History, traditions

Who is a witch and where does she live?

A typical image of the Russian fairytale character Baba-Yaga comprises an entire array of notions about witches.

She is often viewed as an old and ugly woman, with an inborn love for evil and an urge to kill.

Few know however that the actual word “ved'ma” [Russian for “witch”] comes from the ancient Russian “ved'”, meaning “knowledge”. Many cultures worldwide have assigned practically the same qualities to this character. A woman could have been born a witch or she could have become one later in life.

Most commonly, she inherited her magic skills from her mother-witch. She could also inherit the traits after being born illegitimately or in case her mother had been breastfeeding the girl for more than two years.

One could acquire the “gift” of witchcraft by establishing a connection with the devil himself with a purpose to learn secret knowledge. Every witch had a special mark on her body. It could have been a birthmark or any other physical anomaly.

It was often thought that a witch’s main purpose was casting evil eye on people’s livestock. A witch would take away cow’s milk, pig's lard and chicken eggs. In case of a child’s sickness or death, people would blame witches. Such reaction concerned any sort of a disaster that happened to take place in their village.

In early medieval times, devil worshipping was relatively common. As a result, people felt fearful before witches, his servants. This fear triggered the Church to start a fight against evil. Those witch-hunts were conducted on legal grounds, which in turn triggered active development of legal writings on the subject matter. “Witch Hammer” written by one of the Shprenger’s monks is considered to be one of the most important manuscripts of that epoch.

This manuscript provides vivid accounts of lives of witches. For instance, according to this work, witches are those who refuse to believe in the Sacred Trinity and oppose everything that emanates from God. They worship devil. Witches are initiated in a pile of manure; she is “baptized” in boiling water.

Several million years ago, many women have fallen victims to this nonsense. Such hysteria over witchcraft did not touch ancient Russia. However, it should be noted that a dozen witches and ‘fortune tellers’ have been executed in 1411 in the Russian town of Pskov.

Nowadays, witchcraft a fully legal activity, but it also appears to be rather profitable. Many grandmas, healers and fortune tellers around the world are willing to help whoever is in need of their services.

In Tanzania, for instance, they publish a newspaper which is fully devoted to magic and witchcraft. This country is famous for its beliefs in paranormal activities and magic and the newspaper is a great success. In order to attract tourists and bring the country's economy to prosperity, Romanian Dracula takes the stage.

Source: Egoza

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