"The word ‘Witch’ derives from the Anglo Saxon world ‘Wicca’ or ‘Wicce’ and refers to the wise ones. Hence ‘Witchcraft’ was known as "The Craft of the Wise", the craft being the use of magic and herbs and medicines to achieve psychic and spiritual satisfaction.
During the 16th century a witch was seen as ‘one that works with the devil’ and consequently witchcraft was described as ‘treason against god’, even though witchcraft predates Christianity and does not incorporate a belief in the Christian Devil.
During the reigns of Elizabeth I (1558-1603) and James I (1603-1625) there was an era or religious persecution and superstition, so much so that James I passed an Act which imposed the death penalty for anyone ‘making a covenant with an evil spirit, using a corpse for magic, hurting life or limb, procuring love, or injuring cattle by means of charms’.
These superstitions formed the basis of the trial of the so-called Pendle Witches, which began on 17th August 1612 at Lancaster Castle.
The trial initially revolved around 2 rival families each headed by elderly widows - Elizabeth Southern (‘Old Demdike’) of Malkin Tower and Anne Whittle (‘Old Chattox’) of Higham.
At the end of the three-day trial, a total of 10 people were found guily of witchcraft and sentenced to death. Nine were hanged on the moor above the town. Demdike died in prision before the trial began.”