What’s the deal with witches?

Many people's perceptions of witches include pointy hats, capes, and broomsticks.

Many people’s perceptions of witches include pointy hats, capes, and broomsticks.

Witches, warlocks, and powers have been around since the beginning of time. Today, they are the stories and fairytales of long ago or a popular costume on Halloween, but they used to cause terror and fear to the masses. Many know the burnings of Salem, MA, in 1692, but the hunting of witches dates back way further. The first witch was burned in 1022 AD, and whether or not you believe in the dark and secret powers of witches, they have been causing fear throughout history.

Merriam Webster’s definition of a witch is, “ a woman who is believed to have magical powers”. This is what children think of when they wear a black hat and a cape on Halloween, but a witch could be looked at as many things. The fear that drove people to violence did not come from a woman who could fly on a broom, but from the power of the devil. Many believed witches had sold their souls to the devil in exchange for their powers.

This belief in the partnership between these women and the devil was what caused the multiple rallies against them. Everyday people feared them and turned to violence to cause the problem. Witches have been burned, hung, and murdered throughout history. In the northeastern US, the townspeople would go on witch-hunts. In the Salem witch trials, 150 men, women, and children were accused of having powers and 20 of them executed. In this famous witch-hunt 19 of the 20 were hung.

In Europe instead of hunts they went on crusades. The specific number of witches killed in Europe is unknown, but a common guess is 40-50,000 in the years 1300-1700, says scienceblogs.com. Yet, witches were being killed post and prior to these years. Also, many believe that this is a low estimate and that not all deaths can be tracked.

The history of witches is long and full of fear from both the accused witches and the people who hunted them. Whether or not their powers were fake, their stories and deaths were not.