Witches Can Scare You All Year Long
Some say the actual practice of Witchcraft serves a basic human need. We live in a
bewildering world where we don't have a lot of control, and we can image doing things
through magic that we can't do as ordinary human beings
During the early Christian period, Halloween, despite its pagan origins, came to be
associated with the veneration of saints and, for a time, was marked alongside the
celebration of those who had been granted sainthood.
Today, by contrast, Halloween largely is associated with ghosts, monsters, and other
popular figures of horror, depicted in movies such as the Friday the 13th series.
People believe in magic for all sorts of reasons, including the desire to accrue wealth or
advance in life, but the belief also says something about a deep-seated human desire for
When people say they believe in magical forces, they believe in magic that can make the
world equal and just in circumstances where it's not. For some witchcraft is about
recuperating what is ethical, just, and moral. We need enchantment in our lives because
our world has become disenchanted.
We need faith that promises something bigger and better than what we have.
The infamous witch-hunts of the Early Modern period, the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, leave us today in no doubt that witchcraft provided great fascination for the
The fame of the recently reported English cases of frightening witches, such as those in
Essex and Pendle in Lancashire, has increased public awareness of the mechanics of
witchcraft and the widespread hysteria related to their practices. They are reported to
have engaged in horrific acts such as taking a skull from cemetery vaults, sucking the
breath from a sleeping child, finding and taking muscle and hair from a theif or better yet,
a murderer after hanging them in chains. Some say they are involved in the killing of
infants with a dagger to obtain his fat for worship.
Above: A group of practicing witches was removed from this rock house
and tried for witchcraft in the 16th century. Recently excavated, strange
things were found between the walls, such as stuffed cat bodies. This added
fuel to the scary image of today's witch.
There were 10 women arrested in this case and none were members of a
pagan or Wiccan cult, or even genuine devil-worshippers. They merely
used herbs and spells to heal firends and neighbors. The dead cats caught in
the walls has not been explained.
Such reported happenings have given rise to a wealth of literature on the subject, and the
study of such resources today is widespread. The majority of analysis, however, has thus
far concentrated mainly on the exceptionally large amount of pamphlet and chapbook
writing - histories, religious polemics, trial accounts and other such forms written by
The fear with which many people have always viewed witches and their actions has been
the stuff of Halloween costumes and stories told around bonfires. Witches always have
magical properties associated with them. Most are for evil uses, although today's openly
practicing witches say they use herbs and spells only for good.
Witches are viewed by many cultures as merely ugly, grumpy, old hags. most people do
tend to attribute some power to them.
Historically, witches have come under serious accusations of practicing witchcraft when
social tensions are increased. In general people feel witches have patterns of behavior
that appear to convey deep hostility toward mainstream, non-witch people.
Historically, accused witches were seen as unfriendly, or virtuous, people are immune to
accusation, and for the charge to stick, their outward demeanor had to be openly
exposed. Their outward appearance was seen as a mask over a wicked core. A witch's
hostility was seen as a threat to a whole community and therefore, worthy of action
In the past, suspicions often built through a series of minor conflicts, but generally a
specific incident triggered the accusation. Accusers mostly ascribe damage of a personal,
rather than general, nature to witches, sometimes blaming them for damage to property,
but most frequently for causing injury to people or animals. They believed that witches
caused such harm through an occult power which was manifested either on the spur of the
moment or through ritual attack.
The witch figure is an archetype of evil, an antisocial menace who betrays the bonds and
the values of the community.