In this article, we will see how early Christians saw witchcraft as a threat, how they dealt with it, and what they wrote about it. Mainly, we will see their views on ancient Hellenic/Greek religion and other ancient religions like the Egyptian, Persian, and Roman religions and how they created hate against all old religions to promote their own.
The teachings of early Fathers of Christianity will be our guide. This article explains another thing, the mass hysteria or witch-craze that started in the Middle Ages and its roots, and sadly, this propaganda is relevant today when witches and magicians have to deal with ignorant fanatics, from theologians to simple folk people. The main reason I am writing this article is that there are Christians in our century, writers and priests, men who influence the mass, that keep the line of Medieval propaganda alive. If you don't know what happened and why it happened in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Englightenment period, please read my articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) or relative books on that subject.
When a new religion appears, it is expected to create collisions, but Christianity messed up things a lot, as its believers insisted on hating all other religions. So, when they had a chance, with king Constantinos and king Theodosios of Byzantium they started a wild hunt against all ancient religions, spreading propaganda and lies to inflict fear and terror, hate, and seek vengeance. It was not just s fight between old religions and the new one, it was also a social issue of payback, with the hunts against Christians by the Romans. It should be expected. One other cause of accusing magic as something non-religious is . the Jewish tradition Jews hated magic and they accepted the prophets. The students of Christ, who were mostly influenced by the Jewish tradition, they hated magic too. So, the fathers of the church had to hate magic too. Christian teachers saw all religions as demonolatries, worshipping the demons and satan from the new religion, although those followers didn't really believe in the existence of Christian demons and Christian devil. They also taught that magic and witchcraft are devil-worshipping, they are acts of sinners. They structured their propaganda to those lies and they managed to persuade a lot of people. Either the Christian Fathers were carried away by deception and their own demons or they created myths to have more followers. It is up to the reader to decide. The sure thing is that from their writings we understand that they knew little things about ancient Hellenic magic and religion, they could not understand Hellenic theology and even they couldn't understand the philosophy of religion and the unseen world. Also, they seem to have no idea on the branches of witchcraft and magic as they also consider tricks to be witchcraft or astrology to be a worshipping of demons or catoprtomancy (scrying through a reflective surface) to be a trick, etc. In particular, sacred Augustinus in his De Civitate Dei, thinks that goetia and theurgy are the same. So, they haven't a stable base of the things they hate and accuse, and if their data are false, their conclusion will be false. That's how logic works. If you are a witch and you are reading this, you will understand why I write it when you will read their propaganda, in the next paragraphs.
Apostle Paul persuaded people who used witchcraft to stop it and burn their books. Burning books! The main argument was that ancient Gods did not exist, because the Old Testament God is the only God, so everything had to be considered fake, even if it worked, it worked because the devil was creating it. This was a weird twist of the reality of centuries. Magick and devil-worshipping became one to their minds, as well as ancient religions and devil-worshipping. They didn't care if the characteristics of ancient Gods had no similarities with evil or the devil or lucifer or satan. That's why they had to insist on that propaganda. Since the new religion was "the truth", all believers of older faiths were enemies and they should change their faith or die. To press them more, they taught that their soul will be lost and burn in hell. After-life fear is one of the most terrifying things anyone can think about. After the 4th century, old temples had to be ruined and old books had to be burnt because they were houses and teachings of the Christian devil. It was a crazy world, in Byzantium, but not crazier than the witch-craze in western Europe.
But there is a weird thing with the battle between Christianity and magic. In the Old Testament and the New Testament, there are valid witches who help people. Even the necromancer of Endor performed a successful communication and helped Saul. The Fathers wrote that Samuel appeared but it was actually the devil himself. How could they know that? And since the Christian propaganda taught that demons don't know the future, then how it was successful? Not to mention that this art was practiced in many nations, places, and even at that time in Rome, besides the Roman laws, which forbade witchcraft. Romans were afraid of witchcraft and magic, although they had devoted magicians, oracles, astrologers, necromancers at their service. They should think that if necromancy was valid, then it explains that the soul is immortal, a teaching that we see in ancient Hellenic religion and Christianity, but they didn't want to validate magic.
Another weird thing is manipulating the weather. Christians and pagans organized events to cause rain or stop catastrophic weather conditions. Christians prayed to a saint and pagans to their gods, performing rituals. The Christian Fathers didn't see their methods of manipulating weather as idolatry and they denied the fact that the angry God can cause bad weather. But, in reality, we see that from that time to the latest centuries of witch trials, people were accused of witchcraft for the bad weather, or cities were accused of having sinners among them, who caused the wrath of God, thus the bad weather. This is not logical thinking and we can easily see that Christian propaganda against witchcraft was a series of lies. St. Cyprian supported that the sin of people causes bad weather (Ad Demetrianum) and the same thing we read in Clemes of Rome (Recognitiones).
Emperor Constantinus recognized Christianity and allowed good magic to be performed. After Theodosius we have ruined temples, we don't have Olympic games, we have a wild witch hunt and the established belief that magic, witchcraft, and all religions besides Christianity are devil-worship. We don't have divination and oracles. Any kind of magician had to face the danger of being killed. Even mathematics was considered a magical science. Books should be burnt and a dark age had begun. Thankfully, it didn't last long in Byzantium, and if we compare it with the situation of western Europe, the eastern side was a paradise. Let's see what the earlier Fathers and Apologetics of Christianity wrote. I am not commenting on their teachings, you can do it yourself.
A Father from Carchedona, of the 2nd century. He studied rhetoric and he liked to read. He wrote that demons can cause illnesses and even have an effect on the soul (psychological issues) (Apologeticus), they can disturb the spirit and the mind (Apologeticus). They can't do anything good (Apologeticus). The gods of Hellenes are demons (Apologeticus, De Spectaculis) and their religion, which he characterizes as idolatry is unethical and anything done in her name is polluted (De Spectaculis). Demons invented things women use to make themselves look pretty (De Cultu Feminarum). He even writes that people who make statues serve demons (De Idololatria).
A Hellene who studied ancient philosophy and had a conflict with the bishop in Rome. He wrote a book Against All Sects/Heresies. We read some tricks that were used by magicians and he believes that this is magic. In his explanation in catoptromancy, we see that he had no idea about this technique. He considers Gnostics as followers of satan.
An African who wrote apologetic books. He writes that Socrates advised a demon, the same kind of demons that witches work with (Octavius). He writes that witches work with demons and demons help witches (Octavius). They participate in divination by moving the birds or making the statues speak or selecting the tools for divination (Octavius). Only the Christian God can take away demons and they are afraid of him (Octavius).
Moving to the 3rd century, he became a Christian in his fifties. He writes that there are not good and bad demons, they are all bad. Witches work with demons and they created the arts of magic (De Divinis Institutionibus). At the same work, he says that magic has the purpose to make people crazy. He starts the theory that fallen angels made sex with women and their children are the earth demons (daemones terreni). The father of the fallen angels is the devil, but they didn't fall with him. Those demons came from God who forbade them to have sex, but only to protect humans. These demons created ancient religions and they appeared as beautiful, but they are ugly.
Another African Father of the 3rd century wrote a poem "Cultura Daemonum". We read that angels fall to the earth, had sex with women and they gave birth to giants. The giants taught humans the arts and the dying of hair. When they died, humans worshipped them as gods, those are the gods of the old religions.
A Roman of the 3rd century who tried to become a bishop. He wrote De Spectaculis in which we read that the Hellenic theatre was created by demons, as well as other shows like dramatical competitions, horse competitions, etc. The fallen angels want to urge the senses of humans and their minds, that's why arts and enjoyment should be avoided.
He wrote that customs of the old religion are customs of the devil and that old gods are afraid of the Christian God (De Errore Profanarum Religione).
Born at the end of 4th centrury, he studies rhetorics and fought the heresy of Areianism. He was a bishop with great charity work. He writes that demons cannot predict the future (Expositio Evangelii Secundum Lucam) and that in the temples of the old religion demons find inhabitant (De Incarnationis Dominicae Sacramento).
He is the main Platonic philosopher and rhetor of Christianity, who established the teachings against witchcraft and magic. He had experienced the effects of magic himself. He wrote that spells and magic arts are done with the help of demons (De Civitate Dei). All divinatory arts are done by demons (De Divinatione Daemonum). The leader of those demons is the devil and they (humans) cannot return to God.
He considers astrology as servants of devils and people who go to them are slaves (De Doctrina Christiana) of the planetary gods. If you go to a witch you are making a pact with the demons (De Doctrina Christiana). What astrologers say lying prophecies (Confessiones). In the same book, he explains why astrology is fake. He says that two women gave birth on the same day. The slave boy had a bad life and the aristocrat became rich. I cannot resist commenting that he has no idea of how astrology works. He also rejects oracles as they are also fake and he brings the example of the destroyed Serapeion, in which priests could not predict their fall. (De Divinatione Daemonum). But then, how do predictions come true? He answers that demons live forever and thus they have experience and knowledge to predict the future and even perform miracles (De Divinatione Daemonum).
Augustinus believes in the transformation of humans into animals. Specifically, Arcades cross a lake and become wolves for nine years (De Civitate Dei). If they eat a human, then they stay wolves forever. He also believes that witches can transform someone into an animal (De Civitate Dei). In the same book, he writes that the old gods are demons and that demons live in the air, but they are less important than humans. He states that there are not good demons (De Civitate Dei), rejecting the Hellenic theology, especially Platon's, who he had studied.
Hellene rhetor of the 4th century, and one of the main Fathers of Christianity, and bishop of Constantinople. He wrote a book on magic and the devil. We read on that the devil is the creator of polytheism and the creator of "become a god" dogma, something that we read also in Genesis. He denies that witches can heal any type of disease (medicine was heavily based on witchcraft) and that someone should die instead of going to them for healing purposes. He also writes that if the oracle is right and it happens, then you should not be amazed. He equates magicians with satanists. He also states that people who go to magicians and witches, simply deny God.
The links below show that Christian writers could not understand ancient religions, specifically, the Hellenic
The links below show how this propaganda continued and killed innocent people. In eastern Europe, the byzantine empire/Hellenic medieval emperor, there was not a witch-craze, mass hysteria, or witch hunt. Witchcraft and magic were practiced in Byzantium, but secretly, even within Christianity. Astrology was valid science. Look at this article on Byzantine Astrology. Byzantine emperors had their own magicians too. Witches and magicians didn't openly practice the artes magicae, but in their houses. Magical works were produced and you knew where to find them. You can watch a youtube video on the subject (at least in the beginning, the rest is about the PGM).