Nancy Caciola: She’s Got the Devil by the Archives

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

Source: San Diego News, 5-20-11

Nancy Caciola

Photo by Sam Hodgson

University of California, San Diego history professor Nancy Caciola is a leading specialist in the study of spiritual possession.

University of California, San Diego history professor Nancy Caciola spends her days studying the fine line between godly saints and demonic sinners. She’s interested in how the people of the Middle Ages figured out which was which — or witch.

Caciola, a leading specialist in the study of possession, is intrigued by those who obsessed over their strange-acting neighbors. Were they in the throes of religious ecstasy? Willing followers of Satan? Or maybe the devil had taken their innocent souls hostage. If that was the case — oh dear — then what?

In an interview this week, Caciola talked about witchcraft, women and one heck of a suffering saint.

You teach a class about witchcraft and the church’s battle to kill off witches. What do you talk about?

There’s a huge amount of disagreement. There are those who say there was a frame-up, a fantasy that scapegoated women and has no relation to what women might have been doing. Others say a pagan cult survived underground and was demonized by the Catholic church. And then there are those who say there really were demon-worshipping women who literally went to the crossroads and tried to call up the devil….READ MORE

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