Where the devilry lies

Belief in the Devil was widely spread in medieval times

Witches have always been characterized similarly in almost all cultures of the world. The brightest example of the Russian witch is a fairytale character known as Baba Yaga – an old, ugly, guileful woman, with paranoid tendencies to murders and other vile, disgusting deeds. The word 'witch' translates into Russian as 'vedma.' This word originated from the ancient Russian word 'ved' – knowledge. A woman could be born a witch, or become one in her mature age.

The congenital witchcraft ability was usually inherited from witch-mothers, or if a witch and her mother were born in an extramarital affair. It was also possible for a woman to become a witch, if she established a relation with the devil to obtain the secret knowledge (deliberately, or if she succumbed to the devil's urging). Each witch had a special mark on her body – a mole, a wart, or any other physical abnormality.

Bedeviling cattle was considered to be the main occupation of witches. It was generally believed they take milk away from cows, fat from pigs, eggs from hens and so on. Such activities were absolutely natural and vital for witches. It was also believed witches were guilty of children's ailments and whimsicalities. Witches were considered guilty of causing floods, droughts, fires and other natural disasters.

Belief in the Devil was widely spread in medieval times, which generated fear of the devil's servants – witches. The Church started struggling with evil because of that fear. Clergymen launched the witch-hunt on a legal basis, which made for numerous legal works devoted to the matter. Monks Henry Kramer (Institoris) and James Sprenger wrote the classic witch-hunting manual – “The Hammer of Witches.”

The book is full of interesting facts about the witch’s life. The monks defined witches as someone, who rejected the trust in Holy Trinity and denied everything that came from God. They worshipped the devil, were ordained in dunghills and baptized in boiling water.

Several millions of women fell victims to these ravings. There was no such witch-hysteria in ancient Russia. However, Russian witches were burnt alive too. A dozen of witches were executed in fires in Pskov in 1411.

Witchcraft is not an illegal activity nowadays – it can bring very good income. Thousands of fortune-tellers, healers and mediums are ready to render their services to desperate or just curious people.

A newspaper of magic is published in Tanzania. Voodooism is especially strong in this country, and the newspaper enjoys incredible popularity there. The newspaper's goal is to conduct educative work for the population – how to distinguish a true healer from a fraudster.

Romania's authorities decided to gain profit from the devilry too. Count Dracula's castle in Transylvania was targeted as a sightseeing for tourists from all over the world. The castle still looks like Hollywood horror movies scenery. Romanian officials believe tourists will inundate their country when a special vampire park will be arranged near the castle. The only problem is the copyright for the character: the Romanian government will have to pay Universal Pictures, the copyright holder, for the use of Count Dracula's image.

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Author`s name Olga Savka