Modern witchcraft has grown in popularity and acceptance in recent years. It has introduced ancient concepts and rituals into the beliefs of modern society, promoting consciousness and appreciation for all life and death. However, in the days of the colonies in the Americas, colonial witches were forced to play a very dangerous game in order to keep their rituals and beliefs a secret. Since the 17th century was strongly charged with fanaticism, the Puritans believed that the devil was among the colonies, lurking in the shadows. They believed a witch to be a person with a pact with the devil in exchange for power, which led to the accusation and hanging of many people, the majority being middle-aged woman. However, in September 1692, the witches confessing their possession would not be punished by death. But beyond clashes with Puritan fanaticism, colonial witches found in the Americas many virgin lands, exempt from man’s modernization, and a deep cultural and mystical exchange with Native American and African rituals.
I am very much fascinated by movies on magic and really loved the harry Potter series, which I thought was an excellent adaptation of the books. Last week I came across a very unusual title of the last witch hunter. I searched for the rating on imdb and it was a mere 6.0. I generally do not watch movies which are rated lower than 7.0, but since it was a subject I love I decided to watch.
So, I went ahead and booked the movie on Netflix, and watched it. The storyline of the movie was real good. It is the story which says that there are two kinds of human beings on earth – one with magic inside them (Wizards and Witches) and without magic. The story is a struggle between the two. The witches and wizards led by the witch queen want to have supremacy and hence bring forth a plague which kills those without magic. The movie starts with the main character Kaulder searching for the witch queen and slaying her. But while dying the witch queen curses Kaulder with immortality. He becomes the fighter for the human race, and witches and humans reach a compromise that magic will not be used against the humans. However Kaulder does not know that the heart of the witch queen is still beating, and secretly hidden. The witch queen comes alive and starts to make a spell for the black plague again. Kaulder with help of a dream walker Chloe who is a witch kills the queen again and keep the heart which makes him immortal again. The movie is very different from other witch movies and I really liked Vin Diesel as Kaulder. A must watch the movie for people who love magic movies.
The mythology about witches have remained for a long time. These myths do have a grounding in reality (even though we can’t really settle on whether witches are real or not). This brings us to the question- why are witches always depicted with broomsticks? Of all the things they could fly away on, a broomstick seems to be a rather odd device.
This is quite a NSFW tale, but one that is extremely interesting. From a modern view point, it is believed that witches were essentially women who were considered too knowledgeable or too forward for that particular age (and in some cases, people who were too old, and could not defend themselves against accusations). At that point, women were supposed to be domesticated, and remain at home, so professional women were not found too often. In this situation, a broomstick became something associated with the women- for they were the gender that was supposed to do all the domestic work.
However, there is another side to broomsticks– they are rather phallic in stature. Add this to the fact that they were used widely by women, the idea of “riding away on a broomstick” became an image that described women that did not follow the rigid gender, and sexual morality of the day and period. This is the reason why witches are always depicted to fly on broomsticks.
We have been seeing witches in movies, but are they real or just a story book character. Modern science says that witches cannot exist, but the religion says something else. of course the witches are not with pointy hats and noses with acne. Huh these are all creation of movies. Magical powers and brews are not real.
So, what is there to prove that witches exist? The witchcraft is the only thing that proves that witches and wizards do exist. There has been many instances of unexplained revivals of dead people, and witchcraft is supposedly responsible. The stories are there to make us believe that witches are just a fantasy, but even history says otherwise. How could Arthur unite England without Merlin, and why did Solomon change after he had the magical ring. History has instances of many events of witchcraft.
Is it present in the present age? Yes it is present as a religion Wicca, and it is growing rapidly. Witchcraft and witches are all around us in form of Tarot card readers, fortune tellers, crystal gazers and they are sometimes more effective than science. So we are actually missing something. We are not aware of many people actually practicing witchcraft. They have no need to promote it, in fact there is a degree of secrecy about them. Although having the internet allows all sort of information to be accessed. Their are sites for spells, sites to learn witchcraft, although these tend to be more for charlatans who just want to earn money. Often using the sites to promote other services, like shopping or loans to earn extra cash, a rather good indicator that they are not legitimate!
More research needs to be done in the customs which we have categorized as witchcraft. It is actually ancient science which we modern people do not understand.
Movies on magic is incomplete without witches. They are intriguing and spooky. Hollywood has been very interested in witches and has portrayed them across generations. Here is a list of great movies on witches.
Hocus Pocus – Released in 1993 this is an iconic witch movie. The story is based around the resurrection of three witches by a teenager. The witches wreak havoc and are about to become immortal by sacrificing the whole town population. But good wins in the end.
Mary Poppins – A great movie for kids, with “Julie Andrews” playing the witch Mary Poppins. She is not the spooky one but a beautiful good witch. Such good portrayal of witches is rare in hollywood.
The Wizard of Oz – The unforgettable green wicked witch from Wizard of Oz is really spooky. She frightens and is really bad.
Season of the Witch – A great movie which brings together witches and knights and courage. Nicolas Cage brings life to his character and the young witch is very convincingly played by Claire Foy.
Practical Magic – This is a really interesting movie about witch sisters having a curse on them. The sisters played by Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman is about love, courage and fight against the dark forces.
Kiki’s delivery – This is the best among animation portrayal of witches. The story revolves around a young witch taking up job of a delivery person.
Black Sunday – She drinks blood and cannot be killed. Worshipping satan it is the most frightening portrayal of witch.
The average person sees at least 3 witches a day, but remains clueless. Witches, on the other hand, tend to see only those who fit their own version of a “witch”. Some say that only caucasian people with red, curly hair can inherit witchy tendencies while others say that witchcraft is a European practice. Unfortunately, regardless of position all of these people are missing something important. Since you can’t point to a distinct ethnic group and label them “witches”, the only way to discover who today’s witches are by examining practices.
Witches use herbs to ease ailments, as has been common among African Tribes. African witches are considered healers and are persecuted, as they have been in other cultures. They observe nature, then use those observations to affect change. They provide comfort and create seasonal rituals. Obviously, these practices are not limited to Europe. In fact, you’ll find that every civilization thriving in today’s world, began with a cluster of primitives struggling to survive. In other words, there are witches in every culture, and anyone can claim their life is that of an hereditary witch. However, you also see these practices in scientific research.
That’s right, science. In fact, we may have had communities on the moon and Mars if human-kind had not suffered the plague, then the dark ages. Without the mass, forced conversions of that time the human race – as a whole- might be living in distant galaxies by now. Many of the lingering prejudices against women and different skin tones may have never developed without the inquisition’s aftermath that triggered all of the colonizing, and took monotheism out of Europe to other lands.
Who is a witch? Anyone you speak with, see or hear about might be casting a circle, and settling into meditation, at this very moment.
I enjoy fictional witches, but I try to remember that there are real people reconstructing and practicing many of these “old ways”. With Christmas approaching, I grew curious about the winter holidays celebrated by modern witches and Wiccan. Their holidays are based on the seasons, not famous people or infamous events.
Yule is the most popular winter holiday, and its festivities are often combined with winter solstice revelry. Some groups meet for potluck feasts where coven members exchange handmade gifts, give handmade ritual tools, or give fellow practitioner a prized book from the giver’s own bookshelves. Beverages can include home-brewed mead and traditional or non-alcoholic Wassail. A formal ritual often follows, at midnight. While the preferred ritual setting is outdoors, cold weather means casting the circle inside, where the chances for frostbite are much lower.
Apparently Wicca, like Christianity, is divided into different sects or traditions. Someone following a Celtic tradition will have different ritual tools and practices from someone following a Norse tradition. Each pantheon has different names for their gods and goddesses, with each deity having his or her own characteristics and skills, but the seasonal celebrations are common to all.
I love my job and have certainly enjoyed this placement in the Northwest of England, in Lancashire. There is quite a documented history here of the Pendle Witches in Lancashire. In 1612 ten people were executed as witches. Their story is one of politics, fear and how story telling could at that time change or even take someone’s life. There were actually laws at that time that accepted witches existed, so these poor people where put on trial at Lancaster. You can actually go and visit the castle where the trial was held.
This excellent BBC production can take you on the journey from your armchair. It is well worth watching Tells you all about this event, taking you along the paths walked by the witches and their accusers.
Lancashire has embraced its history and there are lots of activities surrounding the Pendle Witches, children are encouraged to learn their history in various ways. One of the competition entries wrote about how she was part of a project in 2012 discovering the story of the witches, and over Halloween attended a residential weekend where they all told spooky stories; hers was about the child of one of the witches who turned on her mother.
16 century England was not a place to be old or ugly and have a cat, apparently those are the most obvious signs of being a witch, I guess being old and cantankerous wouldn’t help either. If combined with the above you happened to have a wart or mole then it was obvious you had signed a pact with the devil.
Book suggestions: ‘Sweep ‘by Cate Tiernan. YA fantasy novel about a young witch and the adventures she has with her friends and you must try “ Mist over Pendle” by Robert Neill