A Brief History of Witchcraft

Photographer: Halanna Halila | Supply: Unsplash

It isn’t recognized precisely when witchcraft first made an look.  Witches had been talked about within the Bible – but it’s unlikely the Bible was referring to Witchcraft as we all know it right this moment.  The next reference present in Exodus 22.18, “Thou shalt not undergo a Witch to dwell”, could have been mistranslated.  Within the King James model of the Bible; this quote was regarded as largely accountable for the persecution of these accused of being Witches in Europe and America. So, as it might appear the historical past of witchcraft is quite askew.

A Brief History Of Witch Craft
A Temporary Historical past Of Witch Craft

The Mythology and Folklore of historical individuals, significantly Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks and Romans has led to lots of the beliefs held in Western Witchcraft.  It appears that evidently Witchcraft as we all know it, stems largely from the Celts.  These had been a bunch of tribes from the Iron Age, believed to have originated from round 700 BC in Europe.

The Celts had been non secular individuals.  Celtic Polytheism or Paganism meant that they worshipped many Deities, each Gods and Goddesses.  Celtic Monks, referred to as Druids, had been believed to be Sorcerers and Prophets.  

The Druids additionally took on roles as lecturers, philosophers, astrologers, healers, midwives, bards and Judges.  The quantity three was very vital to the Druids and plenty of features of the outdated faith will be present in threes – the Triple Goddess (Mom, Maiden, Crone), the three phases of the Moon, the Earth, Sky and Sea, and the three phases of Life. 

Witches imagine within the ‘Regulation of Three’ that means that what is shipped out will return threefold.  An historical image referred to as the Triskelion was utilized by the Celts.   This image depicts three interconnected spirals.

The Druids and The Historical past Of Witchcraft   

The Druids noticed eight Holy Days based mostly on lunar, photo voltaic and seasonal cycles, Samhain (Halloween) on October 31st, Yuletide – Winter Solticeon December 21st, Imbolc on February 2nd, Ostara (Easter) – Spring Equinox, Beltane, April 30th, Litha – Summer time Soltice on June 21st, Lughnasa – First Harvest on August 2nd and Mabon – Autumn Equinox.  Druidry has influenced a few of right this moment’s religions, akin to Christianity and Wiccan.  Witches have a good time the eight Holy Days or Sabbats yearly.


The phrase ‘Wicca’ means ‘The Smart Ones’.  Anglo-Saxon kings in England used to seek the advice of the Witan (that means moot or assembly), a council of sensible ones, earlier than making necessary selections.  Wicca had data of natural lore, magick and divination.  They had been usually medical doctors, attorneys, magicians and Monks.  As we speak Wicca is acknowledged as a faith, whereas Witchcraft just isn’t.  It’s a nature-based faith in which there’s a perception that the spirit of the Divine, God and Goddess, exists in all issues. Wiccans dwell by two codes: The Wiccan Rede which states ‘An Ye Hurt None, Do what Ye Will’, which suggests they’re free to make use of magic however should not hurt anybody and The Threefold Regulation that means that no matter good or hurt they do will return threefold.


As Christianity elevated in recognition, Church leaders promoted the persecution of Witches and the assumption that they had been evil and took part in satan worshipping and acts of human sacrifice.  Throughout Medieval instances, significantly the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, tens of 1000’s of individuals had been executed after being accused of witchcraft.  They had been burned, drowned, hung and tortured to dying.  Many of those had nothing to do with witchcraft and had been victims of mass hysteria and even grudges.  There are various publicized Witch trials which happened in Europe and America, one of the well-known being The Salem Witch Trials, which happened in Massachusetts, United States, between 1692 and 1693.


In 1597, King James VI of Scotland wrote a ebook known as Daemonologie, after he turned obsessive about the Darkish Arts.  His ebook focussed on Witches, magic and necromancy.  As this ebook was written by a Monarch, its affect led to a fantastic rise within the variety of Witchcraft trials in Scotland right now.

King James V I additionally turned King James I of England in 1603 when the 2 Crowns united and in 1604 he persuaded Parliament to go the Witchcraft Act in 1604.  This was a a lot harsher statute than the earlier one and meant that anybody accused of utilizing any type of magic could be severely punished.  A primary offense of Witchcraft turned punishable by hanging.  

Witchcraft trials turned widespread throughout England, one of the well-known being these of the Pendle Witches in 1612.  There have been 12 suspects from Pendle Hill in Lancashire who had been charged with the murders of ten individuals, utilizing Witchcraft.  Ten had been hanged after being discovered responsible, one died in jail and one was discovered not responsible.

Witchcraft Historical past

One distinguished determine, in English Witchcraft historical past, was Matthew Hopkins, Witch-finder Basic.  In March 1644, Hopkins overheard a number of ladies discussing communications with the Satan.  This was the beginning of his profession as self-appointed Witchfinder Basic, which led to 1647.  Throughout his quick profession Hopkins was accountable for the execution of almost 300 ladies and was nicely paid for his work.  One of many strategies he used on the accused ladies included sleep deprivation which led to them being coerced into confessing.  He additionally used pins and needles to prick their arms and if they didn’t bleed they had been accused of being Witches.  One other technique used was tying the ladies to chairs and submerging them in water to see in the event that they floated.  In the event that they did they had been discovered responsible.

The Witchcraft Legal guidelines in England had been repealed in 1951.  A author, Gerald Gardner, started to listen to from Witches throughout Europe after telling their story.  He was stunned to listen to that there have been so many Covens nonetheless working towards the Craft, but they didn’t want to come out within the open as they had been involved that persecution might remerge.  Gardner rewrote ‘The Ebook of Shadows’, a ebook containing spells and rituals, written by Witches who met within the shadows as a consequence of worry of persecution.  

Gardner’s Ebook of Shadows contained his personal spells and rituals and led to a type of witchcraft referred to as Gardnerian Witchcraft.  There are various variations of witchcraft right this moment, too many to say.  Witches right this moment have their very own ebook of shadows, just like a journal, the place they document spells, recipes and rituals.  Historically, a Witch’s Ebook of Shadows could be destroyed upon dying, so there was no proof of them ever having been a Witch.  That is now not the case right this moment.

Witchcraft has change into vastly standard and widespread.  For anybody excited about studying about Witchcraft or Wicca there are numerous books out there on the topic and teams on social media the place like-minded individuals can come collectively, share their experiences, study from each other and have a good time outdated traditions.  Some Witches belong to a Coven, others are solitary Witches.  Sadly, prejudice nonetheless exists, with a minority nonetheless believing that Witches are Satanists and concerned in evil practices.  The media has had each a unfavorable and constructive affect.

Fashionable tv packages and movies have come away from utilizing the stereotype ‘evil Witches’ proven in Disney movies and outdated ladies with warts and pointy chins flying round on broomsticks!! Newspapers and different sources of media often produce scare tales and misinformation.  Nonetheless, there are numerous constructive and factual articles on-line and in magazines written by Witches that dispel the myths and misinformation being unfold.

Sharon Clegg

Sharon Clegg

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