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Demonology and Witchcraft - “Less we forget”
Written and compiled by George Knowles
During the darkest days of the witch delusion in England, few men had the courage to make a stand against the Inquisition and call to account the atrocities being suffered by innocent people. Reginald Scot was one such man who did just that. In his book “The Discoverie of Witchcraft” (self published in 1584), Scot ridiculed and refuted many of the prevailing beliefs about witches, particularly those as promoted in the Malleus Maleficarum written by Jacob Sprenger & Heinrich Kramer (1486), and denounced the witchcraft persecutions as: “an extreme and intolerable tyranny brought on by the Inquisition”.
Scot’s book was the first book of witchcraft published entirely in English, but while it was written in defense of the innocent against persecution and would later inspire others to speak out in their defense, its initial impact had the opposite effect. King James I who was adamantly against witchcraft, ordered all copies the book to be burned and refuted his claims in his own book of witchcraft called “Demonology” (published in Edinburgh 1597). In the preface to his book King James I wrote:
“The fearefull aboundinge at this time in this countrie, of these detestable slaves of the Devill, the Witches or enchaunters, hath moved me (beloved reader) to dispatch in post, this following treatise of mine, not in any wise (as I protest) to serve for a shew of my learning & ingine, but onely (moved of conscience) to preasse thereby, so farre as I can, to resolve the doubting harts of many; both that such assaultes of Sathan are most certainly practised, & that the instruments thereof, merits most severly to be punished, against the damnable opinions of two principally in our age, wherof the one called Scot an Englishman, is not ashamed in publike print to deny, that ther can be such a thing as Witch-craft, and so mainteines the old error of the Sadducces, in denying of spirits”.
The Scot Family Ancestry:
Reginald Scot was born in 1538 into a family of landed gentry, a family whose ancestry can be traced back to John de Baliol (?-1269), Lord of Galloway. Baliol was a member of the Scottish regency council during the minority of Alexander III, and married to the wealthy Scottish heiress Dervorguilla who had family connections with the royal house. As an early patron of learning, in 1263 he donated land and funds to a group of scholars for the building of a school, and in 1268 was named “founder” of Balliol College in Oxford. John de Balliol died a year later in 1269. Legend has it that after his death his devoted wife Devorguilla had his heart embalmed and placed in a small casket, and wherever she went thereafter the casket went with her. After her own death, the casket was passed on into the custody of their eldest son, also called John Baliol (who later added “de Scot” to his name).
John Baliol de Scot (1250?-1314) was later made King of Scotland (1292-96). When Princess Margaret died in 1290, Baliol de Scot became a competitor for the crown, which was then being claimed by Robert de Bruce VI. King Edward I of England was the arbiter in the dispute and chose in favor of Baliol de Scot, who in turn pledged his fealty to the English Crown. However, as King of Scotland he felt his sovereignty was only nominal and resented the various indignities to which he was subjected. In 1295, Baliol de Scot made an alliance with France who was then at war with England. Hearing about his treachery, King Edward I invaded Scotland defeated his troops and took Baliol de Scot prisoner. He was then forced to surrender his Scottish crown and was exiled on the 10th July 1296. Before he was forced to leave the country, Baliol de Scot passed on custody of his father’s heart casket to his brother William Baliol de Scott (name spelt variously overtime).
William Baliol de Scott makes his first appearance as a pleader in a yearbook for 1330, and was made Serjeant-at-Law in 1334. When the Black Prince (son of King Edward III of England) was created Duke of Cornwall, he knighted de Scott in 1336 and later raised him to Justice of the Common Pleas. Sir William resided at Brabourne Lees near Smeeth in Kent, from where he acted as seneschal of the manor. It was here that he built the family’s first ancestral home “Scott’s Hall”. It was Sir William who was responsible for bringing his fathers heart casket to it’s final resting place. In the Church of St. Mary the Virgin at Brabourne there is a Shrine (a slab of Bethesden Marble), containing a hollow in which the casket containing the heart is thought to have been placed. While the Church and the heart shrine still remain, the heart and its casket and indeed the old ancestral home, have long since disappeared. Sir William was also one of the first in a long line of Scott’s to have been buried in the chapel of Brabourne Church in 1350.
A later heir to the estate at Brabourne was John Scott, a Yorkist, loyal to the Royal House of York that ruled England from 1461 to 1485. He was appointed Sheriff of Kent in 1460, and on the accession of Edward IV in the following year, was knighted and made comptroller of the Royal household. Edward IV gave him the castle and manor of Wilderton and Molash in Kent and the manor of Old Swinford and Snodsbury in Worcestershire, with a lifetime interest in the castle and manor of Chilham. In 1467 after severing in a number of diplomatic positions, Sir John returned to parliament for Kent, and in 1471 succeeded Richard Neville the Earl of Warwick as Lieutenant of Dover Castle, Warden of the Cinque Ports, and Marshal of Calais. Sir John died on the 17th Oct 1485, and was buried in the chapel of Brabourne Church. His arms can be seen in the north window of “the martyrdom” at Canterbury Cathedral. By his wife Agnes he left behind two daughters and an heir “William”.
Sir William Scott (1459-1524) of Brabourne was involved in the siege of Bodiam Castle during 1483/4, for which he received a pardon on the accession of Henry VII. Rising in the favour of Henry VII, he was sworn onto the Privy Council, appointed comptroller of the Royal household and created a Companion of the Order of the Bath with Prince Arthur on the 29th Nov 1489. Like his father he was also Sheriff of Kent, Lieutenant of Dover Castle, Warden of the Cinque Ports and Marshal of Calais. In 1519, Sir William attended Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and figured among the grandees deputed with Wolsey to receive the Emperor Charles V on his landing at Dover on the 28th May 1522. Sir William died on the 24th Aug 1524, and was buried in the chapel of Brabourne church.
A final member of the Scott family to note was Sir Thomas Scott (1535-1594), who was also prominent in the public affairs of Kent. He was knighted in 1571 and made deputy Lieutenant of the County. In 1575 he succeeded as heir to the manor of Nettlestead and in 1576 served as High Sheriff of Kent. He was also a Knight of the Shire in the parliaments of 1571 and 1586. During his terms in parliament he was commissioned to report on the advisability of improving the breed of horses in the country, a subject on which he is said to have written a book, he was also made commissioner responsible for draining and improving Romney Marsh, and made superintendent of the improvements of Dover harbour. At the time of the Spanish Armada in 1588 he was appointed Chief of the Kentish force and within a day of receiving his orders from the Privy Council, he personally equipped four thousand men and met with other forces of the Men of Kent at Northbourne. Renowned for his hospitality and public spirit, Sir Thomas had the family home “Scott’s Hall” rebuilt to make it one of the most magnificent manor houses in Kent. He died on 30th Dec 1594 and was buried in the chapel of Brabourne church.
Reginald Scot (1538 – 1599)
Reginald Scot was born sometime around 1538, and was a cousin of Sir Thomas Scott the then owner of the family’s ancestral home “Scott’s Hall” at Brabourne in Kent. Very little is known about Scot’s life except that he grew up on the family estate and was probably privately educated. At the age of 17 he attended Hart College at Oxford University, but left without completing his term and returned to Kent, settling in Smeeth, where he preferred life as a country bumpkin to that of an academic. There he was supported by a wealthy cousin, Sir Thomas Scot, whose estate he managed.
He worked for a time as a subsidies collector for the government, he also served a year in Parliament, and was made a Justice of the Peace in Kent. However Scot was never happier than working on the family’s estates, tending to their hop gardens. He was married twice. His first wife was Jane Cobbe, who he married on the 11th October 1568. They had one daughter called Elizabeth. After Jane died (date unknown), Scot remarried a widow named Alice, who also had a daughter through her first marriage called Marie. Scot himself died at the family estate in Smeeth, Kent, on the 08th October 1599 aged 61. There are differing accounts of where he was buried however. In one account he was buried in a family plot in the churchyard at Smeeth; but in another he was interred beside his cousin Sir Thomas Scot in the family’s ancestral tomb at Brabourne Church.
In 1573, Scot wrote his first book entitled: “The Hop Garden (The Perfect Platform of a Hop-Garden, and necessary instructions for the making and maintaining thereof, with Notes and Rules for Reformation of all Abuses)”, a book that led to a growth in hop production and stimulated Kent as the the hop-producing county of England. He is better known however for his second book: “The Discoverie of Witchcraft” (1584), a book he had to self-publish because of its controversial nature.
Aside from his brief stay at Oxford University, Scot seldom traveled far from his home, so it is thought that he gained much of his knowledge for the book from the superstitions and fears of the local people who worked on his family’s estates. It was most likely the events that occurred in the neighbouring county of Essex in 1582, which sparked off his interest in witchcraft. In that year 14 women from the village of St. Osyth in Essex had been charged with witchcraft. The charge of witchcraft was based on the doubtful evidence of children aged six to nine years, yet after a drawn-out trial at Chelmsford, two of the 14 women were hanged.
Similar incidents alerted Scot to the nature of evidence and false testimony allowed in such trails, and the brutal persecution suffered by those accused. Once a person had been charged with witchcraft, the accused had little chance of escaping the barbarities of the inquisition, and many were doomed to either prison or execution. In his book Scot attempted to disprove many of the distorted beliefs about witches, and protests against the rising tide of persecution that was spreading around the country. In concluding his book, he sums up his own findings and beliefs by stating:
“Witchcraft is in truth a cousening art, wherin the name of God is abused, prophaned and blasphemed, and his power attributed to a vile creature. In estimation of the Vulgar people it is a supernaturall worke, contrived betweene a Corporall old woman and a spirituall divell. The maner thereof is so secret, mysticall and strange, that to this daie there hath never beene any credible witnes thereof. It is incomprehensible to the wise, learned or faithfull, a probable matter to children, fooles, melancholike persons and papists”.
Scot argued that beliefs in witches ran counter to earlier Christian views as given in the Canon Episcopi, which stated that belief in witches and demonic magic was a delusion, and that witches were not working in league with the Devil but were rather deluded persons who needed guidance in the ways of religion, rather than death and torture. He also discusses at length the illusion of witchcraft and magic, and states that God alone, not Devils or witches, control the elements and that he alone dictates the fate of men. In this way he attempted to throw doubt on the belief that a mere witch, even with an alleged pact with the Devil, did not have the ability to inflict evil and death on the unsuspecting populace.
To counter the witch-hunting craze of the inquisition, Scot ridiculed the texts of the leading demonologists and theologians of the day, and also attacked the Catholic faith in general for its superstitious practices, stating that witchcraft was contrary to the dictates of reason as well as of religion and placed the responsibility for many of the atrocities firmly at the door of the Roman Catholic Church. He also railed against the self-seeking greed and prejudices of the witch-mongers (inquisitors) stating:
“…And because it may appear unto the world what treacherous and faithless dealings, what extreme and intolerable tyranny, what gross and foolish absurdities, what unnatural and uncivil discourtesy, what cankered and spiteful malice, what outrageous and barbarous cruelty… what abominable and devilish inventions, and what flat and plain knavery is practiced against these old women, I will set down the whole order of the Inquisition, to the everlasting, inexcusable, and apparent shame of all witch-mongers”.
While arguing against the abuses of witchcraft and the witch trials, Scot covers in detail such subjects as: charms, demons, angels, words of power, conjuring tricks, astrology, alchemy, divination, spells, rituals, Sabbats, biblical quotations and more, all of which he argues as evidence of the witch delusions. He also devotes a small section of the book to the magical art of legerdemain (sleight of hand), which in general he considers to be harmless entertainment. Scot uses the art and other tools of the magician to reveal some of the methods used to fool and deceive unsuspecting people, and to explain how inquisitors using similar techniques of misdirection and manipulation, encouraged the belief of a witch’s ability to accomplish impossible feats. Scot was guided in writing about legerdemain by John Cautares, a 16th century French sleight-of-hand artist who made his living as a labourer while living in London.
Scot’s book however was met with hostility from the leading demonologists and theologians of the day, and later his work was condemned and ordered burned by King James I of England. Nonetheless, Scot’s book gave hope to some in the 16th century who were sceptical about such beliefs as witches and demonic pacts, and today remains a much-quoted primary source for those interested in the early history of witchcraft.
As to the family’s estate and ancestral home “Scott’s Hall”, where Scot had devoted and spent most of his life, it continued to be passed down through future generations of the Scot family. The last Scot to occupy it was Francis Talbot Scott (1745-1787), apparently fifth in descent from Sir Edward Scott (d. 1644), the fifth son of Sir Thomas Scott (1535-1594). On the death of Francis Talbot Scott, the estate was sold to Sir John Honywood of Evington. Finally the old mansion house known as “Scott’s Hall” was pulled down in 1808 and nothing now remains.
To be posted later.
Written and compiled on the 25th January 2008 © George Knowles
Best wishes and Blessed Be
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The Wiccan Rede / Charge of the Goddess / Charge of the God / The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) / The Witches Chant / The Witches Creed / Descent of the Goddess / Drawing Down the Moon / The Great Rite Invocation / Invocation of the Horned God / The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief / The Witches Rede of Chivalry / A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality
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Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology) / Esbats & Full Moons / Links to Personal Friends & Resources / Wicca/Witchcraft Resources / What's a spell? / Circle Casting and Sacred Space / Pentagram - Pentacle / Marks of a Witch / The Witches Power / The Witches Hat / An esoteric guide to visiting London / Satanism / Pow-wow / The Unitarian Universalist Association / Numerology: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / A history of the Malleus Maleficarum: includes: Pope Innocent VIII / The papal Bull / The Malleus Maleficarum / An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum / The letter of approbation / Johann Nider’s Formicarius / Jacob Sprenger / Heinrich Kramer / Stefano Infessura / Montague Summers / The Waldenses / The Albigenses / The Hussites / The Native American Sun Dance / Shielding (Occult and Psychic Protection) /
Sabbats and Festivals:
The Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Rituals contributed by Crone:
Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar and Totem Animals) / Antelope / Bats / Crow / Fox / Frog and Toads / Goat / Honeybee / Kangaroo / Lion / Owl / Phoenix / Rabbits and Hares / Raven / Robin Redbreast / Sheep / Spider / Squirrel / Swans / Unicorn / Wild Boar / Wolf / Serpent / Pig / Stag / Horse / Mouse / Cat / Rats / Unicorn
In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar. For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following: Birch / Rowan / Ash / Alder / Willow / Hawthorn / Oak / Holly / Hazel / Vine / Ivy / Reed / Elder
Rocks and Stones:
Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:
Apophyllite / Amber / Amethyst / Aquamarine / Aragonite / Aventurine / Black Tourmaline / Bloodstone / Calcite / Carnelian / Celestite / Citrine / Chrysanthemum Stone / Diamond / Emerald / Fluorite / Garnet / Hematite / Herkimer Diamond / Labradorite / Lapis Lazuli / Malachite / Moonstone / Obsidian / Opal / Pyrite / Quartz (Rock Crystal) / Rose Quartz / Ruby / Selenite / Seraphinite / Silver and Gold / Smoky Quartz / Sodalite / Sunstone / Thunderegg / Tree Agate / Zebra Marble
Wisdom and Inspiration:
Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
Murdered by Witchcraft / The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch / The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) / Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife / The Story of Jack-O-Lantern / The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost / Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) / The Two Brothers - Light and Dark
Old Masters of Academia:
(Ancient, Past and Present)
(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)
Pioneers: Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A Kelly / Albertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Allan Bennett - the Ven. Ananda Metteyya / Allan Kardec (Spiritism) / Alphonsus de Spina / Amber K / Ann Moura / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Balthasar Bekker / Biddy Early / Barbara Vickers / Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christopher Penczak / Christina Oakley Harrington / Cornelius Loos / Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Donald Michael Kraig / Doreen Valiente / Dorothy Morrison / Dr. John Dee & Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Edain McCoy / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake / Fiona Horne / Frederick McLaren Adams - Feraferia / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater - Horrible Herman / Heinrich Kramer / Isaac Bonewits / Israel Regardie / Ivo Domínguez Jr. / Jack Whiteside Parsons - Rocket Science and Magick / James "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches / Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone / Jean Bodin / Jessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” / Johann Weyer / Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" / Johann Georg Fuchs von Dornheim - the “Hexenbrenner” (witch burner) / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred / John Michael Greer / John Score / Joseph “Bearwalker” Wilson / Joseph John Campbell / Karl von Eckartshausen / Lady Gwen Thompson - and "The Rede of the Wiccae" / Laurie Cabot - "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Lodovico Maria Sinistrari / Ludwig Lavater / Madeline Montalban and the Order of the Morning Star / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Michael Howard and the UK "Cauldron Magazine" / Margaret St. Clair - the “Sign of the Labrys” / Marie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Martin Antoine Del Rio / Matthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" / Michael A. Aquino - and The Temple of Set / Monique Wilson / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellars / Mrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning Glory / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Olivia Durdin-Robertson - co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Paul Foster Case and the “Builders of the Adytum” mystery school / Peter Binsfeld / Philip Heselton / Raven Grimassi / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Richard Baxter / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" / Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Rossell Hope Robbins / Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) / Rudolf Steiner / Sabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough" / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - (includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) / Thomas Ady / T. Thorn Coyle / Vera Chapman / Victor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / Walter Ernest Butler / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest /
Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete. If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below. Many thanks for reading :-)
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