Filatova N. V. Protestant Culture and Witch-hunt in Scotland: around the image of Evil (.pdf)


The beginning of the Scottish Reformation was connected with a new stage in understanding the essence of human and his moral nature. The experience of the end of time and the extremity of human existence intensified the search for symbolic truths and the struggle for its interpretations. The outbreaks of witchcraft panic in Early Modern Scotland became the consequences of those crucial changes. The ideas about evil magic, witches and their patrons were based on the concept of evil, perceived as a violation of moral prohibitions, rebellion aimed at destruction of preset order, as well as affective behavior and refusal of self-control. In the second half of the 16th century, the Reformation in Scotland returned the devil to the area of actual religious experiences. The article analyzes the devil’s myth in three of its aspects: ethos, gnosis and praxis. The ethical aspect of the devil is evil following from the imperfect human nature and generating a misfortune, as well as personification of all the troubles and injustices of the world. The gnostic aspect of the devil is the source for new forms of knowledge, the mysteries of the universe, opposing God's will and tempting the human pride. Finally, the devil in practical terms is identified with individual vices and affects, as well as with tabooed social practices. The study of experiencing sin and covenanting with the devil is associated with a difficult methodological problem: how much is knowable such private thing as faith? The task of reconstructing deep layers of thinking may be solved by analyzing personal letters and diaries.


Key words: Early Modern Scotland, witch-hunt, witchcraft, representation of the Devil, Reformation in Scotland, “Daemonologie” by James VI.


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