- The Many Faces of Women Who Identify as Witches
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The sentence contains offensive content. Cancel Submit. Your feedback will be reviewed. C1 a woman who is believed to have magical powers and who uses them to harm or help other people :. Witches were persecuted all over western Europe from the 15th to the 17th century , as it was claimed that they had dealings with the Devil. In the story , a wicked witch put a curse on the princess for years. The witch put a magic spell on the prince and turned him into a frog.
The central character is a malevolent witch out for revenge.
The Many Faces of Women Who Identify as Witches
Of course , in the end, the wicked witch gets killed. People who perform magic or have paranormal abilities. You can also find related words, phrases, and synonyms in the topics: Unpleasant women. Examples of witch.
The par t in parentheses is nonsensical, but written as if the witches were using familiar address forms with each other. From Cambridge English Corpus. In , however, the human subterfuge was replaced by 'a wider, more stereotypical malicious use of poisonous grease by witches ' p. These examples are from the Cambridge English Corpus and from sources on the web. Any opinions in the examples do not represent the opinion of the Cambridge Dictionary editors or of Cambridge University Press or its licensors.
He is clear that this is not an ' ancient religion ' in the sense which most witches still claim. The most vexing problem the witches presented was their destabilising of such terms as 'realistic' and 'fantastic', or 'fatal' and 'trivial'. Women in textbooks are most likely to appear in traditional roles, such as a farmer, or as mythological figures, such as witches. The Western mainstream Christian view is far from the only societal perspective about witchcraft. Many cultures worldwide continue to have widespread practices and cultural beliefs that are loosely translated into English as "witchcraft", although the English translation masks a very great diversity in their forms, magical beliefs, practices, and place in their societies.
During the Age of Colonialism , many cultures across the globe were exposed to the modern Western world via colonialism , usually accompanied and often preceded by intensive Christian missionary activity see " Christianization ". In these cultures beliefs that were related to witchcraft and magic were influenced by the prevailing Western concepts of the time.
Witch-hunts , scapegoating , and the killing or shunning of suspected witches still occur in the modern era. Suspicion of modern medicine due to beliefs about illness being due to witchcraft also continues in many countries to this day, with tragic healthcare consequences.
Other severe medical conditions whose treatment is hampered in this way include tuberculosis , leprosy , epilepsy and the common severe bacterial Buruli ulcer. The word witch is of uncertain origin. There are numerous etymologies that it could be derived from. Evans-Pritchard , 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 witchcraft, where witches could equally use or be accused of using physical techniques, as well as some who really had attempted to cause harm by thought alone.
It is argued here that the medical arts played a significant and sometimes pivotal role in the witchcraft controversies of seventeenth-century New England. Not only were physicians and surgeons the principal professional arbiters for determining natural versus preternatural signs and symptoms of disease, they occupied key legislative, judicial, and ministerial roles relating to witchcraft proceedings. Forty six male physicians, surgeons, and apothecaries are named in court transcripts or other contemporary source materials relating to New England witchcraft.
These practitioners served on coroners' inquests, performed autopsies, took testimony, issued writs, wrote letters, or committed people to prison, in addition to diagnosing and treating patients. Some practitioners are simply mentioned in passing. Probably the most widely known characteristic of a witch was the ability to cast a spell , "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. The biblical Witch of Endor performed it 1 Sam. In Christianity and Islam , sorcery came to be associated with heresy and apostasy and to be viewed as evil. The key century was the fifteenth, which saw a dramatic rise in awareness and terror of witchcraft, culminating in the publication of the Malleus Maleficarum but prepared by such fanatical popular preachers as Bernardino of Siena.
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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. It was used by both Catholics and Protestants  for several hundred years, outlining 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.
The book became the handbook for secular courts throughout Renaissance Europe, but was not used by the Inquisition, which even cautioned against relying on the work. Throughout the early modern period , the English term "witch" was not exclusively negative in meaning, and could also indicate cunning folk.
As Alan McFarlane noted, "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. Many English "witches" convicted of consorting with demons seem to have been cunning folk whose fairy familiars 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. She identifies three varieties of witch in popular belief: . 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.
Belief in witchcraft continues to be present today in some societies and accusations of witchcraft are the trigger for serious forms of violence , including murder. Accusations of witchcraft are sometimes linked to personal disputes, jealousy , and conflicts between neighbors or family members over land or inheritance. Witchcraft-related violence is often discussed as a serious issue in the broader context of violence against women.
In Tanzania, about older women are murdered each year following accusations of witchcraft or accusations of being a witch. For instance, in Saudi Arabia practicing witchcraft and sorcery is a crime punishable by death and the country has executed people for this crime in , and Children who live in some regions of the world, such as parts of Africa, are also vulnerable to violence that is related to witchcraft accusations.
They operated as initiatory secret societies. Other individual practitioners and writers such as Paul Huson  also claimed inheritance to surviving traditions of witchcraft. During the 20th century, interest in witchcraft in English-speaking and European countries began to increase, inspired particularly by Margaret Murray 's theory of a pan-European witch-cult originally published in , since discredited by further careful historical research. The truth of Gardner's claim is now disputed too. The Wicca that Gardner initially taught was a witchcraft religion having a lot in common with Margaret Murray's hypothetically posited cult of the s.
Wicca is now practised as a religion of an initiatory secret society nature with positive ethical principles, organised into autonomous covens 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 , the medieval grimoire known as the Key of Solomon , Aleister Crowley 's Ordo Templi Orientis and pre-Christian religions.
Wiccan literature has been described as aiding the empowerment of young women through its lively portrayal of female protagonists.
Part of the recent growth in Neo-Pagan religions has been attributed to the strong media presence of fictional works such as the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Harry Potter series with their depictions of witchcraft. Wiccan beliefs are currently often found to be compatible with liberal ideals such as the Green movement , and particularly with feminism by providing young women with means for empowerment and for control of their own lives.
Leland's witches do not see Lucifer as the evil Satan that Christians see, 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.
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The pentagram is the most common symbol of religious identity. Most followers celebrate a series of eight festivals equivalent to the Wiccan Wheel of the Year , though others follow the ancient Roman festivals.
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An emphasis is placed on ancestor worship. Traditional witchcraft is a term used to refer to a variety of contemporary forms of witchcraft. Pagan studies scholar Ethan Doyle White described it as "a broad movement of aligned magico-religious groups who reject any relation to Gardnerianism and the wider Wiccan movement, claiming older, more "traditional" roots.
Although typically united by a shared aesthetic rooted in European folklore, the Traditional Craft contains within its ranks a rich and varied array of occult groups, from those who follow a contemporary Pagan path that is suspiciously similar to Wicca to those who adhere to Luciferianism ". Schulke, the current Magister of the Cultus Sabbati, when he proclaimed that traditional witchcraft "refers to a coterie of initiatory lineages of ritual magic, spellcraft and devotional mysticism".
Modern witchcraft considers Satanism to be the "dark side of Christianity" rather than a branch of Wicca: — the character of Satan referenced in Satanism exists only in the theology of the three Abrahamic religions, and Satanism arose as, and occupies the role of, a rebellious counterpart to Christianity, in which all is permitted and the self is central. Christianity can be characterized as having the diametrically opposite views to these. The two major trends are theistic Satanism and atheistic Satanism ; the former venerates Satan as a supernatural patriarchal deity , while the latter views Satan as merely a symbolic embodiment of certain human traits.
Organized groups began to emerge in the mid 20th century, including the Ophite Cultus Satanas  and The Church of Satan Sloane also corresponded with his contemporary Gerald Gardner , founder of the Wicca religion, and implied that his views of Satan and the horned god were not necessarily in conflict with Gardner's approach.