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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:





The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology - by Rossell Hope Robbins


Plus a number of websites:



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



Best wishes and Blessed Be



Site Contents - Links to all Pages


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About me:

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Wicca & Witchcraft


Wicca/Witchcraft /  What is Wicca What is Magick


Traditional Writings:


The Wiccan Rede Charge of the Goddess Charge of the God  /  The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) /  The Witches Chant The Witches Creed Descent of the Goddess Drawing Down the Moon The Great Rite Invocation Invocation of the Horned GodThe 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief /  The Witches Rede of Chivalry A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality


Correspondence Tables:


IncenseCandlesColours Magickal Days Stones and Gems Elements and Elementals




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 Moons Links to Personal Friends & Resources Wicca/Witchcraft Resources What's a spell? Circle Casting and Sacred Space  Pentagram - Pentacle Marks of a Witch The Witches Power The Witches Hat An esoteric guide to visiting London SatanismPow-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 Native American Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection)  The History of ThanksgivingAuras  - Part 1 and Part 2 /


Sabbats and Festivals:


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


Rituals contributed by Crone:


Samhain / Yule Imbolc Ostara /  Beltane Litha Lammas Mabon




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




Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) /  AntelopeBatsCrow Fox Frog and Toads Goat / HoneybeeKangarooLion OwlPhoenix Rabbits and HaresRaven Robin RedbreastSheep Spider SquirrelSwansWild Boar Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat




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 /  Elder


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 Amethyst Aquamarine Aragonite Aventurine Black Tourmaline Bloodstone Calcite Carnelian Celestite Citrine Chrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / Fluorite Garnet /  Hematite Herkimer Diamond Labradorite Lapis Lazuli Malachite Moonstone Obsidian Opal Pyrite Quartz (Rock Crystal) Rose Quartz Ruby Selenite Seraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodalite Sunstone ThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble


Wisdom and Inspiration:


Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakening The Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods I have a Dream by Martin Luther King /


Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:


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


Old Masters of Academia:


Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagoras





Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)


Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)


Abramelin the Mage /  Agrippa Aidan A KellyAlbertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” /  Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” /  Alison Harlow /  Amber KAnna FranklinAnodea JudithAnton Szandor LaVey /  Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite /  Austin Osman Spare /  Biddy Early /  Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel /  Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke Cecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey Leland /   Charles WaltonChristina Oakley Harrington Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" /  Dion Fortune /  Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki Doreen ValienteDorothy MorrisonDr. John Dee & Edward Kelly /  Dr. Leo Louis Martello /  Edward FitchEleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” Eliphas Levi /  Ernest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake /  Fiona Horne Friedrich von Spee /  Francis Barrett /  Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft /  Gwydion Pendderwen Hans HolzerHelen Duncan /   Herman Slater - Horrible Herman /  Isaac Bonewits Israel RegardieJames "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches /  Janet Farrar and Gavin BoneJessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” /  Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" /  John Belham-Payne John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" /  John Gerard /  John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred /  John Michael Greer /  John ScoreJoseph John Campbell /  Karl von Eckartshausen /  Laurie Cabot  - "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis SpenceMargaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMarie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMatthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” /   Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" /  Monique WilsonMontague Summers /  Nicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellarsMrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning GloryOld Dorothy Clutterbuck /  Old George PickingillPaddy SladePamela Colman-SmithParacelsus /  Patricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPhilip HeseltonRaymond Buckland /  Reginald Scot /  Robert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" /  Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) /  Rudolf SteinerSabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" /  Scott CunninghamSelena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" /  Silver RavenwolfSir Francis Dashwood /  Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough"S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  Starhawk /  Stewart Farrar /  Sybil LeekTed Andrews The Mather Family - (includes:  Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) /   Thomas AdyT. Thorn CoyleVera ChapmanVictor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" /  Vivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna Budapest /  



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



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