Witchcraft in History and Popculture

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I’ll Put a Spell on You…or Maybe Not
Do me a favor; tell me what you think of when you hear the words: Magic, witchcraft, witches or witchcraze. You may have many thoughts running through their mind. Maybe you instantly think of Harry Potter and the magical world, maybe you’re more of a Disney fan and think of the witches of Disney, like: Ursula, Maleficent or The Evil Witch in snow white. Some people may even think of things like the witch seen in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Hocus Pocus, or Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Regardless of what you are currently thinking about I can tell you that in most cases you are completely wrong as to the accuracy of what has happened historically in history. My good friend Marriam Webster defines the word witch as follows: 1: one that is credited with usually malignant supernatural powers; especially: a woman practicing usually black witchcraft often with the aid of a devil or familiar : sorceress — compare warlock 2: an ugly old woman: see Hag 3: a charming or alluring girl or woman 4: a practitioner of Wicca 5: witch of agnesi (Webster). You would think at least the dictionary would get it right, ERRNNT, wrong again. What I’m getting at here is that people culture and even the dictionary has inadequately formed beliefs on the world and history of witchcraft. Dr. Damico, Elaine G. Breslaw and a couple other sources have made me nearly a professional on the topic of witches, witchcraft and magic. There are some ways that pop culture has portrayed witchcraft correctly and those will be explored throughout the paper as well as the defining moments in the history of witchcraft.

“Double Double toil and trouble fire burn and cauldron bubble. Eye of Newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog. By the pricking of my thumbs something wicked this way comes” (Shakespeare). These simple words put together were some of the first inadequacies of witchcraft, written by William Shakespeare, instilling the idea that witchcraft has to be practiced by the chanting of spells and sacrificing animals and body parts to make magic happen. Never once has any historical document talked of anything like that happening in the events of witchcraze, especially in Salem, Massachusetts. The Crucible, which is intended to be a direct portrayal of the events that took place in 1692 in Salem, begins the movie with a ritual that wasn’t true and historically never happened. What actually happened in Salem is very different than the rituals that pop culture depicts. Charles Upham described the events that the girls would hide under objects in the home, creep into holes in the ground, make wild and antic gestures that were inaudible and incoherent (Upham). Nothing in any type of pop culture makes the afflicted seem to act that way. The girls were said to have writhed and seized with spasms, uttering loud and piercing outcries (Upham). The only type of pop culture that really proved witchcraft to be that way would definitely be Harry Potter. One of the cruciate curses, the worst type of dark magic, gave the wizard or witch casting the spell the ability to afflict the body of whom the spell is cast in ways that were contorted and incontrollable pain. Harry Potter got witchcraft almost write in the same sense that some African tribes believe in witchcraft (Evans-Pitchard). In Harry Potter, unless you exhibit exquisite traits you can only be taught witchcraft if it is inherited by your mother or father. Its believed in some cultures in Africa was to be that witchcraft was inherited, just like Harry Potter, if your mother was a witch you had the genes to become a witch as well (Parrinder 145).

Another ritual that is frequently portrayed by pop culture and Hollywood is the act of flying or transportation. When Tituba was being examined by John Hawthorne, Tituba made a brave confession that she was practicing witchcraft, after admitting Hawthorne began interrogating Tituba (Cheever. He [Hawthorne] asked Tituba how she went...
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