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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Double, double, toil and trouble— Fire burn and caldron bubble. (William Shakespeare, MacBeth, Act IV, Scene 1)

Even before the witches of Shakespeare's MacBeth cackled their way onto the stage of popular imagery, caldrons have been understood to be symbols of "the witches brew."

The plain and simple fact, however, is that some herbs need preparation not requiring "eye of newt" or "wing of bat." A caldron was the kitchen implement of choice used by women who prepared natural materials gathered from field and forest. When early Christian theology, separated as it was from nature and fueled by religious bigotry, declared many of these women to be witches, the scene of three old hags gathered around a caldron in the moonlight became yet another caricature used to frighten superstitious churchgoers, sometimes with tragic results for the innocent.

The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers © 2004 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
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