There are a lot of stereotypes connected with the term “witch”. Etymological dictionary defines witch as “female magician, sorceress or a woman supposed to have dealings with the devil or evil spirits and to be able by their cooperation to perform supernatural acts. ” (Etimolgocial dictionary) The image of witch was changed and transformed thought the centuries. Nowadays, when we think about witches, we first of all turn to the image created by Church and think about witches as about evil creatures, who serve to Satan and bring evil to people (Palvac, 2006).
In reality the word witch originates from ancient times and there are mentions about witches in works dated 9 century BC (Etymological Dictionary). Despite the idea of the existence of witches, which was actively developed during Middle Ages, the origins of witchcraft can be found during ancient times. “Witchcraft, magic and supernatural acts are viewed as evil by both – Native American, the Church and outside scholars—but it was not always so. ” (Varner) During ancient times a witch was an honourable name, which meant that this person had some extraordinary abilities and could control the powers of nature and other people.
Along with supernatural powers, witches possessed the knowledge of different herbs and medicines and simple knowledge of natural laws made people fascinated by their powers. During the Middle Ages the image of witch became a symbol of evil and hundreds of women died terrible deaths because they were accused in witchcraft. Nowadays the attitude to witches is controversial. “While there were many factors that contributed to the witch hunts of the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, a belief in and a fear of witches’ powers helped to propagate the hysteria that caused hundreds of innocents to be tortured to death, hanged, or burned at the stake. (Reis, 45) Some believe in supernatural abilities of witches, others center on rituals they perform.
Despite different attitudes, witches provoke fear and awe in the minds of people. Control over nature forces and natural powers give witches almost unlimited power. These powers made a serious threat to other people and society in the case of uncontrolled use. Our universe is a complex energetic unity, where everything is interconnected. Each minor event has impact on the entire Universe. Supernatural powers of witches can be explained by their abilities to use unlimited sources of energy. Access to source of energy makes them so powerful.
The art of rising energy is one of abilities of witches, which helps them to influence events and people. (Fisher, 2007) At the same time such a use of powers can break fragile balance of the Universe. In order to possess power witches take energy from somewhere and use it for their own purpose. When witches raise energy, they create the so-called Cone of Power. For this purpose several witches should gather in the circle, which will form the base of the cone. The apex of the cone becomes a source of energy, created by the witches and it can be directed on an object, individual or visualization.
To make a circle is not enough to create the Cone of Power. Usually different additional devices, such as rhythm, drums, dance movements and handclaps are used to achieve the necessary effect. After the energy is raised, witches can use it according to their consideration. Witches have the abilities to see more than ordinary people do. They can see the field of energy, which surrounds a person. The level and kind of energy, which surrounds a person can tell a witch about physical and emotional state of the person.
Moreover, the level of energy signifies the level of physical health of an individual. Witches are able to influence vital energy, which surrounds a person. In this way they can cure a person or vice versa, make him or her ill. For any magic rites witches have to spend a lot of energy and if the energy is spent during magical rituals they have to renew and sometimes they use ordinary people for this purpose. Since witches can use the energy of nature, they can also renew their energy from it but when the energy is used for evil purposes they can not do it.
Dancing and singing monotonous chants witches raise great power of the earth. When human body is in good condition and mind is quite a person is able to get access to the universal energy. Unfortunately, this ability was lost by people many centuries ago. Witches are women, who remember this ability and can use it for their purposes. Witches can use their extraordinary powers in order to control other people. There are several ways to control other people used by witches. Traditionally, there are a lot of practices, which are considered to be witchcraft.
With the help of all these practices witches imply the control over human will. Witches are famous for their ability to create illusion and make people believe in things, which do not occur in reality. Minor illusion or an influence on the person with week will can be done by one witch. In the cases of group illusion several witches gather together and use special rights and ceremonies in order to achieve their purpose. (Anatole, 2005) Another ritual witches use to control people and subdue them to their will is a direct influence on people.
In this case the person becomes obedient to the will of witch and does things the witch wants from him or her. These practices are directed on the influence on human body or property against his or her will. Witchcraft is not necessarily a part of any religion. It can be used as a separate set of rites and practices. Practices, used by witches include healing, divination and spell casting. Each of these categories is divided into several ones. Healing and deviation are the practices, used for the good of people and they rarely cause any harm.
Spell casting can have different consequences. This type of witchcraft is not always accorded with the will of other people. There are two kinds of spell casting. It can be used for protection and destruction. In the most cases, spell is widespread form of impact committed by witches. Spell is a formula, created in order to get magical impact on some person or event. Spells have become an integral part of different religious practices. Despite spells may be different in different countries they all are based on the use of magic and assume the use of some ritual activity.
Spell casting can take different forms, such as meditation, canting, burning candles and performing rituals. Intention, which stands behind the rituals and actions, is as important as actions themselves. Strong witch can influence people and event by mere power of her mind. Despite different methods witches turn to actions, which are designed in order to change the surrounding and to subdue people to their will. Witches can turn to the help of deities, spirits and different elements in order to create a spell.
For this purpose they first invoke the forces mentioned and make them to serve for their purpose. Witches turn to pagan deities for help. Deities, element and spirits add them powers, necessary for their rites. Many world cultures have mentions about the influence on the person committed against his will. Mentions about witches can be found in ancient Herbew Egypt and Babylonian texts (Orr, 339). In these texts there are mentions about people, who use evil powers to hurt others. During these times a concept about white witches, who confront black magic, was created.
Modern pagan religions, such as Wicca, are based on this concept of white magic which can bring use and protection to people. As Debby Reis mentions in her article The Power of Witches, “Wicca is a religion that gives its followers the freedom to believe what they want, to create rituals and to follow their own rules — freedoms that allow one to feel that they have power over one’s own life and destiny. ” (Reis, 45) Adherents of white magic underline strong moral basic of their practices and state that they never use magic against the person’s will and act only by somebody’s request of permission.
Wicca believes spiritual growth to be the main aim of their religion. They follow the ancient rituals and use pagan deities. Harmonious existence and worshiping to natural forces are another distinctive features of modern Wicca. Despite loud announcements of modern witches about their innocence, religious authorities continue their witch haunt and warn people about potential dangers of dealing with witches. Pastor David Brown speaks about dangers of turning to witchcraft and different tricks used by modern witches.
As he states, “In the process of trying to remake themselves to be acceptable to mainstream Americans they use deceptive schemes, old tricks and dirty lies to accomplish their goal. ” (Brown, 15) So, the issue of witchcraft is a controversial one and there is no one definite opinion about the subject. There is one certain thing about witchcraft. It implies an impact on the will of an individual. There are a lot of means, used by witches in order to influence other people but all of them are based on the tricks and manipulations, which can influence the freedom of choice.