Hammer of the Witches

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The mass hysteria that gripped people during the numerous witch trials that took place in our history is still difficult to understand. Equally incomprehensible is some of the weird ways they tested witches.

One of the main sources for practicing witch hunters was a book titled Malleus Maleficarum, which translates to “Hammer of the Witches.” The book outlines numerous ways to identify and prosecute witches. The ways witches were tested ranged from the bizarre to the cruel, and included having their victims scratch them until they bled, baking their victim’s urine into a cake, and being asked to perfectly recite a prayer.

The Malleus Maleficarum: A Medieval Manual for Witch Hunters

While these witch trial tests might sound absurd to us today, for many men and women, the outcomes of these tests would determine whether they lived or died. One way to identify a witch was to bake a cake with rye and the urine of a witch’s victim and then feed the cake to a dog.

There are differing accounts on how witch cake was used to identify witches. If the dog began to exhibit symptoms similar to that of the victim, often that indicated that witchcraft was at work. The dog would then identify the witch. In other accounts, the witch would begin to experience pain as the dog consumed the cake.

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