A witch is defined as a person who practices witchcraft. The stereotypical witches are commonly portrayed as wicked old women who have wrinkled skin, pimples, and pointy hats. They wear clothes that are black or purple. They also have warts on their noses and sometimes long claw-like fingernails.
But first of all, what witchcraft means? Is witchcraft evil?
Witchcraft is not evil. It is a religion and way of life. It is the craft with only the utmost respect for Mother Nature. They may possess supernatural abilities and can perform rituals that are out of the ordinary but they are not what the society pictures them to be. They don’t do evil things. They just venerate Mother Nature like pagans gone in the old times. They also have normal appearance, not as they are pictured in the movies.
Now that we defined both terms, I would like to go back in history to see why they are consider evil (for no reason)
In the Bible, the punishment for witchcraft is death (Exodus 22:18, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” meaning “you should not let a witch live”). “Witch” in the Bible means summoner of spirits, so it might really mean warlock.
In Europe in the early modern period,of witches (witch hunts and witchcraft trials) took place. Many Christians were scared of witches and witchcraft at that time. As a result, tens or hundreds of thousands of people were tried for witchcraft, and executed.. just for having a black cat for example or because neighbours suspected that something mysterious is happening. Most of them were women, though in some places the majority were men. Most were hanged. Some were burned at the stake (tied to a long pole and burned alive). Especially in the early modern period, this punishment was often applied.
The Salem trials were among these trials. Gilles Corey was one of the people accused of witchcraft. Because he knew that he had done no wrong, Corey simply refused to speak. He was pressed to death.
Among those punished were people who did not live peacefully with their rulers, like Joan of Arc. Queen Anne Boleyn was accused of being a witch and was said to have had a large mole on her neck and a sixth finger, though this was likely invented by her enemies.
There were some men (for example, Johann Weyer, Friedrich Spee and Anton Praetorius) who protested against torture and against the chase of witches.
The mark of devil
People believed that witches had a pact with the devil. The diabolical mark (or mark of the devil) was a token left on the skin of the witch.
Most of the time, this was believed to be a mole or birthmark. It was said that since this was a sign of the devil, touching (or picking) it would not hurt the person. People also thought that this mark could not bleed.
This soon developed into a safe test for witchcraft. Most often, special techniques were used by those doing the test, so that the pricked spot would not bleed, or hurt. This was done using a needle like object called a bodkin. When touching the skin, the needle would go into its shaft. In that way it could not be felt, and did of course not bleed. Many innocent people were wrongfully convicted because of this test.
As you see, the world was not fair and people were accused and executed for no reason. Fortunately, Middle Ages ended after long years of useless torture, injustice and lots of murders.
Myths about witches
During the early Modern Age, people developed a whole set of teachings and beliefs about witches. These beliefs were centered around the following:
- Witches were able to fly around on broomsticks… The believe that they can fly on broomsticks came actually from a drug that they put on sticks and masturbate with it to have different visions. Interesting, isn’t it?
- Witches meet with other witches, and with the devil on occasions called witches’ sabbath.
- Witches have a pact with the devil
- Witches can use spells and black magic, also known as ‘Juju’ in some parts of Africa to do bad things to others
In the 20th century, a new attempt has been made at understanding witchcraft. Many people say that witches were in fact wise women who were hunted down by the church (mostly for their knowledge of herbs to treat certain diseases). This has led to a new movement. Some of it is known as wicca or shamanism.
Thant is all for the moment because Wicca it’s a very complex subject and it deserves and article dedicated exclusively to it.
Until then, hope you enjoy it it. If you like it, press the share button!