"I've put a spell on you..."
Even in today's world, Witchcraft continues to be a highly controversal issue. The concept of Witchcraft, as both a fictional supernatural power possessed by extraordinary human beings and as an ancient spiritual practice used differently by various cultures around the globe, is one that feeds the imagination, delights the inspiration, and excites the fears of many.
Yet why does it continue to be such a hotly debated and embraced subject for people today? Perhaps it has to do with the belief and hope that we can become powerful people capable of influencing others according to our will. Perhaps it's not just power that we believe the practice of Witchcraft can provide us that we're after. Perhaps Witchcraft is a practice that helps us to become empowered by the forces of the supernatural. Whatever the case, Witchcraft isn't going away any time soon and, whether or not you believe that it's creepy, evil, spiritual, or pure insanity, there are most likely people next door to you who are practicing it right now!
This page is not an entirely conclusive resource on everything about Witchcraft, but here you can get a taste of it. Witches on Mindsay are welcome to add or edit the material listed below. Witchcraft is constantly evolving; there's no reason why we shouldn't welcome change!
First off, here's a list of what Witchcraft commonly is:
- Witchcraft is not good or evil
- Witchcraft is "The Craft of the Wise"
- Witchcraft is a practice
- Witchcraft is an art
- Witchcraft is a science
- Witchcraft is fantasy
- Witchcraft is different for every witch that practices it
A small list of famous real life Witches:
More to come later, given more time and energy...
A few examples of different cultural beliefs and practices of Witchcraft:
- English Witchcraft: historically viewed as the practice of a cunning man (or woman), also known as a White Witch, Witch Doctor, or Wise Woman (or man) who, being an elder of the village knew how to practice curative magic. (The term "witch doctor" was in use in England long before it came to be associated with Africa).
- Italian Witchcraft: Known as Stregheria, with its practitioners known commonly as Strega (an Italian term for Witch that can also be used as a derogatory term for a bitchy woman today), the roots of the Italian form of Witchcraft go back seven hundred years (and rumored to go even deeper). Unique to other European Witchcraft traditions, Stregaheria incorporates historical and anthropological evidence from Italian history with a religious origin myth and female messiah known as Aradia who is believed to be the daughter of the Goddess Diana. Since the early Renaissance, Stregheria is steeped with the folklore of the peasants or common people who used magic ritual to free themselves from the tyranny of fuedal lords and unfair clergy. Because of its ties to legend, the history of the Strega was often overlooked by mainstream witchcraft historians. Later folklorist Charles G. Leland, and even later Raven Grimassi, would revive both academic and spiritual interest in the practice.
- Witchcraft in the Bible: Spoken not-so-highly of in the Bible, the condemnation of the practice of Witchcraft seems based first upon the supposition of fraud, and later the act of magic itself, because its user is taking power into their own hands to enact something that only God has the power to change, is considered an "abomination." (See Deuteronomy 18:11-12; Exodus 22:18, "wizards thou shalt not suffer to live" - A.V. "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live"). Yet many bible scholars have noted that in the original Hebrew the word "M'khasephah"(translated in the King James version as "witch") means "someone who malevolently uses spoken curses to hurt people." In the New Testament (Galatians 5:20, Revelation 21:8; 22:15; and Acts 8:9; 13:6) there are prohibitions of sorcery because it's considered a malicious use of drugs as in poisons (the word for "sorcery" used in Galatians and Revelation is Pharmakeia, translated roughly as "poisoner"). The story of the infamous Witch of En Dor (I Samuel 28) implies that ancient Middle Eastern witches were more likely people who communicated with the spirits of the dead.
- Jewish Witchcraft: Hebrews traditionally consider Witchcraft a practice of idolatry and necromancy; both being serious theological and practical offenses in Judaism. Usually its condemned mainly because it involves the worship of other gods. However, the Jewish system of esoteric mysticism, known as Kabbalah, has elements of magic ritual that some find related to ancient forms of Middle Eastern witchcraft. Some contemporary Jews practice Judeo-Paganism (also known as Jewish Paganism), and/or practice Jewitchery, or Jewish Witchcraft; a practice that combines Judaism and NeoPaganism.
- Christian Witchcraft: Believe it or not, just as there are Jewish witches, there are also Christian Witches who practice a form of Christianity that includes some Neo-Pagan magical practices but does not include a belief or worship of pagan gods. They believe that their form of witchcraft is yet another esoteric practice to bring them in direct contact with God and, following the example of Christ, enact positive change in the world through the magical use of natural resources.
- African Witchcraft: African people have a lot of different views and legends about Witchcraft. In the Americas, African people have combined Roman Catholic beliefs and practices with traditional West African religious beliefs and practices. These religious groups are the Voudun (commonly known as Voodoo), Obeah, Candomblé, and Santería. In South Africa there are several different terms in regards to witches; thakathi (usually translated into English as "witch") is a spiteful person who operates in secret to harm others, the sangoma is a kind of fortune teller upon whom a tribe or village relies upon to reveal hidden knowledge, and the inyanga whose job it is to heal illness and provide people with magical supplies to combat illness. Usually the inyanga is male, the others female.
- Asian Witchcraft: The term "Witch" is used more positively in Japan. The Japanese word for witch, "Majo", is made up of two kanji with the first ma meaning devil (but keep in mind that the Japanese view demons differently than people do in the West), with the second kanji jo meaning woman. A Majo is usually considered a highly skilled woman; she can either be a powerful force for good or evil. The Shinto religion involves the worship of kami, spirits that can take the form of elemental aspects of life (such as wind, rain, mountains, trees, rivers and fertility) and can also be spirits tied to or embodied within sacred places, buildings, and cosmic bodies (such as the Moon or Sun). Some of the practices involved in Shinto are very much like the practices of witchcraft in the west, and as a result, many North American and European witches tend to draw comparisons, yet there is much that is unique about Shinto that sets it apart culturally from the rest of the world. One main aspect being that Shinto kami are not transcendent deities, they reside in the world with people and make mistakes. Also, anyone familiar with Japanese animation will notice that the Japanese "magical girl" genre features a very multi-pop-cultural mix of witchcraft folklored, but rarely do the evil witch girls get their powers from worshipping devils!
- Mexican Witchcraft: Most Mexicans seek witches to help cure them of bad luck and cleanse them of evil influences. Witchcraft in Mexico is big business and big power; there is even a National Association of Sorcerers in the capitol. Mexican witchcraft is not considered "Wicca" and generally most Mexicans consider witchcraft to be dangerous. However, the tradition of Mexican witchcraft is a form of folk magic used in two ways; to cure or to harm. Curanderos (or curanderas, if female) are considered the "good witches" who use the aid of saints and spirits, talismans, prayers, herbs and spells to do only good. The bad witches are generally known as brujas. Brujas are hated and feared because they tend to use their magic to inflict injury and to control others. Similiar to Cuban and African Santería, Mexican witchcraft is a blend of Catholic and Pre-Columbian Indian beliefs and practices.
- North American Witchcraft: Witchcraft practiced today in the United States is a "melting pot" (or should that be melting cauldron?) of multi-cultural magical beliefs and rituals. Most American Witches blend traditional European folk magic with the shamanic practices of Native Americans and many consider themselves Wiccans. The uniqueness of American Witches is that they subsist mainly as a subcultural group with no clear ties to any one particular religion or group, unless it be an organization they started on their own. Even then American witches still maintain their individuality, adding and subtracting practices from their magical repertoire as they see fit. The average American witch, as a result, is usually overwhelmed by a convoluted storm of information on witchcraft from so many different cultural sources that they tend to misinterpret the magical beliefs and practices of other cultures and sometimes create their own forms of witchcraft. Many are solitary (meaning that they prefer to practice alone and/or in private) and most consider themselves Wiccan.
- Native American Witchcraft: It is very hard to describe the kind of magical practices of American Indians because there are so many! Each tribe has their own rituals and beliefs, and many of those old ways had to be abandoned or adapted when Europeans settled into the country. Many Wiccans have sought to adopt native ways, but the real practitioners of Native American Witchcraft rarely share their knowledge with white people; in fact most Indians are disgusted with anyone who calls their magical traditions "witchcraft" to begin with. So why am I attempting to describe it under this term? Because, like so many other cultures on the planet, American Indians do practice magic in ways similiar, yet not the same, as others. What Indians hold most in common with their European relatives is that their witchcraft is used in accordance with nature spirits, but what they don't hold in common with Europeans is that spirits are asked to give their aid and are not commanded to do something under the will of the witch. Many Europeans have been inspired by this tradition of spiritual cooperation and have adopted it. What Native Americans also don't have in common with most Wiccans is that many practice tribal ceremonies with Christianity as per the practices of the Native American Church; a pan-Indian religious organization that forbids the outright use of witchcraft and other forms of folk magic.
A list of resources on the study of Witchcraft:
Great site oce again! Keep up the good work and who knows with joined efforts one day we Wiccans/Witches might be looked upon with admiration instead of fear and ignorance...
Just want to say that I love this page! So many other pages are all over the place, this is straight to the point
In the famous witches section, you should put Wendy Rule, Rosaleen Norton, Lucy Cavendish and Fiona Horne....they are Aussies
Keep up the goodness, loving it here!
I like the green/black look! Nice. Not only does it look good (the background is great, especially how it stays put when you scroll... cool!
), but it is easy on the eyes to read and view and stuff. You did a great job with everything.
If anything ever comes to mind that I think may be valuble to the page content, I may add it, too. It'd be nice to contribute, but nothing comes up right off the top of my head. Where to start? heh. Anywho, doin' good, indeed!
Exactly, where to start? That's what I thought when constructing this. Coming up with the right colors was tricky and I'm glad you like the look. I picked nice leafy, foresty greens because it felt right. Nearly all Witchcraft practitioners have a deep belief in the goodness and richness of the Earth. But, yeah, this page should be ever evolving because the Craft is really a complex, multi-cultural subject when you really think about it!