Endor, Witch of

Endor, Witch of

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The Christian Bible (1 Samuel 28) makes reference to "the woman of Endor." She is described as "a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor." Endor is a small hamlet on the northern slope of a hill, four miles south of Mount Tabor. Saul, despite the fact that he has tried to purge the land of her sort, goes to consult her on the eve of the battle of Bilboa because he is afraid of the massed armies of the Philistines. She immediately recognizes him, despite his disguise, but Saul assures her he will cause her no harm. The woman of Endor—who is actually no more than a spiritualist medium—then describes what she sees clairvoyantly. She is able to connect Saul with the spirit of Samuel.

In the King James translation of the Bible, the chapter begins: "Saul, having destroyed all the witches, and now in his fear forsaken of God, seeketh to a witch." Yet nowhere in the later passages is the word witch used. The woman is simply described as having a "familiar spirit," and there is no description of the woman, her age, or her house. Nonetheless, later writers refer to her as a witch and depict her as an old hag living in a hovel. Indeed, Montague Summers, a supposed authority on witchcraft, says, "In a paroxysm of rage and fear the haggard crone turned to him (Saul) and shrieked out: `Why hast thou deceived me?'"

Reginald Scott, as early as 1584, doubted the existence of witches and suggested that Saul actually saw nothing but "an illusion or cozenage."

(See also Bible)

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