Witchcraft is considered by those who practice it to be a religion. Witches believe in the God and the Goddess. Witches believe that the energy of the God and Goddess is contained in all things, including themselves. This creates a strong belief in nature and most witches consider themselves people of the earth.
The history of witchcraft begins with the Celts. The Celts were extremely religious and believed in both a God and a Goddess. They recognized the presence of a "Divine Creator" in all aspects of nature. Reincarnation was believed to be what happened after death, with the person going to the "Summer Land" to rest before their rebirth.
The beliefs and rituals of the Celts became known as Paganism. The word pagan derives from the Latin word meaning country dweller. This came from the Celts love of the land and nature. "Priests" of the Celts religion were known as Druids which is translated as "knowing the oak tree." The beliefs and rituals of the pagans expanded into creating potions and ointments for healing, casting spells, and performing works of magic. This collectively became known as witchcraft.
Before the 14th century witchcraft became known as a religion that included spells used for healing. Fortune telling and clairvoyance were engaged in.
People that had other beliefs and rituals were leery of witchcraft and branded it as demon-worship. This is simply a matter of people being scared of the unknown. Witchcraft began long before Christianity and there are no "evil" creatures known in the religion of witchcraft. Witches believe in the harmony of nature and the divine energy of the god and goddess which is considered to be part of each and every thing, living, and nonliving.
Witchcraft has had a sordid history, due to the nature of their beliefs witches have been persecuted over the years. Christians have been the leading source of the belief that witches are evil and devil worshipers. There have been several recorded persecutions of witches. Near 560 b. witches were persecuted in what is now the old testament of the bible. Around 420 St. Augustine spoke out saying that witchcraft was simply impossible. In the mid 1400s trials against witchcraft began. Torture of witches and those practicing witchcraft was common. In the early 1500s over 1000 executions were made due to witchcraft charges. In 1591 King James of Scotland allows the torture and hunting of those suspected of witchcraft. In the 1640s in France the largest witch hunt in the county's history occurred, and then witch-hunting begins to decrease. In 1682 the last witch was executed in England. The Salem witch trials in 1692 are perhaps the most famous of executions.
Although witchcraft and those practicing it have been persecuted over the years there are still many people that practice it today. There are beliefs that it is a religion growing at a quickened rate. It appears that there are anywhere from 750,000 to 5,000,000 people that are practicing a form of witchcraft today.
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