This post spotlights on one of my most favorite mythological creatures (some may feel offended by my reference of a witch as a mythological creature, but hold on there is more to this post). Yes, I read the Harry Potter series and loved every word of them. Witches are often portrayed as humans with supernatural abilities. Their differences from humans are defined in terms of the magic they wield.
The first portion will just focus on the history and mythological portion of Witches and Witchcraft. I will touch briefly on Wicca, which came up in my research on witches, but should be explained separately.
What does the dictionary have to say?
1. A person, now especially a woman, who professes or is supposed to practice magic, especially black magic or the black art; sorcer(ess).
2. An ugly or mean old woman; hag.
3. A person who uses a divining rod; dowser.
Origins of Witches:
So where or when did Witches crop up? Hard to say really, but if we take what people considered witches ‘back in the day’ then some people say that witchcraft and witches cropped up in ancient cities. Many examples appear in ancient texts, such as those from Egypt and Babylonia.:
The creation story from Babylonia (Enuma Elish) has many examples of half-dragon and half-human creatures who gaurrded thier magical garden in the underworld.
None of the earlier accounts of witches or witchcraft is good and is almost always a pact between a female and the devil.
Historians see European witchcraft as an ideology for explaining misfortune; however, this ideology manifested in diverse ways. Reasons for accusations of witchcraft fall into four general categories:
1. A person caught in the act of positive or negative sorcery
2. A well-meaning sorcerer or healer lost their clients' or the authorities' trust
3. A person did nothing more than gain the enmity of their neighbors
4. A person was reputed to be a witch and surrounded with an aura of witch-beliefs
Éva Pócs in turn identifies three varieties of witch in popular belief:
•The "neighborhood witch" or "social witch": a witch who curses a neighbor following some conflict.
•The "magical" or "sorcerer" witch: either a professional healer, sorcerer, seer or midwife, or a person who has increased her fortune through magic to the perceived detriment of a neighboring household; due to neighborly or community rivalries and the ambiguity between positive and negative magic, such individuals can become labeled as witches.
•The "supernatural" or "night" witch: portrayed in court narratives as a demon appearing in visions and dreams
Death to Witches!
All that bad press back in the day paired with enough misfortune to make the most optimistic person a pessimist turned into mobs of people. People want explanations for why things are bad or why inexplicable things happen. They need someone to blame and boom – ‘withces’ are being burned. Not the only ones but probably one of the most popular if not the most popular were the Salem Witch Trials.
The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts, between February 1692 and May 1693. Despite being generally known as the Salem witch trials, the preliminary hearings in 1692 were conducted in a variety of towns across the province: Salem Village (now Danvers), Ipswich, Andover and Salem Town.
All this bad?
Just like Vampires and Werewolves who have been portrayed as undead blood-sucking ravagers and beasts that killed without reason or regard, respectively, Witches got a bad rep early on. But with the help of media (now, not then. We have the Salem Witch Trials from the media of yore) witches range in persona as far ranged as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz to the sweet and innocent Wendy in Wendy Meets Casper. And while the press wasn’t so kind back in the day, now witches and their like are usually a force of good.
My favorite movies/television shows about witches (top ten!)
(Each of the links lead to IMDB database)
10.) The Craft
9.) Practical Magic
5.) Hocus Pocus
4.) The Crucible
Yet again here are some great authors that feature witches in their work! Happy Reading!
Eve LanglaisEve Langlais
All info from: wikipedia, wicca.org, about.com, IMDB
The Witch's Birthday Brew will be available on October 20, 2012!!!!
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