TV & Movies - Cats of the Craft - Festival Reviews - Festival Tips - White Pages (Resources) - Issues/Concerns - West Memphis 3 - Witch Hunts - Pagan Protection Tips - Healing Planet Earth

Your Voices: Adult Essays - Young Pagan Essays - Pagan Perspectives (On Hold) - WitchWars: Fire in the Craft - Gay Pagan - Pagan Parenting - Military - Pagan Passages

Pagan Music: Pagan Musicians - Bardic Circle at WitchVox - Free Music from TWV

Vox Central: About TWV - Wren: Words, Wrants and Wramblings - Guest Rants - Past Surveys - A Quest for Unity

Weekly Updates: Click HERE for an index of our weekly updates for the past 6 years

W.O.T.W. - World-Wide Networking

Your Town: A Link to YOUR Area Page (The largest listing of Witches, Pagans, Heathens and Wiccans on the Planet)

VoxLinks: The Pagan Web: 8,000 Listings

Your Witchvox Account: Log in Now - Create New Account - Request New Password - Log in Problems

Personal Listings: Pagan Clergy in Your Town - Adult Pagans - Young Pagans - Military Pagans

Events: Circles, Gatherings, Workshops & Festivals

Covens/Groups/Orgs: Local Groups Main Page

Other LOCAL Resources: Local Shops - Regional Sites - Local Notices - Global/National Notices - Local Skills & Services - Local Egroups - Political Freedom Fighters

Pagan Shopping: Online Shops Index - Original Crafters Sites - Auction Sites - Pagan Wholesalers - Pagan Local Shops

Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2014 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.

Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wren’s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witches’ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.

Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.

Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
Witches, Pagans
of The World

Search Articles

 Current Topic
 Editorial Guide

NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.

The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.

All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).