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The Amber Witch Hoax

Just because a book is in print doesn't make it true. Even it it is described as the "most interesting trial for witchcraft ever known."

In the 1840s the Reverend Johann Meinhold supposedly discovered the manuscript of another minister, Abraham Schweidler. This was the story of Mary Schweidler: The Amber Witch.

Mary Schweidler was the daughter of the Reverend Schweidler. Schweidler was purported to me a 17th century pastor of Coserow, in the Island of Usedom, famous for his fire and brimstone sermons. Johann Meinhold was urged by his church leaders to publish The Amber Witch as an instructional tool.

The major problem with the book is that it is fiction. Nothing in the story is true. A reading of the introduction makes clear Meinhold's disdain for religiosity without spirituality. This included the hunting out of "witches" and those not considered in line with "right thought and act." Meinhold wanted to show his disdain for the ignorance of his contemporaries. It worked. Everyone bought the story as true.

The book was originally written and printed in German. It was translated into English by Lady Duff-Gordon and republished in 1861. It is often listed among historical writings on the occult. The Amber Witch continues as a prime example of a literary hoax.

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