Much is said of the Renaissance – from its humanist base to its discovery of Greek philosophy, from its rapid dissemination of progressive ideas to its rise of vernacular literature, from its development of diplomacy to its inductive reasoning in science, to its widespread moral panic and persecution of heresy that led to the subsequent slaughter of 40-60,000 men, women and children deemed to be witches.
Ah yes .. the Witch Trials of Europe occurred during the Renaissance, that great ‘golden age of reason’. But how did this happen? How can two starkly divided ideas coexist during a singular period?
During the emergence of the Renaissance’s rare cultural efflorescence, there co-existed a great divide. In an age when the existence of God was openly debated, the discussion digressed to the creation of a Greater Evil. So that, by showing the existence of Satan and his minions – and his overthrow of all humanity – one could then prove the superiority of God.
Ludicrous? Yes .. from the lens of history. At the time, however, the Devil was all things sexual, or that which – even during this ‘enlightened’ age – was expressly forbidden.
The body of a witch burning upon a pyre gyrated with sexual frenzy, further fueled by the suppressed desires of onlookers, drawn to watch by both revulsion and fascination – key aspects of ecstasy.