We have got used to the word ‘witch’. Before Harry Potter came to our lives, ‘witch’ was commonly used to refer to an evil woman. But do we really know the origins of a ‘witch’?
It comes from the term ‘wicca’ taken from old English, which means male witch, while ‘wice’ which mean sorceress or a female witch. But we need to delve much deeper to understand what is meant by witches and why they are portrayed in a negative light.
What Is A Witch?
Witches are defined in many ways but three of them stand out – they generally practice magical spells, they are spiritual beings who can read tarot cards, they are involved in the worshipping of Pagan gods.
Nowadays, even incense, yoga, smudging with a sage and candles are considered witchcraft as they are related to paganism.
But witchcraft is not really that – it is actually the use of our spiritual energy to connect with the cosmos and get what we desire. It is about tuning in with the vibrations of the earth and becoming a spiritual being as a whole.
The Demonization of Witches
In the past, in the 1600s, finding witches were not that easy. They were afraid to show themselves and so they kept themselves secret.
In the late 1500s and in the middle of the 1600s, witches were just labeled for societal reasons, especially in colonial America and Eastern Europe. If you were outspoken then you were a witch. If you had assets, you were a witch. Even if your husband died or you never married, you were called a witch.
So, now, once you have already become a witch in the eyes of society, there were a number of ways to prove the bias against you. A rye flour cake was prepared with the ‘urine’ of the witch and then, the cake was fed to a stray dog.
Now, the dog after eating the ‘witch cake’ determined the fate of the witches. It was thought that the urine had traces of satanic material that would make the dog act strangely. Other strategies were used as well:
1. Stacks of the Bible were weighed against the accused.
2. They were forced to chant the Lord’s prayer.
3. Their pets were counted.
4. Their marriages were counted.
5. Enquiring if they dreamt of Native Americans or their cultures.
6. Seeing if they were talking to themselves.
They were also stripped down and checked for any scars, birthmarks or extra nipple. These marks were supposed to be devilish. If such a mark was found, the accused was pricked on that spot. If they were not bleeding, the accused was considered a witch.
Thankfully, nowadays, we do not need to hide our practices and so it is much easier to spot a witch. We love our powers.
Why do we need to destigmatize witches?
We do not have witch-hunts anymore. Actually, witches are being praised nowadays. Popular stores are selling tarot cards and buying a sage book or a spell book gets you a lot of likes on Instagram.
Plus, with women empowerment spreading all over the world, we need to create awareness about witches. Witch hunting is there today, but in a different way. Earlier, witches were lynched but nowadays, outspoken women have their reputation tarnished. They are questioned and demeaned.
But whatever be the case, witchcraft is slowly gaining growth. It shows the struggles of strong women and how we need to fight against it. We need to understand that witchcraft is not only about casting spells.
It is also about presenting an alternative thought and developing a different perspective on things. With witchcraft rising, maybe we will finally gain a bit of awareness and equality on this spectrum.
Let’s hope for the best.
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