Queer witches

Though this is not always exactly, universally nor consistently the case it seems parsimonious, that as inferred from some studies on African witchcraft, homosexuality and nudity are often associated with sorcery. Even their European and Middle Eastern counterparts used to think the same way too. That actually makes sense really.

The association’s not lost on the Iranian Zoroastrians, which I think helps deconstruct monotheistic Abrahamic homophobia well. In the sense that homosexuality is demonic, sinister, devilish and evil. Or at the very least highly unexpected and odd. (At some point, lesbianism was criminalised in England and still is in some countries though Botswana repealed this.)

That’s not to say I condone homophobia though I think it’s kind of wrong to poop on fundamentalists for not approving of homosexuality. (If they fear witchcraft, they might unconsciously associate homosexuality with witchcraft.) It does make it more understandable though.

Przypowieściowy lexikon talmudyczny i midraszowy

Czarodziejstwo.

„Nie zwracać uwagi na przeczucie i na czary”. Czy dziś Poniedziałek lub Wtorek, czy twa noga o próg zawadziła, czy kij wędrowny z twoich rąk, czy kąsek z ust twoich wypadł, czy dziecko twoje z progu napowrót cię przywołało, czy zając lub sarna drogę ci przebiegła, czy po prawej stronie wąż czy po lewej przebiegł, czy łasica lub sowa albo pies przed tobą się ukazał, to wszystko niech ci nie wskazuje co i jak masz czynić, od czego odstąpić! Czy linja twoich rąk tak lub inaczej przebiega, czyś w tym lub owym miesiącu się urodził, czy cień twój w promieniu księżyca tak lub inaczej się ukazuje, niechaj to nie będzie przepowiednią przyszłości. Religja wymaga abyś tylko w Bogu żył, Jemu ufał, a więc nie kija, nie dnia ani godziny, nie zwierzęcia, ptaka, nie grobu i umarłego, nie nieba i ziemi pytaj się co masz czynić, ale pomnąc że przyszłość twa jest w ręku Boga, Jego samego pytaj się jak masz postępować, do Jego nauk czyny swe stosuj, z nich wróż o swej przyszłości.

Witchcraft.

“Do not pay attention to premonitions and witchcraft.” Is Monday or Tuesday today, whether your leg touched the threshold, or a walking stick out of your hands, or a bit of your mouth fell out, or your child from the threshold has called you back, or the hare or deer ran the path, whether on the right side the serpent or on the left ran, or weasel or owl or doghe appeared before you, do not let it show you what to do and how to do it; Is the line of your hands running in a different way, whether you were born in this or that month, or whether your shadow in the moonlight appears in a different way, let this not be a prediction of the future. Religion requires that you only live in God, trust him, so not a stick, not a day or an hour, not an animal, a bird, not a grave and dead, not heaven and earth, ask yourself what to do, but to remember that your future is in the hands of God , Ask Himself how you should behave, apply His deeds to His teachings, and divine them about Your future with them.

Witch beast (Google Books)

Western Folklore – Volumes 13-14 – Page 233
https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=1IkLAAAAIAAJ

1954 – ‎Snippet view – ‎More editions
In a Polish story the black dog appears in a place reputed to be haunted, but otherwise no clue is given as to the dog’s nature. … Witches, of course, are able to change into animal form — cats, hares, dog, toads — because of their magic power …
Slavic mythical beliefs – Page 153
https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=uBkRAQAAIAAJ

Frank A. Kmietowicz – 1982 – ‎Snippet view
A witch was able to put the devil into the body of anyone, and let him speak with devil’s voice. … The result was that the moon disappeared from the sky and showed up in the hut as a cow, giving witches the magic milk. b) The witches in Poland performed a similar practice. … The people in Western Byelorussia hung stinging plants like dog rose, thistle, or juniper on doors on St. John’s Eve, so the witch …

Polish Traditional Folklore: The Magic of Time – Page 169
https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=WfjZAAAAMAAJ

Anna Brzozowska-Krajka – 1998 – ‎Snippet view – ‎More editions
… of a hideous woman who appeared at midday and roamed in fields and forests in the company of dogs (Lor Kasz 1 06). … of the noontime female deity (poludnica) and a hag, a transformation of this mythical guardian of fields into a witch, …

Wolves in German culture

If I’m not mistaken, somebody literally wrote a book on werewolves in German literature which also includes their link to witchcraft. If witches can become wolves themselves in addition to having wolves as familiars, then lycanthropy itself is a form of witchcraft which is confirmed in another study. This study also links lupine voracity to that of the evil witch in Hansel and Gretel. Wolves and dogs at some point were associated with greed. This is the same association that some scholars speculated with Dante’s she-wolf.

(Either that or various Italy fiefdoms and city-states were part of the Holy Roman Empire at some point or another so.)

Let’s not also forget that criminals were also associated with wolves that they were sometimes hanged along with the latter. In Swedish, the word for wolf is ‘varg’ (as in warg, another one of those words for criminal). (However Norwegian retains ‘ulv’.) The association of wolves (and dogs) with criminality and witchcraft (in fact it was considered a crime itself and Britain had the Anti-Witchcraft act before) is frequent enough to be included in various demonologies like ‘On the Discovery of Witchcraft’ and ‘Compendium Maleficarum’.

Another, that’s sometimes ignored by Anglophones (but one French, Dutch and German people know well) is the Reineke/Reynard stories. That’s the one involving a fox trickster where the wolf (named Isegrim) appears as a villain. Since the other French word for fox (goupil) was so stigmatised that the word ‘renard’ is now more predominantly used (though I do recall a Swiss website using goupil instead). This might also be true for Spanish language using zorro.

Or Portuguese utilising ‘raposa’ with Italian the only major Romance language to retain ‘volpe’. (I say ‘major’ in that there are likely some minor Romance languages that retain ‘vulpes’ to mean fox, most notably Romansh’s golp.) Keep in mind that even today, there are some Europeans (Germans included) still wary of wolves even though others think dogs are just as responsible for wildlife and livestock predation.

The other creepy beasts

Like I said about foxes in East Asia, their reputation’s historically mostly not positive but in the sense of them being linked to witchcraft though positive or neutral takes do exist. Something like the old Japanese fear of foxes possessing people, driving them insane or something. That and in addition to shapeshifting and being either witches themselves or owned by them.

Similar for hyenas in the Middle East and Africa. I think I have a book on Nigerian lore where it states that hyenas are also associated with witchcraft though some people do bother taming them. The same things can be said of their Ethiopian counterparts where most don’t like them but some bother taming them.

Especially in an enclosed city. I also said in another post that social stigmatisation’s enough to minimise the number of people owning such animals and in this case, it’s based on the fear of witchcraft. It’s like in Japan (and China) before where if somebody owned a fox, they’re deemed to be witches. Same with hyenas elsewhere and at some point or another (and still is among some communities) cats and dogs.

Mind you this blog has enough excerpts about dogs having a witchy reputation and association. There’s also one Cameroonian case about some villagers killing dogs out of fear of sorcery and in another case, a Ghanaian witchdoctor cursed a footballer by using his dogs or something. That and some Pentecostal churches linking them with witchcraft though this varies between locales, individuals and communities.

Same with their European counterparts before among other things.

Tamed foxes

It’s not that foxes weren’t tamed or domesticated before, they did however for fur since the Middle Ages though this wouldn’t become a big industry until recently (I could be wrong about it so). Keep in mind this might be more of a European phenomenon, especially wherever fur farms go as in East Asia, they’re historically considered macabre witch beasts. (When you think about it, foxes are weird dogs and unsettling enough for some people.)

Same reason why not too many people tame hyenas due to superstitions though there was a tradition of Ancient Egyptians taming them as do a minority in Nigeria and Ethiopia (again with the witch beliefs). It’s also fair to say that whilst the Chinese are somewhat cautious of foxes for various reasons, most Russians are also likely cautious of them but some bother taming even further for scientific experiments.

Some of them go on to become somebody’s pets though there are also some people who fed them often especially when it comes to urban foxes.

Fur and loathing in East Asia

I don’t know what foxes are like personally speaking though to be honest they’re kind of like weird dogs. That’s if you’re so used to dogs and moreso in places where any other canid is nonexistent that other canids would sometimes weird some folks out. Comes to think of it, the East Asian distrust of foxes (though this may vary between individuals in terms of degree and reasoning) stems from the uncertainty around them.

Not that all East Asians dislike foxes but that they do weird them out. They’re dogs but also not quite. It’s the uncanny valley thing along with the odd sounds they make that inspire superstitions and beliefs about their link to witchcraft. On one hand it’s daft and on the other hand, it does make you wonder if foxes can really be unsettling to some people.

When you think about it, they’re weird dogs. So much so that they’re almost always the face of witchcraft in East Asia.