Is modern science superior to witchcraft

Law and Magic: Witch Sorrows? Please take it seriously


At least since the last witch in Europe had to die after a legal trial in 1782, the subject of magic only triggers a frown from a legal point of view. A new study shows that the witches of the world do not deserve this, shows Martin Rath.

The Council of the City of Cologne did it unanimously on June 28, 2012, which never seems to be a good sign for proper parliamentary work. Other councils preceded him and others followed. The Cologne town hall politicians declared that they no longer felt it to be so good that around 400 years earlier a legal institution, which more or less coincidentally was also called the Cologne Council, handed the witches of the holy city on the Rhine over to the sword and stake of the executioner would have.

This so-called rehabilitation or declaration of honor in favor of people who were once accused of magically caused violations of legal interests has had some boom in Germany in recent years.

The Protestant pastor Hartmut Hegeler (1946–) often took the initiative. In many places he campaigned for the local parliaments to deal with the historical witch trials - sometimes in connection with all kinds of religious guilty confessions - "critically", as it is called nowadays.

Witches, wizards and legal superheroes

How embarrassing these symbolic political acts of recent German and European attempts at rehabilitation in favor of witches and witches are viewed in the light remains to be seen in a moment.

In order to get closer to the relevance of magic for legal life, we first use a classic columnist exercise, let's call it: the parallel assessment in the freshman sphere.

It can be a little frightening what happens semester after semester in the law faculties: A lecturer tries to explain the relevance of the teachings of causality in the criminal law "general part", possibly to a few hundred participants in the lecture hall. Meanwhile, in the rows of seats, the visit to the latest "Marvel" superhero film or the effects of the new season "The Walking Dead" on the cleaning plan in the student shared apartment are being negotiated - the latter is really a topic full of causality and undead problems.

How thin our civilization is at this point - the lecture hall - unfortunately remains mostly untangled. It is taken for granted by everyone that supernatural forces have their place in comic cinema, while legal practice has to start from clear scientific models of causality.

The fights that the superheroes of the legal trade, Christian Thomasius (1655–1728) or Friedrich Spee, known as von Langenfeld (1591-1635) had to endure, are left out or dusty as a Festschrift topic.

This renunciation of borrowed heroism is also quite honorable. And with a bit of luck, anyone who later reads about the thin varnish of civilization will learn about the positive law of the present, which honorable professors intended to redefine the word "man" in § 1 BGB in the years after 1933.

Witchcraft is not a thing of the past

That sniffing up or forgetting magic are more than missed opportunities to grapple with the historical foundations of the legal subject and that the efforts to symbolically "rehabilitate" the European wizards and witches around 400 years after their formal conviction are more than a frown Earning the current fashion of the elimination of legal force, draws attention to this in a book from the fine African publishing house Rüdiger Köppe.

Under the somewhat baroque title "Witch hunt and enlightenment in Ghana. From the media stagings of the occult to the reality of the ghettos for witch hunt refugees", the anthropological dissertation presented in Mainz in 2014 by Felix Riedel, a specialist in modern witch hunts, violent anthropology and Religious conflicts.

During his research stays in Ghana, West Africa, Riedel had the opportunity to speak to countless men and women who are accused of having harmed the people around them through witchcraft - and who do not always survive this well in a society without reasonable state authority .