Every year at Samhaintide, I research and find a name and a story of a woman who was killed during the Burning Times. So many people, mostly women, have been tortured and killed, accused of witchcraft. So often, these have been women who stood up for themselves, had some small amount of power, or were just a little different in some way.
It feels like long ago, but the Burning Times are still with us. Women are still tortured and killed for alleged witchcraft. The legacy of the Burning Times is still with all women everywhere, in our blood, in our bones, and in our culture.
It’s important we remember. It’s important we remember that there are names- actual people, lives, stories- behind the numbers.
Rebecca Lemp died in 1590. There is no record of her birth. She was one of 32 women convicted of witchcraft following a witch hunt in Nördlingen, Germany.
Lemp had six children and was married to Peter Lemp, a well-regarded accountant. In April 1590, while he was away on business, she was arrested. Her children wrote to her while she was imprisoned. She wrote to her husband of her innocence, convinced that she would be freed.
Lemp was tortured on five occasions and confessed. She wrote again to him, requesting he send her something with which she could end her life.
After her letter was intercepted, the court additionally charged her with attempted suicide. The court coerced Lemp into writing another letter to Peter confessing that she was a witch.
Rebecca Lemp was tortured once more before being burned at the stake on 9 September 1590.
We remember you, Rebecca.
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