Witchcraft in India
Probably the most obvious characteristic of a witch was the ability to cast a spell, “spell” being the word used to signify the means employed to carry out a magical action. A spell could consist of a set of words, a formula or verse, or a ritual action, or any combination of these. Spells traditionally were cast by many methods, such as by the inscription of runes or sigils on an object to give it magical powers by the immolation or binding of a wax or clay image (poppet) of a person to affect him or her magically by the recitation of incantations by the performance of physical rituals by the employment of magical herbs as amulets or potions by gazing at mirrors, swords or other specula (scrying) for purposes of divination.
Witchcraft (also called witchery or spellcraft) is the use of magical faculties, most commonly for religious, divinatory or medicinal purposes. This may take many forms depending on cultural context.
The belief in and the practice of magic has been present since the earliest human cultures and continues to have an important religious and medicinal role in many cultures today.
“Magic is central not only in ‘primitive’ societies but in ‘high cultural’ societies as well.
The concept of witchcraft as harmful is often treated as a cultural ideology providing a scapegoat for human misfortune. This was particularly the case in Early Modern Europe where witchcraft came to be seen as part of a vast diabolical conspiracy of individuals in league with the Devil undermining Christianity, eventually leading to large-scale witch-hunts, especially in Protestant Europe. Witch hunts continue to this day with tragic consequences.
For Chakraverti, the world of the paranormal and metaphysical is not some make-believe hocus pocus, or the stuff that scripts sensational television drama. It is her life’s work. A popular Wicca, or witch in lay terms, she not only administers Wiccan ways of healing, but has also made it her mission to travel to remote villages across India, especially where innocent women are declared witches and then murdered, to dispel myths about “witchcraft”.
“Being a Wicca is very different from the conventional perceptions that people have of spell-spewing women, who are up to no good, bringing the scourge of disease, famines and loss on people and communities,” she emphasises.
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