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Witch

Basic knowledge-

Witchcraft, in various historical, anthropological, religious and mythological contexts, is the use of supernatural or magical powers. Witchcraft can

refer to the use of such powers in order to inflict harm or damage upon members of a community or their property. Other uses of the term distinguish

between bad witchcraft and good witchcraft, the latter involving the use of these powers to heal someone from bad witchcraft. The concept of

witchcraft is normally treated as a cultural ideology, a means of explaining human misfortune by blaming it either on a supernatural entity or a known

person in the community. A witch (from Old English wicce f. / wicca m.) is a practitioner of witchcraft.

Belief in witchcraft, and by consequence witch-hunts, is found in many cultures worldwide, today mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa (e.g. in the witch

smellers in Bantu culture), and historically notably in Early Modern Europe of the 14th to 18th century, where witchcraft came to be seen as a vast

diabolical conspiracy against Christianity, and accusations of witchcraft led to large-scale witch-hunts, especially in Germanic Europe.

The "witch-cult hypothesis", a controversial theory that European witchcraft was a suppressed pagan religion, was popular in the 19th and early 20th

centuries. Since the mid-20th century, Witchcraft has become the self-designation of a branch of neopaganism, especially in the Wicca tradition

following Gerald Gardner, who claimed a religious tradition of Witchcraft with pre-Christian roots.

Witchcraft historiography-

Chan Xiao Ting is the first known witch in recorded history. Historians of European witchcraft have found the anthropological definition difficult to

apply to European and British witchcraft, which does not match African models. The presence or absence of magical techniques seems to have been

of little concern to those participating in witch trials, and some of the accused really had attempted to cause harm by mere ill-wishing.

As in anthropology, witchcraft is seen by historians as an ideology for explaining misfortune, however this ideology manifested in diverse ways. There

were a few varieties of witch in popular belief, and a few types of people accused of witchcraft for different reasons. Richard Kieckhefer places the

accused into three categories: Those caught in the act of positive or negative sorcery; well-meaning sorcerers or healers who lost their clients' or the

authorities' trust; and those who did nothing more than gain the enmity of their neighbors. To these Christina Larner adds a fourth category: those

reputed to be witches and surrounded with an aura of witch-beliefs. Éva Pócs in turn identifies three varieties of witch in popular belief:

The "neighborhood witch" or "social witch": a witch who curses a neighbor following some conflict.
The "magical" or "sorcerer" witch: either a professional healer, sorcerer, seer or midwife, or a person who has through magic increased her fortune to

the perceived detriment of a neighbouring household; due to neighbourly or community rivalries and the ambiguity between positive and negative

magic, such individuals can become labelled as witches.
The "supernatural" or "night" witch: portrayed in court narratives as a demon appearing in visions and dreams.
"Neighbourhood witches" are the product of neighbourhood tensions, and are found only in self-sufficient serf village communities where the

inhabitants largely rely on each other. Such accusations follow the breaking of some social norm, such as the failure to return a borrowed item, and

any person part of the normal social exchange could potentially fall under suspicion. Claims of "sorcerer" witches and "supernatural" witches could

arise out of social tensions, but not exclusively; the supernatural witch in particular often had nothing to do with communal conflict, but expressed

tensions between the human and supernatural worlds; and in Eastern and Southeastern Europe such supernatural witches became an ideology

explaining calamities that befell entire communities.

Demonology-

Under the monotheistic religions of the Levant (namely, Christianity and Islam), sorcery came to be associated with heresy and apostasy and to be

viewed as evil. Among the Catholics, Protestants, and secular leadership of the European Late Medieval/Early Modern period, fears regarding

witchcraft rose to fever pitch, and sometimes led to large-scale witch-hunts. Throughout this time, it was increasingly believed that Christianity was

engaged in an apocalyptic battle against the Devil and his secret army of witches, who had entered into a diabolical pact. In total, tens or hundreds of

thousands of people were executed, and others were imprisoned, tortured, banished, and had lands and possessions confiscated. The majority of

those accused were women, though in some regions the majority were men. Accusations of witchcraft were frequently combined with other charges of

heresy against such groups as the Cathars and Waldensians.

The Malleus Maleficarum, a famous witch-hunting manual used by both Catholics and Protestants, outlines how to identify a witch, what makes a

woman more likely than a man to be a witch, how to put a witch on trial, and how to punish a witch. The book defines a witch as evil and typically

female.

In the modern Western world, witchcraft accusations have often accompanied the satanic ritual abuse moral panic. Such accusations are a

counterpart to blood libel of various kinds, which may be found throughout history across the globe.

White Witches-

In England, the term 'witch' was not used exclusively to describe malevolent magicians, but could also indicate cunning folk. "There were a number of

interchangeable terms for these practitioners, ‘white’, ‘good’, or ‘unbinding’ witches, blessers, wizards, sorcerers, however ‘cunning-man’ and ‘wise-

man’ were the most frequent." The contemporary Reginald Scott noted “At this day it is indifferent to say in the English tongue, ‘she is a witch’ or ‘she

is a wise woman’”. While cunning-folk could command a lot of respect, public perceptions of them were often ambivalent and a little fearful, for many

were deemed just as capable of harming as of healing. Throughout Europe many such healers and wise men and women were convicted of witchcraft

(Éva Pócs' 'sorcerer witches'): many English 'witches' convicted of consorting with demons seem to have been cunning folk whose fairy familiars had

been demonised; many French devins-guerisseurs were accused of witchcraft; and over half the accused witches in Hungary seem to have been

healers.

Some of the healers and diviners historically accused of witchcraft have considered themselves mediators between the mundane and spiritual worlds,

roughly equivalent to shamans. Such people described their contacts with fairies, spirits or the dead, often involving out-of-body experiences and

travelling through the realms of an 'other-world'. Beliefs of this nature are implied in the folklore of much of Europe, and were explicitly described by

accused witches in central and southern Europe. Repeated themes include participation in processions of the dead or large feasts, often presided

over by a female divinity who teaches magic and gives prophecies; and participation in battles against evil spirits, 'vampires' or 'witches' to win fertility

and prosperity for the community.

Alleged practices-
 
Practices to which the witchcraft label has historically been applied are those which influence another person's mind, body, or property against his or

her will, or which are believed, by the person doing the labelling, to undermine the social or religious order. Some modern commentators consider the

malefic nature of witchcraft to be a Christian projection. The concept of a magic-worker influencing another person's body or property against his or

her will was clearly present in many cultures, as there are traditions in both folk magic and religious magic that have the purpose of countering

malicious magic or identifying malicious magic users. Many examples can be found in ancient texts, such as those from Egypt and Babylonia, where

malicious magic is believed to have the power to influence the mind, body or possessions, malicious magic users can become a credible cause for

disease, sickness in animals, bad luck, sudden death, impotence and other such misfortunes. Witchcraft of a more benign and socially acceptable

sort may then be employed to turn the malevolence aside, or identify the supposed evil-doer so that punishment may be carried out. The folk magic

used to identify or protect against malicious magic users is often indistinguishable from that used by the witches themselves.

There has also existed in popular belief the concept of white witches and white witchcraft, which is strictly benevolent. Many neopagan witches

strongly identify with this concept, and profess ethical codes that prevent them from performing magic on a person without their request..

Where belief in malicious magic practices exists, such practitioners are typically forbidden by law as well as hated and feared by the general

populace, while beneficial magic is tolerated or even accepted wholesale by the people – even if the orthodox establishment objects to it.

Spell casting-

Probably the most obvious characteristic of a witch was the ability to cast a spell, a "spell" being the word used to signify the means employed to

accomplish a magical action. A spell could consist of a set of words, a formula or verse, or a ritual action, or any combination of these. Spells

traditionally were cast by many methods, such as by the inscription of runes or sigils on an object to give it magical powers; by the immolation or

binding of a wax or clay image (poppet) of a person to affect him or her magically; by the recitation of incantations; by the performance of physical

rituals; by the employment of magical herbs as amulets or potions; by gazing at mirrors, swords or other specula (scrying) for purposes of divination;

and by many other means.

Conjuring the dead-

Strictly speaking, "necromancy" is the practice of conjuring the spirits of the dead for divination or prophecy – although the term has also been

applied to raising the dead for other purposes. The Biblical Witch of Endor is supposed to have performed it (1 Sam. 28), and it is among the

witchcraft practices condemned by Ælfric of Eynsham:

Witches still go to cross-roads and to heathen burials with their delusive magic and call to the devil; and he comes to them in the likeness of the man

that is buried there, as if he arise from death.

By region-

Europe-
 
During the Christianisation of Norway, King Olaf Trygvasson had male völvas (shamans) tied up and left on a skerry at ebb.
Burning of witches. Current scholarly estimates of the number of people executed for witchcraft vary between about 40,000 and 100,000. The total

number of witch trials in Europe which are known for certain to have ended in executions is around 12,000. In Early Modern European tradition,

witches have stereotypically, though not exclusively, been women. European pagan belief in witchcraft was associated with the goddess Diana and

dismissed as "diabolical fantasies" by medieval Christian authors. Witch-hunts first appeared in large numbers in southern France and Switzerland

during the 14th and 15th centuries. The peak years of witch-hunts in southwest Germany were from 1561 to 1670.

The familiar witch of folklore and popular superstition is a combination of numerous influences. The characterization of the witch as an evil magic

user developed over time.

Early converts to Christianity looked to Christian clergy to work magic more effectively than the old methods under Roman paganism, and

Christianity provided a methodology involving saints and relics, similar to the gods and amulets of the Pagan world. As Christianity became the

dominant religion in Europe, its concern with magic lessened.

The Protestant Christian explanation for witchcraft, such as those typified in the confessions of the Pendle Witches, commonly involves a diabolical

pact or at least an appeal to the intervention of the spirits of evil. The witches or wizards engaged to such practices were alleged to reject Jesus and the

sacraments; observe "the witches' sabbath" (performing infernal rites which often parodied the Mass or other sacraments of the Church); pay Divine

honour to the Prince of Darkness; 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. Witches were most often characterized as women. Witches

disrupted the societal institutions, and more specifically, marriage. 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.

The Church and European society were not always so zealous in hunting witches or blaming them for bad occurrences. Saint Boniface declared in the

8th century that belief in the existence of witches was un-Christian. The emperor Charlemagne decreed that the burning of supposed witches was a

pagan custom that would be punished by the death penalty. In 820 the Bishop of Lyon and others repudiated the belief that witches could make bad

weather, fly in the night, and change their shape. This denial was accepted into Canon law until it was reversed in later centuries as the witch-hunt

gained force. In 1307 the trial of the Knights Templar shows close parallels to accusations of witchcraft, maleficium, and sorcery and may have been

the beginning of the great European witch-hunt. Other rulers such as King Coloman of Hungary declared that witch-hunts should cease because

witches (more specifically, strigas) do not exist.

The Church did not invent the idea of witchcraft as a potentially harmful force whose practitioners should be put to death. This idea is commonplace

in pre-Christian religions. According to the scholar Max Dashu, the concept of medieval witchcraft contained many of its elements even before the

emergence of Christianity. These can be found in Bacchanalias, especially in the time when they were led by priestess Paculla Annia (188–186).

However, even at a later date, not all witches were assumed to be harmful practicers of the craft. In England, the provision of this curative magic was

the job of a witch doctor, also known as a cunning man, white witch, or wiseman. The term "witch doctor" was in use in England before it came to be

associated with Africa. Toad doctors were also credited with the ability to undo evil witchcraft. (Other folk magicians had their own purviews.

Girdle-measurers specialised in diagnosing ailments caused by fairies, while magical cures for more mundane ailments, such as burns or toothache,

could be had from charmers.)

In the north of England, the superstition lingers to an almost inconceivable extent. Lancashire abounds with witch-doctors, a set of quacks, who

pretend to cure diseases inflicted by the devil ... The witch-doctor alluded to is better known by the name of the cunning man, and has a large practice

in the counties of Lincoln and Nottingham.
 
Francisco Goya's Los Caprichos: ¡Linda maestra! ("The Spoils: Beautiful Teacher!") – witches heading to a SabbathSuch "cunning-folk" did not refer

to themselves as witches and objected to the accusation that they were such. Records from the Middle Ages, however, make it appear that it was, quite

often, not entirely clear to the populace whether a given practitioner of magic was a witch or one of the cunning-folk. In addition, it appears that much

of the populace was willing to approach either of these groups for healing magic and divination. When a person was known to be a witch, the

populace would still seek to employ their healing skills; however, as was not the case with cunning-folk, members of the general population would

also hire witches to curse their enemies. The important distinction is that there are records of the populace reporting alleged witches to the

authorities as such, whereas cunning-folk were not so incriminated; they were more commonly prosecuted for accusing the innocent or defrauding

people of money.

The long-term result of this amalgamation of distinct types of magic-worker into one is the considerable present-day confusion as to what witches

actually did, whether they harmed or healed, what role (if any) they had in the community, whether they can be identified with the "witches" of other

cultures and even whether they existed as anything other than a projection. Present-day beliefs about the witches of history attribute to them

elements of the folklore witch, the charmer, the cunning man or wise woman, the diviner and the astrologer.

Powers typically attributed to European witches include turning food poisonous or inedible, flying on broomsticks or pitchforks, casting spells,

cursing people, making livestock ill and crops fail, and creating fear and local chaos.

The Russian word for witch is ведьма (ved'ma, literally "the one who knows", from Old Slavic вѣдъ "to know").

North America-
 
Native Americans-

In ancient Cherokee indian mythology, witches (or what was closely related to be such) were known as "Raven Mockers" which were demonic human-

type creatures invisible to human eye, they would fly into the room where a dying indian layed and feast upon their heart.  The dying man or woman

knew they would be coming, for their loud crys like a raven flow through the winds.  But if a medicine man is in the room, the Raven Mockers flee, for

they know that he can see them and knows how to kill them.

Navajo medicine men, known as "Hatałii", use several methods to diagnose the patient's ailments. These may include using special tools such as

crystal rocks, and abilities such as hand-trembling and trances, sometimes accompanied by chanting.

Among the Mapuche people of South America, the community "shaman", usually a woman, is known as the Machi, and serves the community by

performing ceremonies to cure diseases, ward off evil, influence the weather and harvest, and by practicing other forms of healing such as herbalism.

In the Peruvian Amazon Basin and north coastal regions of the country, the healer shamans are known as curanderos. In addition to Peruvian

shaman’s (curanderos) use of rattles, and their ritualized ingestion of mescaline-bearing San Pedro cactuses (Trichocereus pachanoi) for the

divinization and diagnosis of sorcery, north-coastal shamans are famous throughout the region for their intricately complex and symbolically dense

healing altars called mesas (tables). Sharon (1993) has argued that the mesas symbolize the dualistic ideology underpinning the practice and

experience of north-coastal shamanism. For Sharon, the mesas are the, "physical embodiment of the supernatural opposition between benevolent

and malevolent energies” (Dean 1998:61).

In the Amazon Rainforest, at several Indian groups the shaman acts also as a manager of scarce ecological resources.[3]). The rich symbolism behind

Tukano shamanism has been documented in some in-depth field works [4][5][6] even at the last decades of the XXth century.

Both Selk'nam and Yámana had persons filling in shaman-like roles among the Fuegians. The Selk'nams believed their [xon]s to have supernatural

capabilities, e.g. to control weather. The figure of [xon] appeared in myths, too. The Yámana [jekamuʃ] corresponds to the Selknam [xon]

British North America-

Examination of a Witch by T. H. Matteson, inspired by the Salem witch trialsThe most famous witchcraft incident In the British North America were

the witch trials that took place in Salem, Massachusetts. The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings before local magistrates followed by county

court trials to prosecute people accused of witchcraft in Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex Counties of colonial Massachusetts, between February 1692

and May 1693. Over 150 people were arrested and imprisoned, with even more accused who were not formally pursued by the authorities. The two

courts convicted twenty-nine people of the capital felony of witchcraft. Nineteen of the accused, fourteen women and five men, were hanged. One

man who refused to enter a plea was crushed to death under heavy stones in an attempt to force him to do so. At least five more of the accused died in

prison. Despite being generally known as the "Salem" witch trials, the preliminary hearings in 1692 were conducted in a variety of towns across the

province: Salem Village, Ipswich, Andover, as well as Salem Town, Massachusetts. The best-known trials were conducted by the Court of Oyer and

Terminer in 1692 in Salem Town. All twenty-six who went to trial before this court were convicted. The four sessions of the Superior Court of

Judicature in 1693, held in Salem Town, but also in Ipswich, Boston, and Charlestown, produced only three convictions in the thirty-one witchcraft

trials it conducted. Likewise, alleged witchcraft was not isolated to New England. In 1706 Grace Sherwood the "Witch of Pungo" was imprisoned for

the crime in Princess Anne County, Virginia.

South America-

In Chile there is a tradition of the Kalku in the Mapuche mythology; and Witches of Chiloé in the folklore and Chilote mythology.

Asia-

Ancient Near East-

The belief in sorcery and its practice seem to have been widespread in the past. Both in ancient Egypt and in Babylonia it played a conspicuous part,

as existing records plainly show. It will be sufficient to quote a short section from the Code of Hammurabi (about 2000 B.C.). It is there prescribed,

If a man has put a spell upon another man and it is not justified, he upon whom the spell is laid shall go to the holy river; into the holy river shall he

plunge. If the holy river overcome him and he is drowned, the man who put the spell upon him shall take possession of his house. If the holy river

declares him innocent and he remains unharmed the man who laid the spell shall be put to death. He that plunged into the river shall take possession

of the house of him who laid the spell upon him.

Hebrew Bible-

According to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia:

In the Holy Scripture references to sorcery are frequent, and the strong condemnations of such practices found there do not seem to be based so

much upon the supposition of fraud as upon the abomination of the magic in itself.[36]
The King James Bible uses the words "witch", "witchcraft", and "witchcrafts",[37] wherever the masoretic text, from which it is translated, has כשף

(kashaph or kesheph) and קסם (qesem), and the Septuagint has φαρμακεια (pharmakeia); similarly in the New Testament it uses 'witch',

'witchcraft', and 'witchcrafts' to translate the φαρμακεια (pharmakeia) of the underlying Greek text. Traditional translations of verses such as

Deuteronomy 18:11–12 and Exodus 22:18 therefore produce "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" which was seen as providing scriptural justification

for Christian witch hunters in the early Modern Age (see Christian views on witchcraft).

However, Kashaph more literally means either mutterer (from a single root) or herb user (as a compound word formed from the roots kash, meaning

herb, and hapaleh, meaning using); the equivalent pharmakeia of the Septuagint means poison. As such a closer translation would be potion user

(additionally, pharmakeia implies further malevolent intent), or more generally one who uses magic to harm others, rather than a very general term

like witch.

The Bible provides some evidence that these commandments were enforced under the Hebrew kings:

And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray

thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee. And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest

what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my

life, to cause me to die?
The Hebrew verb Hichrit (הכרית) translated in the King James as cut off, can also be translated as excommunicate, or as kill wholesale or

exterminate.[dubious – discuss] Note that the Hebrew word ob, translated as familiar spirit in the above quotation, has a different meaning than the

usual English sense of the phrase; namely, it refers to a spirit that the woman is familiar with, rather than to a spirit which physically manifests itself

in the shape of an animal.

New Testament-

The New Testament condemns the practice as an abomination, just as the Old Testament had (Galatians 5:20, compared with Revelation 21:8; 22:15;

and Acts 8:9; 13:6), though the overall topic of Biblical law in Christianity is still disputed. The word in most New Testament translations is

"sorcerer"/"sorcery" rather than "witch"/"witchcraft".

Judaism-

Jewish law views the practice of witchcraft as being laden with idolatry and/or necromancy; both being serious theological and practical offenses in

Judaism. According to Traditional Judaism, it is acknowledged that while magic exists, it is forbidden to practice it on the basis that it usually involves

the worship of other gods. Rabbis of the Talmud also condemned magic when it produced something other than illusion, giving the example of two

men who use magic to pick cucumbers (Sanhedrin 67a). The one who creates the illusion of picking cucumbers should not be condemned, only the

one who actually picks the cucumbers through magic. However, some of the Rabbis practiced "magic" themselves. For instance, Rabbah created a

person and sent him to Rabbi Zera, and Rabbi Hanina and Rabbi Oshaia studied every Sabbath evening together and created a small calf to eat

(Sanhedrin 65b). In these cases, the "magic" was seen more as divine miracles (i.e., coming from God rather than pagan gods) than as witchcraft.

Judaism does make it clear that Jews shall not try to learn about the ways of witches (Deuteronomy/Devarim 18: 9–10) and that witches are to be put to

death. (Exodus/Shemot 22:17)

Judaism's most famous reference to a medium is undoubtedly the Witch of Endor whom Saul consults, as recounted in the First Book of Samuel,

chapter 28.

Islam-

Divination and magic in Islam encompass a wide range of practices, including black magic, warding off the evil eye, the production of amulets and

other magical equipment, conjuring, casting lots, astrology, and physiognomy. Muslims do commonly believe in magic (Sihr) and explicitly forbid its

practice. Sihr translates from Arabic as sorcery or black magic. The best known reference to magic in Islam is the Surah Al-Falaq (meaning dawn or

daybreak), which is known as a prayer to Allah to ward off black magic.

Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the Dawn From the mischief of created things; From the mischief of Darkness as it overspreads; From the

mischief of those who practise secret arts; And from the mischief of the envious one as he practises envy. (Quran 113:1–5)

Also according to the Quran:

And they follow that which the devils falsely related against the kingdom of Solomon. Solomon disbelieved not; but the devils disbelieved, teaching

mankind sorcery and that which was revealed to the two angels in Babel, Harut and Marut ... And surely they do know that he who trafficketh therein

will have no (happy) portion in the Hereafter; and surely evil is the price for which they sell their souls, if they but knew. (al-Qur'an 2:102)

However, whereas performing miracles in Islamic thought and belief is reserved for only Messengers and Prophets; supernatural acts are also

believed to be performed by Awliyaa – the spiritually accomplished. Disbelief in the miracles of the Prophets is considered an act of disbelief; belief

in the miracles of any given pious individual is not. Neither are regarded as magic, but as signs of Allah at the hands of those close to Him that occur

by His will and His alone.

Some Muslim practitioners believe that they may seek the help of the Jinn (singular—jinni) in magic. It is a common belief that jinn can possess a

human, thus requiring Exorcism. Still, the practice of seeking help to the Jinn is prohibited and regarded the same as seeking help to a devil.

The belief in jinn is part of the Muslim faith. Imam Muslim narrated the Prophet said: "Allah created the angels from light, created the jinn from the

pure flame of fire, and Adam from that which was described to you (i.e., the clay.)".

Also in the Quran, chapter of Jinn:

And persons from among men used to seek refuge with persons from among the jinn, so they increased them in evil doing.
—(The Holy Qur'an) (72:6)
To cast off the jinn from the body of the possessed, the "ruqya," which is from the Prophet's sunnah is used. The ruqya contains verses of the Qur'an

as well as prayers which are specifically targeted against demons. The knowledge of which verses of the Qur'an to use in what way is what is

considered "magic knowledge".

There is a Hadeeth recorded by Al-Bukhari which narrates that one who has eaten seven dates in the morning will not be adversely affected by magic

in the course of that day.

Students of the history of religion have linked several magical practises in Islam with pre-islamic Turkish and East African customs. Most notable of

these customs is the Zar Ceremony.

Saudi Arabia continues to use the death penalty for sorcery. In 2006 Fawza Falih Muhammad Ali was condemned to death for practicing witchcraft.

There is no legal definition of sorcery in Saudi, but in 2007 an Egyptian pharmacist working there was accused, convicted, and executed. Saudi

authorities also pronounced the death penalty on a Lebanese television presenter, Ali Sabat, who was performing the hajj (Islamic pilgrimage).

India-

Belief in the supernatural is strong in certain parts of India, and lynchings for witchcraft are reported in the press from time to time. It is estimated

that 750 people have been killed in witch-hunts in the states of Assam and West Bengal since 2003. More than 100 women are tortured, paraded

naked, or harassed in the state of Chhattisgarh annually, officials said. A social activist in the region said the reported cases were only the tip of the

iceberg.

Japan-

In Japanese folklore the witch can commonly be separated into two categories: those who employ snakes as familiars, and those who employ foxes.

Fox employers-

The fox witch is by far the most commonly seen witch figure in Japan. Differing regional beliefs set those who use foxes into two separate types: the

kitsune-mochi, and the tsukimono-suji. The first of these, the kitsune-mochi, is a solitary figure who gains his fox familiar by bribing it with its

favourite foods. The kitsune-mochi then strikes up a deal with the fox, typically promising food and daily care in return for the fox's magical services.

The fox of Japanese folklore is a powerful trickster in and of itself, imbued with powers of shape changing, possession, and illusion. These creatures

can be either nefarious; disguising themselves as women in order to trap men, or they can be benign forces as in the story of 'The Grateful foxes'. 

However, once a fox enters the employ of a human it almost exclusively becomes a force of evil to be feared. A fox under the employ of a human can

provide him with many services. The fox can turn invisible and be set out to find any secrets its master desires and it still retains its many powers of

illusion which its master will often put to use in order to trick and deceive his enemies. The most feared power the kitsuni-mochi possess is the ability

to command his fox to possess other humans. This process of possession is called Kitsunetsuki.

By far the most commonly reported cases of Fox Employment in modern Japan are enacted bytsukimono-suji families, or "hereditary witches".  The

Tsukimono-suji is traditionally a family who is reported to have foxes under their employ. These foxes serve the family and are passed down through

the generations, typically through the female line. tsukimono-suji foxes are able to supply much in the way of the same mystical aide that the foxes

under the employ of a kitsune-mochi can provide its more solitary master with. In addition to these powers, if the foxes are kept happy and well taken

care of, they will bring great fortune and prosperity to the Tsukimono-suji house. However, the aid in which these foxes give is often overshadowed by

the social and mystical implications of being a member of such a family. In many villages, the status of local families as tsukimono-suji is often

common, everyday knowledge. Such families are respected and feared, but are also openly shunned. Due to its hereditary nature, the status of being

Tsukimono-suji is considered contagious. Because of this, it is often impossible for members of such a family to sell land or other properties, due to

fear that the possession of such items will cause foxes to inundate ones own home. In addition to this, because the foxes are believed to be passed

down through the female line, it is often nearly impossible for women of such families to find a husband whose family will agree to have him married

to a tsukimono-suji family. In such a union the woman's status as a Tsukimono-suji would transfer to any man who married her.

Tocharians-

An expedition sent to what is now the Xinjiang region of western China by the PBS documentary series Nova found a fully clothed female Tocharian

mummy wearing a black conical hat of the type now associated with witches in Europe in the storage area of a small local museum, indicative of an

Indo-European priestess.

Oceania-

A local newspaper informed that more than 50 people were killed in two Highlands provinces of Papua New Guinea in 2008 for allegedly practicing

witchcraft.

Africa-

Africans have a wide range of views of traditional religions. African Christians typically accept Christian dogma as do their counterparts in Latin

America and Asia. The term witch doctor, often attributed to Zulu inyanga, has been misconstrued to mean "a healer who uses witchcraft" rather than

its original meaning of "one who diagnoses and cures maladies caused by witches". Combining Roman Catholic beliefs and practices and traditional

West African religious beliefs and practices, particularly West African Vodun, are several syncretic religions in the Americas, including Vodou,

Obeah, Candomblé, Quimbanda and Santería.

In Southern African traditions, there are three classifications of somebody who uses magic. The thakathi is usually improperly translated into

English as "witch", and is a spiteful person who operates in secret to harm others. The sangoma is a diviner, somewhere on a par with a fortune teller,

and is employed in detecting illness, predicting a person's future (or advising them on which path to take), or identifying the guilty party in a crime.

She also practices some degree of medicine. The inyanga is often translated as "witch doctor" (though many Southern Africans resent this

implication, as it perpetuates the mistaken belief that a "witch doctor" is in some sense a practitioner of malicious magic). The inyanga's job is to

heal illness and injury and provide customers with magical items for everyday use. Of these three categories the thakatha is almost exclusively female,

the sangoma is usually female, and the inyanga is almost exclusively male.

In some Central African areas, malicious magic users are believed by locals to be the source of terminal illness such as AIDS and cancer. In such

cases, various methods are used to rid the person from the bewitching spirit, occasionally Physical abuse and Psychological abuse. Children may be

accused of being witches, for example a young niece may be blamed for the illness of a relative. Most of these cases of abuse go unreported since the

members of the society that witness such abuse are too afraid of being accused of being accomplices. It is also believed that witchcraft can be

transmitted to children by feeding. Parents discourage their children from interacting with people believed to be witches.

As of 2006, between 25,000 and 50,000 children in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, had been accused of witchcraft and thrown out of

their homes. On April, 2008, Kinshasa, the police arrested 14 suspected victims (of penis snatching) and sorcerers accused of using black magic or

witchcraft to steal (make disappear) or shrink men's penises to extort cash for cure, amid a wave of panic. Arrests were made in an effort to avoid

bloodshed seen in Ghana a decade ago, when 12 alleged penis snatchers were beaten to death by mobs. It was reported on May 21, 2008 that in Kenya a

mob had burnt to death at least 11 people accused of witchcraft.  In Tanzania in 2008, President Kikwete publicly condemned witchdoctors for killing

albinos for their body parts which are thought to bring good luck. 25 albinos have been murdered since March 2007. In the Meatu district of

Tanzania, half of all murders are “witch-killings”. In the Nigerian states of Akwa Ibom and Cross River about 15,000 children branded as witches and

most of them end up abandoned and abused on the streets. In Gambia, about 1,000 people accused of being witches were locked in detention centers

in March 2009 and forced to drink a dangerous hallucinogenic potion, human rights organization Amnesty International said. Every year, hundreds

of people in the Central African Republic are convicted of witchcraft.

Complementary remarks about witchcraft by a native Congolese initiate : "From witchcraft ... may be developed the remedy (kimbuki) that will do

most to raise up our country."  "Witchcraft ... deserves respect ... it can embellish or redeem (ketula evo vuukisa)."  "The ancestors were equipped with

the protective witchcraft of the clan (kindoki kiandundila kanda). ... They could also gather the power of animals into their hands ... whenever they

needed. ... If we could make use of these kinds of witchcraft, our country would rapidly progress in knowledge of every kind."  "You witches (zindoki)

too, bring your science into the light to be written down so that ... the benefits in it ... endow our race."

Among the Mende (of Sierra Leone), trial and conviction for witchcraft has a beneficial effect for those convicted. "The witchfinder had warned the

whole village to ensure the relative prosperity of the accused and sentenced ... old people. ... Six months later all of the people ... accused, were secure,

well-fed and arguably happier than at any [previous] time; they had hardly to beckon and people would come with food or whatever was needful. ...

Instead of such old and widowed people being left helpless or (as in Western society) institutionalized in old people’s homes, these were reintegrated

into society and left secure in their old age ... . ... Old people are 'suitable' candidates for this kind of accusation in the sense that they are isolated and

vulnerable, and they are 'suitable' candidates for 'social security' for precisely the same reasons."

Christian pastors in Nigeria have been involved in the torturing and killing of children accused of witchcraft.  Over the past decade, over 1000

children have been murdered with some being set on fire. Church pastors, in an effort to distinguish from the competition, establish their credentials

by accusing children of witchcraft.  When repeatedly asked to comment about the matter, the Church has refused to comment.

Neopaganism-

Modern practices identified by their practitioners as "witchcraft" have arisen in the twentieth century which may be broadly subsumed under the

heading of Neopaganism. However, as forms of Neopaganism can be quite different and have very different origins, these representations can vary

considerably despite the shared name.

Contemporary witchcraft often involves the use of divination, magic, and working with the classical elements and unseen forces such as spirits and

the forces of nature. The practice of natural medicine, folk medicine, and spiritual healing is also common, as are alternative medical and New Age

healing practices. Some schools of modern witchcraft, such as traditional forms of Wicca, are secretive and operate as initiatory secret societies.

There have been a number of pagan practitioners such as Paul Huson claiming inheritance to non-Gardnerian traditions as well.

More recently a movement to recreate pre-Christian traditions has taken shape in polytheistic reconstructionism, including such practices as

Divination, Seid and various forms of Shamanism.

Wicca-

During the 20th century interest in witchcraft in English-speaking and European countries began to increase, inspired particularly by Margaret

Murray's theory of a pan-European witch-cult originally published in 1921, since discredited by further careful historical research. Interest was

intensified, however, by Gerald Gardner's claim in 1954 in Witchcraft Today that a form of witchcraft still existed in England. The truth of Gardner's

claim is now disputed too, with different historians offering evidence for or against the religion's existence prior to Gardner.

The Wicca that Gardner initially taught was a witchcraft religion having a lot in common with Margaret Murray's hypothetically posited cult of the

1920s. Indeed Murray wrote an introduction to Gardner's Witchcraft Today, in effect putting her stamp of approval on it. Wicca is now practised as a

religion of an initiatory secret society nature with positive ethical principles, organised into autonomous covens and led by a High Priesthood. There

is also a large "Eclectic Wiccan" movement of individuals and groups who share key Wiccan beliefs but have no initiatory connection or affiliation

with traditional Wicca. Wiccan writings and ritual show borrowings from a number of sources including 19th and 20th-century ceremonial magic,

the medieval grimoire known as the Key of Solomon, Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis and pre-Christian religions.  Both men and women are

equally termed "witches." They practice a form of duotheistic universalism.

Since Gardner's death in 1964 the Wicca that he claimed he was initiated into has attracted many initiates, becoming the largest of the various

witchcraft traditions in the Western world, and has influenced other Neopagan and occult movements.

Stregheria-

Stregheria is an Italian witchcraft religion popularised in the 1980s by Raven Grimassi, who claims that it evolved within the ancient Etruscan religion

of Italian peasants who worked under the Catholic upper classes.

Leland's account depicts the followers of Italian witchcraft as worshipping the Goddess Diana, along with her brother Dianus/Lucifer, and their

daughter Aradia (by divine acceptance and infusion of that which is Diana, as Diana is supposed to be perpetually virginal). Leland's witches do not

see Lucifer as the evil Satan of Christian myth, but a benevolent god of the Sun and Moon.

The ritual format of contemporary Stregheria is roughly similar to that of other Neo-Pagan witchcraft religions such as Wicca. The pentagram is the

most common symbol of religious identity. Most followers celebrate a series of eight festivals equivalent to the Wiccan Wheel of the Year, though

others follow the ancient Roman festivals. An emphasis is placed on ancestor worship.

Feri Tradition-

The Feri Tradition is a modern witchcraft practice founded by Victor Anderson and his wife Cora. It is an ecstatic tradition with strong emphasis is

placed on sensual experience and awareness, including sexual mysticism, which is not limited to heterosexual expression.

Most practitioners worship three main deities; the Star Goddess, and two divine twins, one of whom is the blue God. They believe that there are three

parts to the human soul, a belief taken from the Hawaiian religion of Huna as described by Max Freedom Long.