15 Top Spellbinding Facts About Witches
Think you know witches? Think again! Check out these magical witch facts and discover what's really under those pointy hats!
There's more to witches than bubbling cauldrons and newt eyes. Check out these enchanting facts and learn more about these often misunderstood magicians!
1. Not all witches are evil
Traditionally, there have been both good and bad witches. Sure, in books and movies, lots of witches have been evil. But these evil witches give the good ones a bad name!
2. Not all witches are women
As well as being both good and bad, witches can be any gender, too!
3. Witch trials really happened
In the 14th Century (and for hundreds of years after) there were thousands of witch trials in Europe. This was when people, usually women, were accused of being witches and often ended up being killed. This sounds ridiculous to us now, but they really happened!
4. Evidence for witch trials was really stupid
You didn't need much evidence at all to "prove" someone was a witch. Even saying you had a dream that someone was a witch was often enough. If nobody had been killed bcause of it, it'd be funny!
5. Witches aren't just for Halloween!
Witches can come out at any time of year. In fact in Sweden, Easter is the traditional time of year for witches! It's common for kids to go door to door asking for sweets at Easter time, much like Halloween!
6. There are witches all around the world
All cultures have some kind of tradition of magical people. For example in India, dayans are powerful witches who use a long, plaited ponytail as another arm that can be stretched and moved around to cast spells. Now that's hair-raising! Geddit!?
7. Witchcraft isn't the same thing as Satanism
Witchcraft comes from pagan traditions - that's the religion that existed in many places before Christianity. Satanism comes out of Christianity, like a kind of backwards version of it. They are both pretty spooky though so we'd understand why you might get the mixed up.
8. The most famous place for witches in the USA...
...is Salem, Massachusetts. Over 200 people were accused of being witches in the town in 1692. Even some dogs were accused of being witches!
9. Today, Salem is proud of it's witchy history
Now that being a witch isn't punishable by death, modern followers of witchcraft have opened a Witch House in the the town. The totally black house is a museum to the Salem Witch Trials, and runs lots of fun witchy community events too.
10. Ballet was inspired by a witch
According to legend, the very first ballet performace was inspired by the ancient Greek witch Goddess Circe. The first ballet took place in Paris in 1581, and was staged in honour of a French Queen Catherine Medici. In fact, Catherine Medici was also said to be a witch!
11. There's a world record for witches
In 2013 a group of witches (or at least, people dressed like witches) set the world record for most people dressed like witches in the same place at the same time. They managed to get 1,607 witches to all meet up in Lleida, Spain!
12. Someone was convicted of witchcraft in 1944!
Witch trials weren't just held in the Middle Ages - the last person to be convicted under anti-witch laws was a woman called Helen Duncan who would hold seances in her hometown of Stirling, Scotland. Police arrested her as witch as during WW2, because they were worried her witchy activities might mess up the war effort. Rather than being burnt at the stake, she was fined £5. Phew. At least there's that.
13. There are lots of witches these days
More and more people think of themselves as witches today, with probably over half a million in the USA alone. Modern believers in witchcraft usually call themselves Wiccan. Wiccans don't have to carry broomsticks everywhere and have black cats (although some of them might). Instead, being wicca means you have a different kind of spirituality to Christians or member of other religions. Wiccans often dislike organised systems, and prefer living in tune with nature.
14. The word "Wicca"
...Comes from the old English word wicce, which means female sorceress. Before that though, we really don't know where the word came from. It could be related to the ancient German word wikkjaz which means "necromancer" - but actually where these ideas comes from is still a mystery.
15. More world-record holding witches!
Nicola Nuttall from the UK set the world record for the fastest marathon run by someone dressed as a witch. She finished it in 3 hours 26 minutes - an amazing time! Most people finish marathons in 4.5 or 5 hours, and this is even more impressive when you think she was wearing a big floaty gown and pointy hat the whole time!