Historical Perspectives on Witchcraft
|Ancient Times||Various||Connection to nature, herbal knowledge|
|Middle Ages||Europe||Alleged pacts with the Devil, witch trials|
|Renaissance||Europe||Intellectual pursuits, alleged magical practices|
|Colonial Era||North America||Accusations of witchcraft, Salem witch trials|
|Modern Times||Global||Widespread acceptance of witchcraft as a religion|
Witch in the Modern World
In the modern first world, the word witch describes anyone who practices this sort of magick, whether for helpful or harmful purposes.
In fact, there is some dispute among the general community of witches as to whether anyone who practices harmful magick has the right to call him or herself a witch at all. However, historically and in many third world communities, the term “witch” specifically implies someone who practices harmful magic whether or not they also practice helpful magic.
|Tradition||Key Beliefs||Practices||Notable Figures|
|Wicca||Nature reverence, honoring the divine||Rituals, spellwork, use of symbols||Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente|
|Traditional Witch||Ancestral connection, folk magic||Herbalism, divination, ritual ceremonies||Rae Beth, Nigel Jackson|
|Eclectic Witch||Personalized approach, individual beliefs||Eclectic practices, incorporation of other paths||Silver RavenWolf, Scott Cunningham|
Someone who practices helpful magic, usually in the form of undoing a curse or a hex brought about by a witch, would be known by a different term. Cunning wo/man, Juju wo/man, witch doctor, or Hexenmeister are some examples.
The word witch is possibly descended from the proto-Germanic *wikjô “waker of the dead”, in turn descended from the proto-Indo-European *weik- “to choose, sacrifice”.
Followers of the religion Wicca also refer to themselves as Witches. The term Wicca derived from the old English wiċċe (female) or wicca (male) which referred to a sort of cunning man or cunning woman who was skilled at undoing the effects of harmful magick, the words wicca and witch are etymologically connected but not synonymous.
Modern Witchcraft Stereotypes
|Evil and malevolent||Witches do not engage in harmful or malevolent practices, but focus on healing, personal growth, and positive intentions.|
|Devil worshipers||Witchcraft is not associated with devil worship or Satanic practices. It is a diverse spiritual path that varies from individual to individual.|
|Pointy hats and brooms||These are stereotypical images associated with witches in popular culture, but they do not reflect the reality of modern witchcraft practices.|
|Old, haggard women||Witches can be of any age, gender, or appearance. Witchcraft is not limited to a specific demographic.|