Witches by Hans Baldung (woodcut), 1508.

Witchcraft or witchery is the practice of magical skills and abilities.

Witchcraft is a broad term that varies culturally and societally, and thus can be difficult to define with precision, therefore cross-cultural assumptions about the meaning or significance of the term should be applied with caution.

Historically, and in most traditional cultures worldwide - notably in Africa and in traditional Native American communities - the term is commonly associated with those who use metaphysical means to cause harm to the innocent. In the modern era, especially among younger, urban and white peoples in North America and Europe, the word may more commonly refer to benign or positive practices of modern paganism, where it may refer to a divinatory or healing role.

Belief in witchcraft is often present within societies and groups whose cultural framework includes a magical world view.

Witch in "Birdwitching"[]

Witches were people with magical talent, as opposed to mundanes who were without it. Since magical talent didn't manifest until a person's mid-20s, children and teenagers had no way of knowing which category they were in.

Witch in "Suffer a Sorceress"[]

Though outlawed and heavily stigmatized in the 12th-century Byzantine Empire, witchcraft secretly endured in the highest places, and its practitioners included members of the Imperial family. In 1118, Anna Komnene used a Greco-Egyptian spell from the Aithiopika to enter the mind of her father Emperor Alexios and persuade him to disinherit his heir Prince John in favor of Anna's husband Nikephoros Bryennios. However, John's wife Princess Irene detected Anna's activity, then used her own Hungarian sorcery to counteract it.

See also[]

  • Wizard, a similar archetypical magic user, which is interchangeable with a witch in some fantasy works.