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are witches real

Do Witches Still Exist in Modern World

Many people assume that witchcraft disappeared after the witch-hunts of the middle ages. Witchcraft was driven underground by the persecution but it was not eliminated. The surviving Witches had to be more careful, but carry on they did. As late as the early twentieth century the traditional figure of the old wise witch was still in existence (E.g. Mother Redcap from Cambridge born in the mid-nineteenth century died 1926).

Witchcraft & witches have often been prominent in various isolated and third world countries around the world. They occasionally are reported in European papers, recent cases that found their way into the UK press include Witches in the Ivory Coast, Mexico and South Africa. These witches can trace their tradition back through the centuries as they have been largely accepted by their cultures and have not had to operate covertly. These witches of the third world while some of their practices and beliefs are very similar owe little to the heritage of the Witches who were persecuted during the European and American medieval witch trials.

While the persecution of witches and publicity the authorities and the church gave to it thankfully disappeared in the middle ages, witchcraft has persisted in Europe up to the present day. As there is little documentary evidence regarding the craft in the intervening centuries this is a very difficult statement to verify. This may be partly due to the secrecy needed before the repeal of the Witchcraft Act in England in 1951, and because Witchcraft in early Europe was largely a verbal tradition.

Whatever the truth of its origin Wicca and Witchcraft have now become a fast growing minority religion since the revival in the 1940s. It possibly now has as many followers in some western countries as other more officially acceptable alternative religions such as the Sikhs. Wicca is now even recognised by some government bodies such as the American military, which recognises it as an official religion. Even in Britain, the UK Home Office has authorised Wiccan prison visiting priests and priestesses.

What are Witches
What are Witches

If you accept that Witches still exist, what sort of people are they and why haven’t you heard very much about them?
The popular image of the Witch is of an old bent woman with a hooked nose wearing a tall pointed black hat and a long black cape riding a broomstick in the company of a black cat. This is a stereotype that has been perpetuated and popularised by such diverse media as fairy tales, cartoons, fantasy fiction, TV, horror and comedy films. Examples of a Witch portrayed in a good light in the media are unfortunately rare, however there are a few examples, such as Samantha in the old American TV series “Bewitched”. Today with the exception of the of Halloween night you are unlikely to see many Witches that conform to this popular stereotype.

Most modern witches are perfectly ordinary looking people, who you may well meet in your everyday life and not notice anything strange about them. A few have occupations such as Tarot reading, Astrology, or spiritual healing where it can be an advantage to dress in an outlandish style, but this is definitely a minority. They work in a wide variety of occupations and may be either old or young. Both men and women can be witches as they were in medieval times, it is often forgotten that in some countries more men were executed for witchcraft than women.

Witches as a group of people do tend to have some similarities. There is a deep regard for nature in all its forms in the religion so many are members of a wide range of ecological and environmental groups. The respect for nature and animals also means many are vegetarians. They are people who believe that more exists in this world and beyond than can be easily explained by science alone. This means they have a spiritual aspect to them that is often missing in modern western society. Wicca has both male and female deities and has a special respect for females. This female bias has resulted in many crossovers with feminist organisations.

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