While doing research for this paper I decided to talk to some modern witches. When I informed some of my friends of this the most common remark was “Be careful!.” From these conversations it quickly became evident that most people have no idea what witches believe or even if they exist. However, almost everyone has an image of an ugly witch on a broom, who kidnaps and eats little children. Kids dress up like her during Halloween, and books like Hansel and Gretel introduce her to each new generation of children. I became interested in where all these stereotypes about witches come from and how they differ from the reality about witches and Wicca. It seems that most of the stereotypes can be traced to the Middle Ages and the time of the witch craze and the inquisition.
1. The stereotype of witches and where it comes from
a. Pre-Christian Witches
Although most of the stereotypes of witches can be traced to the Middle Ages, it does not mean that people during this time came up with the description of a witch without prior historical influence. In order to understand what happened during the Middle Ages to create the images of a witch that we know today, it is necessary to go back to pre-Christian times.
European witchcraft during the Middle Ages was strongly influenced by beliefs in magic and sorcery from the Greco-Roman as well as Hebrew times. The Greeks had a sophisticated system of magic that was combined with witchcraft and religion. The highest level of magic was that dealing with the gods. This was the one acceptable form. The two lower levels both deal with individuals who claim to brew potions, recite incantations, or give people magical objects. These people usually sold their...
... middle of paper ...
...with all the other groups that fall under the name of witchcraft.
1. Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon. Boston: Beacon Press, 1981
2. Ankarloo, Bengt and Henningsen, Gustav. Early Modern European Witchcraft. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.
3. Barry, Jonathan and Hester, Marianne and Roberts, Gareth. Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
4. Clark, Stuart. Thinking with Demons. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
5. Farrar, Stewart. What Witches Do. Blaine: Phoenix Publishing Inc., 1991
6. Russell, Jeffrey. A History of Witchcraft: Sorcerers, Heretics, and Pagans. New York: Themes and Hudson Inc. 1983.
7. Starhawk. The Spiral Dance. New York: Harper Collins Publisher, 1989
8. Interview with Seamus McKeon and Sandy Herrera both practicing Wiccans.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Anne Sexton’s “Her Kind” (273) emphasizes on how a woman is being depicted in Boston Massachusetts during the seventeenth-century. The women in Boston during that time were an outcast due to the society stereotyping that all women were “witches”. The speaker takes in society's refusal of not accepting that these women are liberated and that they are an image of having a good effect for society. The voices of the speaker and society combat about the disagreement that the developing of the modern women are normal and not witches. In the first quatrain, the speaker brings about herself as a witch by saying, "I have gone out, a possessed witch" (1).... [tags: Poetry Analysis]
1155 words (3.3 pages)
- Modern Witches While doing research for this paper I decided to talk to some modern witches. When I informed some of my friends of this the most common remark was “Be careful!.” From these conversations it quickly became evident that most people have no idea what witches believe or even if they exist. However, almost everyone has an image of an ugly witch on a broom, who kidnaps and eats little children. Kids dress up like her during Halloween, and books like Hansel and Gretel introduce her to each new generation of children.... [tags: Witchcraft Research Papers]
5114 words (14.6 pages)
- The witch hunts in early modern Europe were extensive and far reaching. Christina Larner, a sociology professor at the University of Glasgow and an influential witchcraft historian provides valuable insight into the witch trials in early modern Europe in her article 'Was Witch-Hunting Woman-Hunting?'. Larner writes that witchcraft was not sex-specific, although it was sex-related (Larner, 2002). It cannot be denied that gender plays a tremendous role in the witch hunts in early modern Europe, with females accounting for an estimated 80 percent of those accused (Larner, 2002).... [tags: demonic texts, religious beliefs/hunts]
1940 words (5.5 pages)
- When looking at women over the past two centuries, and comparing them to the modern women of today, it becomes obvious that major changes have occurred. Changes such as the Industrial Revolution; where women were brought into the working force and the Women's Rights Movement; which began and increased voting among women. This eventually led to the opportunity for women to hold a position in the government and eventually the independence of a woman as well as a greater equality within society. Today women have the opportunity to run for president, raise a family on their own as a single mother, and hold a high-status position in a company.... [tags: European Literature]
1645 words (4.7 pages)
- Evaluate the role of gender in early modern witch-hunting. During the early modern period Europe experienced a phase of vicious prosecution of the people accused of the crime of ‘Witchcraft.’ There has been an estimated death toll of up to 50,000 people during these Witch-hunt crazes, although the exact figures are unknown. What is known is that overall 75-80% of those accused were woman although this varies in different states. In this essay I will discuss the role of gender in witchcraft and why the majority of people executed as Witches were women.... [tags: Gender Roles, Women, Witches]
1786 words (5.1 pages)
- Were the witch-hunts in pre-modern Europe misogynistic. Anne Llewellyn Barstow seems to think so in her article, “On Studying Witchcraft as Women’s History: A Historiography of the European Witch Persecutions”. On the contrary, Robin Briggs disagrees that witch-hunts were not solely based on hatred for women as stated in his article, “Women as Victims. Witches, Judges and the Community”. The witch craze that once rapidly swept through Europe may have been because of misconstrued circumstances. The evaluation of European witch-hunts serves as an opportunity to delve deeper into the issue of misogyny.... [tags: european history, witches]
1099 words (3.1 pages)
- Modern Witchcraft Magical Manipulation Many witches do not believe in spirits, and most if not all reject belief in a literal Devil or demons. Naturally, therefore, they reject the idea that sorcery and divination are accomplished by the agency of evil spirits. Many offer naturalistic explanations for the working of magic and divination and other "psychic technologies." On the whole, the occult community today has expanded its definition of "the natural" to incorporate elements that were earlier considered supernatural, placing them in the category of the super- or paranormal instead.... [tags: Witchcraft Witches Magic Essays]
5305 words (15.2 pages)
- When one thinks of witchcraft they typically think of a woman who is ugly, old and grotesque. Someone that perhaps brews potions with unearthly matter in a cauldron or someone that shoots out spells with a wand. The media shows us that these witches can talk to animals, most specifically cats and wolves. They also portray them as evildoers that consort with the Devil, steal children, and kill others. Although having such beings that could create such feats of magic would be astonishing, they are largely false rumors created by the Catholic Church to promote Christianity and punish those who held on those beliefs that did not align with the church.... [tags: Religion]
1549 words (4.4 pages)
- The Macbeth Witches In the first scene in act one we can see that the witches have some kind of psychic ability from when they predict that Macbeth will win the battle. The witches appear to be having some sport of shared vision. We can tell this from the second quotation- “When the hurlyburly’s done. When the battle’s lost and won.” The witches clearly know that King Duncan’s side will win the battle. They also know when they will meet with Macbeth- “There to meet with Macbeth.” This addresses the theme of witchcraft and is Shakespeare’s way of letting the audience know that the witches have powers.... [tags: English Literature Essays]
834 words (2.4 pages)
- The Role of Witches in Macbeth In ‘Macbeth’ the witches have to be portrayed as evil and fearsome for the play to make sense. This is difficult for a modern director to achieve as out culture and beliefs are extremely different from those at the time at which Macbeth was written. The intended effect of the witches is to scare the audience into believing them. To strengthen this belief one witch in the play says: ‘Though has bark cannot be lost, Yet it shall be tempest-toss’d.’ In Shakespeare time people were very conscious about the practice of witchcraft.... [tags: Papers]
934 words (2.7 pages)