The Elizabethans trusted in the truth of magic. They believed that witches existed. Women were the most frequently indicted of being witches. There were 270 Elizabethan witch tribunals, 247 were women and only 23 were men. If you had a physical deformity, you could be accused of being a witch. An example would be Anne Boleyn, who was executed after being accused of witchcraft because she had a sixth finger growing on her hand. During the Elizabethan era people blamed unexplainable events as the work of witches - the Bubonic Plague, unexplained deaths or unpleasant illnesses, bad harvests or crop failures, the death of animals and unexplained fires. Those accused of witchcraft, or being a witch, were generally Old, Poor and Unprotected Single women, widows or 'wise women' (many kept pets for company - their 'familiars'). The fear of witches and their supernatural abilities led to the following superstitions:
Witches were able to fly
A witch was often portrayed as an old crone or hag (with no man to defend her against accusations of witchcraft)
Witches are closely associated with living alone (house in the wood)
Witches were known to keep animals like the Cat, Frog, Pig, Raven, Goat, Wolf, Goose, Crow, Bat and Mouse which were believed to be the forms adopted by a Witches Familiar (an evil spirit, in animal form, who was used by the witch to perform evil deeds and cast malevolent spells)
Witches brewed magic potions over a cauldron (Wise women had knowledge of herbs such as mandrake, datura, monkshood, cannabis, belladonna, henbane and hemlock)
The people believed in this dark magic but they were afraid of it. Most “Witches” were hung, drowned or burned at the stake as they were thought to be a physcial manifestation of evil and a threat to society’s moral and religious fiber. They were said to be worshippers of the devil. When they were being drowned, they were pushed off a cliff and if they sunk and drowned they were said to be innocent. But if...