Witches and pardon – Part 1

Paulo Coelho

On 31 October 2004, resorting to a feudal law that was abolished the following month, the town of Prestonpans in Scotland granted official pardon to 81 persons – and their cats – executed for practicing witchery in the 16th and 17th centuries.

According to the official spokesman for the Barons of Prestoungrange and Dolphinstoun, “most of them had been condemned without any concrete proof – based only on the witnesses of the accusation, who declared that they felt the presence of evil spirits.”

There is no point in recalling once more all the excess of the Inquisition, with its torture chambers and bonfires of hate and vengeance. But there is one thing that is very intriguing to me in this news item.

The town and the 14th Baron of Prestoungrange & Dolphinstoun are “granting pardon” to the people who were brutally executed. Here we are in the heart of the 21st century and the descendants of the real criminals, those who put innocent people to death, still have the right to “grant pardon”.

In the meantime, a new witch hunt is beginning to gain ground. This time the arm is no longer red-hot iron, but rather irony or repression. All those who, in developing a gift (generally discovered by chance), dare to speak of their capacity, are mostly either looked on with suspicion or else prohibited by their parents, husbands and wives to say anything about it. Having interested myself from an early age in what they call the “occult sciences”, I came into contact with many such people.

I believed in charlatans, of course. I dedicated time and enthusiasm to “masters” that later on dropped their masks, revealing the total void in which they found themselves. Irresponsibly, I took part in certain sects and practiced rituals for which I had to pay a high price. All this in on behalf of a quest that is absolutely natural to man: the answer to the mystery of life.


Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

The rest of this story will be posted here tomorrow.


  1. oceangleam says:

    Hi Hildegarde,

    What happened with the Witch in us? Do we need pardon to be alive or forgiveness coming from our heart?
    To fix a question is enough. The answer comes on time through collecting experience of the real life. With the growth of the personal power the need of pardon turns to love and selfrespect and thougths about forgiveness turns into the understanding of the process of the life. Seem absurd but there is nothing to judge, nothing to resent, nothing to forgive. The final understanding clears up the meaning of: live and let live.What is needed is just persistency and giving the best from ourselves in anything we do (with no exaggeration and no repeating the mistakes). For brave (real the lovers of life).

    Be well, oceangleam

  2. mcl says:

    I don't know much about witches, – the occult fascinates me – it's scary as well.

  3. candieb says:

    I do agree with Thelma.We shouldn't use the gift of magic for money!True.
    This is normally to help others and the TAROT is made to discover yourself too.It's so ancient and it's the Gods's language.I have never felt confortable associating IT with money.My mother had a shop for 10 years,she was doing the cards and her(so called friend)was doing numerology,there was one doing hypnotism.I think there were about 5 or 6.At the end it was a mess,cause everyone has its own opinion,money was involve and some wanted more.And it all eventually went down and she had to pay the price.She always told me to not go in there.Now she's doing it only for family and friends and so do I,learning it.I'm not saying that all the ones who are getting paid for it are bad persons,no,but they surely need to be careful with that.Not to get mad with it and wanting more cause money is the devil and has nothing to do with ancient wisdom and magic should be used cautiously,wisely.That's what I think.

  4. Thank you all. Yes dearest Heart I have read the sad story of the boy and I thought.. 'We consider ourselves… human beings. Where are the U.N. and UNESCO and UNICEF?? Where is the so called 'civilized world'. We are one and we are all responsible.
    Regarding Magic and Witches and Magus.. I think that, if the GIFT is used in order to gain money, material possessions and/or 'influence' some one's mind against HIS WILL, then it is BLACK MAGIC! It works with the collaboration of the lower Elements, the Elementals of the Earth, Samael. They may 'drive' those under their 'spell and possession' to madness or suicide. I think it is the uncontrolled power on the material planes, the material bodies, the world of 'sensual' pleasures. In Ancient Greece they were the … followers of Pan.
    But we are not just material bodies with .. senses. We are the 'icon' of our Father on Heaven, possessing Heart and Mind. Only the Balance of the three will make us 'see and taste' Paradise again. Our return..
    May we always follow the .. upward Path, climb the Ladder, use the .. Bridge, in HARMONY, being MASTERS of our whole Self and our Divine SPARK, the LIGHT.

  5. Heart says:

    And, thank you Catherine. I don't know how widespread witch hunt of children and women in Africa is. However, the modern court system execute similar imprisonment of innocent people in large scale, without calling it witch hunt. Still, for instance there is a great social injustice in prison time of rich and poor. Crimes frequently committed by uneducated poor men, for instance stealing a car, are judged much more severe than financial crimes committed by rich successful men, for instance stealing millions of dollars by exploiting their opportunities. Look at Bernard Madoff..he'll probably get a few years in prison, then will be out doing Wall Street again. In my opinion, the entire court system is corrupt big time.

  6. Catherine says:

    Q. How did witch-hunting come to an end?
    A. The lawyers in charge of the central courts gradually became less convinced that the usual kinds of evidence could prove guilt. The validity of confessions made under torture was questioned, and pricking for the Devil's mark came to be seen as fraudulent. During some of the major panics, notably in 1661-2, there were miscarriages of justice which led to tightening up of procedures. After the Glorious Revolution of 1689 the state became more secular and no longer needed to prove its godliness by executing witches. A trickle of local prosecutions continued””the last was in 1727. The Scottish Witchcraft Act was repealed in 1736 when the British Parliament decided to repeal the parallel English act. The 1736 Act abolished the crime of witchcraft and replaced it by a new crime of 'pretended witchcraft' with a maximum penalty of one year's imprisonment.

    It also claims on this website that the top county for witch-hunting was Haddington-shire [east lothian].
    I spent many a summer there… my grandparents lived just outside of Haddington in the 1980's. Wow. I knew Haddington was austere… but I put that down to the colour of the local stone buildings. ;o)

    A witches stone lays at Dunbar…
    and back in North Berwick.. [from the Council website..http://www.eastlothian.gov.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=564

    “In the late 16th century, the town gained unwelcome notoriety due to the North Berwick witch trials, which were primarily the culmination of the events of Halloween 1590, when the town's witches danced through the remains of St Andrews church, apparently to conjure up evil against King James VI who was returning home from Denmark with his bride, Anne. According to legend, the devil had appeared to them and ordered them to raise a storm to destroy the king. Wax images had been moulded and other attempts made to harm him with magic.

    During the Witches Sabbath, the graves in the old cemetery were robbed for 'magical cookery' while a cat was baptised and thrown into the sea. “

    poor cats.

    so it is interesting that this witch-hunt goes along with the politics of the King James VI … [who was the target of the 'Catholic' Gunpowder Plot]

    Ok… so it all becomes clear… the throes of Christianity: Protestant vs Catholicism in UK was a cultural factor.
    But that doesn't explain it's global occurance, nor in fact something else that this has started me thinking.

    Thank you Paulo.. I've learnt ALOT today!!! ;o)

  7. Catherine says:

    Of course witches remain an important theme of Halloween in the UK…

    Amazing that the grand-daughter of one is alive; history in the.. not so distant, past.

    I think that with all healing it comes in gradual stages.

    This is an interesting site for the prestonpans incident and healing process.

    A brilliant book on the 'wild nature of the woman' is called Women who run with the wolves… filled with stories, poems, fables and folklore.

    I think it is through sheer luck and God's willing, that I have avoided losing my own instinctual life.. however, it has always been threatened .. daily…
    worse that I have been ill and thus lost physical and mental strength to keep my wits about me… ;o)
    but i know the traps have not disappeared… I care less about them, or rather know life better to know i need not fall for them…
    ;o) and yet it is a struggle, because so much of the regression is carried over inter-generationally.
    what a waste of life!?!! such disgrace i say to punish others for being different or whatever.
    surely the greatest mystery of life is not so hyper-sensitive that it must be guarded, controlled… but obviously i need to meet a few more charlatans?!

    and isn't it a simple mystery… as last week: something as… love… Just let's stop manipulating it's nature!!

    Well, I will most likely go to East Lothian next week… and I may even get a chance to visit Rosyln chapel…

    [crikey.. i just googled east lothian witches… and it came up with north berwick town history: abbey nunnery and witches coven.

    My father used to live on Old Abbey Road.. our house across from that Abbey… now barely there but ruins… My bedroom overlooking the very abbey farm and what i thought was a graveyard. ]

    oh boy!

    but incidentally, the nunnery was also suffering at the hands of the “kirk and crown”

    On a good note… a pilgrims ferry was established centuries ago across the Fife to NB. I think now there are only wildlife boat tours.

  8. Catherine says:

    “a witch was a person considered to have supernatural powers granted by Satan in exchange for their soul.”

    So a culture of cutting of a life source, in the name of religion [of course]

  9. Catherine says:

    Yes, that reminds me of a witch village in Ghana, where women [i think only, but could be men aswell] are sent by their families.. for having strange behaviour. I'll ask my Ghanaian friends more about witchcraft there, because it IS alive and well.

  10. Heart says:

    The pardon comes very late, and won't do much for the convicted witches now. This should never happen, that we allow judges to convict innocent people of crimes they or society come up with. And what do we call proof?

    We think the case of Witch hunt belongs to the middle age. Not so. This week end I saw a report on Fox News about child witch hunt in Congo. For no reason, but a child having big eyes or jumping around like children do, a religious leader accuse them of being witches, and the parents believe him! Grotesque 'treatment' of the children take place, with full public support. When the American reporter confronted authorities in Congo, and showed the video clip, the leader openly support this horrible child abuse. This need to STOP now…this cannot be pardoned, unforgivable…a grown up pastor who wants to make $$ .. by using innocent little children.


  11. Catherine says:

    I stay often at my father's whose family has lived in the Lothians for many years now… and I never knew or was aware of this history of witchery until reading on Coelho's blog.

    however, it is common in the history of Britain for witches and stories of torture… and hey, it went on to the USA too ;o(

    I think it is necessary to explain something of the nature of town councils, and organisation for the wording of “granting of pardon” to be explained…
    for ideally, the council representatives are guardians for the physical, material welfare etc of their community [its past, present and future] … and so they represent the process of granting a pardon, but certainly not the people. It was the system that created the mistake, and so the council make as pardon as modern day reps of that system.

    personally i think that the system is in fact wrong for so many things: ultimately it is the male-dominated one and manages to exclude the feminine.. squeezing it out. It is a matter of control and order that has gotten out of hand… so much so, that today, as you say Paulo, those individuals who seem to deviate from the 'set norm' are discredited and worse, becoming suffocated in spirit.

    I will reread the history of the story.. then have a better impression to comment.

  12. arrariv says:

    amazing story!!!!

  13. oceangleam says:

    Some women are also warriors. Here is the one who brings the light to a men and women who cultivate the spirit of warrior within themselves. In the past she would be burned for sure. Today she is not far from being condemned as witch. Especially in the western countries. Why such disapproval and anger?
    The true value of Esther Vilar’s work which represents the real and almost only worthy history and presentation of sincere social growth from the beginning of the life on the Earth is unique and unavoidable material regarding self-development. Many, even of the most secret organisations for so called spiritual development do not have such material in their spheres of activity. Esther Vilar’s work discloses the simple truth. Men are castrated. In a different way women are too. Esther offers the remedy. Problem was eternal. What woman took only woman can give back. This woman that has answers shatters the magical power of the Sphinx (our large animal-instinctive-and procreative part and basis of potential fully functioning human being). Vilar’s immense passion and energy invested in her work is everlasting and she will live forever, through all the real men and women that rose out of the cinder of their failed dreams and deeds. What other women have stolen Esther is offering back. For them, she is Fairy Lady bringing to them their balls back. More understandable teaching do not offer Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu , Epictetus and no one of the many, many other people that have realised their completeness.
    This world of humans is pretty in trouble. But for some rare rebellious men and women there is still an opening that leads to paradise (Real world). Some aware of what is going on are ready to sacrifice their self-pity (their disguise of self-importance), their frights (imaginations) and undertake the responsibility for their thoughts, feelings and deeds, ready to join to the real life. They are aware that their time on this earth is really limited, they have no time to wait, they can’t bargain and are ready to collect with their hearts (their distinguishing of good and bad) tiny pearls of everyday joys, instead of waiting and dreaming about a huge life’s crown jewel . This is the way of “ to be” (to be real), and not the way of “not to be” (of being false, selling own life in behalf of bare surviving). Life preserving jacket, for disciplined and persistent, for rare.