The Origin of Witchcraft

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Elf woman in a green dress in the forest

The origin of witchcraft goes all the way back to the dawn of civilization. It covers a wide range of beliefs, practices, and traditions in just about every culture across the globe. 

Witchcraft has been a ‘catchall’ word for spiritual belief systems that are not within the concepts of mainstream religions. Witchcraft refers to belief systems that worship the natural world, and the spirit world, for healing, and manifesting. With the biggest differences being that in witchcraft, the belief is that all things; including inanimate objects are alive and have a spirit.

From its inception, the Christian church wanted complete control over the entire European continent. Therefore, the words witch and witchcraft described evil doings by evil people.

Any person or group that was found to practice witchcraft what is said to be working for the devil, and will be tried and executed as a witch.

Diverse roots in the origin of witchcraft

Voodoo and Hoodoo from Africa, traditional English  Folk magic, Egyptian magic, and spiritual practices, just to name a few, show the uncommon diversity of what is labeled as witchcraft.

Because a lot of the craft practices were handed down by family members and kept secret, there is no one correct method or common thread that defines a precise origin of witchcraft. 

The fact of the matter is, the definition of witchcraft varies as much as cultures do. Witchcraft is based on religion, the practices of a particular group of people, geography, and what period of time in history you’re referring to. 

So witchcraft is really an umbrella term for an unrecognized spiritual practice that lay outside the realm of “socially accepted faith-based religions”, that can bring about change to the natural world, can heal or harm’ and utilizes incantations, rituals, charms, and tools that are outside of mainstream understandings.

However, historically, witchcraft was a term used to describe harmful and evil workings. Positive witchcraft was said to be done by crafty folk called witches. Witchy Craft became witchcraft.

The real origin of witchcraft

Witchcraft goes back through time to include both primitive and highly advanced cultures that existed all over the planet. The real origin of witchcraft is mentioned first in the Old Testament with the laws against these kinds of practices. But, it was not until the Early Modern Period that the church used this term as an association with the Devil and devil worship. Which brought death, torture and the scapegoating for the clergy. Anytime there was a pestilence, famine, catastrophic weather, or any other misfortunes; it was blamed on witchcraft.

The craft, as it is referred to by those that practice it, goes back as far as humans go. The real history of “witchcraft“ really starts in the 15th century with the publication of the Malleus Maleficarum – which translates from Latin as “Hammer of Witches” or  “Witch’s Hammer” or “Hexenhammer” in German. 

This book was the de-facto handbook for witch-hunters and Inquisitors in Late Medieval Europe. Between 1487 – 1520 the Witches Hammer was published 13 times. and from 1574 – 1669 it was published another 16 times.

It is ironic that both The Bible and the Malleus Maleficarum were made popular by the printing in Germany by Gutenberg and his invention of the printing press.  This is the only reason that both Christianity and the Witch Hunts spread so rapidly throughout Europe and then the rest of the western world.

Witches learned to both fear and loathe the label of Witchcraft.

Thus, the origin of Witchcraft also brought about the origin of the “Craft”. 

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Robert Lanek

    Why most people believe that withcraft is associated to evil?

  2. D C Freese

    It served the mainstream religions or “the church” of Europe to associate witchcraft with evil in their quest to control the masses through religion. It is my opinion that religion is a human construct established by leaders – the church primarily via Christianity in Europe – to control the masses to ensure power and self enrichment in various forms. It is further my belief it was not only Christianity that did this but other religions e.g. Islamism that did this. In fact religion has caused more human suffering than anything else.

  3. Debbie

    I don’t believe in witches I believe in Jesus Christ in heaven my Lord and savior

  4. Shamone

    Awesome. Thank you. Many of these things I’ve naturally done for years, and it just seems second nature. I’m growing in my spiritualism and trusting the odyssey of a journey..🦋

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