The subject of witchcraft continues to hold its ancient power to perplex and fascinate. Indeed, stories of the witch and her alleged practices can still evoke faint unease: a distant echo perhaps, of the superstitious dread which gripped our ancestors?
After all, the witch (be she a hideous old crone or a beautiful young girl) is an age-old figure, buried deep within the folk-memory of the human race.
Witches and Witch Belief
The word “witch-craft” comes from an Anglo-Saxon term originally used to describe rites practised against evil. It broadly indicated a system of beliefs which probably had its roots in primitive magic.
Witchcraft grew out of the notion that man could know the hidden laws of nature and use this knowledge to protect his day-to-day existence. Some see it as The Old Religion.
Certainly in ancient times, witchcraft was viewed with tolerance and it seems that as long as activities were kept within reasonable bounds, membership of a coven was not regarded as damning to a person’s character or social standing.
White witches hope for supernatural aid in return for worshipping the goddess. White witches usually request cures for illness or help for people in difficulties outside the coven. Many witches will tell of skin diseases and internal complaints being cured after the full coven had concentrated their power on the absent person and his trouble.
Seemingly, the witch today has become the adviser and the counsellor. She gives the weak strength, the bereaved comfort and the despairing hope. She may be approached for instance, by a woman who is bored with her life and her husband. Should she fly into the willing arms of her lover? In such a case the witch might advise that the lover is likely to become as boring as her husband in time to come! And the woman is best off staying where she is, building up a more secure lifestyle and making an attempt to revive the magic in her marriage.
But why do some troubled people turn to witches for help? In a world now advanced in technology, there is a sense of alienation when family units are often separated by distance.
The witch, with her long history of magic, spells and mystery from the distant past, is said to provide a sense of continuity with a calmer and more spacious age. She is the last link with nature and our ancient Gods. When all else fails, perhaps these Gods can be called upon for aid through the intercession of the witch.
- Buckland R. Complete Book Of Witchcraft. Llewellyn Publications. 1986
- Morrison D. The Craft A Witches Book of Shadows. Llewellyn Publications. 2001.