The Hammer of Witches

The image advertises the neurodissent podcast's episode "The Hammer of Witches". It says "neurodissent, a podcast, Season 1, Episode 8, The Hammer of Witches". In the background, is a faded image of an old woodcut that features a demon in the center smiling as he receives babies or wax figures from his human allies, witches.

In the eighth episode of the neurodissent podcast, we discuss the infamous witch-hunting text, the Malleus Maleficarum, which means “The Hammer of Witches” in English. The book was first written around 1486 by two men who were part of the Inquisition. In other words, they were inquisitors, tasked with identifying, prosecuting, and punishing suspected witches. This book was their manifesto about how witchcraft worked, how people could identify witches, how they might protect themselves against their powers, and how witches should be punished (spoiler alert: the punishment was usually death). In this episode, we focus on how the authors of this text understood the mind by looking at their descriptions of demonic possession brought on by witches. Look for our next episode — episode 9 — which will focus on a different aspect of the same book.

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I use open access sources in my scholarship, so that listeners and readers can engage with the texts I use. The sources referred to in this episode are listed below.

References for Season 1, Episode 8 “The Hammer of Witches”

  1. Broedel, Hans Peter. 2003. The Malleus Maleficarum and the construction of witchcraft: Theology and popular belief Manchester University Press.
  2. Jerome. 390. The Life of S. Hilarion. Translated by Philip Schaff. 
  3. Kramer, Heinrich & Jacob Sprenger. ~1486. Malleus Maleficarum, translated by Montague Summers.

Other credits

Music: “Grit” by Shaolin Dub, licensed use

Image: “Witches giving babies to the devil,” 1720 via Wikimedia Commons.