Witchcraft Today: A glimpse of the Early and Modern Witchcraft

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Last updated: April 2, 2019

Witchcraft, for centuries before, is attributed to evil and magic; a practice in which supernatural beings or practitioners called witches and wizards execute. Witchcraft in either way could be regarded into both good and evil. Exercising witchcraft is believed to make a person capable of controlling people and occurrences, more specifically the knowledge and use of sorcery (magic). Aside from being a magical phenomenon, it is recently attributed to pagan worship as a religion now known as Wicca (http://www.witchcraft.com.

au/witchcraft-history.html). Today, witchcraft is recognized as a pagan religion more than the practice of a secret society for magic and the supernatural.

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The new-found knowledge people have today marks the difference between the beliefs about early witchcraft and the modern witchcraft.History of WitchcraftThe word “witchcraft” believed to originate from “wic” that means the “to turn” or “to bend” and is believed to be a magical phenomenon, religion, or sorcery in different periods for centuries that heavily observe such traditions (http://www.witchcraft.com.au/witchcraft-history.html). It is also known as to be the ability of a person to execute supernatural things that would do harm or influence nature. Earliest records showed that the concept of witchcraft can be traced since the days it was seen more of a trend that only assure to bring good luck, protection against diseases, successful hunting and other reasons that is valid enough for its existence.

It was not until on 1000 AD when witchcraft was associated with heresy and pagan worship. This triggered the Church to campaign on stamping out heresy along with the occult groups and not long before, those who had been accused of being a witch or had been practicing witchcraft were sentenced to death by burning alive. Witchcraft, then, was seen as evil practices and regarded as anti-Christian and heretical. Supporters of witchcraft then were later named witches (females) and wizards (males). The Church regard them as evil, making pacts that only cause harm, and have connection with the Devil himself (Guilley 2002). They even suspect them having the abnormal abilities such as flying, invisibility, calling curses, transformation, taming black wolves and cats that would comply with their orders and spy people and the like.

Because of this, Pope Innocent VII made a declaration in 1948 about their alarming existence and increase of numbers following Pope Gregory IX authorization to kill witches and the kind. Inquisition thus began around 1200, in an effort to wipe out and punish heretics and to force them to change their beliefs and abide with the common religion. Persecutions for witches became worse and prominent as more stories about them brought moods of fear and anxiety.Early Witchcraft: Beliefs and PracticesAccounts of early witchcraft dated back in the earliest records in Western culture stating the fact about witches’ first appeared in ancient Greek and Roman writings. Although some certainly exist in Europe, it is not well proven due to the fact that most inhabitants during that time were still illiterate. But most articles about early witchcraft primarily reinstate the subsistence of medieval witchcraft.

Medieval witchcraft refers to the practices that seek support from the supernatural influence to resolute difficulties that no other rational means could resolve. This involves reciting prayers and chants that are done in a certain process accustomed with offerings. This practice called rituals is mostly performed with outright sincerity and faith to achieve desired results. Because of this belief, early witchcraft is considered as same with magic and sorcery. Medieval witchcraft is typically practiced by medieval women thus; it is seemed that wizards are not yet established as part of the practitioners of this belief (Grimassi, 199).

Early traditional witchcraft comprised with beliefs such as brooms and potions, curses, voodoo dolls and the likes. Some basic beliefs greatly emphasize traditions. These traditions are common in families where witchcraft is mostly observed and it is in the lineage among generations. Another belief about the early witchcraft is the practice’s relation with the Devil. Early settlers consider that the supernatural powers that witches possess are from the devil after they sell off their own souls or of the other people.Modern WitchcraftModern witchcraft is not far different from the early witchcraft. Most practices and traditions remained to be observed.

Modern witchcraft covers and attracts believers who share common understanding about life, nature and secrecy of the universe. It becomes a religion in which practitioners observed and expected to do good rather than evil. Modern witchcraft is also referred as pagan religion that served and worship deities rather than of a single, omnipotent god. Modern witchcraft acknowledges the different types of witchcraft in which characteristics overlap with each other. Types of witchcraft includes: African witchcraft, Appalachian folk magic, Green witchcraft, Hedge witchcraft, Hereditary, Kitchen/ Cottage, Pennsylvania Dutch Hexcraft, Traditional and lastly Wicca (Obringer, http://people.howstuffworks.

com/witchcraft2.htm). The mentioned types of witchcraft are still observed until today. Although modern witchcraft is now considered to be a religion, the belief itself was not still considered to be good (Auden, 25). The interests of many modern believers of witchcraft still subside in the attempt to revive the old manifestation of witchcraft, renewing the practices and traditions passed to them (practitioners).Early Witchcraft vs. Modern WitchcraftEarly and modern witchcraft, although share common traditions and practices such as rituals and celebrations, do have differences. Early witchcraft is acknowledged as the practice, which takes on symbolism, strange dwellings in the dead to even powerful figures besides deitiesWitchcraft for the 21st century is mostly depicted in popular culture.

In different forms of media, witchcraft is introduced from different aspects and characteristics but the concept of the common good and bad are highly discussed. Common to all stories with or about witchcraft shows witches as wicked women, with pointy hats and saggy skins, clothed in long black dresses with claw-like fingernails. However, some adaptations of witchcraft also presented in the media show them as more of ordinary humans. One of the most popular of these is the acclaimed series of the “Boy Who Lived” Harry Potter, who have wizard parents but had lived with his human relatives known as muggles.

Based on the series written by J.K. Rowling, his journey consist of his battle against the dark wizard in the name of Voldemort and attending a school which only for witches and wizard-born. Harry Potter’s story depicts the inequality of the good and evil. Apart from this, there is this story of the Wizard of Oz that is famous for its depiction of typical witches that had brooms as means of transportation and potion-making.

Although all of these only recreate ideas about witches and wizards, it is evident that these movies and fictional stories help to understand the nature of witchcraft and sorcery.Witchcraft TodayThough the existence of witchcraft today is hard to trace, it is apparent that there are still some who manage to keep the tradition and execute the practice. Belief in witchcraft had been around for years; though many were persecuted because of such practices, it had become a part of the culture for those who continually believed in its teachings and traditions.


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