Lecture illustrates the repression of powerful women in witchcraft


The audience of the lecture History of Witchcraft: Nasty Women look at a page of the Malleus Maleficarum, or Hammer of the Witches. The book, written in the 15th century, illustrated the defining facets of a witch, such as their eyebrow shape. Emily Abshire and Emily Abshire Buy Photos

The alternative title to Tuesday night’s lecture would have been “How Women of Power Cannot be Tolerated,” Daun Evema said.

The lecture, actually titled “History of Witchcraft: Nasty Women,” highlighted defining women in witchcraft who were persecuted because of their threat to the power of the patriarchy.

“It’s because of you I have a hard-on, and you’re disgusting,” said Evema, lecturer and owner of Sunrise Hive tarot reading center, as she put herself in the perspective of man talking about a powerful woman. “Women had the power to make you feel things you didn’t want to feel.”

These women were dubbed “nasty women” for the lecture. The term became popularized when President Trump called Hillary Clinton a nasty woman at the final presidential debate.

“We haven’t come as far as we think we have,” Evema said. “I think we might be looping around.”

Men were scared of women’s primal power and blamed them for evoking sexual feelings considered “wrong” during their time, she said.

“Imagine being responsible for how everyone feels around you,” Evema said. “If enough people are saying, ‘You’re the one making me do this,’ then we begin to 
believe it.”

Evema offered a disclaimer before beginning the lecture. Not all women from history or even the history of witchcraft could be included. The women she discussed were handpicked because of their influence during their time or because of what was happening around them.

Evema began by talking about the ”Malleus Maleficarum,” or the “Hammer of the Witches.” The 15th-century book declared sorcery as heresy and therefore punishable by death. The book includes illustrations of what a potential witch could look like and includes diagrams of eyebrow shapes that would suggest a woman was a witch.

“It reminds me of someone who is completely off their rocker,” Evema said.

She refused to refer to the authors by their names because they didn’t deserve it, she said.

After the book was published, nearly 100,000 women were executed on allegations of being a witch, Evema said.

The first woman she highlighted was Mother Shipton. She was a disgusting woman to the locals because of her missing hand, hunchback and misshapen face, but she is considered a highlight in witchcraft history because of her predictions of historical events. She possibly even predicted the internet, although she lived in 15th- and 16th-century England, Evema said.

In stark comparison, Evema talked next about the beautiful and sensual Queen of England Anne Boleyn.

“She just bewitched everyone she met,” Evema said.

Other women included midwives, healers, Voodoo queens and members of Native American tribes. She also talked about the “mother of modern witchcraft,” Doreen Valiente, someone Evema called a personal hero. She rounded out the list with popular musicians Stevie Nicks and Tori Amos.

At the end of the lecture, Evema invited audience members to write a postcard to state senators about an issue of importance to them. The activity was part of the Women’s March on Washington’s 10 actions in 100 days effort.

IU neuroscience lab technician Stevie Morris wrote her postcard about reproductive health. She said she was concerned about her reproductive health being sexualized and demonized by the patriarchy.

“You think I’m a nasty woman, and I am,” she said. “It’s about taking that shame and turning it into pride.”

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