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The Witch Trial  by William Powell Frith (1848)

The Controversy Surrounding Witches’ Familiars and Religious Judgement

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How come religions glorified certain Biblical characters’ - such as Jesus and Mary - communication with spirits or angelic entities, yet it condemned witches’ conferring with familiars, to the point of torture and burning them? The Judeo-Christian religions have historically harshly judged and condemned witches who have familiar spirits, practice idolatry, and prophesy. These condemnations have spilled the blood of far too many pagans to count. Though these religions have sometimes espoused and practiced tolerance, witches who kept familiars were not given grace and forgiven and were mostly put to death.  Due to some passages in the Bible, it is believed by many that a witch actually loses her soul and is damned if she practices divination or consults the spirits of the dead. As Leviticus 20:27 states: “A man or a woman who has a ghost or a familiar spirit shall be put to death; they shall be pelted with stones - their bloodguilt shall be upon them.”

Witch with Familiar (Image © Maja D’Aoust)

Witch with Familiar (Image © Maja D’Aoust)

Controversy exists regarding the double standards applied by religious dogmas. Although the Catholic Church staunchly reprimands necromancy practiced by witches, Roman Catholic altars contain the remains of saints, called relics and the entire cathedral of St. Peter in Rome is built upon, and calls upon, the dead buried underneath it, as it is constructed on top of a grave mound.

Children of the East

In Judaism, only one form of forgiveness is given to the idolaters and diviners who speak with familiar spirits, and it is given to a special group. A fascinating story of an acceptance of the use of familiar spirits is told in archaic versions of the tale of Abraham. An obscure passage tells of a ‘gift’ that Abraham gave to the sons of his concubines. These illegitimate sons and their descendants, referred to as the children of the east, were given the ability to speak with demons and have relations with familiar spirits. These spirits were to be used to counsel humanity; as a result, the witches who used these powers were forgiven by God because, though they were utilizing unclean spirits, they did so to assist others, as described in Genesis 25:6: “Now Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac; but to the sons of his concubines, Abraham gave gifts while he was still living, and sent them away from his son Isaac eastward, to the land of the east.”


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 Based on an excerpt of the book Familiars in Witchcraft  by author Maja D’Aoust

Top Image: The Witch Trial  by William Powell Frith (1848) (Public Domain)

By Maja D’Aoust




Sorry my comment was strongly worded I hadn’t considered the context of the article.

I wanted to address your question regarding glorifying religious figures and talking to spirits and angels. The glorifying of figures, like Mary or other saints, is not ok. The Catholic church, despite their claims to the contrary, are not the voice of God on Earth and are guilty of idolatry and so much more.

As for angels and spirits, angel comes from the Greek angelos/aggelos meaning messenger. The same with the Hebrew malak. Speaking to spirits is not necessarily the issue, it’s the nature of the message and where it comes from and how it comes.

In the case of Jesus, it’s slightly different in that he is God but became a man and humbled himself (Phillipians 2) becoming a servant and even dying a criminal’s death, then resurrected 3 days later. 

This is disgraceful! You said: "An obscure passage tells of a ‘gift’ that Abraham gave to the sons of his concubines." There is nothing obscure about his passage at all. 'Gifts' here (Hebrew: mattanah) is translated most often as gifts and a couple of times as bribe/bribes. There is nothing obscure about this. It is quite clear that Abraham designated Isaac his heir and gave his other sons gifts or bribes to send them away. Most likely he gave them some of his livestock and/or money as they wouldn't receive an inheritance. The clue is given in the phrase “while he was still living” as Isaac couldn’t receive the inheritance until Abraham had died. While he was still living, he gave some of what he owned to his other sons, once he died, Isaac became his sole heir. This is very straighforward. There is no mention of abilities, familiar spirits or demons in the verse you quoted.

Nothing in this passage suggests that they "were given the ability to speak with demons and have relations with familiar spirits." This is pure speculation on your part and you provide no evidence to support your wild assertion. Shame on you!

Witchcraft accesses demonic spiritual power which is in direct opposition to God - therefore BAD. It is more correctly defined as the unauthorised use of spiritual power, the source of which is demonic, and always brings harm to the user.


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