What comes to mind when you think of a real witch? Do you imagine someone with green skin and a wart on their nose, flying on a broomstick? Or do you think of the sophisticated women in The Craft, able to wield magical powers?
Whichever image comes to mind, it’s likely that your conception of real witches is far from reality. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common misconceptions about witches, and we’ll also take a look at what real witches do and believe.
The Definition of a Witch According to Different Cultures
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the definition of a witch can vary depending on which culture you’re asking.
In some cases, such as the Chilean Kalku, a witch is considered to be a woman who practices black magic. While in others, such as African witch doctors, she may simply be someone who is seen as being able to cast spells and perform other supernatural feats for good and helpful purposes.
What all witches have in common, however, is that they are often seen as outsiders, and they often suffer from discrimination and persecution. Despite this, witches have been an important part of many cultures throughout history, and they continue to play a significant role in modern society.
Historically, witches have passed down important knowledge from generation to generation that can save lives and the history and culture of their civilization.
Witches could identify herbs and their healing/anesthetic/psychedelic properties (more information on Wiccan herbs and herbal magic here). Witches led and performed incantations and rituals that marked the passing of the seasons and the spiritual growth of members of the society.
As modern medicine came about, many of these arts got lost. When someone says they are a real witch in today’s world, they tend to be referring to Wicca, which was formalized in the 1940s by Gerald Gardner, and based on ancient Pagan roots of the Celtic and druidic sects.
But as you see, there is no one definition. When someone says they are a real witch, and you’re curious about their beliefs and practices, then ask them! Everyone is likely to have a different answer.
For more information on the history of Paganism from a Wiccan perspective, check out my article on it.
Common Misconceptions About Witches
There are many misconceptions about witches, and we’re here to clear them up!
First and foremost, witches are not evil. We are not Satanists, and we do not worship the devil. We are people who use our knowledge of witchcraft to help ourselves and others and to connect with the natural world.
Witches also come from all walks of life. We are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, and co-workers. We are of all races, religions, and creeds. We do not have green skin or warts, and we do not ride on broomsticks.
Lastly, witches do not cast spells or hexes against others. We do not have the power to control other people’s minds or inflict harm. Our magic is used for healing and positive purposes only.
This is because we believe in the three-fold rule: whatever we do in the world will come back to us threefold. Any real witch that tries to use their magic for harm will have a very bad time in the future. It is never worth the risk.
Witches tend to be very spiritual and love connecting with nature and the Goddess through rituals and ceremonies. It isn’t all magic all the time like you might think.
What Real Witches Do
There are many misconceptions about what real witches do. Let’s dispel some of those myths and take a closer look at what witches really do.
Real witches act in much the same way as many casually religious people. We are not constantly performing spells and magic.
It all depends on the person. I know some witches who almost never cast spells. They may attend a group celebration of some holidays a few times a year and that’s it.
More often, we will do magic a few times a month as the circumstances naturally arise. For example, if I’m going on a long road trip, I might make a charm bag for protection to take with me.
You could think of this as a Christian wearing a cross.
We have lives outside of witchcraft. I think of it as more of an orientation toward the world. I tend a garden. The long-term purpose is to use these herbs for magic, but in my day-to-day life, I tread it as any other garden.
Being in nature and experiencing the energy of the earth is part of being a witch.
There are energies and forces outside of the physical realm. Being a witch involves learning about, experiencing, and then eventually manipulating these forces and energies.
What do real witches do? We simply turn to these sources for help in the world when we need it. This is what traditionally is called magic.
Witches have been persecuted by religions for being evil. First and foremost, witches are not evil. In fact, most witches are benevolent people who use their powers for good. They often work to help others, promote healing, and spread love and light.
Our spells are usually used for healing, protection, or positive change.
What Real Witches Believe In
So, now that you know a little more about what real witches believe in, let’s take a look at some of the other common misconceptions about witches.
First of all, witches are not all old women living alone in a ratchety house. In fact, many real witches are young and beautiful or even men. Some male witches take on the name “warlock,” but this terminology is often associated with negativity and evil magic.
We believe any person can be a witch. This involves learning a lot about the cycles of the natural world and becoming in touch with the elements and energy that run through all things.
We believe in the elements: earth, air, fire, water, and spirit. These elements have characteristics that can be tapped into and transformed for magic.
Real witches believe in a divine force, though this isn’t as concrete as Christian conceptions of God. We usually call her the Goddess or Mother Goddess or Mother Earth. Other witches believe in concrete goddesses to be invoked or that the Goddess has three aspects: Maiden, Mother, and Crone.
Still, others don’t put any conception around this divine force and consider themselves atheists. These people often believe there is a spiritual force through all nature even if it isn’t a traditional conception of a god or goddess.
As mentioned above, we believe in the Wiccan Rede or Rule of Three. We should do no harm, and whatever we do will come back to us threefold.
Why the Witch-Hunting Era Happened
So, what caused the Witch-Hunting Era to happen in the first place if you are so benevolent?
There are a number of theories, but one of the most popular is that it was a way for governments to control their populations.
By accusing innocent women of being witches and casting them out of society, they could effectively get rid of any potential rivals or dissidents. Others believe that it was simply a way for people to explain natural phenomena that they didn’t understand, such as disease, crop failures, and storms.
Whatever the reasons may have been, it’s clear that the Witch-Hunting Era was a dark time in history.
Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then and no longer believe in such ridiculous myths about witches. Today, witches are thought of as powerful women who use their magic for good, and I think that’s a much more accurate representation.
The Real Witches of Salem
You may have found this article trying to find out about the real witches of Salem. Unfortunately, many of the women accused and executed in the Salem witch trials were not witches at all.
It’s possible that none of them were real witches. This is obviously why we use the phrase “witch hunt” these days to mean falsely accusing people of being something in order to punish them.
Bridget Bishop was the first witch to be executed in the Salem witch trials of 1692. New historical evidence tells us she may not have even known her accusers.
It is sad that 19 innocent women were killed in these trials, but what’s even sadder is that witchcraft was considered a crime punishable by death back then. Luckily, these laws have been changed.
While it is the case that the witches of Salem were not real witches, there are plenty of real witches in Salem these days. In fact, it is almost a rite of passage for many modern witches to go visit Salem and contemplate that dark time in U.S. history.
There are witches all over the world, and they all have their own unique practices and beliefs. While some witches may do things that seem strange or dark to outsiders, they always have a reason for what they do, and their actions always come from a place of good.
So the next time you hear about witches, don’t be so quick to judge. Instead, take the time to learn about their beliefs and practices, and you may be surprised by how much you have in common.
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