What is a Witch?
According to a web definition, a witch is an enchantress, a female sorcerer or a magician. In modern age, a witch is also called a Wiccan or a believer in Wicca.
Witches have existed in every society of the world since the ancient times. They have been associated with performing magic. But a witch’s role went beyond the domain of magic only. She used to be the village apothecary or a doctor, who cured the patients with her potions, herbs, stones, oils, massages, chants, and, of course, rituals and magic. Her magic comprised using wands, going into trance, reading omens, communicating with ghosts and spirits. She also interpreted voices, dreams and visions that her patients saw during night or even day.
Another reason that witchcraft was the primary domain of women was that men folk remained busy with earning their bread and butter and probably did not have time for such jobs. Since witchcraft was practiced mostly by women, hence it was named as witchcraft even though some men were also involved.
Witchcraft was an esoteric knowledge in those days. Every piece of information, including our grandmothers recipes, which is vital for livelihood, is esoteric even today. How many of us divulge our business secrets? So, the witches passed on their knowledge only to their close and loved ones. Witchcraft, therefore, was normally inherited by the children from mothers and grandmothers.
Again, like every other knowledge, some witches also used their craft for evil designs by using brooms and hexes. But by and large, witchcraft was used for humanitarian purposes.
But since evil deeds attract more attention than the good deeds, witchcraft was considered an evil knowledge by the high priests of the Church and others who mattered in the society in those days.
A typical witch was portrayed as an ominous looking old woman wielding a broomstick and doing everything that was considered evil according to the edicts of the Catholic Church.
Consequently witches were hounded, branded and banned with a vengeance. They were sent to prison or burnt alive on stakes mostly in European countries like France, Spain and England.
With the advent of the New Age Movement, Witchcraft has been revived in a new avatar. It has been accorded the respect and recognition that it deserves. Its use for evil purposes is widely discouraged. According to the believers in Witchcraft, an evil deed returns three fold on its perpetrator.Witchcraft is now a religion called Wicca and the believers in Wicca are called Wiccans. Witchcraft is no more branded as a reprehensible practice. Now both men and women widely believe in and practice witchcraft. The word witch includes both men and women. Anyone can be a witch and yet be a Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jew, Muslim or even an atheist.
Highly educated and respectable men and women in society proudly declare themselves as witches. There are thousands of them in the United States alone and their tribe is increasing in many other countries of Europe, Australia and Canada because of the broad and inclusive nature of witchcraft that allows every individual to follow his own instincts and intuitions.
Witchcraft is, probably, the most democratic religion in the world that allows for maximum freedom to every individual in thought and action. There is no regimentation of thought in witchcraft. You do not have to follow the dictates of any tradition or faith. You can develop your own rituals, chants, circles or the way you worship. You can join covens or do it alone on your own.
Most witches use the Book of Shadows as their reference guide for witchcraft. They maintain their experiences with spells, magic and rituals that they find useful.
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