History In the Bible, the punishment for witchcraft is death (Exodus 22:18, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” meaning “you should not let a witch live”). “Witch” in the Bible means summoner of spirits, so it might really mean warlock.[source?] In Europe in the early modern period, persecution of witches (witch hunts and witchcraft trials) took place. Many Christians were scared of witches and witchcraft at that time. As a result, tens or hundreds of thousands of people were tried for witchcraft, and executed. Most of them were women, though in some places the majority were men. Most were hanged. Some were burned at the stake (tied to a long pole and burned alive). Especially in the early modern period, this punishment was often applied. The Salem trials were among these trials. Gilles Corey was one of the people accused of witchcraft. Because he knew that he had done no wrong, Corey simply refused to speak. He was pressed to death. Among those punished were people who did not live peacefully with their rulers, like Joan of Arc. Queen Anne Boleyn was accused of being a witch and was said to have had a large mole on her neck and a sixth finger, though this was likely invented by her enemies. There were some men (for example, Johann Weyer, Friedrich Spee and Anton Praetorius) who protested against torture and against the chase of witches. Common ideas about witches[change | edit source] During the early Modern Age, people developed a whole set of teachings and beliefs about witches. These beliefs were centered around the following: Witches are able to fly around on brooms, sticks, animals, demons, or using special ointments Witches meet with other witches, and with the devil on occasions called witches’ sabbath. Witches have a pact with the devil Witches can use spells and black magic, also known as ‘Juju’ in some parts of Africa to do bad things to others How people were identified as witches[change | edit source] Folk beliefs about witches told that a witch had certain things that clearly identified her as a witch. Some of these were: What was called Diabolical mark. It was a mark of the devil. Most of the time, this was a mole or birthmark. If the examiner found no mark, often he would say he had found an invisible mark. A pact with the devil. Being denounced by another witch. This was common. Often, witches who told about other witches were punished less severely. For example, they were strangled before being burnt at the stake. A relationship with other known witch(es). Blasphemy Taking part in Sabbaths. To harm someone with sorcery. To have some of the things needed to do black magic. To have one or more witches in the family. To be afraid during the interrogations. Most often the interrogations involved torture. To not cry when tortured. Another common method of test was the `Swim` test the suspected witch would have a rope tied around the waist and rocks (on ropes as well) attached to their feet. The suspected witch was then thrown into the water. If they drowned (which is more than likely) they were wrongly accused, if they floated they were a witch and a trial would be held.