Howard Williams - The Superstitions of Witchcraft (6.2 MB)
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People all over the world have grown up cowering under the false representation of the witch. Belinda Smith, High Priestess to the Silver Serpent Coven, and known as Becca to her coven kin, presents a description of what most people think of when they hear the word "witch": "Parents were telling... how hideous she looked with her green skin (she was sick form being held in confinement), her clawed hands (from her fingers being broken and then healing in unnatural positions), her long stringy hair (from falling out due to mal... More >>>
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People all over the world have grown up cowering under the false representation of the witch. Belinda Smith, High Priestess to the Silver Serpent Coven, and known as Becca to her coven kin, presents a description of what most people think of when they hear the word "witch": "Parents were telling... how hideous she looked with her green skin (she was sick form being held in confinement), her clawed hands (from her fingers being broken and then healing in unnatural positions), her long stringy hair (from falling out due to malnutrition), and her hunched back (from being tortured)." This common image is exemplified by the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz (Stein 8). It is the typical idea of a witch most people have in mind. Society also tends to believe that witchcraft is the archetype of evil. "Wicca is a modern religion that draws upon satanic occult rituals and ceremonies, including blood offerings and human sacrifice" (Roleff 29). Over centuries of erroneous beliefs, the terms "witchcraft" and "devil-worship" became synonymous. The established work of 1484 titled Malleus Malificarum, or "The Witch's Hammer", was a guide that piloted society into the Burning Times (Cabot 62). This piece of literature, commissioned by Pope Innocent VIII, justified the torture and execution of accused witches. Malleus Malificarum provided the greatest amount of the perceived wickedness of all witches, claiming that they participated in night rides with Satan, performed human and animal sacrifices, and seduced men into sinful activities.
Howard Williams (1837-1931) was an English humanitarian and vegetarian, and author of the book The Ethics of Diet, an anthology of vegetarian thought.
The book, first published in 1883, tells the history of vegetarianism since the writings of the first Pythagorean philosophers of the Ancient World until the author's time. Among the authors mentioned in the book are: Ovid, Plutarch, Porphyry, Luigi Cornaro, Michel de Montaigne, John Ray, Voltaire, Alexander Pope, Percy Shelley, Alphonse de Lamartine, Joseph Ritson, and Gustav Struve. Not all authors mentioned in the book were vegetarians (Thomas More, for example, was probably not a vegetarian), but they all had critical views of meat-eating).
It was of some importance at the time. As Jon Gregerson wrote in Vegetarianism: A History, "Not unimportant in the momentum gathered by the Vegetarian Movement in late Victorian England was a book by one Howard Williams entitled The Ethics of Diet, which was published in 1890".It wasa read by Indian spiritual leader Mohandas Gandhi, Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, English social reformer Henry Stephens Salt, and Portuguese philosopher Jaime de Magalhaes Lima (as he mentioned in his conference O Vegetarismo e a Moralidade das Racas).
Gandhi, who met Williams in Ventnor, wrote in his autobiography: "My faith in vegetarianism grew on me from day to day. Salt's book Plea for Vegetarianism whetted my appetite for dietetic studies. I went in for all books available on vegetarianism and read them. One of these, Howard Williams' The Ethics of Diet, was a 'biographical history of the literature of humane dietetics from the earliest period to the present day'".
Tolstoy considered it an "excellent book", and in 1892 he wrote the preface to the Russian translation. According to Tolstoy (1911, pp. 91-92) "The precise reason why abstinence from animal food will be the first act of fasting and of a moral life is admirably explained in the book, The Ethics of Diet; and not by one man only, but by all mankind in the persons of its best representatives during all the conscious life of humanity." Henry Stephens Salt commented that "Of all recent books on the subject of animals' rights this is by far the most scholarly and exhaustive". Jaime de Magalhaes Lima, (a vegetarian and a Tolstoyan), used Williams book as a reference to write his 1912 conference O Vegetarismo e a Moralidade das racas .
In 1896 a new edition appeared with additional material (chapters on Asoka, Oliver Goldsmith, Henry David Thoreau, Richard Wagner, and Anna Kingsford, among others). The book however became a rarity, only available in certain libraries. In 2003, the University of Illinois Press edited a new edition with an additional introduction by eco-feminism author Carol J. Adams.
Howard Williams partial bibliography:
- Williams, Howard, 1837-1931, trans.: Dialogues; namely, The dialogues of the gods, of the sea-gods, and of the dead; Zeus the tragedian, The ferry-boat, etc. (London, Bell, 1888), by Lucian of Samosata, also trans. by Howard Williams (page images at HathiTrust; US access only)
- Williams, Howard, 1837-1931: English letters and letterwriters of the eighteenth century : with explanatory notes / (London : G. Bell & Sons, 1886), also by Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift
- Williams, Howard, 1837-1931: The ethics of diet; a biographical history of the literature of humane dietetics, from the earliest period to the present day. (Manchester, Eng., A. Broadbent, 1907)
- Williams, Howard, 1837-1931: The ethics of diet : a catena of authorities deprecatory of the practice of flesh-eating / (London : F. Pitman, 1883)
- Williams, Howard, 1837-1931: The Superstitions of Witchcraft