The witches of Shakespeare’s play Macbeth have been understood to be such a potent force that the play itself has been thought to be cursed since its earliest performances. Actors have refused to appear in it, people have died under tragic circumstances, and the very name of the play itself is considered unspeakable in most theaters. Who or what were, or are, these witches and what type of force did Shakespeare tap into in his play?Answering this question will involve diving into the actual witch trials during which a conspiracy to kill King James I and his wife with magic was supposedly uncovered, a study of King James’ Daemonologie which was written in response to his experience presiding over those same witch trails as well as the anti-witchcraft laws he crafted (laws which governed the witch trials in Salem itself), as well as other historical and literary sources. Not only will we look at the actual and supposed witches James encountered and from which Shakespeare drew, but also look at Shakespeare’s wider sources such as Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland from which the story of Macbeth meeting three “weird sisters” largely derives.In a larger sense, thinking about the nature of Shakespeare’s witches will require thinking about Shakespeare’s use of the goddess Hecate, the connection between Shakespeare’s central mythological framework and the myth of Venus and Adonis, and the conflict between Protestantism and Catholicism - with their distinct views of female power. Ultimately, there is a real occult power in this play and this class will attempt to lay the groundwork for practitioners to access that power for themselves.This is a 90-120 minute, foundational level lecture.About the Presenter:Kadmus is a practicing ceremonial magician, pagan, and professor of philosophy at the college level. He recently published the book "True to the Earth: Pagan Political Theology" through Gods and Radicals Press. This will be his fourth-year teaching classes for the Salem Witchcraft and Folklore Festival. Most recently Kadmus taught two classes on Teiresias and Medea for The Cauldron Black Mighty Dead series, gave a keynote address entitled “Towards a High Pagan Astrology” at the AstroMagia conference on astrological magic, and has a paper in the upcoming fifth edition of the Conjure Codex entitled "Every Nekuomanteia is a Katabasis: Ancient Insights for Contemporary Goetic Practice".
Porter of Hellgate: The Historical Reality of the Witches of Macbeth