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ghosts, hauntings and witchcraft Hauntings by ghosts and poltergeists are sometimes blamed on witches and witchcraft, particularly in areas where fear of MAGIC runs high. In Brazil, for example, where fear of magic is strong among the working class, many cases of poltergeist activity are attributed to witches' curses laid on families.
The notion that witches were responsible for ghosts and hauntings took root on the Continent and in the British Isles after the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. The belief that dead men walk the earth as ghosts has been universal since ancient times. The Catholic Church used ghosts to its own ends, teaching that they were the souls of those stuck in purgatory, who could not rest until they atoned for their sins, and that they were sent by God to roam the realm of the living. The Reformation rejected the concept of purgatory and said all souls went straight to heaven or hell, from which they never emerged. This required a new explanation for ghosts. In general, the Protestant church denied their existence, claiming that ghosts were a Catholic fraud used to manipulate the masses. Those who did see ghosts were led to think that they were caused by the DEVIL, demons and witches, who also were manipulating the populace in a battle for souls. Two camps formed: those who dismissed ghosts as foolishness and those who saw ghosts as proof of demonic forces.
JAMES I of England, who said there existed a "feareful abounding" of witches in the land, gave credit to the Devil for all ghosts. Witches, being viewed as the servants of the Devil, were automatically connected to apparitions and hauntings. During the 17th century, hauntings often were blamed on the witchcraft of malicious neighbors or relatives. It was not uncommon to call upon the services of another witch or wizard to exorcise the haunting (see exorcism).
The Drummer of Tedworth. One of the most famous cases of alleged witchcraft-caused hauntings was a poltergeist case, the Drummer of Tedworth, which took place in England in 1661. In March of that year, the drummer had been annoying the town of Ludgarshall, Wiltshire, with his drum beating. John Mompesson, of the neighboring town of Tedworth (formerly Tidworth), had the man
taken before the justice of the peace. The drum was confiscated, and given to Mompesson to secure in his own home. The drummer persuaded the constable to release him, and he left the area.
In April, during Mompesson's absence, a violent storm of poltergeist activity erupted in his house, frightening his wife, children and servants. It began with a drumming noise heard outside the house and on top of it, which then moved indoors to the room where the confiscated drum was kept. For more than two years, this and other bizarre phenomena occurred at irregular intervals, creating widespread interest and drawing curious visitors. The children and servants saw apparitions and the younger children were levitated in their beds. Some of the lesser phenomena—scratchings and pantings heard near the children's beds—were heard by Joseph Glanvil, who chronicled the case in Saducismus Triumphatus (1668).
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