Witchcraft has existed since time immemorial, which traditionally means using supernatural or magical powers to harm others. A person who practices witchcraft is called a witch. The term originated in medieval and early modern Europe, where witches were suspected to be females who troubled their community by contacting evil beings. Sometimes, such witches who caused immense harm to the community would be killed, intimidated, banished, or attacked.
Witchcraft is usually followed by contemporary cultures with magical or supernatural power to perform such activities. According to many anthropologists, these were also considered occult practices, and they believed witches were the opposite of people of medicine and healing practitioners.
The concept of witchcraft
The concept of witchcraft has persisted throughout recorded history and has been practiced in many forms by various cultures. Even today, witchcraft is followed by certain cultures worldwide. According to many historians, this concept has also been one of the ways to explain the strange misfortunes of a particular region or community. For instance, people from the Gaels of Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland strongly believed in fairy folk that could cause supernatural harm.
The five critical aspects of witchcraft followed by most cultures were as follows:
- It was a kind of magic used to harm or cause misfortune to others
- It was used against one’s own community
- It was considered immortal and often encountered by evil beings
- The powers for performing witchcraft and its rituals were generally inherited or initiated
- The powers of witchcraft could be thwarted by defensive magic or by causing harm to a witch
Practices of witchcraft
Witchcraft practices are generally of two types – malicious magic, forbidden by law and feared by the public, and beneficial magic, which the people and the laws tolerate to a certain extent.
Spell casting is one of the most popular ways of a witchcraft practice, where a witch casts a spell of words, formula, a ritual, or a combination of the three to employ magic. Generally, runes or sigils are inscribed on a magical inscription or a wax or clay image of a person to employ their magic and make them work most potently. Other ways of spell-casting include:
- Recitations of the incantation
- Physical performance of rituals
- Employment and involvement of magical potions and herbs
- Gazing at mirrors and scrying for divination, and many others
Conjuring the dead – Necromancy
Necromancy is the process of conjuring spirits of the dead for prophecy or divination. It is one of the condemned witchcraft practices that the biblical Witch of Endor performed earlier. In this process, witches generally go to crossroads and heathen burials to perform delusive magic and use this technique to call the evil spirits. The devil favors the witch as if they were rising from the grave.