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Thread: Burning Witches and Werewolves.

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    Lady Barronmore Arrianna has become well known Arrianna has become well known Arrianna has become well known Arrianna's Avatar
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    Burning Witches and Werewolves.

    What do they have in common? Ergot.

    Ergot is a poisonous fungus that grows primarily on Rye grains. It causes "nervous dysfunction, where the victim is twisting and contorting their body in pain, trembling and shaking, and wryneck, a more or less fixed twisting of the neck, which seems to simulate convulsions or fits. In some cases, this is accompanied by muscle spasms, confusions, delusions and hallucinations, as well as a number of other symptoms." It can even cause a type of leprosy. While LSD is not made from it it was first discovered from studies of Ergot and it's so common that until the 1850's people didn't even know that it wasn't just part of the grain.

    To put it more simply, Ergot caused the symptoms associated with being cursed by a witch. It also caused hallucinations often involving deformed beast like creatures climbing walls or changing into people they knew. At the same time that witches were being burned at the stake (mostly women) others were also being killed for being werewolves (mostly men) based on eye witnesses likely poisoned by Ergot.

    So it entirely possible that rather just being a highlight of the worst of human nature as many people call those times what we are actually looking at is an epidemic of mass poisoning. An epidemic found among specific European countries whose primary grain source was rye. Learning about Ergot has certainly made me rethink many ideas I had about the witch trials and the inquisition.

    What do all of you think?


    Ergot of Rye - I: Introduction and History

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    Mage of Eternity Joe Mage is making a name for themselves Joe Mage is making a name for themselves Joe Mage's Avatar
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    Re: Burning Witches and Werewolves.

    Good research, Yes I agree that alot of it was mostly mass poisoning and not mass hysteria. The only exception would probably be the Inquisition, There were too many cases and victims for it to be mass poisoning. Granted that it may have play a part or even started the whole incident, but it spirialed too far and too wide for it to be only contributed to only mass poisoning. It was probably mass hysteria in that case.

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    I'm all ears. Hassun has disabled reputation
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    Re: Burning Witches and Werewolves.

    So that stuff makes you hairy too? Sounds like fun...
    I'd picture werewolf behavior to sometimes be caused by rabies.

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    Grouchy Old Anime Otaku LenMiyata has become well known LenMiyata has become well known LenMiyata has become well known LenMiyata's Avatar
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    Re: Burning Witches and Werewolves.

    Grumble Grumble Grumble

    There has also been some theories put forth that Ergot may have been a factor in the French Revolution as well...

    Great Fear - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    Railgun Assimilate Champion Sazuka may be famous one day Sazuka may be famous one day Sazuka's Avatar
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    Re: Burning Witches and Werewolves.

    That's a possibility, it's also been explained that werewolves, or vampires have been used as excuse for morbid serial killings. There's also a disease called hypertrichosis, which causes extreme hair growth throughout the body:



    It could be an origin of the werewolf theory, but severe hypertrichosis is very rare.

    As for witches, I have no idea. The whole witch hunt thing came about with religious reformation, and it usually occurred in rural areas. This reformation cause mass hysteria in the smaller, rural areas... and most of the people believe in witches. Panicked people do crazy things.

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    Lady Barronmore Arrianna has become well known Arrianna has become well known Arrianna has become well known Arrianna's Avatar
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    Re: Burning Witches and Werewolves.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hassun View Post
    So that stuff makes you hairy too? Sounds like fun...
    I'd picture werewolf behavior to sometimes be caused by rabies.
    No, it just made people think you were. I believe it's referred to as a "bad trip".

    Quote Originally Posted by LenMiyata View Post
    Grumble Grumble Grumble

    There has also been some theories put forth that Ergot may have been a factor in the French Revolution as well...

    Great Fear - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    I know, interesting isn't it?

    There were several attempts to overthrow the French government in the decades preceding the revolution but they were never supported by the common people and failed. The "Great Fear" however occurred after a poor harvest when consumption of Rye would increase especially in France where they grew a lot of it. Not to mention the conditions were just right for Ergot to grow profusely among what they did have. Since I understand mass paranoia and aggression can be one of the effects of Ergot poisoning it would explain why all of a sudden the common people rose up in response to a rather flimsy reason when all the good reasons they had before had no effect.

    I believe the year of "The Terror" that resulted in Robespierre's execution may have been linked to Ergot as well.

    I almost added in the bit about the French Revolution to the topic but I decided to leave it out since it sort of diluted the actual point about the witch trials.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sazuka View Post
    As for witches, I have no idea. The whole witch hunt thing came about with religious reformation, and it usually occurred in rural areas. This reformation cause mass hysteria in the smaller, rural areas... and most of the people believe in witches. Panicked people do crazy things.
    Rural area's were also the highest consumers of rye. Ergot poisoning was referred to as "St. Anthony's fire" and entire villages would have to be treated for it due to the use of village bakers.
    Last edited by Arrianna; Feb 23, 2007 at 03:16 PM.

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    Re: Burning Witches and Werewolves.

    i knew that there was science behind the whole witch eyewitnesses. I think that it is completely reasonable. Actually I had always thougth that the reasons that people thought that someone was a witch were really dumb. I was reading a classic novel written in the early 1800 when the whole witch accusations were at their most, and people belived that women that could swim were weird and had something magical about them.
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    Re: Burning Witches and Werewolves.

    There is no way that the justice systems of the world would kill witches or werewolves if they weren't found guilty, or confessed. And I'm sure that their couldn't have been any cohersion in those confessions. These were honest, god fearing people and would never kill a person without good reason.

    And Marie Antoinet had that beheading comming....Let them eat cake huh?

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