Witches in the Middle Ages
The word "witch" is a very old concept and was originally called loosely translated "fence riders". It was once believed that witches are beings that resemble demons or spirits and sit on fences or hedges. The different names also show that a witch is active between the worlds, ie in a border area. Later, people began to believe that witches had a contract with demons or with the devil. In order to identify the witches in the Middle Ages, quite different characteristics were selected. These could be freckles, red hair, warts or the combination of fair skin and dark eyes. In most cases, women were accused of being a wicked witch.
What were they really?
Witches were women who were able to make drugs. In addition, they could read and write, which was not a matter of course in the Middle Ages. In the beginning, witches were even more popular because they could help people with their knowledge. That changed quickly, however, when the church made the claim that witches were evil, had magical powers and had made a deal with the devil. Everything the church said in the Middle Ages was law and irrefutable to the people, so that they followed the word of the church.
The church stirred up the rumors that witches are always ugly, and that they would do nothing else the whole day but hatch out bad things and harm their fellow man. The church's witchcraft of sorcerers has resulted in persecution of people who have had certain abilities, looked different or behaved differently. Even though a disease had broken out in the Middle Ages that cost many lives, such as the plague, the witches were blamed, and witchcraft was considered the cause of all evil.
Witches in this day and age
Today's modern witches are no longer linked only to evil. On the contrary, nature is the spiritual basis and pre-Christian, Celtic rituals are part of the everyday life of a modern witch. And yet the word "witch" triggers fear, incomprehension, and defense in most people. Of course, there are different groups of witches: free witches, Wiccan witches, Celtic witches, Druidic witches, shamanistic witches and so-called city witches, who shape and define their beliefs themselves. But the spiritual basis is the same for all different types of witches: Mother Nature.
Magic is still part of it today
Nevertheless, the modern witches apply today also magic and spells. Many witches have the ability to commute, to lay cards or operate clairvoyance, for example with the help of a crystal ball. Also, many witches still master the "witch writing" today. This was formerly used to write texts that should not be read by outsiders. The witches broom and the wand are still important today. On the witches broom, of course, not flown, this superstition comes from the Middle Ages. The witches broom is still an important ritual object, also the magic wand. It stands for power, strength and energy, and he is also a phallic symbol, of course, for fertility and growth.
Since today's modern witches feel very attached to nature, they often have very good knowledge of herbalism and can apply this knowledge specifically to certain rituals or spells. They are willing to do good and help others with their knowledge and skills. So if they do not necessarily tell us they're witches, we probably will not even recognize them when they're in our midst, and that's a good thing!
Witch pursuit through the ages
The persecution of witches from 1300 to 1750 is a dark chapter of humanity. In Europe, between 40,000 and 60,000 people are believed to have been victims of the persecution. 80% of the victims were women, who were accused of being witches. In Germany, about 25,000 people were killed, on the grounds that they are witches and harm people in their environment by evil spells. In addition, they were accused of having made a pact with the devil.
After the arrest, the alleged witches were brought to justice. The accused did not have a right to defense. During the embarrassing interrogation, they were cruelly tortured until they admitted to being witches, even if it was not true. At some point, the desire to put an end to unspeakable pain was overwhelming. The word derives from the word embarrassing pain, so pain decreases. The awkward questioning of the witches could sometimes take years, depending on the strength of the character and the ability to suffer! Following the confession, the witches were brutally executed. The ideas of people torturing the witches are hard to beat for cruelty. The confession, however, was important, because without this no witch should be executed even in the Middle Ages. Which, however, hardly occurred in view of the cruel methods. It could be said that with the arrest as a witch, death was sealed.
Executioners were at times very wealthy. Every guilty verdict on the witches brought him money. So the relatives of the accused had to pay so-called "Abkommgeld". This covered the costs of the hangman, the rope and the firewood.
Persecution of the witches today
Even though the dark days of global witch hunts are over and witches are no longer executed on a public marketplace, they are still persecuted and punished in some parts of the world.
In Africa, for example, some people are still referred to as witches and persecuted for allegedly using damage spells. The witches are mutilated or killed. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo some mothers accuse their children of witchcraft so they are killed because the mothers can not feed them.
Thus, unfortunately, even today, the topic is still current.