Many misconceptions surround witchcraft and the people who practice it. In the popular, ever-changing imagination, witchcraft is either a dark art filled with power-mad crones seeking eternal life and beauty or a toy for children. The people who consider magic thus often don’t realize the countless people with ordinary lives and jobs, but practice witchcraft privately, either as part of religious experience (such as those associated with followers of Wiccan religion)
Stripped of all extra qualifiers, witchcraft is a process that its practitioners use to gain a measure of control over unpredictable events that ordinary skills cannot do. Witchcraft has been practiced for eons. From Hammurabi’s tablets of Mesopotamia, we can tell that it existed during the earliest recorded civilizations. It was used for everything from helping crops to grow to healing the sick and bartering with the gods of their religions. Throughout history, humans invented technological means of doing many of the same things—means which could be done by anyone, regardless of whether or not they had the special talent for magic or even knew of its existence. Furthermore, witchcraft was pushed further into the shadows by certain religions, which suppressed its practice in order to increase its own influence.
A look at the Origins of Witchcraft
In olden times, the practitioners of witchcraft were called witches by some, but they were also referred to as “wise men” or even “wise women.” They were often respected community members for their abilities. “Witch doctors” existed as a term to refer to these faith healers long before the term came to be associated with African and African diaspora witches. Witchcraft was passed down from practitioner to practitioner within the traditional structure of master and apprentice.
As a result, magic tended to stay within easily broken lines of descent, not necessarily related to blood descent. This meant that the average person knew very little about magic—an ignorance that bred fear and distrust. As the power of witchcraft was greatly respected, those who abused their powers were punished severely, both in Hammurabi’s time and after. It was, in a sense, the only way to control the power of magic, which could not be understood or controlled by everyone.
There are many aspects of the practice of witchcraft, and the number of aspects has only grown with time, as magical practices from countries all over the world became incorporated into each other’s traditions. Witchcraft practices from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia became intermingled first, with Africa and the Americas following after their discoveries. From Africa came the African diaspora forms of witchcraft, as slaves were brought over to the Americas.
History of Witchcraft
As any witch will be quick to inform you, witchcraft is not a subject that has been well received throughout history, especially with the development and rise of monotheism across the world. Indeed, witchcraft was actively persecuted and stigmatized in various chapters of history, sometimes, by a society that had previously relied upon witchcraft to achieve particular objectives.
Take the ancient Romans, for example. Before Christianity became such an influential force within Roman society, witchcraft was as common as any other domestic item or service. And so wise women and the clergy alike would offer magical services to those who were willing to pay.
Indeed, the grand pervert and sexual deviant himself, Caligula was said to have a particular fascination with witchcraft as a whole. He would often seek out the services of witches in an attempt to further harm his enemies, both real and actual. Such was the influence of witchcraft over this sordid man that there was a number of high-ranking and highly influential posts created specifically designed to protect him from the ill effects of witchcraft.
Both followers and practitioners of witchcraft were demonized and scapegoated in medieval society as the ruling elite, the noble people and aristocracy who lived in a life of luxury and decadence while the remaining majority of society lived in abject poverty sought to distract the masses from their anger.
The Darkest Times in History
Without a shadow of doubt or exaggeration, the darkest chapter in history was in the medieval times when witchcraft was actively cracked down upon by the Inquisition. People who were either proven to be involved with witchcraft or who were merely accused of being so involved would face torture and slow, agonizing death.
The punishments exacted for witchcraft were as varied as they were barbaric and there was a high degree of sexual violence and humiliation involved. Women involved in witchcraft, for example, would be tortured by having a metallic “pear” inserted into their vagina which would be turned by means of a crank that would open the device up and cause horrific scars to the vaginal area.
The cat’s claw was another especially vicious method of punishment for witchcraft, where the breasts of females involved with witchcraft would be swiped at with metal claws until they were left shredded and ruined beyond repair.
But the cruelest fate of all for witchcraft was the dreaded wheeling. Commonly employed in Spain and France, this method of execution involved the victim having each of their limbs broken with a hammer or heavy iron bar and the broken limbs then woven through the spokes of a wheel.
Unable to move their now destroyed limbs without abject agony, with no means of supporting their own weight, those accused of witchcraft would face a cruel, miserable, humiliating death as they were left to die from exposure to the elements to the mercy of animals and carrions.
Oftentimes the wounds of the victims would become infected, and the dreadful smell emitting from the wounds would attract flies who would then lay larvae in such a ripe food source.
The Pre-Historic Times
The history of witchcraft is a long one – it probably originated in prehistoric times, but it was long known to be practiced in old African areas, especially in ancient Egypt. It was created out of the fear of the unknown and the need to have control over what existed in nature. The sun, the moon, and the stars were mysterious things, and the witchcraft was born when people saw the need to draw from the mysticism of nature. Historically speaking, it was practiced by old women, but men practiced it as well.
Witchcraft in Ancient Times
In ancient times, it was the witches that mediated between people and the unknown properties of nature as well as with spirits, angels, and other deities. Whenever a witch was successful in casting a spell or in participating in a ritual that helped a person, it was deemed to be witchcraft, and the person was held to have magical powers. Witchcraft defied logic and was found to be of spiritual origin. It came from many years of practice over what worked and what didn’t when dealing with spells, rituals, potions, talismans, and amulets.
It spread rapidly from culture to culture and is practiced differently in different cultures. For example, Western African Voodoo is powerful, but it differs from witchcraft practiced in Middle America or in Central American countries. They all have the same origin in Ancient Egypt. However, local traditions and beliefs have a lot to do with what the magic of these areas is all about.
Witchcraft in Archeological Discoveries
The History of Witchcraft is found to date back to 40,000 years ago when Paleolithic man existed. In archeological discoveries, it has been found that a god of hunting was in existence and a goddess of fertility was in existence. This was discovered in paintings that existed approximately 30,000 years ago. Rituals of fertility and hunting were depicted in cave paintings, which are interpreted as being related to the witchcraft of the era. There was no writing from that time, but the paintings are staggering. When it comes to Wiccan practices of honoring gods and goddesses, it is believed that it predates the beliefs of Christianity by several thousand years.
Before witchcraft was persecuted and believed to be evil, it was called the “craft of the wise.” It was only wise people who practiced witchcraft and participated in highly complex rituals and spells. Such people were considered the Shamans of the village and were believed to be healers and to help people in the village with their problems. They were considered superior to others and were worshipped like gods in the community. Shamans believed that man was a part of the earth and could, therefore, commune with the earth and with nature. They believed in the practice of becoming one with nature and using nature to help the people.
Christianity and Witchcraft
Christianity changed the face of witchcraft when it began to persecute witches as evil and as agents of the devil. This was especially true in the witch hunts of Germanic Europe and in the pre-colonial times of the modern-day USA. Witches were hanged, burned, or drowned for their beliefs and practices of witchcraft became a very secretive thing. In today’s time, there is much less secretiveness around the practice of magic. People are not openly persecuted, and many are understanding it to be a practice of a natural religion. People are seeing witchcraft as an alternative lifestyle that is often recognized and generally accepted.
Not only does witchcraft have a long history, but it is also shaped by many different traditions. I already wrote an in-depth article about Wicca. So let’s look at a few other traditions:
Traditional witchcraft is not the same as Wicca – although they believe in some of the same principles. It is a way of life that strongly believes in traditions. It originated in the British Isles and has been around a lot longer than Wicca, which is only sixty years old. Unlike Wicca, traditional witchcraft believes in the ethics of intent and does not have any Rede, self-initiation, or Watchtowers. There is a special initiation just for practitioners of traditional witchcraft.
The Principles of Traditional Witchcraft
Those who practice traditional witchcraft believe they are the only ones who should call themselves “witches”. For them, Wiccans are “Wiccans” and not “witches”. Practitioners of traditional magic believe that magic is a tool that accomplishes things. It is more of a religion and less a resource for magic. Therefore, not all traditional witches practice magic.
Witchcraft has nothing whatsoever to do with Satanism. It is entirely unrelated to the belief in Satan or the practice of those who are Satanists. Male witches are not categorized as “warlocks” in traditional witchcraft. This is again something stigmatized by the Christian church to denigrate males who practice witchcraft. In traditional witchcraft, a warlock is someone who cannot be trusted, and they are marked with a blade slashed across their forehead.
The Role of the God and Goddess
Traditional practitioners believe in the male and female aspects of nature—a god and goddess. The god and goddess represent the entire universe and do not reign over it. The god aspect of the religion is represented as being the hunter or protector of the witch and coven. The goddess is representative of the land’s fertility. Both are gods of nature and are not believed to be omnipotent. Instead, they have human characteristics, just like normal human beings.
Ancestry in Traditional Witchcraft
You cannot be born a witch but must practice the religion voluntarily. It takes a lot of self-dedication to become a witch, and you must consciously want to follow the Old Ways of witchcraft. Traditional witches often keep mysteries or secrets among themselves, most information is shared through oral traditions, and they are never supposed to be written down but passed from one witch to another. There is a rite of passage that a witch goes through in order to belong to the coven and become a witch in traditional witchcraft. In some cases, a person passes through the rites of passage at certain times of their life and after a long period of study under other witches. The witch must do specific tasks in order to be deemed worthy of the tradition of witches.
The ancestors are important in traditional witchcraft. The ancestors represent those people who have gone before us. They have different names, depending on the culture practicing magic, but they are basically the same. They are considered advisors of the world and are called upon to give advice when needed. Witches sometimes leave small gifts or food out for the ancestors. They are honored and respected but are not considered to be the level of gods and are not worshipped.
Those who practice traditional witchcraft believe in the Otherworld. This is the place where it is believed that the ancestors live. It is not called the Otherworld in all practices, but its concept is considered to be the same – it is the realm of dead people who have died before us. And it is believed to be a location where there are hills, caves, wells, and thick mists.
Modern witchcraft differs in some ways with the one that was practiced in ancient times and yet, it is somewhat the same. People studying modern witchcraft find that it has ancient origins that date back to the ancient and possibly prehistoric times.
In the old times, people who practiced it were often persecuted for their beliefs. There were witch hunts in old Germanic countries of the Middle Ages and even in the US in the 1600s and 1700s.
The History of Witchcraft is not a pleasant chapter for witches and practitioners of magic.
The Principles of Modern Witchcraft
In modern times, witchcraft is often referred to as Wicca, which is an old English term for witch. People who follow the Wiccan path believe in the power of Mother Nature to intervene on behalf of humans. They believe in the ultimate power of the Universe to make things happen and in the power of the sun, the moon, the earth, and the stars.
Modern magic does not believe in harming anyone in the act of doing magic. Practitioners of modern magic may do ancient spells or more modern spells, but they function by doing spells for protection, healing, love, abundance and also in the form of blessings and talismans.
Many people ask what modern witches look like and how they live? Practitioners of magic often look no different from the rest of us, although some wear talismans, the pentagram, amulets or only natural fiber clothing. They believe they are close to nature and want to feel in tune with nature. Many of the holidays of modern magic include those related to the earth and the sun. For example, they may celebrate the Winter Solstice, the Summer Solstice, the fall equinox, and the spring equinox. These are celebrated just like Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter.
Those who practice modern witchcraft often do magic both for themselves and for other people. They may be professional witches and spellcasters who charge money to do spells for people. In those cases, people bring in whatever is required of them, and the witch then performs the spell on their behalf. It could be a love spell, a money spell, or any other kind of spell.
Most modern witches cast spells just for themselves or for their friends for free. They practice Wicca as a religion but have modern jobs and modern lives. Like professional witches, they do rituals and spells when necessary to better their lives or the lives of those they care about. Witchcraft is their way of living that incorporates the use of spells and other aspects of witchcraft.
The Secrecy of Witchcraft
Modern witchcraft is not as secretive as old witchcraft. In old times, especially the Middle Ages and the pre-colonial times in the US, witchcraft had to be held a secret from others because they would be persecuted or killed if it was found that they practiced the craft. It was a secret they kept from practically everyone. In modern times, witches openly wear pentagrams and sometimes talk about their involvement in Wicca or other magical practices. Witchcraft may not be accepted very well in the mainstream, but people are not persecuted for doing it either. Witches are allowed to practice their craft without the threat of personal or political persecution.
How to Learn Witchcraft
Witchcraft is a fascinating way of life that follows the rules of Mother Nature, the laws of the universe and the components of the universe, notably the sun, moon, stars, nature, and earth. Many people who follow a magical path have some innate magical ability and know how to practice it because they are gifted in it. You can come to understand how to learn witchcraft even if you don’t have any particular magical abilities. It is an art that you can learn, it is just essential that you really want to learn the craft.
Using the Internet
The Internet offers countless free resources, my website is one of them. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of free spells out there that can get you started. The free spells will provide you with instructions on how to cast them, which materials are needed and the words you have to say during the ritual. You can also study witchcraft and its background, explore all the tools, ingredients as well as the correspondences and magical properties of the elements. Many excellent essays and articles will tell you what the spiritual world is all about. Finally, there are sites that you can go to in order to buy the materials you need. They sell you herbs, candles, altar materials, talismans, and amulets. These are essential aspects of how to learn witchcraft that you just can’t get anywhere else unless you know someone who sells it locally near your home.
Learning Witchcraft through Books
You can also learn witchcraft from books and literature. What you need is an excellent Book of Shadows that will tell you the spells you need and the basis of witchcraft as it exists today. To get you started you can look at our free spells and write them into your own Book of Shadows. You will be able to hang on to this book and remember spells from it, and it will be neatly organized. Make sure to leave enough space so you can enter your own notes.
Books of Shadows can be purchased, but my recommendation is that you start with your very own book right from the beginning. This way, you can enter all that you are learning and add notes to each spell that you are casting. This will be helpful throughout your spiritual learning experience. However, there are many books on Wicca and on witchcraft itself so that you can read about the practice and learn some tips that you can’t get elsewhere.
Apprenticeship and Trainee Programs
If you know practitioners of magic, you may want to become an apprentice. So you can learn witchcraft from someone who already has spent years practicing it. For example, there may be a professional witch who needs an apprentice. An apprenticeship with one of those witches would be very powerful, indeed, and you will learn a lot about the practice of witchcraft. Most of these are unpaid positions, but you will be learning a lot, and that will be payment enough. An experienced can help you learn the craft over just a few months. You will have a lot more to learn, but learning the basics from an experienced witch will be highly beneficial and rewarding.
Whether you are a self-taught solitary witch or one who has used the services of another to learn witchcraft, once you know the basics, you can practice magic. It is then that you can begin to do spells on your own and to create your own rituals. You can do them for yourself first, to see what happens, and to practice the craft. Once you have more experience, you can begin to do spells for your friends, so you get an idea of what it is like to do spells for another person. If you are studying to be a professional witch, you need to know what it takes to do spells for other people, and you need to be able to make them work. Witchcraft is an art you can learn and a way of life you can begin to live by.
Is Witchcraft Real?
Many don’t know enough about witchcraft to understand how potent the art really is. To begin with, witches are more spiritual than average and have the skills to channel their inherent energies in the right direction. Witchcraft is real, and yes, it does work as long as you practice it with the right intentions. Much of the hype generated in Hollywood movies does not resemble the art of witchcraft at all. Witchcraft has been practiced for centuries but only came into the limelight when the Catholic Church turned its attention on Pagan practices. These practices were regarded as heresy, which resulted in the persecution of witches.
Witchcraft in the Modern World
In the modern world, witchcraft involves the practice of benevolent magic. Modern Wicca is a variation of traditional witchcraft but is more open and well-controlled as compared to older practices. Wiccans often gather in to practice their craft. Over time, practitioners gain control over the magical ability and put them to use through spell casting. This is why witchcraft and spell casting really works. There is no reason to fear the very term, ‘witchcraft’, although the entertainment industry continues to portray it as an evil act. Real witches practice the art for good purposes. Those who use it for evil only end up harming themselves. Every genuine witch believes in the Law of Threefold, where no matter what you do, good or evil, will come back to you three times.
Channeling Positive Energy
Witchcraft is about channeling positive energies into the universe for the benefit of everyone involved. The most common spells cast by practitioners are love spells, money spells, marriage spells, to get a better job, and much more. No real practitioner will allow you to cast a spell with evil intentions. The positive energies created during a spell are what make witchcraft work. Faith and belief in the craft are essential and add to the effectiveness of the spell. Therefore, before you indulge in witchcraft, it is necessary to believe that your spell will work. Make sure to be clear about your goals and objectives. A skeptical mind builds up negative energies that can block your path to success in spell casting.
Casting Witchcraft Spells
Witchcraft spells are used by witches, and they actively follow a specific code of conduct, the Wiccan Rede. It states that spells must never be used to control or dominate another person. With the use of positivity, pure concentration, the right timing, a simple rhyme, and symbols such as color, music, and tools, witchcraft spells take on the energy of the spellcaster and nature, and the request gets sent out to the universe to be fulfilled. They are very intense and sometimes performed either by just speech, action, writing, dancing, drawing, or a combination. Witches do make sure that they follow their code of conduct. There is the basic idea in witchcraft that whatever is done will come back to the spellcaster. Witchcraft spells are very potent, and they have the goal of bringing about wealth, health, happiness, protection, love to the seeker.
The Elements of Witchcraft Spells
Witchcraft spells can involve many elements. They may include a chant used to focus the mind or a ritual dance. Spells can be carried out by one participant or many. They can involve the use of ritual ingredients to form protection charms, which is known as “talisman magic“. Witchcraft often consists of an appeal to gods and deities, but belief in these gods is not necessary. Only faith in the magic itself and your ability to connect with the supernatural world is required.
Christians and other monotheistic believers can practice witchcraft, although it is heavily discouraged by the religion. This should be no surprise given the long history of religious warfare on the planet. Christian witches often choose to appeal to saints or angels during invocations of magic, instead of the pagan gods, to avoid idolatry. The “proper” practices of witchcraft, as well as the desires of the caster, all vary greatly depending on the individual tradition of the practitioner.
The Effects of Witchcraft Spells
Witchcraft may not provide you instant results. There are times where it may not work. In these cases, it is just possible that what you desired is not meant to be. However, you need to have patience and give the spell time to take its course. As long as you follow the right procedures or have an experienced practitioner cast a spell for you, the chances of success are much brighter. Now, you can’t just sit back and wait for the spell to work. It is crucial to make every effort to make it work. How you use magic to achieve your goal is what matters. Magic is based on the principle of like attracts like. The key is to get into the emotional state of feeling as if what you want is already yours. Commitment and dedication add to the potency of your rituals and magical workings.