In the early centuries when science and medicine was primitive, belief in the supernatural was highly common. It was not rare to accuse a person of being a witch when she deviates from societyís norms. During the spread of Christianity, pagan beliefs were believed to be demonic. Any act which is not synonymous to Christian beliefs may be considered as a tool of the devil. Witches are given the bad reputation of eating children and casting witchcraft spells. They are even included in normal folklore as a means of scaring and giving discipline to children.
Witches have been misinterpreted as an evil entity of the lot. Witch trials are fairly common in the early 15th to 17th century. One of these popular events is the Salem witch trials, which were a series of trials and punishment for all suspected witches in Massachusetts. Some grave punishments include hanging and burning, in order to prevent harm among the village people. Mass fear was instilled in order for a witch to become arrested.
Tracing Back To Early Literature
In Homerís Odyssey, it was noted that when Odysseus landed on the island where the sea nymph lived, his crew was cast under a spell in which they became swine. The sea nymph, called Circe, was only defeated by Odysseus with aid of Hermes. This is the earliest form of a witch depicted in Greek literature. The code of Hammurabi also mentioned the casting of spells, which is an act of witchcraft.
The Worship Of Nature
The earliest form of witches practicing witchcraft was a thousand of years ago in which nature was Supreme Being of all. Most worshipped Mother Nature and any disaster that occurs meant that you have probably done something wrong. Any force of nature was a failure of fulfilling Mother Natureís Wishes and a sacrifice must be done in order to prevent further disaster. Witchcraft has remained the ďcraft of the wiseĒ and is still in current practice today.
Several Versions Of The Origins Of Witches
In Eastern Europe folklore, a witch was typically known as ďBaba Yaga.Ē This hag is described as a thin, comely woman with gruesome features. She lives in a hut supported by chicken legs. There are tales that describe the Baba Yaga as a motherly figure only to lure children to their death. In a Hansel and Gretel type of story, the children fled off to safety back in their own abode.
Witchcraft in Asia and Africa was in a form of Shaman in which they use themselves as mediums to cast spells to the ones who have wronged them. Tales in which an arrogant person becomes reformed when a Shaman has punished them into a more inferior being is often common.
These origins of witches have become an interesting topic to discuss since it depicts the unknown and the paranormal. Whether they may be true or not, these tale of origins are to be taken into importance since they contribute a huge part of our history before religion was actually a formal teaching.