by MSO

The origin of the witch's hat is an exaggeration of the tall, conical 'dunce's hat' that was popular in the royal courts of the 15th century. The broomstick's origins have a rather sexual connotation.

Witches are known to be practitioners of witchcraft and generally are skilled in sorcery and the magical arts. The word witch comes from the Middle English word witches which is also derived from the old English terms known as Wicca, Wicce and Wiccian, which means to work sorcery, bewitch.

Throughout the most part of history witches have been feared and abhorred because of the fact that they were thought to be vindictive, cast evil spells upon others and consort with evil spirits. The western concept of these witches has evolves from sorcery and magic beliefs dating back to the ancient Assyrians, Babylonians, Acadians, Hebrews, Greek and Romans. In ancient Greece and Rome they were renowned for their herbal knowledge, magical potions and supernatural powers.

It was commonly believed that a witch’s powers could be nullified by blooding her or by destroying her blood in fire.The most well-known punishments for witches was death by burning, a fate reserved also for heretics. The burning of a witch was usually a great public occasion.

Below are a list of legendary witches burned at the stake:

Joan of Navarre: 1370-1437. Wife of King Henry IV of England was accused of being a witch and wanting to bring down the King. She spoke of prophecies about modern technologies such as those of airplanes and cars, scientific inventions, new technology, wars and politics.

Anne Boleyn: 1507-1536. Unable to bear a child to Henry VIII of England, Anne was claimed to be a witch and beheaded.

Caroline of Brunswick: 1768-1821. Queen to King George IV of England. She made a wax effigy of the King and stuck pins and thorns into it, then melted it in a palace fireplace. She was claimed to be a witch.

The North Berwick Witches: a group of men and women who were accused of witchcraft in Scotland in the 16th century.

Tamsin Blight: 1798-1856. Famous English witch healer and a person who was able to remove curses or spells form a person.

Mary Butters: late 18th century-early 19th century. Known as the Carmoney Witch and narrowly escaped a trial for killing a cow and three people.

Old Dorothy Clutterbuck: 1880-1951. Clutterbuck was allegedly the highest priestess of a coven of witches.

Isobel Goldie: died 1662. It is said that she had a wild sexual escapades with the devil. She was hung.

Joan of Arc: 1412-1431. She was charged not for practicing witchcraft but for being a relapsed heretic who denied authority of the church.

Margaret Jones: Died 1648. The first witch to be executed in Massachusetts Bay Colony. She was accused of being a witch when patients in her care got sicker after they refused to take medicines prescribed to them.

Marie Laveau: 1827-1897. The most renowned voodoo queen in North America.

Florence Newton: died mid 17th Century. A trial most famous in Ireland was that Florence Newton (Witch of Youghal) was accused of bewitching people into fits and killing them with these fits.

Dolly Pentreath: 1692-1777. Accredited with the knowledge of astrology and possession of magical powers which people would come and use her for both good and bad.

Elisabeth Sawyer: Died 1621. The Witch of Edmonton accused of bewitching her neighbours children and cattle because they refused to buy her brooms.

Joan Wytte: 1775-1813. People would seek her services as a seer, diviner and healer.

Read more:

Well Known Witches

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