bITS 'N CHUNKS
I read Malleus Maleficarum in junior high. I was obsessed with its lurid sexual details, feeding into my perverse desire for historical scandals and understanding European witchcraft trials. I read a lot of Kenneth Anger, too.
It also happened to line up with my school reading curriculum which also included The Crucible and Tituba of Salem Village and some other YA and historical pieces I don't really remember. I saw tantalizing excerpts referenced everywhere and I wasn't getting the information I craved so I just read the source.
In those days before the popularity of Google searching and ease of access, I would go get a book from a library. If it was a historical text, I tried to find one with lots of scholarly notation and contextual notes. Then I checked the year. So I got the biggest, thickest, most recent tome I could find and varied up my reading with checking out the notes.
Well, it was certainly lurid and frighteningly thorough. My fascination with the material turned to curiosity about witch trials themselves when it became obvious to me that a lot of these men in power had some wild imaginations and severe issues with women. Learning about patriarchy later on helped put this in context as I hadn't been quite exposed to feminist thought yet. But just from reading it became clear that in the age of enlightenment this ran deeper than just superstitious rural folk. I was able to learn about charlatans like Matthew Hopkins as well.
So, as it turned out Heinrich Kramer and quite possibly Jacob Sprenger were eyeball deep in misogyny and possibly out of their damn minds, but Malleus Maleficarum is still a good read for historical context and will probably set the stage to understand modern Wicca and paganism within feminist movements. If you don't care about that kind of thing, it's a good peek inside the very real, very lethal madness of the witch hunts in Europe and America. The content explains how to identify a witch, how to prosecute a witch, then tries to get fake deep and hashtag woke about why you should set about finding innocent women and killing them.
As for the sexual details my depraved mind was after, it was certainly no Mare or The Monk but it was about right for the level of scandal in that time. And hey, it caused moral panic for about two hundred years so there's that.
Not everyone back in The Day bought into this witch nonsense and quite a few people thought it was rigoddamneddiculous even then. Unfortunately, controversy has always sold in large amounts so no matter how much skeptical literature Malleus was lined with, there were (and probably still are, be honest) just enough people willing to be led along enough to go headlong flying off a damn slope.
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...