All About Witches and Witchcraft

Witchcraft is defined as the utilization of various kinds of magical and supernatural powers to influence people and things, with either good or bad intentions, and it has been practiced for at least a thousand years in many regions of the world, including Africa, Europe, and South America. Witchcraft has mostly been seen in the past as something that is on the dark side, with the most familiar variation of it being the witchcraft of Europe in medieval times, in which witches used spells and incantations to do things like make people get sick or commit crimes.

Witches have not always been seen as evil beings, such as in the case of witch doctors who treat illnesses or European “white witches” who worked to undo the spells of evil witches. But up until recently the main attitude toward them has been one of fear and revulsion, which has led to many thousands of people being killed in witch hunts.

It used to be that most people believed that witches and witchcraft were real, in the sense of believing not only that witches exist and practice witchcraft.

But that their witchcraft really does have magical powers, and the percentage of people believing this in undeveloped countries hasn´t changed much, but in the developed world it went down in the last two centuries with the rise of science. The number of believers rose again recently in developed countries with the rise in respect for indigenous religious practices and the emergence of New Age philosophies.

There is a stark contrast today with regard to modern day witches and witchcraft, with it still being viewed in the Third World largely as a force for evil. However in the developed world it is portrayed in a positive light in the media, such as with portrayals of benevolent Caribbean voodoo practitioners and Native American shamans.

There is considered to be a romanticized version of it is practiced by middle class people, as in the case of the neopagan Wiccan religion. There are still witch hunts in the Third World to this day; witch killing cases have been reported in countries like Tanzania, Uganda, and Ghana, and there was a report that fifteen suspected witches had been killed in the month of February 2003 alone in Nigeria. What both of these views have in common is the belief that witchcraft actually works, and my own view is that this belief is both harmful, in that it generates fear, and incorrect, since there is no scientific evidence backing it up.