Melbourne is enjoying an Indian Summer, or at least a few days of one. I’ve just walked the dog along the beach, clear sky, no wind, calm sea and a top of about 25 degrees. Beautiful.
Or very alarming depending on your point of view, although it’s often said that if you don’t like Melbourne’s weather just hang around for a while.
Whilst not exclusively the province of old women, the weather does seem to hold a special interest for them, you often hear them discussing it. That is very interesting because old women are often witches. The Malleus Maleficarum(Latin for “Hammer of the Witches“) is a treatise on the prosecution of witches, written in 1486 and published the following year. It admits that men can also be witches but malificarum is the feminine form of the noun.
Outside certain backward parts of the world, witches are rarely prosecuted these days but it was big business in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The trials spread throughout Europe and Scandinavia and were conducted by Catholics and Protestants, in both ecclesiastical and secular courts. The victims were disproportionately women, especially the poor and the widowed.
That period coincides with the Little Ice Age. Clearly no coincidence because as the Malleus tells us in a chapter titled “How they Raise and Stir up Hailstorms and Tempests, and Cause Lightning to Blast both Men and Beasts” witches can control the weather. The chapter concludes with “Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that, just as easily as they raise hailstorms, so can they cause lightning and storms at sea; and so no doubt at all remains on these points.” Even then, the science was settled.
The end of the Little Ice Age can best be explained by a modern theory. The burning of all those witches released a great deal of carbon dioxide.