Complete 11 pages APA formatted article: The Female Identity in Witchcraft as Portrayed in Film. When we say ‘witch,’ we are referring strictly to women for this report. Men, in witchcraft, are called warlocks and do not play a part in this report although both men and women were called witches in the early Middle Ages. In order to first understand the true female identity in witchcraft, we must review early history, starting from the days after the fall of Rome around 500 A.D. The Christian faith became more powerful and, in particular, Catholicism was the most prevalent system of worship and belief. It was also the most fundamental and dogmatic in that the word of the Bible was absolute, as taught by the church and its priests (Mehr 1983, p 25).
Demonic possession, as described by the Bible and the church, was the work of the devil on an unwilling subject, controlling the mind, behavior, and emotions. In order to get rid of the possession and the devil, a priest of the Catholic Church had to perform an exorcism, using the Bible and reciting prayers over the person possessed. Abnormal behavior, subsequently, was also viewed as possession, along with unusual illnesses that could not be explained. Many times, these illnesses and strange behaviors were attributed to witchcraft and the use of herbs, particularly libcorn, was fairly prevalent in curing witchcraft spells (Mehr 1983, p 25).
In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII declared that witches officially existed, attacking the faithful and causing them to behave strangely. This also meant that people were voluntarily being possessed, giving one’s soul to the devil, in order to obtain power, wealth, and other desires.
Two monks, Johann Sprenger and Heinrich Kraemer wrote the Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches) in 1486, which went through 30 editions and became the authoritative reference on witchcraft, how to identify witches, questioning procedures for confessions, and how to properly dispose of the accused.
The next several hundred years saw a frenzy of witchcraft accusations, convictions, and executions.