As is tradition at this time of year, the BBC have summoned up the spirit of Halloween and featured a clutch of ghostly, ghoulish news articles for those fond of a ritual or two to consume (along with their left over Haribo's!) One particular piece caught my eye, it's about heritage agency "Historic England" asking people to record ritual markings on old (16/17th century) doorways and fireplaces that were put there in order to ward off witches and demons. As the article says, these marks, usually circle designs or particular letters, were supposed to confuse and entrap evil spirits. Clearly our ancestors were an incredibly gullible bunch, either that or the witches and demons of the day were pretty pathetic, you'd never catch a proper 21st century mythical creature being so easily defeated. Of course we don't believe this nonsense anymore in this country and the last witchcraft act was repealed in 1951 (alarmingly recently!) although it was tuned down over the years from it's barbaric heyday in the 16th century.
What's often forgotten with all this jolly, pointy hatted tomfoolery re-enacted at Halloween is that real Women (usually vulnerable and poor), innocent women, were tortured and often murdered as a result of this religiously inspired insanity, no one knows for sure but it's estimated that at least 500 people were killed in this country alone and in Europe the picture was even worse. Incredibly there are still countries in the world today that execute people for witchcraft or turn a blind eye to vigilante mobs who do the same. These are people so monumentally stupid that they watch the wizard of oz and think it's a documentary! Countries like Saudi-Arabia, Uganda and India seem quite willing to put up with such epic failures of reason and justice; for us it's history, for some it remains reality.