History of Witches and Witchcraft

The creation of witches and witchcraft has been led by the fear of unknown and its role in affecting our day to day life. In ancient times, though the art of witchcraft was mainly practiced by old, experienced women, some men also got involved in it. Throughout the history, there have been great triumphs and great suffering, and witchcraft and magic are currently experiencing the time of awakening, resurgence and enlightenment. In ancient times, the mainstay of the people was agriculture, which was highly dependent on seasons, seasons were associated with the movement of Sun, Moon and Earth, and people believed that spirits of gods and goddesses were associated with Sun, Moon and Earth.

Since those times, the art and science of witchcraft has been evolving, and its present form is different from what it was few thousand years back. In Germanic Europe, the serious accusations against the religion led to massive witch-hunts and killings. Historians see the witchcraft as ideology to explain misfortune, but this ideology manifested itself in different ways. Celts were very dynamic and brilliant people who feared adversaries, and were highly spiritual.

These wise people had the knowledge of medicines and herbs, could counsel people and were considered Shamanic healers and leaders in the community. Druids were the priests of Celtic religion, and they were in power though out the fourth century AD. The religious beliefs of Celts was known as Paganism, and their rituals and beliefs included the practices such as concocting ointments and potions, performing magic and casting spells. The practices of concocting ointments and potions, performing works of magic and casting spell along with several nature-based beliefs held by Celts were collectively known as witchcraft.

Prior to fourteenth century, the term witchcraft meant the collection of practices and beliefs including healing through mixing ointments, spells, forecasting the future, dabbling in the supernatural and engaging in clairvoyance. After the discovery of North America when Europeans started migrating to this new land, some of the colonial settlers started practicing witchcraft. Some people believe that the witches date back to thousands of years, when humanity had great reverence for women as the creators of new life and for the powers of nature. Some of the colonists secretly practiced witchcraft as they knew if they were caught, they would be burned or hanged.

Depending on the intentions of the practitioner and type of magic used, the outcome can be good or evil. After 1200 AD, the Church ordered to discover the witches who were believed to be evil, and full fledged killing of witches was recorded in 1500s and 1600s. Some people believe that the origin of witches dates back thousands of years when goddess was worshipped. In the archeological discoveries, people have found paintings showing a man with the head of a stag, and another painting where a pregnant woman standing in the circle with eleven other people which is a proof that the practice of witchcraft was prevalent even in the Paleolithic period.