By S. Roberts
Witchcraft and its origins can be traced back as far as 2000BC in Ancient Egypt and Babylonia where in existing records of the code of Hammurabi it says
If a man has put a spell upon another man and has not justified himself, he upon whom the spell is laid shall go to the holy river.
Persons who engage in witchcraft and who are male are called wizard, sorcerer and sometimes a warlock if they indulge in black magic. Females who indulge in witchcraft are called Wiccan or witches.
Witches are thought to worship the devil. They are portrayed to cast spells and use supernatural forces to cause havoc within the community.
In Britain during the late medieval / Early modern period, many women were killed during witch-hunts. They were accused of being witches and would be strapped to a dunking stool, and submerged in the local river or lake. If the woman dies, she was then proved not to be a witch. If she survived, it proved her guilt and she would be burned at the sake alive.
Of course, most of the alleged witches were in fact destitute old women with no family. They plagued the communities begging door to door for food and milk. They would often curse the households who wouldn't give them any food, to make them more generous when she next visited. But of course this gave the local folk cause to try the old women for witchcraft.
The Wiccans on the other hand, were herbalists of their time. They used plants to cure people and animals. However, the wiccan was misunderstood and would often be accused of being a dark witch when patents under their care worsened or died. Sometimes they were also called witches when they healed the very sick.
The spell casting evilness traits of witches has always been used to scare young children, just look at the classic children's fairy tales. In Snowhite the wicked witch tries to kill her stepdaughter. She uses a spell to put Snowhite in a dead like sleep. In the story of Hansel and Gretel the evil witch likes to eat children. The mysteriousness of witches lends itself to creating chilling stories, and not just for children but adults too in the case of the Blare Witch Project.
Our fascination for witches and witchcraft is highlighted each Halloween, when many people like to dress up as witches. Luckily they no longer try witches on dunking stools. But curiously, 'witches' do still go begging for food door to door 'Trick or Treating'.
S. Roberts writes for http://www.bigboystoyz.com a boys toyz website packed with gadgets, games and gizmos. Check out our spooky Halloween page at http://www.bigboystoyz.com/halloween/halloween-big-boys-toyz.htm if you publish please link to the Halloween page – Thanks