Thursday, August 03, 2006

Out With Her Tongue!


Anyone, who has visited this blog for any length of time, will have realised that I have a fascination concerning the witch-hunts conducted in mostly the 14th -17th centaury. I see many parallels and symbolism for the present day, harking back to the witch craze phenomena of this early modern period of history. While this is not a post of sorts, which would be the Witch Hunts part VIII, I instantly noticed a parallel drawing together the experiences of women and abuse, and the silencing of women down through the ages. History has a habit of repeating its self.


Some Background Of The Accused Female Awaiting Trial
Sexual mutilation and torture for accused witches, who were held in custody was not uncommon and in some areas, actively encouraged to extract “confessions“. With the orthodox understanding that divinity had little or nothing to do with the physical world, sexual desire was perceived to be ungodly. When the men persecuting the accused witches found themselves sexually aroused, they assumed that such desire emanated, not from themselves, but from the women. They attacked breasts and genitals with pincers, pliers, specially designed instruments and red-hot irons. Some rules condoned sexual abuse by allowing men deemed "zealous Catholics" to visit female prisoners in solitary confinement while never allowing female visitors.

Unless the witch died during torture, she was taken to the stake. Contrary to belief most UK witches* were strangled first and then burnt at the stake. The burning whilst alive was abandoned, as it began to illicit sympathy from the crowd. Firstly for the actual death by fire and secondly the "witch" would often publicly condemn her rapists and tortures‘, as she slowly burnt to death, which of course, was not desirable to the beholders of great Christian values. It was then decided that it would be desirable to hang the “witches” before the burning. The hangings took place in public squares, and the inquisitors prevented the victims from talking to the crowds--by the cutting out of her tongue** prior to the walk to the gallows. Thus preventing the victim from relating the horror and torture she had experienced.

Three hundred or so years ago, men cut out the tongue of the "Witch” on her way to the Gallows, silencing her, so that she could not speak her truth. Today, hundreds of years on, when women create a collective to be heard, they attempt to silence us by the sabotaging of our groups, our metaphorical tongue, and our voice.

Out with her tongue!

*Women, condemned to death accused of "Witchcraft" in England were hung or garrotted before burning at the stake. However the torture of "Witches" in England was illegal, but practiced extensively in Scotland.
**Inquisitors held that this was performed, to prevent the “Witch” cursing her tortures

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