By this time the positive and honorable aspects of the old religions had been redefined to appear both destructive and evil. Ironically, witches who were once instrumental in guaranteeing continued fertility, good health, and plentiful harvests were suddenly held responsible for sterility, disease, infant mortality, famine, and blight. One reason for this shift was that the monotheism (belief in one god) of Christianity was in direct opposition to the old notion of multiple gods and natural forces at work in a mysterious universe (polytheism). The nature-based pagan approach to life was displaced by rigid allegiance to the one all-knowing God and the one "true" religion, Christianity. Now the focus was on life after death—the Christian concept of heaven (paradise) and hell (eternal suffering)—rather than human existence on Earth. Church leaders declared that any form of worship or spiritual power other than Christianity was related to the devil. This narrow view allowed little room for pagan beliefs and the mysterious healing practices of witches. Since the church could not dismiss the fact that healers held some authentic power in pagan communities, Christian officials simply declared that witches were doing the devil's work. In other words, the Christians reasoned that if healers were not receiving their power from the church, they must be getting it from the devil, who used them to commit evil. This was also a time in history when people believed that humans were on Earth to suffer for God. Anyone who could relieve suffering was thought to be working against the will of God and collaborating with evil forces. Witches were thus anti-Christian and therefore needed to be destroyed.
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