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Thread: Witches

  1. #1

    Witches


    The history of witchcraft is somewhat murky in that it is viewed as both benign and malignant. While most witchcraft was meant to be beneficial to people, the way it was carried out could be quite horrific to the uninitiated. Modern witchcraft still uses the killing of animals even in the Western World. but, in Africa, we see that it exists in forms identical to what has been described in our own past and that of many peoples. People being murdered, their bodies cut up as charms and even children being murdered for body fat to cast spells. While many try to say that the violence attributed to witchcraft in the past isn't true, the reality is that it still exists in the world to prove that it was true.

    Even among modern Wiccans, there is the belief in spell casting, spirits and magic. Were there such things as witches during the Burning Times? Today, we see many practitioners of witchcraft even where being a witch can still get you killed. So it's not exactly a matter of whether or not there were real witches, it was more that people believed they were witches. Because they concealed themselves to avoid being put to death, witch hunters created ideals of signs you could look for to reveal a witch which allowed for them to kill countless numbers of people who weren't witches and might not have known the first thing about what a witch was. Confession was important because it verified that the actions being taken by the murderers were justified and without a confession, they might be seen as the murderers they were. Thus, torture became an important means to extract confessions. If you wanted to have your way over someone, just accuse them of witchcraft and make people believe it to eliminate them. Want a divorce but divorce wasn't allowed? Accuse your wife of witchcraft which was a key reason why women were more likely to be accused than men.

    To say there were no such things as witches means saying there's no such thing as witches today. Practitioners of witchcraft almost demand to be accepted as witches even if it means they'll be targeted for discrimination. It's a sub culture of society where believers wish to have their beliefs confirmed and accepted even to their detriment. It must have been the same in the past where people who believed in, and claimed to be witches, would have done so even as they were being put to death. We would view such as mental illness, and yet, most Wiccans today are not mentally ill. If you examine Wicca today, however, the belief in supernatural forces and elemental magics would have been quite fearsome to people who feared the supernatural. Today, it is more accepted because few people believe in witchcraft so that Wiccans are viewed more as a curiousity or as being weird... but the disbelief in the supernatural means they are more free to be witches because not many fear anything about witchcraft as reality.

    Of course, many will disagree.

    But in South America, Africa, Australia and Southeast Asia; there are many who believe in and practice witchcraft in the same ways they once did across most of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the America's. It includes the murder of people of any age, race or gender. The killing of Albino's in Africa to cut up their body parts to sell as good luck charms is something most of us cannot fathom nor understand. Yet, stories from Europes past reveals that witches in Europe did similar things.

    The funny thing is, to ancient peoples who believed in witchcraft and sought to destroy it, todays science would have been viewed as witchcraft. And it wasn't just ignorant people of religious faith as is often put forward. The Salem witch hunts began when a doctor, a man of science, declared the first cases of witchcraft and it was ultimately the church which brought the witch hunts to an end. Many scientists, in fact, believed in witchcraft and anything they didn't understand but couldn't deny would often be branded sorcery. From what we know, most of the witch hunts were actually created by secular leaders and men of science and medicine.

    The church believes in the supernatural regardless of how it claims there is a difference. The miracles and powers attributed to the men of the Bible are supernatural in nature. But the witch hunts in the name of religion tended to be one religious faith trying to replace another. Beliefs of a conquered peoples were often accepted by the new faith simply because it was easier and less bloody to give a defeated peoples something they can hold onto. But science ridicules belief in the supernatural and tries to eliminate it. One need only examine how atheists and scientists today act in relation to Christianity to see how they reacted in relation to other faiths.

    So, do you believe in witches and witchcraft?





  2. #2
    Ghouls sensen's Avatar
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    Witchcraft isn't really that simple- and there are as many ways of being a 'witch' as there are stars in the sky. There is also wicca, which is a religious practice that also includes witches. But not all witches are wiccan. Not all wiccans are witches. And even Christians have practiced some aspects of witchcraft or their own version of wicca!

    I don't believe in magic as it is described in fantasy or even a lot of 'spellbooks.' I believe that simply, our minds have power. If we can believe we can do something, we become more capable. It is training the mind, and a lot of witchcraft helps us train the mind and make it stronger. Meditation, grounding, protective circles, rituals, charms, altars- all tools in any religion which offer both comfort and reliability in practice. So while i practice some things, I have a very different and ecclectic view of paganism and witch craft.

  3. #3
    The trick though is that when there are so many different aspects, it becomes impossible to separate them. Even in the Bible we're told King Saul made use of witches and much of the supernatural elements mentioned in the Bible are things attributed to witches raising the question why one is accepted as good and the other as evil. Essentially, it seems that the term witch is meant to convey evil practices and most names for these people became translated as witch to oversimplify things.

    As I addressed this once, when you examine the attributes attested to Jesus, they are the same as attributed to witches when we speak of sorcery. The term witch-doctor generally means shaman or healer which is all they really were. Feminists created the ideal that male dominated cultures created the burning times and killed female witches for reasons of religion or even male dominated medical practices trying to force female healers out of their field because it was a male dominated money making practice. But, most European cultures had strong belief and support for female healers and so forth before conquerors from the Middle East moved into Western Europe influencing the cultures of Greece and Rome. Before these wars, conquests and immigrations took place... it was women who dominated these fields and they held greater levels of equality and power.

    Look at the current immigration of Muslims into Western Europe. It is almost completely patriarchal, women are treated like property and rather than accepting the ways of the Native peoples... most Muslims demand Europeans accept their culture instead. Now, go back a few thousand years before Greece and Rome grew into powers and you find female dominated cultures and equality in almost every civilization. In Rome, massive immigration into the region from Asia Minor and Greece changed their culture just as it had done to Greece before this. Too many foreign influence, too much tolerance and allowing too much change alterred these cultures and when their empires then conquered other Europeans like the Celts and Germans, the process continued. What happened during the Burning Times was largely due to the influence of the Holy Roman Empire that succeeded the Roman Empire in the west and which carried over to a lesser degree in the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire).

    Thus, the suppression of women in many of these fields was due to tolerance and acceptance of foreign culture rather than acceptance of such things in native European cultures... it had to be forced on them to change. In Scotland, it didn't take full effect so that women can become Clan Chieftains and it's always been that way.

    So it is an oversimplification but then to address it for what it is means addressing a much larger and longer passage of time and changing cultural influences.

    If we get into the mythology and practices of witchcraft, it becomes even more difficult especially with things like Wicca where they're trying to rediscover many things about a pagan past that wasn't preserved and basing much of it on 18th, 19th and 20th century thinkers trying to understand this past when they have so little to work with and where so much of it is interpretive at best.

  4. #4
    Ghouls sensen's Avatar
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    Witchcraft has roots in countless traditions of every culture from every corner of the world. Magic, reverence for nature, worship of nature and pagan deities- these things have existed worldwide. Wicca, is a more modern creation of witchcraft.
    There's so many kinds of paganistic practice and magic craft and ritualistic reverence of nature... solitary practitioners, covens, groups of all kinds. Even the history cannot be easily simplified as it does come from every corner and every culture. But that makes it fascinating and wonderful!

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