Witches – from fairytales to becoming one

When we think of a witch, the first thing to pop up in our heads is an old, green-skinned hag riding a broom in the night sky, with a black cat next to her. Or rather, that’s what the media made us think of witches. But how do they look like then?

The answer is, they look like anyone else. The definition of witches, written in medieval times, says that a person who got powers from contracting with Devil himself is a witch. Anyone could be one of them, even men, but women were thought to be easier to get tricked by the Devil’s seducing methods. In some folklore, these people were said to be engaged to Lucifer, who gave them quests, like making a person ill, or someone dies. The general folk were so terrified of the Devil’s fiancées that some people had nightmares of a witch using them instead of a broom. 

These nightmares, often sleep paralyzes, became frame-ups and led to killing innocent bevy of maidens. Widows, young ladies, and infertile women were sent to terrifying trials. We all heard about what happened in Salem and the whole of Europe, so let’s talk about the end of the witch-hunts. 

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After the mid 19th century, the pointless accusations became nearly nonexistent, owing to the decreasing power of the church. Even though the hunt ended, the lower class still believed in the being of witches. For many decades scuttlebutts and stories were told about old widows, who acted suspiciously, grew herbs in their garden, gathered leeches, or lived an average, lonely life. This led to a ludicrous turn when the chargers did more witchcraft than the culprits. Just to mention a pair of methods, to find out who is a witch in a village, I’ll start with a common problem. A workers milk bloody milk. This is caused by several infections, but back then, it was someone who cursed the stable. In this situation, the cow’s owners put the milk in a bucket and started hitting it with an ax. If someone in the village started screaming in pain, they were the witches who laid the curse. Another method was to thrust a shear into the edge of a sieve and hold it on the table by grabbing the pair of scissors. The charger yelled the names of villagers into the sieve and let the shear go. If the machination fell over, the person whose name was shouted was not guilty. On the other hand, if the sieve stayed still on its edge, they knew the name of the witch.

The scurries were a witch and the Devil having their wedding, and when the clear sky thundered, Lucifer was beating his wife. These little folktales and beliefs kept their heads up until the early 20th century. The storm of the world wars silenced the rambling witch pursuits and made them silent for almost five decades. 

In the 80s, people interested in astrology, future telling or esotericism, started searching for notes, scripts, and texts about witchcraft. They started writing down the rituals, practices, and the new books of shadows, grimoires were written. The first modern witch groups, called covens, were based, where more and more people joined. Nowadays, witches are everywhere. It could be your teacher, a classmate of yours, the friendly, green thumb neighbor, or the mysterious colleague.

Modern witches are sorted into different classes. The first is the baby witches, who just started and need mentoring to find the right path. Then we have the white witches who use magic for benevolent purposes or without malicious intent, the Wiccan witches who follow the guidance of the Wicca religion, and the green witches who practice natural rituals and mainly are based on natural sources. There are also located ones, like sea witches, kitchen witches, or cyber witches, practicing their witchcraft in the said places or platforms. 

If you are interested in becoming a witch, you can find many forums, groups online, where you can learn the path you like the most and meet mentors who will guide you. Please take the opportunity, because we all know you won’t end up at the bonfire!

István Gál

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