|A witch is a woman practicing magic. In the Middle Ages, a notion was formed that a woman becomes a witch by entering into an agreement with the devil. It was attributed that witches took part in Sabbaths on mountains (mainly — Walpurgis Night), copulating with demons in the form of men (Incubus) and sacrificing babies in order to avoid the onset of Doomsday. Similar superstitions led to the rise in the mass prosecution and execution of women who were considered witches, from the end of the 15th to the middle of the 17th centuries. This period entered into the history as the Witch Hunt in Western Europe. The treatise “The Hammer of Witches” - The Malleus Maleficarum (Latin) or “Hexenhammer” in German) - written by German inquisitors Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger in 1486 has served as the twist-type trigger for mass legal proceedings over so-called witches. “Wicca” is a religion for witches.
The view of the Slavonic people towards witches was different; Witchcraft (secret “knowledge” and other abilities) in itself was not considered a crime and legal action against witches were taken up only after accusing someone for inflicting concrete harm to a claimant.
The injuriousness to witches was attributed to Christian preachers. Since olden times, witches (knowledgeable) lived separately from other people. Thus, it was easy to collect knowledge (by observing their nature). And it is important to note that only those people approached witches who really needed help. For simple people, witches were esteemed gods (particularly for this reason, the witches were not disturbed without a valid purpose). And for preachers, aspiring to spread Christianity by all means, witches were a real harm (after all, witches could help people and what could preachers oppose? Not only Christian missionaries but also apologists of “priestly” paganism competed with witches, not giving them time to consider themselves unique bearers of the will of the gods.
The folk classification of witches:
In folk tales, witches were divided into two categories – “from birth” and “scientists”. Born, natural or “from birth” a witch appears, if someone successively gives birth to seven girls and without a baby boy in between or is the representative of a third generation of illegitimate girls or is simply the daughter of a witch (depending on the region). A born witch could be born to a mother who, being pregnant, prepared festive evening dishes and accidentally swallowed a piece of coal or when the child was in the womb, the mother was cursed “in that minute”.
A" Wise” witch collects supernatural forces from other witches or from the devil, in general, from evil spirits. The major difference between the “Born” and “Wise” witches is that the “Born” witch can sometimes correct inflicted harm but the “Wise” witch will never do it: “the wise witch is worse than the born witch”.
The initiation of witches:
The witch studied with another witch or even with a devil. Folk narrations link the terrifying rituals such as, for example, trampling icons, reading the prayers the wrong way and throwing over a knife in the “initiation” process of witches. The senior witch can also wash the student with magical broth, immediately after which the student flies out through the furnace onto the streets and returns back as a witch. But, conclusive training comes to an end on Bald Mountain.
Most frequent appearances of witches:
In rural life, a witch can enter any situation and do harm: it can cause hail, various diseases and even death by making whirlpools on the fields; steal stars from the sky and cause solar and lunar eclipses.
Witches often fly. Witches use brooms or besom for flying. Witches apply some liquid or use special cream on their wrist and fly through the furnace. In Ukrainian mythology, the aim of flying is to go up high to Bald Mountain near Kiev, in German mythology — Broken, in Italian - Beneventsky oak. Here, they celebrate their Sabbaths, i.e., wild banquets and report to higher evil spirit. Usually, the Sabbaths are organized in the first week of every month or on the eve of a holiday. Sometimes, it is considered that when the witch goes on such Sabbaths, only her soul departs and the body remains in place. If the body of a witch is overturned, then the soul cannot enter the body anymore.
After death, witches, like vampires, can also rise from tombs, especially if they experienced some injustice in their lives for which they wish to take revenge.
Witches can command the weather and can delay rain and cause drought.
Recognition of witches:
Water tests (dunking) were mentioned even in the ancient Hindu book “Manu”. Indistinct instructions were also given in Avast. The description about dunking is also found in ancient German traditional law and in legislation. The idea of this test was, probably, that water as a pure element shall refuse to accept people who serve an evil spirit.
In Western Europe, witches were keenly chased and burnt - the first witch burning took place in Toulouse in 1275. In the west, suspicions about relations with evil spirits, back-off from correct religion, i.e. the so-called apostasy was the main reason for the prosecution of witches. |