Are Witches Real?

Sally Quinn is a famed socialite, columnist and widow of Benjamin Bradlee, the executive editor of The Washington Post during the Watergate scandal, and friend of the Kennedys The power couple’s position and influence in society should not be underestimated

In 2017, Quinn made a startling revelation: she practices witchcraft More shockingly, she claimed that she has cast powerful hexes on three people in her lifetime – and because of that black magic, all three victims died Is this possible? Are witches real? By definition, a witch is a woman who practices magic The word goes back to Anglo-Saxon times, when it referred to either a man or a woman who harnessed supernatural forces Witches seemed to be particularly associated with divination, the process of acquiring foreknowledge

Even in the early middle ages, witches were considered dangerous The laws of Alfred the Great decree that those who consort with witches should not be allowed to live This was an extension of the Old Testament laws which order the death of sorcerers Witchcraft and monotheism, it seems, have never got on All the same, it was not until the 15th century that fear of witchcraft grew prevalent, and its associations with Black Masses, hexes and devil worship really took hold

This was the beginning of three centuries of witch hunts The most infamous of these are the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, during which twenty-five innocent Christian women, men and children died Today, witches are less associated with human sacrifice, and more playfully presented as cone-hatted broomstick riders, or old crones with animal familiars Witchcraft is closely associated with paganism – that is, religions that do not follow the Abrahamic god About half of all observed religions are pagan

Consequently there are many kinds of witchcraft, from African voodoo to Native American pow-wowing There is no doubting the ancient roots of these traditions They are based in a sincere belief in the power of ritual to influence nature – whether to heal, to curse, or to grant wisdom Since the first half of the twentieth century, modern witchcraft has also developed in many forms The most widespread of these is Wicca

It was created in the 1940s by Gerald Gardner, and centres around religious worship of nature A pantheon of deities are invoked as part of their magic rituals, but not all witches believe in gods Wiccans do not believe in Hell or the Devil, therefore cannot be Satan worshippers They are taught that if they hex someone, that misfortune will return to them threefold That misfortune does not seem to have revisited Sally Quinn

She believes she has killed at least three people in her lifetime, by putting hexes on them These were not spur-of-the-moment curses – she says she worked on one of the hexes for several days to give it power Her victims were a love rival, a psychic and editor who wrote a negative article about her After Quinn cast her spell, each of them died; one by suicide, one by a cerebral haemorrhage and one from cancer But did Quinn’s magic work? Does it have real power? Scientifically, there is no evidence to support it

Quinn will not be arrested for murder because there is no proof she was involved in those deaths besides her own belief In this regard, incantations are much like prayer – whether or not it works is down to an individual’s personal convictions Indeed, scholars have long argued that science, magic and religion are the trinity of human rational thinking, and to view each one as separate is unwise Instead, they form a kind of spectrum of understanding of the world Generally speaking, magic teaches that the natural world – all people, plants and animals – are connected by energies that can be influenced through ritual

Religion teaches that a greater, universal force has control over everything, and that worship can persuade that power to bring about change Science teaches that mankind can master nature, by learning its behaviours on every plane of existence So, can witchcraft kill? The evidence we have shows that it does kill – but in a surprising way While there is no proof that prayers or spells either heal or harm, there is lots of historical evidence that practicing witchcraft invites death Over the centuries, tens of thousands of people have been executed under the law or lynched by mobs for being suspected witches

In 1928, a Pennsylvania man murdered an old woman because he thought she had hexed him In 2017 in Tanzania, nearly five hundred women were beaten or strangled for being witches – just in the first six months The crisis of African witch hunts continues Witchcraft has been practiced for millennia and is widely practiced today There may be as many as two million witches in the United States alone

Most of your preconceptions of witchcraft are true There is dark and light magic, cast through rituals passed down for generations, involving obscure gods, natural ingredients and large tomes Most witchcraft is practiced in secret – but that is largely because of centuries of persecution and a very present threat from others The vast majority of witches today practice magic to help and heal their neighbours, not to hurt them So, witches are real

Whether their power is real, is up to you

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