Saturday, June 11, 2011

Witchcraft


           Witchcraft is one of the more well known ancient pagan religions which has its roots in ancient folk ways and beliefs which worships the life force of nature on the planet and in the skies. Witchcraft means "Craft of the Wise Ones" and is also known as the "Old Religion."Witchcraft seems to have survived alongside Christianity up until the Middle Ages where the Church became powerful enough to almost completely wipe it out through propaganda, torture and genocide. Whomever remained of the religion were forced to go into hiding or risk death.


Witchcraft is the use of various types of magical or mystical powers based on a fertility cult practiced by peasants. Its origins have been traced to Neolithic cave paintings. There are several forms of worship in witchcraft. These vary from elaborate rituals to simple meditation. In many cultures it is believed that witchcraft has been linked with Satan and evil and it is used to harm or influence nature through occult means. However, most of the Witches are prevented from using ‘black’ or evil magic through their belief in the three fold law. Witches believe that whatever they do will come back to them three fold, therefore they are prevented from harming anyone.

Both modern and ancient Witches believe are monotheistic. They believe in one God and one Goddess but worship them as many gods. This is because they believe that all gods are aspects of the Goddess and the God. There are many different names and forms to the God and the Goddess.

The Goddess is the mother of all things, of nature and of earth. She is also known as the Huntress, Gaia (mother earth), Artemis, Astarte, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Ceridwen, Diana, Arionrhod and Brigid. She is represented by the moon, and is seen to be a symbol of fertility and life. Unlike Christians, Witches do not build churches or temples, rather, they worship outdoors, in gods creation. Witches worship through meditation and prayer. Witches worship and celebrate within a ritual 'circle.' Within the circle worship and the practice of magic occurs.

Magic is performed at certain times which coincide with the phases of the moon. They believe that the moon is very powerful as it symbolizes the goddess. Both modern and ancient Witches use certain tools to aid in the performance of magic. These include; spells, visualization, chants, candles, amulets and meditation.

Witches do not believe in the after life as such, rather they believe in re-incarnation. Witches accept that they keep coming back to purify themselves and attain perfection, when they have reached a certain level of attainment, they are absorbed into the godhead and do not return. The witchcraft in the Elizabethan age was a well acknowledged favourable religion. There were two groups of witches: The good –also known as the white witches- and the bad witches also referred to as the black witches. These white witches were capable of healing people of their ailments through the use of herbs. This knowledge was thus passed down from one generation to the next so that the knowledge still remained among the family of the witches. The black witches were generally seen as those who used their knowledge to inflict harm on people, animals, and properties. But as the witch hunts began in many parts of Europe during the renaissance era, the distinction between black and white withes disappeared totally. Women with knowledge of herbs became referred to as evil too. At that time, people accused of being witches were usually, the unprotected, dirty and filthy women, the poor women and finally, the widows.

Christianity came the loss of distinction between the two groups. As far as Christians were concerned, all forms of sorcery was witchcraft. According to the Protestant Christian explanation the witches or wizards engaged to such practices were alleged to reject Jesus and the sacraments; observe "the witches' sabbath"; pay Divine honour to the Prince of Darkness (satan); and, in return, receive from him preternatural powers. It was a folkloric belief that a Devil's Mark, like the brand on cattle, was placed upon a witch's skin by the devil to signify that this pact had been made. By means of the pact, the sorceress was committed to render cultured to the Devil in exchange for the acquisition of some supernatural powers, between which it was the capacity to cause curses of different types, that they could affect so much to the people as to elements of the nature; in numerous occasions, next to these supposed powers one also considered the sorceresses able to fly (in woods, animal, demons or with the help of ointments), and the one to even transform themselves into animal.

It was believed that a witch often joined a pact with the devil to gain powers to deal with infertility, immense fear for her children's well-being, or revenge against a lover.

In 1200 AD, church leaders started a massive campaign to eliminate all forms of heresy from among the people. The initial ploy was to get them to get them to forcefully reject their beliefs and ideas and become christians again. Since many of them remained adamant, the church started an inquisition that saw to the convictions and death of all heretics.

By the later part of the 1500s the hunt for witches became large scale. During her era, Queen Elizabeth I passed a law known as the 1562 Elizabethan Witchcraft act which Witches who were found guilty of murdering other people were hanged instead of burnt like their colleagues in the Spanish and French countries. The total number of witch trials in Europe which are known for certain to have ended in executions is around 12,000. As a result of the persecutions of witches in the middle ages, much of the religion was lost.
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