Witchcraft in various historical, anthropological, religious and mythological contexts, is the use of powers or abilities conceived as supernatural or magical. Historically witchcraft has often been associated with evil and the infliction of harm upon members of a community or their property, but the term is now also used in the context of virtuous activity involving healing. Concepts of witchcraft as innately harmful are often treated as products of cultural ideology, as a means of explaining human misfortune by blaming it either on a supernatural entity or a known person in the community. A practitioner of witchcraft is called a witch (from Old English wicce f. / wicca m.), a sorceress, sorcerer, magician or a wizard, with males sometimes being called warlocks.
- Warlock redirects here; for the fictional Marvel superhero known by that name see: Adam Warlock
- Alphabetized by author or source
- When I consider the Question, Whether there are such Persons in the World as those we call Witches? my Mind is divided between the two opposite Opinions; or rather (to speak my Thoughts freely) I believe in general that there is, and has been such a thing as Witchcraft; but at the same time can give no Credit to any Particular Instance of it.
- Joseph Addison ,The Spectator, No. 117.
- Now, it's common knowledge that most towns of a certain size have a witch, if only to eat misbehaving children and the occasional puppy who wanders into her yard. Witches use those bones to cast spells and curses that make the land infertile... Yet of all the witches in Alabama, there was one who was the most feared. For she had one glass eye, which was said to contain mystical powers.
- "But what can I do?" cried she, spreading out her arms helplessly. "I can not hew down trees, as my father used; and in all this end of the king's domain there is nothing else to be done. For there are so many shepherds that no more are needed, and so many tillers of the soil that no more can find employment. Ah, I have tried; hut no one wants a weak girl like me."
"Why don't you become a witch?" asked the man.
"Me!" gasped Mary-Marie, amazed. "A witch!"
"Why not?" he inquired, as if surprised.
"Well," said the girl, laughing. "I'm not old enough. Witches, you know, are withered dried-up old hags."
"Oh, not at all!" returned the stranger.
"And they sell their souls to Satan, in return for a knowledge of witchcraft," continued Mary-Marie more seriously.
"Stuff and nonsense!" cried the stranger angrily.
"And all the enjoyment they get in life is riding broomsticks through the air on dark nights," declared the girl.
"Well, well, well!" said the old man in an astonished tone. "One might think you knew all about witches, to hear you chatter. But your words prove you to be very ignorant of the subject. You may find good people and bad people in the world; and so, I suppose, you may find good witches and bad witches. But I must confess most of the witches I have known were very respectable, indeed, and famous for their kind actions."
"Oh. I'd like to be that kind of witch!" said Mary-Marie, clasping her hands earnestly.
- L. Frank Baum, "The Witchcraft of Mary-Marie", in Baum's American Fairy Tales (1908).
- Generals gathered in their masses
just like witches at black masses.
Evil minds that plot destruction,
sorcerer of death's construction.
- Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.
- Louis Brandeis, concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 376 (1927).
- We have winning wiles and witcheries,
Such incantations as thy sterner wit
Did never dream of. Time hath been ere now
That Jove hath listen'd to our minstrelsy.
Till wrath would seem to drop out of his soul
Like a forgotten thing.
- No one shall be found among you who makes a son or daughter pass through fire, who practices divination, or is a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or one that casts spells, or who consults ghosts or spirits, or who seeks oracles from the dead. For whoever does these things is abhorrent to the Lord.
- Deuteronomy 18:10–12
- Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
- We were apparently rather resistant to the idea of destroying witches in England, unlike views espoused in so-called books — and I use the word "book" very loosely — like The Da Vinci Code. [pretends to spit in disgust] It is complete loose stool water. It is arse-gravy of the worst kind.
- Stephen Fry on QI Series C Episode 12 "Combustion"
- Most books on witchcraft will tell you that witches work naked. This is because most books on witchcraft are written by men.
- Any prowling maniac would have had more than his work cut out if he had accosted Anathema Device. She was a witch, after all. And precisely because she was a witch, and therefore sensible, she put little faith in protective amulets and spells; she saved it all for a foot-long bread knife which she kept in her belt.
- If a man has put a spell upon another man and it is not yet 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.
- Code of Hammurabi "The Avalon Project : Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy".
- "Found among his people certain witches, whom he called in his native tongue Haliurunnae. Suspecting these women, he expelled them from the midst of his race and compelled them to wander in solitary exile afar from his army. There the unclean spirits, who beheld them as they wandered through the wilderness, bestowed their embraces upon them and begat this savage race, which dwelt at first in the swamps, a stunted, foul and puny tribe, scarcely human, and having no language save one which bore but slight resemblance to human speech.
- Jordanes; Charles C. Mierow (transl.). The Origin and Deeds of the Goths. pp. § 24.
- Let nobody presume to kill a foreign serving maid or female servant as a witch, for it is not possible, nor ought to be believed by Christian minds.
- Lombard Code Hutton, Ronald. The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles..
- It were better that Ten Suspected Witches should escape, than that one Innocent Person should be Condemned.
- Increase Mather Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits Personating Men, Witchcrafts, infallible Proofs of Guilt in such as are accused with that Crime (1692); a variant of this has become known as Blackstone's formulation, through its expression by William Blackstone in Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765 - 1769).
- A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles.
- "I am mistress of all the sciences. I go so far beyond all else that my work is called magic. I manipulate noumena, regarding monads as points of entry tangential to hylomorphism. As to the paradox of Primary Essence being contained in Quiddity, the larger in the smaller, I have my own solution. The difficulty is always in not confusing Contingency with Accidence. Do you understand me?"
"Sure. You're a witch."
- R. A. Lafferty, Space Chantey (1968), Ch. 6.
- It struck me that it might be interesting for once to do an almost blue-collar warlock. Somebody who was streetwise, working class, and from a different background than the standard run of comic book mystics. Constantine started to grow out of that.
- Although the most acute judges of the witches and even the witches themselves, were convinced of the guilt of witchery, the guilt nevertheless was non-existent. It is thus with all guilt.
- One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar and I didn't know it. I mean there was a little blood there, and something like that.
- The 10th incarnation of The Doctor: They've still got one foot in the Dark Ages — if I tell them the truth they'll panic and think it was witchcraft.
Martha Jones: OK. What was it then?
The Doctor [Pauses briefly, stares grimly at her]: Witchcraft.
- Martha Jones: So. Magic and stuff — it's all a bit Harry Potter … but is it real though — I mean, witches, black magic and and all that — it's real?
The Doctor: Of course it isn't!
Martha: Well, how am I supposed to know? — I just started believing in time travel; give me a break!
The Doctor: It looks like witchcraft, but it isn't — can't be.
- Most people think witches are a coven of lesbians dancing naked in the forest celebrating the semen stolen from imprisoned hypnotized males, which they then use to inseminate one another using turkey basters in order to create a legion of demon babies. Well, that's only part of it. We are also active in community outreach programs.
- The philosophies behind witch and a wiccan are totally different. A wiccan wears ceremonial black robes and invites her body to be inhabited by an evil spirit that commands her to perform tasks of mayhem and destruction. A witch, on the other hand, can wear anything she wants.
- Witchcraft offers the model of a religion of poetry, not theology. It presents metaphors, not doctrines, and leaves open the possibility of reconciliation of science and religion, of many ways of knowing.
- In the past, men created witches: now they create mental patients.
- When have I last looked on
The round green eyes and the long wavering bodies
Of the dark leopards of the moon?
All the wild witches, those most noble ladies,
For all their broom-sticks and their tears,
Their angry tears, are gone.
- William Butler Yeats, in "Lines Written In Dejection" in The Wild Swans at Coole (1919).
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Witchcraft.|