After the Christian church was formed and came into power, the ways of the Pagans were believed to be a threat to the newly-established
religious system, and the worship of the gods of the Old Religion was banned. Ancient Pagan festivals were supplanted by
the church's new religious holidays, and the old gods of nature and fertility were turned into hideous and evil demons and
In the year 1233, Pope Gregory IX instituted the Roman Catholic tribunal known as the Inquisition in an attempt to suppress
heresy. In 1320, the church (at the request of Pope John XXII) officially declared Witchcraft and the Old Religion of the
Pagans as a heretical movement and a "hostile threat" to Christianity. Witches had now become heretics and the persecuton
against all Pagans spread like wildfire throughout Europe. (It is interesting to note that before a person can be considered
a heretic, he or she must first be a Christian, and Pagans have NEVER been Christians. They have always been Pagans.)
Witches (along with countless numbers of "innocent" men, women, and children who were NOT witches) were persecuted, brutally
tortured, often sexually molested or raped, and then executed by sadistic, bloodthirsty church authorities who taught that
their God was a god of love and compassion.
Witchcraft in England was made an illiegal offense in the year 1541, and in 1604 a law decreeing capital punishment for Witches
and Pagans was adopted. Forty years later, the thirteen colonies in America also made death the penalty for the "crime"
of Witchcraft. By the last seventeenth century, the followers who remained loyal to the Old Religion were in hiding and Witchcraft
had turned into a secret underground religion after an estimated ONE MILLION persons had been put to death in Europe, and
more than thirty condemned at Salem, Massachusetts, in the name of Christianity.
Although the infamous Salem Witchcraft trials of 1692 are the most memorable and well-documented ones in the history of the
United States of America, the first hanging for being a Witch in New England actually took place in Connectiut in 1647, forty-five
years prior to the Witchcraft hysteria which plagued Salem Village. Other pre-Salem executions occurred in Providence, Rhode
Island in 1662.
The most popular method of Witch extermination in New England was the gallows. In Europe, it was burning. Other methods
included pressing to death, drowning, decapitation, and quartering.
For 260 years following the last Witch execution, the followers of the Old Religion kept their Pagan practices hidden behind
the shadows of secrecy, and not until the laws against Witchcraft in England were finally repealed in 1951, did Witches and
Pagans officially come out of the broom closet.