Witches and witchcraft have a long history

Witches were perceived as evil beings by early Christians in Europe. They were one thing that inspired the halloween spirit. Throughout history witches have appeared in many different forms such as old ladies with crooked noses, warts, cauldrons, and potions, to cackling women riding on broomsticks in the moonlight, to the modern teenager trying to learn how to use their powers.

The true history however, is something far different.

Women were often accused of being witches during the Salem witch trials (Drawn by Thomas Satterwhite Noble in the 1800’s)

In order to be a witch you were more than likely a woman. You couldn’t be poor enough to not be able to financially sustain oneself but not too rich to the point where you are financially independent. If you had too many female friends without any males, you were seen as a coven that worshiped the devil. If you had an argument or disagreement with anyone you could have been seen as a witch. If you were too old, you could be accused of being a witch and sentenced to death or if you were too young, you could be accused and sentenced to prison. If you were a female Healer, you had a very high chance of being accused of witchcraft. If you were married with few or no children, if your neighbors were having trouble having kids, if you exhibitd “stubborn”, “strange”, or “forward behavior,” if you had a mole, birthmark, or third nipple, if butter or milk spoiled, if you had sex out of wedlock, daydreamed about your future soulmate, or if you had broken any part of the Bible, you would be considered a witch. Take this quiz to find out if you would be considered a witch.

All of these reasons are what made up the criteria to be put to death. Nine million people were put to death from the 1400s to the 1600s. The deaths started in Europe and traveled to the US. Just as deaths were slowing down in Europe, the Salem witch trials started taking place in Massachusetts. Accused witches were hung or burned at the stake. The Salem witch trials lasted just over a year from February in 1692 to May in 1693. Most witches were thought to be pagans doing the devil’s work, however many were just natural healers also known as “wise women” trying to help the community.

Witches continue to exist and grow in the modern day world. (Christina Binder)

Now there are modern-day witches that are not being hung or burned at the stake. Most of them practice Wicca, which is an official religion in Canada and the US. Modern witches are trying to get rid of the stereotype from the past that witches are harmful or worship the devil. They call themselves Wiccans and their motto is to “harm none.” They try to live a peaceful balanced life of nature and humanity. They have their own spells that include crystals, herbs and remedies, tarot cards, palmistry, runes, pendulums, astrology and more. Many Wiccans include their magic in their day to day life to help and guide them.

Even though most modern-day witches aren’t being hung or burned at the stake, there are still some cases around the world since 2010 where there is violence brought upon people, whether they are actual or accused, that have led to death. Even so, witches are not a thing of the past or just a Halloween costume, but they are people in our everyday lives that continue to prosper and grow in the modern day world.