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Thomas Ady

 

 

Written and compiled by George Knowles

 

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
The bed be blest that I lie on.

Four corners to my bed
Four angels round my head,
One to watch and one to pray
And two to bear my soul away.

(from:  A Candle in the Dark’ by Thomas Ady 1656).

 

Few men of the early 15th - 16th century were brave enough to speak out against the Catholic Church and the atrocities inflicted on witches and other poor souls by the inquisition.  One such person was Thomas Ady, an English physician, about whom very little is known except for the books he left behind as a legacy.  While they did little to ease the situation during his time, they survived to inspire others and opened the way for credible thought and rational reason against the delusion.

 

Many writers sought to convince potential jurors of the fictional misinformation being spread about the actuality of witchcraft.  As such Thomas Aby’s books were considered and used by some as an authority to counter claims of witchcraft, as in the case of the Rev. George Burroughs during his trial in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692.  Sadly for the Rev. Burroughs, quoting from one of Ady’s most popular books did little to convince anyone on his jury, nor alter the course of his execution.  The book in question has for its full title:  A Candle in the Dark, or a Treatise concerning the nature of witches and witchcraft:  being advice to the judges, sheriffs, justice of the peace and grandjurymen what to do before they pass sentence on such as are arraigned for their lives as witches (Printed for R.I., to be sold at the Three Lions in Cornhill by the Exchange, 1656.)  In it, Ady wrote against the delusion and attacked the misinformed beliefs about witchcraft head on, by using the same tools as the ‘witchmongers’ themselves, ‘the Bible’.

 

A Candle in the Dark’ was written in three parts.  In the first part, he gives multiple meanings and descriptions of a witch, and disproves the contemporary application of the biblical injunction:  “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”.  Deuteronomy xviii. 10-11 for example, gives nine classifications of a witch, including:  astrologer, enchanter, pythonist (as with the Endor Witch), soothsayer, necromancer and juggler (Exodus xii. 15).  According to these definitions, real witches were merely ‘popish routs and contrivers of charms’.

 

In the second part, Ady shows that contemporary beliefs in witchcraft are nowhere to be found in the Bible:

 

Where is it written in all the Old and New Testaments that a witch is a murderer, or hath power to kill by witchcraft, or to afflict with any disease or infirmity?  Where is it written that witches have imps sucking of their bodies?  Where is it written that witches have biggs (nipples) for imps to suck on… that the devil setteth privy marks upon witches… that witches can hurt corn or cattle… or can fly in the air…  Where do we read of a he-devil or she-devil, called incubus or succubus, that useth generation or copulation?

 

And in the third part, he attacks some of the so called ‘authoritative’ writers concerning witches, most particular that of ‘Demonology’ written by King James I, which Ady suggests was ghost-written for him by James, Bishop of Winton (Winchester).  He also opposes Matthew Perkins’s ‘Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft (published posthumously in 1608)’ as “a collection of mingled notions taken from the writings of Bodin, Spina and other popish blood suckers who composed great volumes of lies and impossibilities”. 

 

Throughout his book Ady remembers his mission function was to sway judges and juries, and like Reginald Scot before him, he exposes swimming, witches marks, malediction by witches, their reliance on charms and amulets, ventriloquism (speaking from the belly) and jugglers (who often use to delude people with a imitation mouse attached to a springy wire as a familiar).

 

The tenets of evangelical Protestantism were rooted in the Bible, and the Protestant belief in witchcraft although originally carried over from Roman Catholicism, was therefore easily vulnerable.  Once the biblical sanction for witchcraft had been disproved and removed, they could not claim as did the Roman Catholic demonologists, the tradition of the Church.  Ady therefore was very shrewd in basing his arguments, not on discrediting individual cases or trials of witches, but on the absence of scriptural authority.

 

Ady’s second book was published 5 years later in 1661 and was entitled:  A Perfect Discovery of Witches, Shewing The Divine Cause of the Distractions of this Kingdome, and also of the Christian World.  Justitia Thronum firmat. Prov. 19-14 The King that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall bee established.  Very profitable to bee read by all sorts of people, especially judges of assizes, sheriffs, justices of the peace, and grandjurymen before they passe sentence on those that are condemned for Witchcraft (Published in London, Printed for R. I. to bee sold by H. Brome at the Gun in Ivy-Lane, 1661).  In this book Ady courageously addressed the notorious Witch Hunts and Witchfinders of the era.  He questioned the blame attached to witches by incompetent Physicians when they failed to heal a patient, and the general responsibility placed on witches for any unexplainable catastrophes such as storms, drought, illness and disease.  The blame on witches, he argued, was to disguise the ignorance of the people in power.

  

His third and last book was published some 15 years later in 1676 and was entitled:  The Doctrine of Devils, Proved to be the grand Apostacy of these later Times.  An Essay tending to rectifie those Undue Notions and Apprehensions Men have about Daemons and Evil Spirits (Published in London, Printed for the Author and are to be sold at the Kings-Arms in the Poultry, 1676).

 

Original copies of Thomas Ady’s books are today very rare indeed, and are extent only in a few of the worlds top libraries.  One such library where all three books can be found is the ‘Witchcraft Collection’ held at Cornell University Library in America, text copies of which have been made available online, and can be accessed at: http://historical.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/witch/docviewer?did=002

 

End.

 

Sources:

The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology - by Rossell Hope Robbins

Plus a number of websites:

http://www.rhymes.org.uk/a58-matthew-mark-luke-and-john.htm

http://illusionata.com/mpt/view.php?id=192&type=articles

http://historical.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/witch/docviewer?did=002

 

First published on the 04 March 2007, 18:22:06 © George Knowles

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Traditional Writings:

 

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Correspondence Tables:

 

IncenseCandlesColoursMagickal DaysStones and GemsElements and Elementals

 

Traditions:

 

Traditions Part 1  -  Alexandrian Wicca /  Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) /  Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) /  Blue Star Wicca /  British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) /  Celtic Wicca /  Ceremonial Magic /  Chaos Magic /  Church and School of Wicca /  Circle Sanctuary /  Covenant of the Goddess (COG) /  Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) /  Cyber Wicca /  Dianic Wicca /  Eclectic Wicca /  Feri Wicca /

 

Traditions Part 2 Gardnerian Wicca /  Georgian Tradition /  Henge of Keltria /  Hereditary Witchcraft /  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) /  Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) /  Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition /  Nordic Paganism /  Pagan Federation /  Pectic-Wita /  Seax-Wica /  Shamanism /  Solitary /  Strega /  Sylvan Tradition /  Vodoun or Voodoo /  Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /

 

Other things of interest:

 

Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology)Esbats & Full MoonsLinks to Personal Friends & ResourcesWicca/Witchcraft ResourcesWhat's a spell?Circle Casting and Sacred Space /  Pentagram - PentacleMarks of a WitchThe Witches PowerThe Witches HatAn esoteric guide to visiting LondonSatanismPow-wowThe Unitarian Universalist Association /  Numerology:  Part 1  /  Part 2 Part 3A history of the Malleus Maleficarum:  includes:  Pope Innocent VIII  /  The papal Bull  /   The Malleus Maleficarum  /  An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum  /  The letter of approbation  /  Johann Nider’s Formicarius  /  Jacob Sprenger  /  Heinrich Kramer  /  Stefano Infessura  /  Montague Summers  /  The Waldenses  /  The Albigenses  /  The Hussites /  The Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection) /  The History of ThanksgivingI have a Dream, the 1963 speach by civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King /  Auras by Graham Furnell - Part 1 and Part 2 /

 

Sabbats and Rituals:

 

Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)

 

Rituals contributed by Crone:  Samhain / YuleImbolcOstara /  BeltaneLithaLammasMabon

 

Tools:

 

Tools of a Witch  /  The Besom (Broom) /  Poppets and DollsPendulums / Cauldron MagickMirror Gazing

 

Animals:

 

Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) /  AntelopeBatsCrowFoxFrog and ToadsGoat / HoneybeeKangarooLionOwlPhoenixRabbits and HaresRavenRobin RedbreastSheep SpiderSquirrelSwansWild Boar /  Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat

 

Trees:

 

In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar.  For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following:  Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow /  Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  ElderAlso see:  The Willow Tree (Folk Music)

 

Sacred Sites:

 

Mystical Sacred Sites  -  Stonehenge /  Glastonbury Tor /  Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni /  Avebury /  Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant /  Ireland - Newgrange /

 

Rocks and Stones:

 

Stones - History, Myths and Lore

 

 Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:   / Apophyllite  / Amber AmethystAquamarineAragoniteAventurineBlack TourmalineBloodstoneCalciteCarnelianCelestiteCitrineChrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / FluoriteGarnet /  Hematite Herkimer DiamondLabradoriteLapis LazuliMalachiteMoonstoneObsidianOpalPyriteQuartz (Rock Crystal)Rose QuartzRubySeleniteSeraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodaliteSunstoneThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble

 

Wisdom:

 

Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakeningThe Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods

 

Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:

 

Murder by WitchcraftThe Fairy Witch of ClonmelA Battleship, U-boat, and a WitchThe Troll-Tear (A story for Children)Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-LanternThe Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark

 

Old Masters of Academia:

 

Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagoras

 

Biographies

 

Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)

 

Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)

 

Abramelin the MageAgrippaAidan A. KellyAlbertus Magnus “Albert the Great”Aleister Crowley “The Great Beast” Alex Sanders "the King of the Witches” Alison HarlowAmber KAnna Franklin /  Anodea JudithAnton Szandor LaVey  / Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite Austin Osman SpareBiddy EarlyBridget ClearyCarl Llewellyn WeschckeCecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey LelandCharles Walton /  Christina Oakley Harrington /  Damh the Bard (Dave Smith) /   Dion FortuneDolores Aschroft-NowickiDorothy MorrisonDoreen ValienteEdward FitchEleanor Ray Bone “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” /  Dr. John Dee and Edward KellyDr. Leo Louis Martello /  Eliphas LeviErnest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake and the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry /  Fiona Horne /  Friedrich von SpeeFrancis Barrett /  Gerald B. GardnerGavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gwydion PendderwenHans Holzer /  Helen DuncanHerman Slater "Horrible Herman" /  Israel RegardieJames "Cunning" MurrellJanet Farrar & Gavin BoneJessie Wicker Bell “Lady Sheba” / John Belham-Payne John George Hohman /  John GerardJohn Gordon Hargrave (the White Fox) /  John Michael Greer /  John ScoreJohannes Junius the Burgomaster of Bamberg /  Joseph John Campbell /  Karl von EckartshausenLaurie Cabot "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis Spence /  Margaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMarie Laveau the " Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMatthew Hopkins “The Witch-Finder General”Max Ehrmann and the Desiderata /  Monique Wilson the “Queen of the WitchesMontague SummersNicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellersMrs. Grieve "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-RavenheartOld Dorothy ClutterbuckOld George Pickingill /   Paddy SladePamela Colman-SmithParacelsusPatricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPhilip Emmons Isaac Bonewits Philip HeseltonRaymond BucklandReginald ScotRobert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and "The White Goddess" /  Rudolf Steiner /  Rosaleen Norton “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Ross Nichols and The Order of Bards, Ovates & DruidsSabrina - The Ink WitchScott CunninghamSelena FoxSilver Ravenwolf /  Sir Francis DashwoodSir James George FrazerS.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  StarhawkStewart FarrarSybil LeekTed AndrewsThe Mather Family - includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather /  Thomas AdyVera Chapman /  Victor Henry AndersonVivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna Budapest

 

 

Many of the above biographies are brief and far from complete.  If you know about any of these individuals and can help with aditional information, please cantact me privately at my email address below.  Many thanks for reading  :-)

 

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