We’ve all heard of the witch, but do witches have a real existence? Yes, they have existed since the dawn of history, and most likely for millenia before. In the Bible, Saul, afraid of the might of the Philistine army, took himself off to be counseled by the Witch of Endor.
In Classical literature we have Homer’s Circe who bewitched men and turned them into swine. Ovid tells us of the Strigae; erotic beings who flew through the air to carry out their murderous deeds. But with such an ancient history, when did the witch first appear? Early mythologies: In Norse mythology we have the Valkyrie; maidens of Odin who flew through the sky and assisted in the outcome of battles, taking slain warriors to Valhalla.
Many theorists believe that witchcraft is a a survival of the cult of Diana, goddess of hunting. English archaeologist Margaret Murray put forward a similar theory in 1921, arguing that the craft traces its roots back to pagan fertility cults.
The Christian image of the Devil is actually an amalgam of god-forms from paganism, such as the Greek Pan and the pagan horned god, sometimes known as Herne the Hunter. The idea no doubt traces itself back to the shaman, usually male, who would dress in the skin of the animal about to be slain; hence the horned god image.
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