Witchcraft
Overview
Witchcraft, in historical, anthropological
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

 or magical powers. A witch (from Old English wicca masculine, wicce feminine
Witch (etymology)
The word witch derives from the Old English nouns wicca "sorcerer, wizard" and wicce "sorceress, witch". The word's further origins in Proto-Germanic and Proto-Indo-European are unclear.-Germanic etymology:...

) is a practitioner of witchcraft. Historically, it was widely believed in early modern
Early modern period
In history, the early modern period of modern history follows the late Middle Ages. Although the chronological limits of the period are open to debate, the timeframe spans the period after the late portion of the Middle Ages through the beginning of the Age of Revolutions...

 Christian Europe that witches were in league with the Devil
Devil
The Devil is believed in many religions and cultures to be a powerful, supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. The nature of the role varies greatly...

 and used their powers to harm people and property. Particularly, since the mid-20th century, "bad" and "good" witchcraft are sometimes distinguished, the latter often involving healing.
Encyclopedia
Witchcraft, in historical, anthropological
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

 or magical powers. A witch (from Old English wicca masculine, wicce feminine
Witch (etymology)
The word witch derives from the Old English nouns wicca "sorcerer, wizard" and wicce "sorceress, witch". The word's further origins in Proto-Germanic and Proto-Indo-European are unclear.-Germanic etymology:...

) is a practitioner of witchcraft. Historically, it was widely believed in early modern
Early modern period
In history, the early modern period of modern history follows the late Middle Ages. Although the chronological limits of the period are open to debate, the timeframe spans the period after the late portion of the Middle Ages through the beginning of the Age of Revolutions...

 Christian Europe that witches were in league with the Devil
Devil
The Devil is believed in many religions and cultures to be a powerful, supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. The nature of the role varies greatly...

 and used their powers to harm people and property. Particularly, since the mid-20th century, "bad" and "good" witchcraft are sometimes distinguished, the latter often involving healing. The concept of witchcraft as harmful is normally treated as a cultural ideology, a means of explaining human misfortune by blaming it either on a supernatural entity or a known person in the community.

Beliefs in witchcraft, and resulting witch-hunt
Witch-hunt
A witch-hunt is a search for witches or evidence of witchcraft, often involving moral panic, mass hysteria and lynching, but in historical instances also legally sanctioned and involving official witchcraft trials...

s, are both found in many cultures worldwide, today mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

 (e.g., in the witch smeller
Witch smeller
Witch smellers, almost always women, were important and powerful people amongst the Zulu and other Bantu speaking peoples of Southern Africa, responsible for rooting out evil witches in the area, and sometimes responsible for considerable bloodshed themselves...

s in Bantu culture), and historically notably in Early Modern Europe
Early modern period
In history, the early modern period of modern history follows the late Middle Ages. Although the chronological limits of the period are open to debate, the timeframe spans the period after the late portion of the Middle Ages through the beginning of the Age of Revolutions...

 of the 14th to 18th century, where witchcraft came to be seen as a vast diabolical conspiracy against Christianity, and accusations of witchcraft led to large-scale witch-hunts
Witch trials in Early Modern Europe
The Witch trials in the Early Modern period were a period of witch hunts between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, when across Early Modern Europe, and to some extent in the European colonies in North America, there was a widespread hysteria that malevolent Satanic witches were operating as...

, especially in Germanic
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 Europe.

The "witch-cult hypothesis
Witch-cult hypothesis
The Witch-cult is the term for a hypothetical pre-Christian, pagan religion of Europe that survived into at least the early modern period. As late as the 19th and early 20th centuries, some scholars had postulated that European witchcraft was part of a Satanic plot to overthrow Christianity; most...

", a controversial theory that European witchcraft
European witchcraft
European Witchcraft is witchcraft and magic that is practised primarily in the locality of Europe.-Antiquity:Instances of persecution of witchcraft are documented from Classical Antiquity, paralleling evidence from the Ancient Near East and the Old Testament.In Ancient Greece, for example, Theoris,...

 was a suppressed pagan religion, was popular in the 19th and 20th centuries. Since the mid-20th century, Witchcraft
Contemporary Witchcraft
This article is about contemporary witchcraft, including, but not limited to, Wicca.Contemporary witchcraft refers to many different types of witchcraft practices of the 21st century...

 has become the self-designation of a branch of neopaganism
Neopaganism
Neopaganism is an umbrella term used to identify a wide variety of modern religious movements, particularly those influenced by or claiming to be derived from the various pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe...

, especially in the Wicca
Wicca
Wicca , is a modern Pagan religious movement. Developing in England in the first half of the 20th century, Wicca was popularised in the 1950s and early 1960s by a Wiccan High Priest named Gerald Gardner, who at the time called it the "witch cult" and "witchcraft," and its adherents "the Wica."...

 tradition following Gerald Gardner
Gerald Gardner
Gerald Brousseau Gardner , who sometimes used the craft name Scire, was an influential English Wiccan, as well as an amateur anthropologist and archaeologist, writer, weaponry expert and occultist. He was instrumental in bringing the Neopagan religion of Wicca to public attention in Britain and...

, who claimed a religious tradition of Witchcraft with pre-Christian roots.

Definitions of witchcraft

In anthropological
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 terminology, a "witch" differs from a sorcerer in that they do not use physical tools or actions to curse; their maleficium
Maleficium (sorcery)
Maleficium is a Latin term meaning "wrongdoing" or "mischief" and is used to describe malevolent, dangerous, or harmful magic, "evildoing" or "malevolent sorcery"...

 is perceived as extending from some intangible inner quality, and the person may be unaware that they are a "witch", or may have been convinced of their own evil nature by the suggestion of others. This definition was pioneered in a study of central African magical beliefs by E. E. Evans-Pritchard
E. E. Evans-Pritchard
Sir Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard was an English anthropologist who was instrumental in the development of social anthropology...

, who cautioned that it might not correspond with normal English usage.

Historians of European witchcraft have found the anthropological definition difficult to apply to European and British witchcraft, where "witches" could equally use (or be accused of using) physical techniques, and some really had attempted to cause harm by thought alone.

As in anthropology, European witchcraft is seen by historians as an ideology for explaining misfortune; however, this ideology manifested in diverse ways. Reasons for accusations of witchcraft fall into four general categories:
  1. A person was caught in the act of positive or negative sorcery
  2. A well-meaning sorcerer or healer lost their clients' or the authorities' trust
  3. A person did nothing more than gain the enmity of their neighbours
  4. A person was reputed to be a witch and surrounded with an aura of witch-beliefs


Éva Pócs
Éva Pócs
Éva Pócs is associate professor in the Department of Ethnography and Cultural Anthropology at Janus Pannonius University, Pécs, Hungary, and president of the Folklore Section of the Hungarian Ethnographic Society. She is an author of several books dealing with supernatural beliefs and patterns of...

 in turn identifies three varieties of witch in popular belief:
  • The "neighbourhood witch" or "social witch": a witch who curses a neighbour following some conflict.
  • The "magical" or "sorcerer" witch: either a professional healer, sorcerer, seer or midwife, or a person who has through magic increased her fortune to the perceived detriment of a neighbouring household; due to neighbourly or community rivalries and the ambiguity between positive and negative magic, such individuals can become labelled as witches.
  • The "supernatural" or "night" witch: portrayed in court narratives as a demon appearing in visions and dreams.

"Neighbourhood witches" are the product of neighbourhood tensions, and are found only in self-sufficient serf village communities where the inhabitants largely rely on each other. Such accusations follow the breaking of some social norm, such as the failure to return a borrowed item, and any person part of the normal social exchange could potentially fall under suspicion. Claims of "sorcerer" witches and "supernatural" witches could arise out of social tensions, but not exclusively; the supernatural witch in particular often had nothing to do with communal conflict, but expressed tensions between the human and supernatural worlds; and in Eastern and Southeastern Europe such supernatural witches became an ideology explaining calamities that befell entire communities.

Demonology

In Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, sorcery came to be associated with heresy
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 and apostasy
Apostasy
Apostasy , 'a defection or revolt', from ἀπό, apo, 'away, apart', στάσις, stasis, 'stand, 'standing') is the formal disaffiliation from or abandonment or renunciation of a religion by a person. One who commits apostasy is known as an apostate. These terms have a pejorative implication in everyday...

 and to be viewed as evil. Among the Catholics, Protestants, and secular leadership of the Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an Late Medieval/Early Modern period, fears about witchcraft rose to fever pitch, and sometimes led to large-scale witch-hunt
Witch-hunt
A witch-hunt is a search for witches or evidence of witchcraft, often involving moral panic, mass hysteria and lynching, but in historical instances also legally sanctioned and involving official witchcraft trials...

s. Throughout this time, it was increasingly believed that Christianity was engaged in an apocalyptic battle against the Devil and his secret army of witches, who had entered into a diabolical pact
Deal with the Devil
Deal With The Devil is the fifth studio album by the American heavy metal band Lizzy Borden released in 2000 .A return to form, featuring a cover by Todd McFarlane.2 covers were recorded...

. In total, tens or hundreds of thousands of people were executed, and others were imprisoned, tortured, banished, and had lands and possessions confiscated. The majority of those accused were women, though in some regions the majority were men. Accusations of witchcraft were often combined with other charges of heresy against such groups as the Cathars and Waldensians
Waldensians
Waldensians, Waldenses or Vaudois are names for a Christian movement of the later Middle Ages, descendants of which still exist in various regions, primarily in North-Western Italy. There is considerable uncertainty about the earlier history of the Waldenses because of a lack of extant source...

.

The Malleus Maleficarum
Malleus Maleficarum
The Malleus Maleficarum is an infamous treatise on witches, written in 1486 by Heinrich Kramer, an Inquisitor of the Catholic Church, and was first published in Germany in 1487...

, an infamous witch-hunting manual used by both Catholics and Protestants, outlines how to identify a witch, what makes a woman more likely than a man to be a witch, how to put a witch on trial, and how to punish a witch. The book defines a witch as evil and typically female. This book was not given the official Imprimatur of the Catholic Church, which would have made it approved by church authorities.

In the modern Western world, witchcraft accusations have often accompanied the satanic ritual abuse
Satanic ritual abuse
Satanic ritual abuse refers to the abuse of a person or animal in a ritual setting or manner...

 moral panic
Moral panic
A moral panic is the intensity of feeling expressed in a population about an issue that appears to threaten the social order. According to Stanley Cohen, author of Folk Devils and Moral Panics and credited creator of the term, a moral panic occurs when "[a] condition, episode, person or group of...

. Such accusations are a counterpart to blood libel
Blood libel
Blood libel is a false accusation or claim that religious minorities, usually Jews, murder children to use their blood in certain aspects of their religious rituals and holidays...

 of various kinds, which may be found throughout history across the globe.

White witches

Throughout the early modern period
Early modern period
In history, the early modern period of modern history follows the late Middle Ages. Although the chronological limits of the period are open to debate, the timeframe spans the period after the late portion of the Middle Ages through the beginning of the Age of Revolutions...

, the English
Early Modern English
Early Modern English is the stage of the English language used from about the end of the Middle English period to 1650. Thus, the first edition of the King James Bible and the works of William Shakespeare both belong to the late phase of Early Modern English...

 term "witch" was not exclusively negative in meaning, and could also indicate cunning folk
Cunning folk
The cunning folk in Britain were professional or semi-professional practitioners of magic active from the Medieval period through to the early twentieth century. As cunning folk, they practised folk magic – also known as "low magic" – although often combined with elements of "high" or ceremonial...

. "There were a number of interchangeable terms for these practitioners, 'white', 'good', or 'unbinding' witches, blessers, wizards, sorcerers, however 'cunning-man' and 'wise-man' were the most frequent." The contemporary Reginald Scott noted, "At this day it is indifferent to say in the English tongue, 'she is a witch' or 'she is a wise woman'". Folk magicians throughout Europe were often viewed ambivalently by communities, and were considered as capable of harming as of healing, which could lead to their being accused as "witches" in the negative sense. Many English "witches" convicted of consorting with demons seem to have been cunning folk whose fairy
Fairy
A fairy is a type of mythical being or legendary creature, a form of spirit, often described as metaphysical, supernatural or preternatural.Fairies resemble various beings of other mythologies, though even folklore that uses the term...

 familiar
Familiar spirit
In European folklore and folk-belief of the Medieval and Early Modern periods, familiar spirits were supernatural entities believed to assist witches and cunning folk in their practice of magic...

s had been demonised; many French devins-guerisseurs ("diviner-healers") were accused of witchcraft, and over one half the accused witches in Hungary seem to have been healers.

Some of the healers and diviners historically accused of witchcraft have considered themselves mediators between the mundane and spiritual worlds, roughly equivalent to shamans
Shamanism
Shamanism is an anthropological term referencing a range of beliefs and practices regarding communication with the spiritual world. To quote Eliade: "A first definition of this complex phenomenon, and perhaps the least hazardous, will be: shamanism = technique of ecstasy." Shamanism encompasses the...

. Such people described their contacts with fairies, spirits often involving out-of-body experiences and travelling through the realms of an "other-world".
Beliefs of this nature are implied in the folklore of much of Europe, and were explicitly described by accused witches in central and southern Europe. Repeated themes include participation in processions of the dead or large feasts, often presided over by a female divinity who teaches magic and gives prophecies; and participation in battles against evil spirits, "vampires", or "witches" to win fertility and prosperity for the community.

Alleged practices

Practices to which the witchcraft label has historically been applied are those which influence another person's mind, body, or property against his or her will, or which are believed, by the person doing the labelling, to undermine the social or religious order. Some modern commentators consider the malefic nature of witchcraft to be a Christian projection. The concept of a magic-worker influencing another person's body or property against his or her will was clearly present in many cultures, as there are traditions in both folk magic and religious magic that have the purpose of countering malicious magic or identifying malicious magic users. Many examples can be found in ancient texts, such as those from Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

, where malicious magic is believed to have the power to influence the mind, body or possessions, malicious magic users can become a credible cause for disease, sickness in animals, bad luck, sudden death, impotence and other such misfortunes. Witchcraft of a more benign and socially acceptable sort may then be employed to turn the malevolence aside, or identify the supposed evil-doer so that punishment may be carried out. The folk magic used to identify or protect against malicious magic users is often indistinguishable from that used by the witches themselves.

There has also existed in popular belief the concept of white witch
White witch
White witch and good witch are qualifying terms in English used to distinguish practitioners of folk magic for benevolent purposes from practitioners of malevolent witchcraft...

es and white witchcraft, which is strictly benevolent. Many neopagan witches strongly identify with this concept, and profess ethical code
Ethical code
An ethical code is adopted by an organization in an attempt to assist those in the organization called upon to make a decision understand the difference between 'right' and 'wrong' and to apply this understanding to their decision...

s that prevent them from performing magic on a person without their request.

Where belief in malicious magic practices exists, such practitioners are typically forbidden by law as well as hated and feared by the general populace, while beneficial magic is tolerated or even accepted wholesale by the people – even if the orthodox establishment opposes it.

Spell casting

Probably the most obvious characteristic of a witch was the ability to cast a spell, a "spell" being the word used to signify the means employed to carry out a magical action. A spell could consist of a set of words, a formula or verse, or a ritual action, or any combination of these. Spells traditionally were cast by many methods, such as by the inscription of runes or sigils
Sigil (magic)
A sigil is a symbol created for a specific magical purpose. A sigil is usually made up of a complex combination of several specific symbols or geometric figures, each with a specific meaning or intent.- Name and origin :...

 on an object to give it magical powers; by the immolation or binding of a wax or clay image (poppet
Poppet
The word poppet is an older spelling of puppet, from the Middle English popet, meaning a small child or doll. In British Dialect it continues to hold this meaning. Poppet is also a chiefly English term of endearment.-Folk magic:...

) of a person to affect him or her magically; by the recitation of incantations; by the performance of physical rituals; by the employment of magical herbs as amulets or potions; by gazing at mirrors, swords or other specula (scrying
Scrying
Scrying is a magic practice that involves seeing things psychically in a medium, usually for purposes of obtaining spiritual visions and less often for purposes of divination or fortune-telling. The most common media used are reflective, translucent, or luminescent substances such as crystals,...

) for purposes of divination; and by many other means.

Conjuring the dead

Strictly speaking, "necromancy
Necromancy
Necromancy is a claimed form of magic that involves communication with the deceased, either by summoning their spirit in the form of an apparition or raising them bodily, for the purpose of divination, imparting the ability to foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge...

" is the practice of conjuring the spirits of the dead for divination
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

 or prophecy
Prophecy
Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the...

 – although the term has also been applied to raising the dead for other purposes. The Biblical Witch of Endor
Witch of Endor
The Witch of Endor, sometimes called the Medium of Endor, was a woman who called up the ghost of the recently deceased prophet Samuel, at the demand of King Saul of the Kingdom of Israel in the First Book of Samuel, chapter...

 is supposed to have performed it (1 Sam. 28), and it is among the witchcraft practices condemned by Ælfric of Eynsham
Ælfric of Eynsham
Ælfric of Eynsham was an English abbot, as well as a consummate, prolific writer in Old English of hagiography, homilies, biblical commentaries, and other genres. He is also known variously as Ælfric the Grammarian , Ælfric of Cerne, and Ælfric the Homilist...

:

Europe

In Early Modern European tradition, witches were stereotypically, though not exclusively, women. European pagan belief in witchcraft was associated with the goddess Diana
Diana (mythology)
In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt and moon and birthing, being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She was equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, though she had an independent origin in Italy...

 and dismissed as "diabolical fantasies" by medieval Christian authors. Witch-hunt
Witch-hunt
A witch-hunt is a search for witches or evidence of witchcraft, often involving moral panic, mass hysteria and lynching, but in historical instances also legally sanctioned and involving official witchcraft trials...

s first appeared in large numbers in southern France and Switzerland during the 14th and 15th centuries. The peak years of witch-hunts in southwest Germany were from 1561 to 1670.

The familiar witch of folklore
Folklore
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

 and popular superstition
Superstition
Superstition is a belief in supernatural causality: that one event leads to the cause of another without any process in the physical world linking the two events....

 is a combination of numerous influences. The characterization of the witch as an evil magic user developed over time.

Early converts to Christianity looked to Christian clergy to work magic more effectively than the old methods under Roman paganism, and Christianity provided a methodology involving saints and relics, similar to the gods and amulets of the Pagan world. As Christianity became the dominant religion in Europe, its concern with magic lessened.

The Protestant Christian explanation for witchcraft, such as those typified in the confessions of the Pendle Witches, commonly involves a diabolical pact or at least an appeal to the intervention of the spirits of evil. The witches or wizards engaged in such practices were alleged to reject Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 and the sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

s; observe "the witches' sabbath
Sabbath (witchcraft)
The Witches' Sabbath or Sabbat is a supposed meeting of those who practice witchcraft, and other rites.European records indicate cases of persons being accused or tried for taking part in Sabbat gatherings, from the Middle Ages to the 17th century or later.- Etymology :The English word “sabbat”...

" (performing infernal rites which often parodied the Mass
Mass
Mass can be defined as a quantitive measure of the resistance an object has to change in its velocity.In physics, mass commonly refers to any of the following three properties of matter, which have been shown experimentally to be equivalent:...

 or other sacraments of the Church); pay Divine honour to the Prince of Darkness
Satan
Satan , "the opposer", is the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible...

; and, in return, receive from him preternatural
Preternatural
The preternatural or praeternatural is that which appears outside or beyond the natural. In contrast to the supernatural, preternatural phenomena are presumed to have rational explanations that are, as of yet, unknown....

 powers. It was a folkloric belief that a Devil's Mark, like the brand on cattle, was placed upon a witch's skin by the devil to signify that this pact had been made. Witches were most often characterized as women. Witches disrupted the societal institutions, and more specifically, marriage. It was believed that a witch often joined a pact with the devil to gain powers to deal with infertility, immense fear for her children's well-being, or revenge against a lover.

The Church and European society were not always so zealous in hunting witches or blaming them for bad occurrences. Saint Boniface
Saint Boniface
Saint Boniface , the Apostle of the Germans, born Winfrid, Wynfrith, or Wynfryth in the kingdom of Wessex, probably at Crediton , was a missionary who propagated Christianity in the Frankish Empire during the 8th century. He is the patron saint of Germany and the first archbishop of Mainz...

 declared in the 8th century that belief in the existence of witches was un-Christian. The emperor Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 decreed that the burning of supposed witches was a pagan custom that would be punished by the death penalty
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

. In 820 the Bishop of Lyon and others repudiated the belief that witches could make bad weather, fly in the night, and change their shape. This denial was accepted into Canon law
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

 until it was reversed in later centuries as the witch-hunt
Witch-hunt
A witch-hunt is a search for witches or evidence of witchcraft, often involving moral panic, mass hysteria and lynching, but in historical instances also legally sanctioned and involving official witchcraft trials...

 gained force. Other rulers such as King Coloman of Hungary declared that witch-hunts should cease because witches (more specifically, strigas
Strigoi
In Romanian mythology, strigoi are the troubled souls of the dead rising from the grave. Some strigoi can be living people with certain magical properties. Some of the properties of the strigoi include: the ability to transform into an animal, invisibility, and the propensity to drain the vitality...

) do not exist.

The Church did not invent the idea of witchcraft as a potentially harmful force whose practitioners should be put to death. This idea is commonplace in pre-Christian religions. According to the scholar Max Dashu, the concept of medieval witchcraft contained many of its elements even before the emergence of Christianity. These can be found in Bacchanalia
Bacchanalia
The bacchanalia were wild and mystic festivals of the Greco-Roman god Bacchus , the wine god. The term has since come to describe any form of drunken revelry.-History:...

s, especially in the time when they were led by priestess Paculla Annia
Paculla Annia
Paculla Annia was a priestess from the southern Italian region of Campania. According to Livy, she largely changed the rules of Bacchanalias so that regarding nothing as impious or forbidden became the very sum of Bacchus' cult...

 (188BC–186BC).

However, even at a later date, not all witches were assumed to be harmful practicers of the craft. In England, the provision of this curative magic was the job of a witch doctor
Witch doctor
A witch doctor originally referred to a type of healer who treated ailments believed to be caused by witchcraft. It is currently used to refer to healers in some third world regions, who use traditional healing rather than contemporary medicine...

, also known as a cunning man
Cunning folk
The cunning folk in Britain were professional or semi-professional practitioners of magic active from the Medieval period through to the early twentieth century. As cunning folk, they practised folk magic – also known as "low magic" – although often combined with elements of "high" or ceremonial...

, white witch
White witch
White witch and good witch are qualifying terms in English used to distinguish practitioners of folk magic for benevolent purposes from practitioners of malevolent witchcraft...

, or wise man. The term "witch doctor" was in use in England before it came to be associated with Africa. Toad doctors
Toad doctors
Toad doctors were practitioners of a specific tradition of medicinal folk magic, operating in western England until the end of the 19th century. Their main concern was healing scrofula , though they were also believed to cure other ailments including those resulting from witchcraft...

 were also credited with the ability to undo evil witchcraft. (Other folk magicians had their own purviews. Girdle-measurers
Girdle-measurers
Girdle-measurers were practitioners of a specific type of curative English folk magic. They claimed to be able to tell whether fairies had placed a person under a spell, or otherwise caused trouble for them. They did this by measuring the changing length of the afflicted person's belt or girdle....

 specialised in diagnosing ailments caused by fairies, while magical cures for more mundane ailments, such as burns or toothache, could be had from charmer
Charmer
Charmers were English practitioners of a specific kind of folk magic, specialising in supernatural healing. Other folk magic traditions include those of the cunning folk, the toad doctors and the girdle-measurers....

s.)
Such "cunning-folk" did not refer to themselves as witches and objected to the accusation that they were such.

Powers typically attributed to European witches include turning food poisonous or inedible, flying on broomsticks or pitchforks, casting spells, cursing people, making livestock ill and crops fail, and creating fear and local chaos.

The Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 word for witch is ведьма (ved'ma, literally "the one who knows", from Old Slavic вѣдъ "to know").

North America

In 1645, Springfield, Massachusetts
Springfield, Massachusetts
Springfield is the most populous city in Western New England, and the seat of Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States. Springfield sits on the eastern bank of the Connecticut River near its confluence with three rivers; the western Westfield River, the eastern Chicopee River, and the eastern...

, experienced America's first accusations of witchcraft when husband and wife Hugh and Mary Parsons accused each other of witchcraft. At America's first witch trial
Witch trial
A witch trial is a legal proceeding that is part of a witch-hunt. * Witch trials in Early Modern Europe, 15th–18th centuries** Salzburg witch trials - 1675-1690, Salzburg, Austria** Spa witch trial - 1616, Belgium...

, Hugh was found innocent, while Mary was acquitted of witchcraft but sentenced to be hanged for the death of her child. She died in prison. From 1645-1663, about eighty people throughout England's Massachusetts Bay Colony
Province of Massachusetts Bay
The Province of Massachusetts Bay was a crown colony in North America. It was chartered on October 7, 1691 by William and Mary, the joint monarchs of the kingdoms of England and Scotland...

 were accused of practicing witchcraft, thirteen women and two men were executed in a witch-hunt that lasted throughout New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 from 1645-1663.

The Salem witch trials
Salem witch trials
The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings before county court trials to prosecute people accused of witchcraft in the counties of Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex in colonial Massachusetts, between February 1692 and May 1693...

 followed in 1692-93. The most famous witchcraft incident in British North America
British North America
British North America is a historical term. It consisted of the colonies and territories of the British Empire in continental North America after the end of the American Revolutionary War and the recognition of American independence in 1783.At the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775 the British...

 were these witch trials, which took place in the coastal settlements near Salem, Massachusetts
Salem, Massachusetts
Salem is a city in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 40,407 at the 2000 census. It and Lawrence are the county seats of Essex County...

. The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings before local magistrates followed by county court trials to prosecute people accused of witchcraft in Essex
Essex County, Massachusetts
-National protected areas:* Parker River National Wildlife Refuge* Salem Maritime National Historic Site* Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site* Thacher Island National Wildlife Refuge-Demographics:...

, Suffolk
Suffolk County, Massachusetts
Suffolk County has no land border with Plymouth County to its southeast, but the two counties share a water boundary in the middle of Massachusetts Bay.-National protected areas:*Boston African American National Historic Site...

 and Middlesex
Middlesex County, Massachusetts
-National protected areas:* Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge* Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge* Longfellow National Historic Site* Lowell National Historical Park* Minute Man National Historical Park* Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge...

 Counties of colonial Massachusetts, between February 1692 and May 1693. Over 150 people were arrested and imprisoned, with even more accused who were not formally pursued by the authorities. The two courts convicted 29 people of the capital felony of witchcraft. Nineteen of the accused, 14 women and 5 men, were hanged. One man who refused to enter a plea was crushed to death under heavy stones in an attempt to force him to do so. At least five more of the accused died in prison.

Despite being generally known as the "Salem" witch trials, the preliminary hearings in 1692 were conducted in a variety of towns across the province: Salem Village, Ipswich, Andover, as well as Salem Town, Massachusetts. The best-known trials were conducted by the Court of Oyer and Terminer in 1692 in Salem Town. All 26 who went to trial before this court were convicted. The four sessions of the Superior Court of Judicature in 1693, held in Salem Town, but also in Ipswich, Boston, and Charlestown, produced only 3 convictions in the 31 witchcraft trials it conducted. Likewise, alleged witchcraft was not isolated to New England. In 1706 Grace Sherwood
Grace Sherwood
Grace Sherwood was a woman tried and convicted of witchcraft in the Princess Anne County court of the U.S. state of Virginia in 1705–1706, in one of the most notable witch trials in the folklore of Virginia...

 the "Witch of Pungo" was imprisoned for the crime in Princess Anne County, Virginia
Princess Anne County, Virginia
Princess Anne County is a former county which was created in the British Colony of Virginia and the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States in 1691. The county was merged into the city of Virginia Beach...

.

Accusations of witchraft and wizardry led to the prosecution of a man in Tennessee as recently as 1833.

Author C. J. Stevens
C. J. Stevens
Clysle Julius Stevens is a writer. He has published over 30 books , been published in hundreds of magazines, and the United States Library of Congress contains a special collection of his works.In 1998, the Portland Press Herald described him as "versatile and...

 wrote The Supernatural Side of Maine, a 2002 book about witches and people from Maine who faced the supernatural.
Witchcraft was also an important part of the social and cultural history of late-Colonial Mexico. Spanish Inquisitors viewed witchcraft as a problem that could be cured simply through confession. Yet, as anthropologist Ruth Behar
Ruth Behar
Ruth Behar is a Jewish Cuban American anthropologist, poet, and writer who teaches at the University of Michigan.After receiving her B.A. from Wesleyan University in 1977, she studied cultural anthropology at Princeton University...

 writes, witchcraft, not only in Mexico but in Latin America in general, was a "conjecture of sexuality, witchcraft, and religion, in which Spanish, indigenous, and African cultures converged.” Furthermore, witchcraft in Mexico generally required an interethnic and interclass network of witches. Yet, according to anthropology professor Laura Lewis, witchcraft in colonial Mexico ultimately represented an "affirmation of hegemony" for women, Indians, and especially Indian women over their white male counterparts as a result of the casta
Casta
Casta is a Portuguese and Spanish term used in seventeenth and eighteenth centuries mainly in Spanish America to describe as a whole the mixed-race people which appeared in the post-Conquest period...

 system.

South America

In Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 there is a tradition of the Kalku
Kalku
Kalku or Calcu, in Mapuche mythology, is a sorcerer or witch that works with black magic and negative powers or forces. The essentially benevolent shamans are more often referred to as machi, to avoid confusion with the malevolent kalku...

 in the Mapuche mythology
Mapuche mythology
The beliefs of the Mapuche and their mythology, stories about to the world and creatures born of the extensive and old religious beliefs, next to a series of common legend and myths that belong to the different groups that compose the Mapuche ethnic group .-Description:In the mythology and beliefs...

; and Witches of Chiloé in the folklore and Chilote mythology.

The presence of the witch is a constant in the ethnographic history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 of colonial Brazil
Colonial Brazil
In the history of Brazil, Colonial Brazil, officially the Viceroyalty of Brazil comprises the period from 1500, with the arrival of the Portuguese, until 1815, when Brazil was elevated to kingdom alongside Portugal as the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves.During the over 300 years...

, especially during the several denunciations and confessions given to the Holy Office of Bahia
Bahia
Bahia is one of the 26 states of Brazil, and is located in the northeastern part of the country on the Atlantic coast. It is the fourth most populous Brazilian state after São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, and the fifth-largest in size...

 (1591–1593), Pernambuco
Pernambuco
Pernambuco is a state of Brazil, located in the Northeast region of the country. To the north are the states of Paraíba and Ceará, to the west is Piauí, to the south are Alagoas and Bahia, and to the east is the Atlantic Ocean. There are about of beaches, some of the most beautiful in the...

 and Paraiba
Paraíba
Paraíba Paraíba Paraíba (Tupi: pa'ra a'íba: "bad to navigation"; Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation: is a state of Brazil. It is located in the Brazilian Northeast, and is bordered by Rio Grande do Norte to the north, Ceará to the west, Pernambuco to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the east...

 (1593–1595).

Ancient Near East

The belief in sorcery and its practice seem to have been widespread in the past. Both in ancient Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and in Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

 it played a conspicuous part, as existing records plainly show. It will be sufficient to quote a short section from the Code of Hammurabi
Code of Hammurabi
The Code of Hammurabi is a well-preserved Babylonian law code, dating to ca. 1780 BC . It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world. The sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi, enacted the code, and partial copies exist on a human-sized stone stele and various clay...

 (about 2000 B.C.). It is there prescribed,

Hebrew Bible

According to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia:

The King James Bible uses the words "witch", "witchcraft", and "witchcrafts" to translate the Masoretic
Masoretic Text
The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible and is regarded as Judaism's official version of the Tanakh. While the Masoretic Text defines the books of the Jewish canon, it also defines the precise letter-text of these biblical books, with their vocalization and...

 כשף (kashaph or kesheph) and קסם (qesem); these same English terms are used to translate φαρμακεια (pharmakeia) in the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 text. Verses such as and ("Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live") thus provided scriptural justification for Christian witch hunt
Witch-hunt
A witch-hunt is a search for witches or evidence of witchcraft, often involving moral panic, mass hysteria and lynching, but in historical instances also legally sanctioned and involving official witchcraft trials...

ers in the early Modern Age
Modern Age
Modern Age is an American conservative academic quarterly journal, founded in 1957 by Russell Kirk in close collaboration with Henry Regnery...

 (see Christian views on witchcraft
Christian views on witchcraft
Christian views on magic vary widely across denominational and individual barriers, and are often influenced by Biblical, theological, and historical considerations. Some Christians actively condemn any form of magic as Satanic while others simply dismiss it as superstition...

).

The precise meaning of the Hebrew kashaph, usually translated as "witch" or "sorceress", is uncertain. In the Septuagint, it was translated as pharmakeia or pharmakous. In the 16th century, Reginald Scott, a prominent critic of the witch-trials, translated kashaph, pharmakeia, and their Latin Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

 equivalent veneficos as all meaning "poisoner", and on this basis, claimed that "witch" was an incorrect translation and poisoners were intended. His theory still holds some currency, but is not widely accepted, and in kashaph is listed alongside other magic practitioners who could interpret dreams: magicians, astrologers, and Chaldeans. Suggested derivations of Kashaph include mutterer (from a single root) or herb user (as a compound word formed from the roots kash, meaning "herb", and hapaleh, meaning "using"). The Greek pharmakeia literally means "herbalist" or one who uses or administers drugs, but it was used virtually synonymously with mageia and goeteia as a term for a sorcerer.

The Bible provides some evidence that these commandments against sorcery were enforced under the Hebrew kings:
Note that the Hebrew word ob, translated as familiar spirit in the above quotation, has a different meaning than the usual English sense of the phrase; namely, it refers to a spirit that the woman is familiar with, rather than to a spirit which physically manifests itself in the shape of an animal
Familiar spirit
In European folklore and folk-belief of the Medieval and Early Modern periods, familiar spirits were supernatural entities believed to assist witches and cunning folk in their practice of magic...

.

New Testament

The New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 condemns the practice as an abomination, just as the Old Testament had (Galatians
Epistle to the Galatians
The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, often shortened to Galatians, is the ninth book of the New Testament. It is a letter from Paul of Tarsus to a number of Early Christian communities in the Roman province of Galatia in central Anatolia...

 5:20, compared with Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

 21:8; 22:15; and Acts
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

 8:9; 13:6), though the overall topic of Biblical law in Christianity
Biblical law in Christianity
Christian views of the Old Covenant have been central to Christian theology and practice since the circumcision controversy in Early Christianity. There are differing views about the applicability of the Old Covenant among Christian denominations...

 is still disputed. The word in most New Testament translations is "sorcerer"/"sorcery" rather than "witch"/"witchcraft".

Judaism

Jewish
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 law views the practice of witchcraft as being laden with idolatry
Idolatry
Idolatry is a pejorative term for the worship of an idol, a physical object such as a cult image, as a god, or practices believed to verge on worship, such as giving undue honour and regard to created forms other than God. In all the Abrahamic religions idolatry is strongly forbidden, although...

 and/or necromancy
Necromancy
Necromancy is a claimed form of magic that involves communication with the deceased, either by summoning their spirit in the form of an apparition or raising them bodily, for the purpose of divination, imparting the ability to foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge...

; both being serious theological and practical offenses in Judaism. Although Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

 vigorously denied the efficacy of all methods of witchcraft, and claimed that the Biblical prohibitions regarding it were precisely to wean the Israelites from practices related to idolatry
Idolatry
Idolatry is a pejorative term for the worship of an idol, a physical object such as a cult image, as a god, or practices believed to verge on worship, such as giving undue honour and regard to created forms other than God. In all the Abrahamic religions idolatry is strongly forbidden, although...

, according to Traditional Judaism
Conservadox Judaism
Conservadox is the term sometimes used to describe Jews whose beliefs and practices place them on the religious continuum somewhere between Conservative Judaism and Modern Orthodox Judaism...

, it is acknowledged that while magic exists, it is forbidden to practice it on the basis that it usually involves the worship of other gods. Rabbis of the Talmud also condemned magic when it produced something other than illusion, giving the example of two men who use magic to pick cucumbers (Sanhedrin 67a). The one who creates the illusion of picking cucumbers should not be condemned, only the one who actually picks the cucumbers through magic. However, some of the Rabbis practiced "magic" themselves. For instance, Rabbah created a person and sent him to Rabbi Zera, and Rabbi Hanina and Rabbi Oshaia studied every Sabbath evening together and created a small calf to eat (Sanhedrin 65b). In these cases, the "magic" was seen more as divine miracles (i.e., coming from God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 rather than pagan gods) than as witchcraft.

Judaism does make it clear that Jews shall not try to learn about the ways of witches (Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy
The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible, and of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch...

/Devarim 18: 9–10) and that witches are to be put to death. (Exodus/Shemot 22:17)

Judaism's most famous reference to a medium is undoubtedly the Witch of Endor
Witch of Endor
The Witch of Endor, sometimes called the Medium of Endor, was a woman who called up the ghost of the recently deceased prophet Samuel, at the demand of King Saul of the Kingdom of Israel in the First Book of Samuel, chapter...

 whom Saul
Saul
-People:Saul is a given/first name in English, the Anglicized form of the Hebrew name Shaul from the Hebrew Bible:* Saul , including people with this given namein the Bible:* Saul , a king of Edom...

 consults, as recounted in the First Book of Samuel, chapter 28.

Islam

Divination and magic in Islam encompass a wide range of practices, including black magic
Black magic
Black magic is the type of magic that draws on assumed malevolent powers or is used with the intention to kill, steal, injure, cause misfortune or destruction, or for personal gain without regard to harmful consequences. As a term, "black magic" is normally used by those that do not approve of its...

, warding off the evil eye
Evil eye
The evil eye is a look that is believed by many cultures to be able to cause injury or bad luck for the person at whom it is directed for reasons of envy or dislike...

, the production of amulets and other magical equipment, conjuring, casting lots
Cleromancy
Cleromancy is a form of divination using sortition, casting of lots, or casting bones or stones, in which an outcome is determined by means that normally would be considered random, such as the rolling of dice, but are sometimes believed to reveal the will of God, or other supernatural entities.-In...

, astrology
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

, and physiognomy
Physiognomy
Physiognomy is the assessment of a person's character or personality from their outer appearance, especially the face...

. Muslims do commonly believe in magic (Sihr) and explicitly forbid its practice. Sihr translates from Arabic as sorcery or black magic. The best known reference to magic in Islam is the Surah
Sura
A sura is a division of the Qur'an, often referred to as a chapter. The term chapter is sometimes avoided, as the suras are of unequal length; the shortest sura has only three ayat while the longest contains 286 ayat...

 Al-Falaq (meaning dawn or daybreak), which is known as a prayer to Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

 to ward off black magic.
Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the Dawn From the mischief of created things; From the mischief of Darkness as it overspreads; From the mischief of those who practise secret arts; And from the mischief of the envious one as he practises envy. (Quran 113:1–5)


Also according to the Quran:
And they follow that which the devils falsely related against the kingdom of Solomon
Solomon
Solomon , according to the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, a King of Israel and according to the Talmud one of the 48 prophets, is identified as the son of David, also called Jedidiah in 2 Samuel 12:25, and is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, and the final king before...

. Solomon disbelieved not; but the devils disbelieved, teaching mankind sorcery and that which was revealed to the two angels in Babel, Harut and Marut ... And surely they do know that he who trafficketh therein will have no (happy) portion in the Hereafter; and surely evil is the price for which they sell their souls, if they but knew. (al-Qur'an 2:102)


However, whereas performing miracles in Islamic thought and belief is reserved for only Messengers and Prophets, supernatural acts are also believed to be performed by Awliyaa – the spiritually accomplished. Disbelief in the miracles of the Prophets is considered an act of disbelief; belief in the miracles of any given pious individual is not. Neither are regarded as magic, but as signs of Allah at the hands of those close to Him that occur by His will and His alone.

Some Muslim practitioners believe that they may seek the help of the Jinn
Genie
Jinn or genies are supernatural creatures in Arab folklore and Islamic teachings that occupy a parallel world to that of mankind. Together, jinn, humans and angels make up the three sentient creations of Allah. Religious sources say barely anything about them; however, the Qur'an mentions that...

 (singular—jinni) in magic. It is a common belief that jinn can possess a human, thus requiring Exorcism. Still, the practice of seeking help to the Jinn is prohibited and regarded the same as seeking help to a devil.

The belief in jinn is part of the Muslim faith. Imam Muslim narrated the Prophet said: "Allah created the angels from light, created the jinn from the pure flame of fire, and Adam from that which was described to you (i.e., the clay.)".
Also in the Quran, chapter of Jinn:

To cast off the jinn from the body of the possessed, the "ruqya," which is from the Prophet's sunnah
Sunnah
The word literally means a clear, well trodden, busy and plain surfaced road. In the discussion of the sources of religion, Sunnah denotes the practice of Prophet Muhammad that he taught and practically instituted as a teacher of the sharī‘ah and the best exemplar...

 is used. The ruqya contains verses of the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 as well as prayers which are specifically targeted against demons. The knowledge of which verses of the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 to use in what way is what is considered "magic knowledge".

There is a Hadeeth recorded by Al-Bukhari
Sahih al-Bukhari
Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī , as it is commonly referred to, is one of the six canonical hadith collections of Islam. These prophetic traditions, or hadith, were collected by the Persian Muslim scholar Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari, after being transmitted orally for generations. Muslims view this as one of...

 which narrates that one who has eaten seven dates in the morning will not be adversely affected by magic in the course of that day.

Students of the history of religion have linked several magical practises in Islam with pre-islamic Turkish and East African customs. Most notable of these customs is the Zar Ceremony.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 continues to use the death penalty for sorcery. In 2006 Fawza Falih Muhammad Ali
Fawza Falih
Fawza Falih Muhammad Ali was a Saudi woman who made international headlines after she was condemned to death for practicing witchcraft in 2006. In April 2011, Saudi authorities reported that she had died in 2010....

 was condemned to death for practicing witchcraft. There is no legal definition of sorcery in Saudi, but in 2007 an Egyptian pharmacist working there was accused, convicted, and executed. Saudi authorities also pronounced the death penalty on a Lebanese television presenter, Ali Sabat, while he was performing the hajj
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

 (Islamic pilgrimage) in the country.

India

Belief in the supernatural is strong in all parts of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, and lynching
Lynching
Lynching is an extrajudicial execution carried out by a mob, often by hanging, but also by burning at the stake or shooting, in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate, control, or otherwise manipulate a population of people. It is related to other means of social control that...

s for witchcraft are reported in the press from time to time. It is estimated that 750 people have been killed in witch-hunts in the states of Assam
Assam
Assam , also, rarely, Assam Valley and formerly the Assam Province , is a northeastern state of India and is one of the most culturally and geographically distinct regions of the country...

 and West Bengal
West Bengal
West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India and is the nation's fourth-most populous. It is also the seventh-most populous sub-national entity in the world, with over 91 million inhabitants. A major agricultural producer, West Bengal is the sixth-largest contributor to India's GDP...

 since 2003. More than 100 women are tortured, paraded naked, or harassed in the state of Chhattisgarh
Chhattisgarh
Chhattisgarh is a state in Central India, formed when the 16 Chhattisgarhi-speaking South-Eastern districts of Madhya Pradesh gained separate statehood on 1 November 2000....

 annually, officials said. A social activist in the region said the reported cases were only the tip of the iceberg.

Japan

In Japanese folklore, the witch can commonly be separated into two categories: those who employ snake
Snake
Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales...

s as familiars, and those who employ foxes.

The fox witch is, by far, the most commonly seen witch figure in Japan. Differing regional beliefs set those who use foxes into two separate types: the kitsune-mochi, and the tsukimono-suji. The first of these, the kitsune-mochi, is a solitary figure who gains his fox familiar by bribing it with its favourite foods. The kitsune-mochi then strikes up a deal with the fox, typically promising food and daily care in return for the fox's magical services. The fox of Japanese folklore is a powerful trickster in and of itself, imbued with powers of shape changing, possession, and illusion. These creatures can be either nefarious; disguising themselves as women in order to trap men, or they can be benign forces as in the story of "The Grateful foxes". However, once a fox enters the employ of a human it almost exclusively becomes a force of evil to be feared. A fox under the employ of a human can provide him with many services. The fox can turn invisible and be set out to find any secrets its master desires and it still retains its many powers of illusion which its master will often put to use in order to trick and deceive his enemies. The most feared power the kitsune-mochi possess is the ability to command his fox to possess other humans. This process of possession is called Kitsunetsuki.

By far, the most commonly reported cases of fox witchcraft in modern Japan are enacted by tsukimono-suji families, or "hereditary witches". The Tsukimono-suji is traditionally a family who is reported to have foxes under their employ. These foxes serve the family and are passed down through the generations, typically through the female line. tsukimono-suji foxes are able to supply much in the way of the same mystical aid that the foxes under the employ of a kitsune-mochi can provide its more solitary master with. In addition to these powers, if the foxes are kept happy and well taken care of, they will bring great fortune and prosperity to the Tsukimono-suji house. However, the aid in which these foxes give is often overshadowed by the social and mystical implications of being a member of such a family. In many villages, the status of local families as tsukimono-suji is often common, everyday knowledge. Such families are respected and feared, but are also openly shunned. Due to its hereditary nature, the status of being Tsukimono-suji is considered contagious. Because of this, it is often impossible for members of such a family to sell land or other properties, due to fear that the possession of such items will cause foxes to inundate one's own home. In addition to this, because the foxes are believed to be passed down through the female line, it is often nearly impossible for women of such families to find a husband whose family will agree to have him married to a tsukimono-suji family. In such a union the woman's status as a Tsukimono-suji would transfer to any man who married her.

Philippines

Philippines have two main kinds of witches, which are mangkukulam and mambabarang.

Tocharians

An expedition sent to what is now the Xinjiang
Xinjiang
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

 region of western China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 by the PBS
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

 documentary series Nova
NOVA (TV series)
Nova is a popular science television series from the U.S. produced by WGBH Boston. It can be seen on the Public Broadcasting Service in the United States, and in more than 100 other countries...

 found a fully clothed female Tocharian
Tocharians
The Tocharians were the Tocharian-speaking inhabitants of the Tarim Basin, making them the easternmost speakers of Indo-European languages in antiquity. They were known as, or at least closely related to, the Yuezhi of Chinese sources...

 mummy wearing a black conical hat of the type now associated with witches in Europe in the storage area of a small local museum, indicative of an Indo-European
Indo-European
Indo-European may refer to:* Indo-European languages** Aryan race, a 19th century and early 20th century term for those peoples who are the native speakers of Indo-European languages...

 priestess.

Oceania

A local newspaper informed that more than 50 people were killed in two Highlands
Highlands Region
-Subdivision:The Region is administratively divided into five provinces:* Southern Highlands* Enga Province* Western Highlands* Simbu* Eastern Highlands-See also:* Provinces of Papua New Guinea...

 provinces of Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

 in 2008 for allegedly practicing witchcraft.

Africa

The term witch doctor
Witch doctor
A witch doctor originally referred to a type of healer who treated ailments believed to be caused by witchcraft. It is currently used to refer to healers in some third world regions, who use traditional healing rather than contemporary medicine...

, a common translation for the Zulu inyanga
Inyanga
Inyanga is a Zulu word for a traditional herbal healer.An inyanga is a traditional South African herbalist, herb doctor, or medicine man or woman. The Southern African word inyanga is related to the Central African nganga, meaning a priest and medicine man...

, has been misconstrued to mean "a healer who uses witchcraft" rather than its original meaning of "one who diagnoses and cures maladies caused by witches".
In Southern African traditions, there are three classifications of somebody who uses magic. The thakathi is usually improperly translated into English as "witch", and is a spiteful person who operates in secret to harm others. The sangoma
Sangoma
A sangoma is a practitioner of herbal medicine, divination and counselling in traditional Nguni societies of Southern Africa .The philosophy is based on a belief in ancestral spirits...

 is a diviner, somewhere on a par with a fortune teller, and is employed in detecting illness, predicting a person's future (or advising them on which path to take), or identifying the guilty party in a crime. He also practices some degree of medicine. The inyanga is often translated as "witch doctor" (though many Southern Africans resent this implication, as it perpetuates the mistaken belief that a "witch doctor" is in some sense a practitioner of malicious magic). The inyangas job is to heal illness and injury and provide customers with magical items for everyday use. Of these three categories the thakatha is almost exclusively female, the sangoma is usually female, and the inyanga is almost exclusively male.

Much of what witchcraft represents in Africa has been susceptible to misunderstandings and confusion, thanks in no small part to a tendency among western scholars since the time of the now largely discredited Margaret Murray
Margaret Murray
Margaret Alice Murray was a prominent British Egyptologist and anthropologist. Primarily known for her work in Egyptology, which was "the core of her academic career," she is also known for her propagation of the Witch-cult hypothesis, the theory that the witch trials in the Early Modern period of...

 to approach the subject through a comparative lens vis-a-vis European witchcraft. Okeja argues that witchcraft in Africa today plays a very different social role than in Europe of the past--or present--and should be understood through an African rather than post-colonial Western lens.

In some Central Africa
Central Africa
Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda....

n areas, malicious magic users are believed by locals to be the source of terminal illness
Terminal illness
Terminal illness is a medical term popularized in the 20th century to describe a disease that cannot be cured or adequately treated and that is reasonably expected to result in the death of the patient within a short period of time. This term is more commonly used for progressive diseases such as...

 such as AIDS
AIDS
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

 and cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

. In such cases, various methods are used to rid the person from the bewitching spirit, occasionally physical
Physical abuse
Physical abuse is abuse involving contact intended to cause feelings of intimidation, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm.-Forms of physical abuse:*Striking*Punching*Belting*Pushing, pulling*Slapping*Whipping*Striking with an object...

 and psychological abuse
Psychological abuse
Psychological abuse, also referred to as emotional abuse or mental abuse, is a form of abuse characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder...

. Children may be accused of being witches, for example a young niece may be blamed for the illness of a relative. Most of these cases of abuse go unreported since the members of the society that witness such abuse are too afraid of being accused of being accomplices. It is also believed that witchcraft can be transmitted to children by feeding. Parents discourage their children from interacting with people believed to be witches.

, between 25,000 and 50,000 children in Kinshasa
Kinshasa
Kinshasa is the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is located on the Congo River....

, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

, had been accused of witchcraft and thrown out of their homes. These children have been subjected to often-violent abuse during exorcisms, sometimes supervised by self-styled religious pastors. Other pastors and Christian activist strongly oppose such accusations and try to rescue children from their unscrupulous colleagues. The usual term for these children is enfants sorciers (child witches) or enfants dits sorciers (children accused of witchcraft). In 2002, USAID funded the production of two short films on the subject, made in Kinshasa by journalists Angela Nicoara and Mike Ormsby.

In April 2008, in Kinshasa, the police arrested 14 suspected victims (of penis
Penis
The penis is a biological feature of male animals including both vertebrates and invertebrates...

 snatching) and sorcerers accused of using black magic or witchcraft to steal (make disappear) or shrink men's penises to extort cash for cure, amid a wave of panic. Arrests were made in an effort to avoid bloodshed seen in Ghana
Ghana
Ghana , officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located in West Africa. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south...

 a decade ago, when 12 alleged penis snatchers were beaten to death by mobs. While it is easy for modern people to dismiss such reports, Uchenna Okeja argues that a belief system in which such magical practices are deemed possible offer many benefits to Africans who hold them. For example, the belief that a sorcerer has "stolen" a man's penis functions as an anxiety-reduction mechanism for men suffering from impotence while simultaneously providing an explanation that is consistent with African cultural beliefs rather than appealing to Western scientific notions that are tainted by the history of colonialism (at least for many Africans).

It was reported on May 21, 2008 that in Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, a mob had burnt to death at least 11 people accused of witchcraft. In Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

 in 2008, President Kikwete publicly condemned witchdoctor
Witchdoctor
Erin Johnson, better known as Witchdoctor, is an established member of Atlanta’s Dungeon Family collective which includes members such as Goodie Mob, OutKast, Cee-Lo , Big Rube, & many others...

s for killing albinos
Albinism
Albinism is a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes due to absence or defect of an enzyme involved in the production of melanin...

 for their body parts which are thought to bring good luck. 25 albinos have been murdered since March 2007. In the Meatu district of Tanzania, half of all murders are “witch-killings”., while particularly albinos are often murdered for their body parts on the advice of witch doctors in order to produce powerful amulets which are believed to protect against witchcraft and make the owner prosper in life.

In the Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

n states of Akwa Ibom
Akwa Ibom
Akwa Ibom is a state in Nigeria named after the Qua Iboe river. It is located in the coastal South-Southern part of the country, lying between latitudes 4°321 and 5°331 North, and longitudes 7°251 and 8°251 East...

 and Cross River
Cross River (Nigeria)
Cross River is the main river in southeastern Nigeria and gives its name to Cross River State.It originates in Cameroon, where it takes the name of the Manyu River....

 about 15,000 children branded as witches and most of them end up abandoned and abused on the streets. In Gambia, about 1,000 people accused of being witches were locked in detention centers in March 2009 and forced to drink a dangerous hallucinogenic potion, human rights organization Amnesty International said. Every year, hundreds of people in the Central African Republic
Central African Republic
The Central African Republic , is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It borders Chad in the north, Sudan in the north east, South Sudan in the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo in the south, and Cameroon in the west. The CAR covers a land area of about ,...

 are convicted of witchcraft.

Complementary remarks about witchcraft by a native Congolese initiate: "From witchcraft ... may be developed the remedy (kimbuki) that will do most to raise up our country." "Witchcraft ... deserves respect ... it can embellish or redeem (ketula evo vuukisa)." "The ancestors were equipped with the protective witchcraft of the clan (kindoki kiandundila kanda). ... They could also gather the power of animals into their hands ... whenever they needed. ... If we could make use of these kinds of witchcraft, our country would rapidly progress in knowledge of every kind." "You witches (zindoki) too, bring your science into the light to be written down so that ... the benefits in it ... endow our race."

Among the Mende (of Sierra Leone), trial and conviction for witchcraft has a beneficial effect for those convicted. "The witchfinder had warned the whole village to ensure the relative prosperity of the accused and sentenced ... old people. ... Six months later all of the people ... accused, were secure, well-fed and arguably happier than at any [previous] time; they had hardly to beckon and people would come with food or whatever was needful. ... Instead of such old and widowed people being left helpless or (as in Western society) institutionalized in old people's homes, these were reintegrated into society and left secure in their old age ... . ... Old people are 'suitable' candidates for this kind of accusation in the sense that they are isolated and vulnerable, and they are 'suitable' candidates for 'social security' for precisely the same reasons."

In Nigeria several Pentecostal pastors have mixed their evangelical brand of Christianity with African beliefs in witchcraft in order to benefit from the lucrative witch finding and exorcism business which in the past was the exclusive domain of the so-called witch doctor or traditional healers. These pastors have been involved in the torturing and even killing of children accused of witchcraft. Over the past decade, around 15,000 children have been accused, and around 1,000 murdered. Churches are very numerous in Nigeria, and competition for congregations is hard. Some pastors attempt to establish a reputation for spiritual power by "detecting" child witches, usually following a death or loss of a job within a family, or an accusation of financial fraud against the pastor. In the course of "exorcisms", accused children may be starved, beaten, mutilated, set on fire, forced to consume acid or cement, or buried alive. While some church leaders and Christian activists have spoken out strongly against these abuses, many Nigerian churches are involved in the abuse, although church administrations deny knowledge of it..

In Malawi it is also common practice to accuse children of witchcraft and many children have been abandoned, abused and even killed as a result. As in other African countries both African traditional healers and their Christian counterparts are trying to make a living out of exorcising children and are actively involved in pointing out children as witches. Various secular and Christian organizations are combining their efforts to address this problem.

Irreligion

Some individuals who are irreligious, including atheists and agnostics, practice witchcraft and magic. An organization dedicated to the promotion of witchcraft known as The Realm of White Magic states that this is possible because "witchcraft is a lifestyle choice not a spiritual belief system." In the past, witchcraft was often viewed as a precursor of atheism by officials. However, those who subscribe to atheism have often stood in opposition to the practice of witchcraft.

Neopagan witchcraft

Modern practices identified by their practitioners as "witchcraft" have arisen in the twentieth century, generally portrayed as revivals of pre-Christian European magic
Magic (paranormal)
Magic is the claimed art of manipulating aspects of reality either by supernatural means or through knowledge of occult laws unknown to science. It is in contrast to science, in that science does not accept anything not subject to either direct or indirect observation, and subject to logical...

 and spirituality. They thus fall within the broad category of Neopaganism
Neopaganism
Neopaganism is an umbrella term used to identify a wide variety of modern religious movements, particularly those influenced by or claiming to be derived from the various pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe...

.

Contemporary witchcraft takes many forms, but often involves the use of divination, magic, and working with the classical elements and unseen forces such as spirits and the forces of nature. The practice of herbal
Herbalism
Herbalism is a traditional medicinal or folk medicine practice based on the use of plants and plant extracts. Herbalism is also known as botanical medicine, medical herbalism, herbal medicine, herbology, herblore, and phytotherapy...

 and folk medicine
Folk medicine
-Description:Refers to healing practices and ideas of body physiology and health preservation known to a limited segment of the population in a culture, transmitted informally as general knowledge, and practiced or applied by anyone in the culture having prior experience.All cultures and societies...

 and spiritual healing is also common, as are alternative medical and New Age
New Age
The New Age movement is a Western spiritual movement that developed in the second half of the 20th century. Its central precepts have been described as "drawing on both Eastern and Western spiritual and metaphysical traditions and then infusing them with influences from self-help and motivational...

 healing practices.

The first groups of neopagan witchcraft to publicly appear in the 1950s and 1960s, such as Gerald Gardner
Gerald Gardner
Gerald Brousseau Gardner , who sometimes used the craft name Scire, was an influential English Wiccan, as well as an amateur anthropologist and archaeologist, writer, weaponry expert and occultist. He was instrumental in bringing the Neopagan religion of Wicca to public attention in Britain and...

's Wicca
Wicca
Wicca , is a modern Pagan religious movement. Developing in England in the first half of the 20th century, Wicca was popularised in the 1950s and early 1960s by a Wiccan High Priest named Gerald Gardner, who at the time called it the "witch cult" and "witchcraft," and its adherents "the Wica."...

 and Roy Bowers' Clan of Tubal Cain, operated as initiatory
Initiation
Initiation is a rite of passage ceremony marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. It could also be a formal admission to adulthood in a community or one of its formal components...

 secret societies
Secret society
A secret society is a club or organization whose activities and inner functioning are concealed from non-members. The society may or may not attempt to conceal its existence. The term usually excludes covert groups, such as intelligence agencies or guerrilla insurgencies, which hide their...

. Other individual practitioners and writers such as Paul Huson
Paul Huson
Paul Huson is a British-born author and artist currently living in the United States. In addition to writing several books about occultism and witchcraft he has worked extensively in the film and television industries.-Family:...

 also claimed inheritance to surviving traditions of witchcraft.

Wicca

During the 20th century, interest in witchcraft in English-speaking
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and European countries began to increase, inspired particularly by Margaret Murray
Margaret Murray
Margaret Alice Murray was a prominent British Egyptologist and anthropologist. Primarily known for her work in Egyptology, which was "the core of her academic career," she is also known for her propagation of the Witch-cult hypothesis, the theory that the witch trials in the Early Modern period of...

's theory of a pan-European witch-cult originally published in 1921, since discredited by further careful historical research. Interest was intensified, however, by Gerald Gardner
Gerald Gardner
Gerald Brousseau Gardner , who sometimes used the craft name Scire, was an influential English Wiccan, as well as an amateur anthropologist and archaeologist, writer, weaponry expert and occultist. He was instrumental in bringing the Neopagan religion of Wicca to public attention in Britain and...

's claim in 1954 in Witchcraft Today that a form of witchcraft still existed in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. The truth of Gardner's claim is now disputed too, with different historians offering evidence for or against the religion's existence prior to Gardner.

The Wicca that Gardner initially taught was a witchcraft religion having a lot in common with Margaret Murray's hypothetically posited cult of the 1920s. Indeed Murray wrote an introduction to Gardner's Witchcraft Today, in effect putting her stamp of approval on it. Wicca is now practised as a religion of an initiatory
Initiation
Initiation is a rite of passage ceremony marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. It could also be a formal admission to adulthood in a community or one of its formal components...

 secret society
Secret society
A secret society is a club or organization whose activities and inner functioning are concealed from non-members. The society may or may not attempt to conceal its existence. The term usually excludes covert groups, such as intelligence agencies or guerrilla insurgencies, which hide their...

 nature with positive ethical principles, organised into autonomous coven
Coven
A coven or covan is a name used to describe a gathering of witches or in some cases vampires. Due to the word's association with witches, a gathering of Wiccans, followers of the witchcraft-based neopagan religion of Wicca, is also described as a coven....

s and led by a High Priesthood. There is also a large "Eclectic Wiccan" movement of individuals and groups who share key Wiccan beliefs but have no initiatory connection or affiliation with traditional Wicca. Wiccan writings and ritual show borrowings from a number of sources including 19th and 20th-century ceremonial magic
Ceremonial magic
Ceremonial magic, also referred to as high magic and as learned magic, is a broad term used in the context of Hermeticism or Western esotericism to encompass a wide variety of long, elaborate, and complex rituals of magic. It is named as such because the works included are characterized by...

, the medieval grimoire known as the Key of Solomon
Key of Solomon
The Key of Solomon , is a grimoire, or book on magic incorrectly attributed to King Solomon. It probably dates back to the 14th or 15th century Italian Renaissance...

, Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley , born Edward Alexander Crowley, and also known as both Frater Perdurabo and The Great Beast, was an influential English occultist, astrologer, mystic and ceremonial magician, responsible for founding the religious philosophy of Thelema. He was also successful in various other...

's Ordo Templi Orientis
Ordo Templi Orientis
Ordo Templi Orientis is an international fraternal and religious organization founded at the beginning of the 20th century...

 and pre-Christian religions. Both men and women are equally termed "witches." They practice a form of duotheistic universalism
Universalism
Universalism in its primary meaning refers to religious, theological, and philosophical concepts with universal application or applicability...

.

Since Gardner's death in 1964, the Wicca that he claimed he was initiated into has attracted many initiates, becoming the largest of the various witchcraft traditions in the Western world, and has influenced other Neopagan and occult movements.

Stregheria

Stregheria is an Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 witchcraft religion popularised in the 1980s by Raven Grimassi
Raven Grimassi
Raven Grimassi is the pen name of an Italian-American author, publishing on the topics of Neo-paganism and witchcraft. He is perhaps best known for his popularization of Stregheria, a neopagan revival of "Italian witchcraft"....

, who claims that it evolved within the ancient Etruscan religion
Etruscan mythology
The Etruscans were a diachronically continuous population, with a distinct language and culture during the period of earliest European writing, in the Mediterranean Iron Age in the second half of the first millennium BC...

 of Italian peasants who worked under the Catholic upper classes.

Modern Stregheria closely resembles Charles Leland's controversial late-19th-century account of a surviving Italian religion of witchcraft, worshipping the Goddess Diana
Diana (mythology)
In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt and moon and birthing, being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She was equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, though she had an independent origin in Italy...

, her brother Dianus/Lucifer
Lucifer
Traditionally, Lucifer is a name that in English generally refers to the devil or Satan before being cast from Heaven, although this is not the original meaning of the term. In Latin, from which the English word is derived, Lucifer means "light-bearer"...

, and their daughter Aradia
Aradia (goddess)
Aradia is one of the principal figures in the American folklorist Charles Leland’s 1899 work Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches, which he believed to be a genuine religious text used by a group of pagan witches in Tuscany, a claim that has subsequently been disputed by other folklorists and...

. Leland's witches do not see Lucifer as the evil Satan
Satan
Satan , "the opposer", is the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible...

 of Christian myth, but a benevolent god of the Sun and Moon.

The ritual format of contemporary Stregheria is roughly similar to that of other Neopagan witchcraft religions such as Wicca
Wicca
Wicca , is a modern Pagan religious movement. Developing in England in the first half of the 20th century, Wicca was popularised in the 1950s and early 1960s by a Wiccan High Priest named Gerald Gardner, who at the time called it the "witch cult" and "witchcraft," and its adherents "the Wica."...

. The pentagram
Pentagram
A pentagram is the shape of a five-pointed star drawn with five straight strokes...

 is the most common symbol of religious identity. Most followers celebrate a series of eight festivals equivalent to the Wiccan Wheel of the Year
Wheel of the Year
The Wheel of the Year is a Neopagan term for the annual cycle of the Earth's seasons. It consists of eight festivals, spaced at approximately even intervals throughout the year. These festivals are referred to as Sabbats...

, though others follow the ancient Roman festivals. An emphasis is placed on ancestor worship.

Feri Tradition

The Feri Tradition is a modern witchcraft practice founded by Victor Anderson and his wife Cora. It is an ecstatic tradition with strong emphasis is placed on sensual experience and awareness, including sexual mysticism, which is not limited to heterosexual expression.

Most practitioners worship three main deities; the Star Goddess, and two divine twins, one of whom is the blue God. They believe that there are three parts to the human soul, a belief taken from the Hawaiian religion of Huna as described by Max Freedom Long
Max Freedom Long
Max Freedom Long was an American teacher and New Thought philosopher.-Early career:Shortly after graduating from UCLA in 1917, Long moved to the island of Hawaii to teach in elementary schools. When he arrived, he claimed that some Native Hawaiians were practicing what he called magic...

.

See also

  • Catalan mythology about witches
    Catalan mythology about witches
    In Catalan popular culture, there are a large number of legends about witches . In the popular imagination, a witch is a woman who, by means of a pact with the Devil, has acquired supernatural power, which she uses for her own benefit and for evil purposes...

  • Christian views on magic
  • List of fictional witches
  • Queen (Snow White)
  • Torture of witches
  • Witch-hunt
    Witch-hunt
    A witch-hunt is a search for witches or evidence of witchcraft, often involving moral panic, mass hysteria and lynching, but in historical instances also legally sanctioned and involving official witchcraft trials...

  • Witchcraft Acts
  • Witchcraft in Native American mythology
    Witchcraft in Native American mythology
    The numerous indigenous peoples of the Americas held manifold beliefs in magic, in western ethnology sometimes described as shamanism, sorcery or witchcraft.-North America:...

  • Wicked fairy godmother
    Wicked fairy godmother
    The wicked fairy godmother, a figure rare in fairy tales, is nevertheless among best-known figures from such tales because of her appearance in one of the most widely known tales, Sleeping Beauty, and in the ballet derived from it...


Literature

  • Easley, Patricia Thompson, A gobber tooth, a hairy lip, a squint eye: concepts of the witch and the body in early modern Europe, Thesis, University of North Texas, August 2000
  • Lizanne Henderson
    Lizanne Henderson
    Dr Lizanne Henderson BA MA PhD is a Lecturer in History at the University of Glasgow in Dumfries. She is a cultural historian and folklorist and is an expert on the Scottish Witch-Hunts and Scottish fairy belief...

    , ‘Witch-Hunting and Witch Belief in the Gàidhealtachd’’, Witchcraft and Belief in Early Modern Scotland Eds. Julian Goodare, Lauren Martin and Joyce Miller. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007
  • Geschiere, Peter: The modernity of witchcraft. Politics and the occult in postcolonial Africa = Sorcellerie et politique en Afrique ; la viande des autres. Charlottesville Va.: Univ. Press of Virginia 1997.
  • Hyatt, Harry Middleton. Hoodoo, conjuration, witchcraft, rootwork: beliefs accepted by many Negroes and white persons, these being orally recorded among Blacks and whites. s.n., 1970.
  • Lindquest, Galina. Conjuring Hope: Healing and Magic in Contemporary Russia. Vol. 1. New York: Berghahn Books, 2006.
  • Pentikainen, Juha. "Marnina Takalo as an Individual." C. Jstor
    JSTOR
    JSTOR is an online system for archiving academic journals, founded in 1995. It provides its member institutions full-text searches of digitized back issues of several hundred well-known journals, dating back to 1665 in the case of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society...

    . 26 February 2007.
  • Pentikainen, Juha. "The Supernatural Experience." F. Jstor. 26 February 2007.
  • Moore, Henrietta L. and Todd Sanders 2001. Magical Interpretations, Material Realities: Modernity, Witchcraft and the Occult in Postcolonial Africa. London: Routledge.
  • Worobec, Caroline. "Witchcraft Beliefs and Practices in Prerevolutionary Russia and Ukrainian Villages." Jstor. 27 February 2007.
  • Favret-Saada, Jeanne (1981) Deadly Words: Witchcraft in the Bocage, Cambridge.
  • Favret-Saada, Jeanne (2009) Desorceler, Paris, L'Olivier.
  • Ginzburg, Carlo
    Carlo Ginzburg
    Carlo Ginzburg is a noted historian and proponent of the field of microhistory. He is best known for his Il formaggio e I vermi which examined the beliefs of an Italian heretic, Menocchio, from Montereale Valcellina.- Biography :The son of Natalia Ginzburg and Leone Ginzburg, he was born...

     (1990) Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK