The Burning Times, Some "Facts"
Okay, let's try "another subject". "Facts", a term which derives
from the latin factum meaning to make or to do, are constructs. If you
"change" history, you automatically change the "facts". Let's take an
example: during the so-called Burning Times, aprrox. 200,000 - 500,000
people where executed by either mob action and/or legal action. We
will neven know how many people were arrested, sentanced and executed
for crimes of witchcraft (and please note that there were several
different "crimes of witchcraft" at this time).
In the late 1940' and early 1950's, several British Witches and
occultists started talking about 9,000,000 "witches" killed. This
number appears to have derived not from any research, but rather from
an attempt to "one-up" the number of Jews exterminated by the Nazis in
WW II. In order to support this contention, the definition of the
Burning Times was changed. First, the period of the major whitch hunts
was extended from its peak, 1550 - 1675, backwards to the founding of
the Inquisition (early 13th century). Second, the figures for judicial
executions of heretics, notably the Cathari and the Waldensians, were
included in the total. Finally, all judicial executions which took
place during the Catholic "civil war" (the Avignon Papacy) were
included. In effect, the definition of "witch" was changed to include
This definitional change is most interesting, since it parallels
the definitional change that took place in the Catholic churches
construction of demonic witchcraft (see, for example, Ginzburg's
"Ecstacies"). The "facts" of the situation where "changed" when the
definition of the term "witch" was changed. "Witch" was defined as
"not-orthodox" and, as such, included all heretics and non-Christians.
To me, the interesting point is that this definition was created not
by the Catholic church, but by Gerald Gardner in an attempt to prove
that "witches" had suffered more than Jews.
What does this say about the idea of "facts"? First, it means that
what is a "fact" changes with the definition of terms... in other
words, a fact is a human, and therefore inherantly biased, construct.
Second, while agreement between opposing biases may be reached on
certain "facts", such as the date of a battle, I doubt whether
agreement can be reached on the motivations or causes of the battle.
Finally, history is basically mythology that is constructed around
certain quasi-religious disciplines, e.g. Marxism, positivist science,
etc. It is a story that is told and, in the telling, it changes the
Bright Blessings M
Next: Fortune, The (RMPJ)