Ever wondered what is the meaning of witches? Witches is the plural of the word witch, is a woman who is known to possess magic powers, particularly evil ones. Usually, witches are depicted as wearing black cloaks along with a pointed hat and are often seen flying on a broomstick.
In early Christianity, witches were perceived as evil beings. This is what inspired the iconic Halloween figure. Throughout history, witches‘ images have appeared in various forms, from wart-nosed women huddling over the cauldron of boiling liquid to a hag-faced, cackling being flying on brooms putting on pointy hats.
When it comes to pop-culture, witches are portrayed as benevolent, nose-twitching suburban housewives. Usually, it involves a teenager trying to master how they can control their powers as well as a trio of magical sisters who are battling evil forces.
What is the meaning of witches? To understand this, you will need to learn the history of witches. However, you need to know that it is dark and deadly. With that said, let’s answer the question; what is the meaning of witches?
What is the meaning of witches?
To better understand this question, we will need to go through the history and origin of witches. In the early days, witches were women who were known to be practicing witchcraft. The process involved the use of magic spells and calling spirits for aid or making some change. During this period, most witches were said to be pagan and were doing devil’s work. However, most of them were natural healers who were known as wise women- but their choice of profession was often misunderstood.
According to the history books, it is unclear when witches first come into existence; however, some of the earliest records of witches in the Bible. The witches’ story was first reported in 1st Samuel, which is written between 931 B.C and 721 B.C. The book talks about King Saul’s story, who once sought Ender’s witches to come and summon the spirit of the dead prophet Samuel to aid in defeating the army of Philistine.
It is said that the witch summoned Samuel, who went ahead and prophesied the death of King Saul along with his son. The next day, according to the Bible, Saul’s son was killed in the battle, and then Saul went ahead and committed suicide. Various Old Testament verses of the Bible condemned witches.
The early history of witches
In the mid-1400s, the witch hysteria tool holds in Europe- this is a period when many accused witches underwent torture after confessing to various wicked behaviors. Witchhunt was very common for a century, and most individuals who were accused of witchcraft were burnt or hanged. The most targeted individuals were single women and widows.
Between 1500 and 1660, approximately 80,000 women suspected of witchcraft were killed in Europe. About 80% of these women were said to be in cahoots with Satan and were full of lust. Germany is said to have the highest execution rate for witches while Ireland was the lowest.
In 1486, German Dominicans published Malleus Maleficarum- this book is said to be a guide on how one can identify, hunt as well as interrogate a witch. The book labeled the practice of witchcraft as heresy- it ended up becoming the authority for the Catholics and Protestants to flush out witches that were living among them. The book ended up selling more copies than any other book within Europe, excluding the Bible.
The trial of witches
As time progressed, witch hysteria in Europe decreased significantly; however, it started growing in other parts of the world. This resulted from world wars between the British and French, the smallpox epidemic, and the fear of being attacked by the Native American tribes. This intense atmosphere needed a scapegoat. The well-known witch trial happened in 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts.
This trial started when a 9-year old girl Elizabeth Parris along with an 11-year-old girl Abigail Williams started suffering from fits, uncontrolled screaming, and body contrition. Nowadays, it is believed that the girls were suffering from fungus poisoning that is known for causing delusions and spasms.
As time went on, several young women started to experience mass hysteria symptoms, and these women were then accused of practicing witchcraft; Sarah Osborn, Tituba, and Sarah Good. They were enslaved women that belonged to Parris’s father. During the period, Tituba confessed to practicing witchcraft and started accusing other individuals of practicing black magic. Bridget Bishop was the first to be accused of practicing witchcraft on June 10th. Bishop was sentenced to death, becoming the first to die in the Salem Witch Trials.
Later on, 150 individuals were then accused of witchcraft, out of which 18 of them executed. However, women were not the only victims; there were six men who were also convicted and then executed.
Massachusetts was among the 13 colonies that were obsessed with witchcraft; however, it was never the first. In 1647, Windsor, Connecticut, was the first colony to execute an individual on the basis of practicing witchcraft. Alse Young was not only the first to be prosecuted in Connecticut but also entire America. Approximately 46 individuals were reported to practice witchcraft before Connecticut made its final witch trial in 1697. Out of the 46, 11 were executed for that particular crime.
On the other hand, Virginia is said to have the lowest cases of witches. In 1655, Lower Norfolk County passed a law that made it a crime to accuse anyone of practicing witchcraft falsely. However, sorcery was still a major concern. Between 1626 and 1730, approximately two dozen witch trials were done in Virginia, with most of the accused being women. Fortunately, none of the individuals accused were sentenced to death.
The story of witches goes back to the biblical era. However, nowadays, not everyone believes in the existence of witches. And as I conclude, I hope that you have found this answer beneficial and that I have answered the question; what is the meaning of witches?