What is Witchcraft?
Witchcraft is historically defined as the use of sorcery or magic,
or the exercise or invocation of purported supernatural powers, to
manipulate people or events. Witchcraft has frequently been
perceived, particularly in the West, as the work of crones who
gather in secrets at night, engage in cannibalism and orgiastic
ceremonies with the Devil or Satan, and practice black magic,
despite definitions differing in diverse historical and culture
settings. Witchcraft thus defined exists more in the imagination of
contemporaries than in any objective reality. Yet this stereotype
has a long history and has constituted for many cultures a viable
explanation of evil in the world. The intensity of these beliefs is
The History of Witchcraft
The majority of people believe that Christians invented witches.
But the notion of the witch who soars through the air and draws
strength from ominous cosmic powers to do harm on others
predates Christianity, most likely by a considerable amount of
time. Circe, who transform men into animals, in referred to as
witch in Homer's Odyssey (c.800 BC) while Plutarch mentions
witchcraft in his work On Superstition (c.AD 100). Roman law
legislation, some of which are transmitted to the Christian world,
include extensive mention of illicit magic. Mony of those early
laws, meanwhile, were actually against sorcery, which, in contrast
How did the figure of the witch
Many ancient Greek curse tablets, known as katares or curses that bind
tightly have been discovered by archaeologists. The Greeks seem to have
developed these curses, with many of them focusing on legal or sporting
everts. Where the dead could perform their magic more effectively, the
written tablets were placed in graves, wells, or fountains. Later
decades saw a number of individuals who were difficult to reconcile with
Christianity come to light as a result of ongoing efforts to combat heresy.
Though usually made without any connection to witchcraft, such
representations sparked the development of the image of the heretic witch.
One of these creatures was unique to the western Alps. She was the female
representation of winter, sometimes known as Bertha, Perchta, or Befuna.
She penalised noncompliance to social norms and praised virtue. Because
she stood for the cold and the winter, she was consistently portrayed as an
Near East Beliefs
The Nile Valley and ancient Near East appear to have been
hotbeds or sorcery practise and belief. It was prominent in the
cultures of Babylonia and ancient Egypt. The Maqlu, an Akkadian
anti-witchcraft ceremony, was a part of the latter tradition. About
2000 BC's Code of Hammurabi contains the following
instructions: If a man casts a spell on another man and it is not
justified, the target of the spell must travel to the holy river and
jump into it. The person who cast the charm on him will inherit his
home if the holy river overtakes him and drowns him. If the holy
river declares him innocent and he remains unharmed the man
Christianity- Hebrew Bible
The Holy Scripture frequently makes mention to sorcery, and the
harsh condemnations of such practises found there appear to be
more focused on the abomination of magic itself than on the
possibility of fraud, according to the New Advert Catholic
Encyclopaedia. The Masoretic words kshaf and qesem are
translated into the words witch, witchcraft and witchcrafts in the
King James Version: the Greek word pharmakeia is translated
into these same English phrases on the Greek New Testament.
Exodus 22:18 and Deuteronomy 18:11-12 provide scripture basis
for Christian witch hunters in the early modern era.
Christianity- Hebrew Bible
Hebrew words that are typically translated as witch or sorceress
have unclear definitions. It was translated as pharmakea or
pharmakous in the Septuagint. In the 16th century, Reginald
Scot, a well-known opponent of the witch trials, argued that
poisoners rather than witched were the intended translation of
the Greek words, and the Latin equivalent veneficos from the
Vulgate. He is referenced in Daniel 2:2 alongside other magic
practitioners who could interpret dreams, including magicians,
astrologers and Chaldeans. His hypothesis is still somewhat valid
but is nor usually recognised.
Britannica. (Unknown). Witchcraft. [Online]. Witchcraft | Definition, History, Varieties, & Facts
| Britannica. Last Updated: Unknown. Available at:
https://www.britannica.com/topic/witchcraft [Accessed 15 February 2023].
English Heritage. (Unknown). A JOURNEY INTO WITCHCRAFT BELIEFS. [Online]. A Journey
into Witchcraft Beliefs | English Heritage. Last Updated: Unknown. Available at:
[Accessed 15 February 2023].
Wikipedia. (Unknown). Witchcraft. [Online]. Witchcraft - Wikipedia. Last Updated: 8 February
2023. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witchcraft [Accessed 15 February 2023].