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History of Witchcraft

The word witch owes its origin to Anglo-Saxon word 'Wicca' which itself has been derived from the word' wicce' which means 'wise'. The word 'witch' also means to 'twist or bend' which is another phrase for psychogenesis or telekinesis, a psychic ability that was demonstrated by Uri Geller worldwide on television shows.

It is believed that the origin of the word 'witch' dates back to thousands of years when people widely worshipped Mother Earth or Nature as goddesses. They also revered women as they were considered the creators of new life.

It is believed that the origin of the word 'witch' dates back to thousands of years when people widely worshipped Mother Earth or Nature as goddesses. They also revered women as they were considered the creators of new life.

Witchcraft means the 'craft of the wise'. It is the oldest religion of the world. It remained in existence for a long time due to hereditary transfer of its knowledge.

Moreover, it was practiced primarily by women because they stayed at home while the men folk went out for work. Witchcraft not only included magic, but also home medicines comprising potions, herbs, stones, oils, massages and similar other simple home remedies. This was one reason that the mothers and grandmothers taught witchcraft to their daughters and grand daughters.

There were some men witches as well, but they were not very common. Since witches provided vital health and family services, they were considered wise and were highly respected. They were not feared, but valued because they healed the sick and the suffering, both human beings and beasts.

Witchcraft was a multifaceted religious practice. Witches performed hypnosis, therefore, they made the childbirth and other painful health conditions pain free. They also used telepathy, clairvoyance, intuition, dowsing, crystal gazing, trance, communication with spirits and similar other occult practices to resolve the health and other problems of the people. Religion and magic were inseparable from each other.

When people flocked to witches with their problems, the high priests and other functionaries of the Christian Church felt threatened. They, therefore, attributed the magical powers of the witches to the Devil.

Since the Church and the monarchy were united with each other, they started persecuting the witches. They filed cases against them in the court and sent them to jail or even sentenced them to death.

So much so, the Scottish Witchcraft Act of 1563 punished even the people who consulted the witches for solving their medical problems. They accused these people of being their supporters.

The young people refrained from practicing witchcraft for the fear of persecution and those who continued their practice became old and ugly due to poverty, fear and deprivation as the time passed. This is the reason why the witches have been portrayed as old, ugly, mean and fearful.

Witches loved and worshipped nature in all its manifestations. They deeply revered the earth, sun, moon, stars, planets, trees, animals, forests, clouds, rains, oceans, rivers and lakes. They felt mystified and overawed at the changing moods and forms of Nature and considered them as harbingers of change, auspicious or ominous. Witchcraft was close to paganism.

Witches had a deep knowledge of the benefits of trees, plants and herbs. They, for example, had special praise for oak tree and considered it sacred. Mistletoe that grows as a parasite on oak tree was considered a valuable herb. It was used for healing and also in ceremonies and rituals. It was harvested at the Summer Solstice by using a golden sickle. When chopped, it was caught on a piece of cloth to prevent it from falling on the ground.

Witchcraft was taken to North America by the Europeans who settled there. Though it was officially banned, some early settlers practiced it secretly. It was believed that witchcraft would protect them from the attacks of the Native Americans.

With the advent of the New Age witchcraft has regained its old respect and is being widely practiced by highly educated people. Witchcraft is considered the most democratic religion in the world as it gives each individual the freedom to practice his own religious beliefs without referring them to any established religious regime.


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