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The witch trials in Early Modern Europe came in waves and then subsided. There were trials in the 15th and early 16th centuries, but then the witch scare went into decline, before becoming a major issue again and peaking in the 17th century. What had previously been a belief that some people possessed supernatural abilities (which were sometimes used to protect the people) now became a sign of a pact between the people with supernatural abilities and the devil. To justify the killings, Protestant Christianity and its proxy secular institutions deemed witchcraft as being associated to wild Satanic ritual parties in which there was much naked dancing and cannibalistic infanticide .  It was also seen as heresy for going against the first of the ten commandments (You shall have no other gods before me) or as violating majesty , in this case referring to the divine majesty, not the worldly.  Further, scripture specifically decreed that "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" (Exodus 22:18), which many believed.