This blog is about the world of magic and the way we believe in it, what reflects itself everywhere. I, being a philologist, would like to explore the reflection of witchcraft in literature and folklore of different nations. Ready for a witchy literary adventure?
I was wondering why did we need witchcraft anyway? When did it appear and who was the first witch and wizard?
Whatever was invented by humanity during its history was not a coincidence. We invented things because we needed them, in different way. We invented "house", because we needed shelter, same as in the beginning of human era we invented "witchcraft", because we needed help.
I suppose that first magic appeared when some lonely, hopeless homo sapiens tried to call the powers of nature to help him (or her). May be he/she tried to do some kind of ritual attracting attention of those first demons to the problem. Obviously, that the first belief of people was nature and it's elements: fire, water, air and earth. So this is what the first human tried to take help from, we can't know if successfully or not, but the first attempt of witchcraft was done.
The next interesting question, who was the first witch or wizard. Till the time the humanity didn't get any writing system, any kind of such information couldn't be fixed in the written form. But , yes, it could be fixed in an oral form, and may be those folk tales I was talking about in the previous post were of that far origin.
First witch and wizard... hmmm... who were they, where did they live? According to the article I have found in the internet "witchcraft originated some 30000 years ago in the Palaeolithic period".
As I had said we can judge by only written sources of ancient times, like Greek and Egypt myths for example. One name I found in the internet is Lilith, how could I forget about her? Yes, Lilith, 700 BC in one of the versions, the belief in her was related to witchcraft! I think this is old enough information about the first witch. She has an anthropomorphic figure, means animal and human features, what is pretty scary. This is said to be not Lilith in the picture below, but she could look like this:
In fact, I found various points of view on the origin of the myth about Lilith. She supposedly has a Hebrew or Mesopotamian "roots". At the same time she can be considered as a Goddess too and later on, a feminist symbol of independence. Anyway, the common features of this creature are negative: demonic, harmful, dangerous. This is what witch always was supposed to represent and what must have laid into the base of the further perception of the witch by society.
Now I have thought suddenly why is witchcraft related to witches, females? We have wizards too and I would like to find them around, Dumbledore for example, but it's later about him. Well, the wizard now. The first one who came into my mind is the wizard Merlin. He could look like this.
So very well known and so much popularized nowadays in different serials and films about the King Arthur. Unfortunately I can't consider him as a first one and somehow I wasn't able to find any proper info in the internet about the first wizards! It makes me think that magic is more safe in women's hands :)
This really is incredible how much new I discovered for myself while doing this post! I am glad to have started this witchy research. I have tried to find out the source element of our belief in magic. We definitely needed it at some point of time, and we got it!
For many centuries witchcraft has been treated as a devil's gift, as an evil skill. Yes, indeed, it has many connections with the dark side of the existence, with the unknown powers of nature, which can cause destruction and even death. Not surprising that witch in many cases is depicted wearing a black cloak, may be a black hat, she also has a scary look, concentrated on the magical ritual. The image from the "Snow White and the seven dwarfs" cartoon by Disney is a typical vision of the witch in a popular culture:
Evil witch as depicted in Snow White fairy tale
By the way, did the witches really look like this ever? If it was so dangerous being a witch, why would they attract more attention with such clothes? So this is I think is a modern delusion about the witch appearance. However whether there was a witch around, everybody knew it and everybody knew how to reach that witch. Here I would like to stop by telling about the witch in Russian folklore. The main and the best known of them is Baba-Yaga (Russian "Баба-Яга"). When I was a child I used to love (!) Russian fairytales. First, my Mum used to read them for me, then I learned reading and could enjoy books myself. In the Russian folk tales the character of Baba-Yaga plays an important role for the main hero and his further success.
This is not a question, this is a try to explain myself why I like to read about magical stuff or watch it. Well, as far as I remember, I was fond of such things since childhood. Thanks to my Mum, who was always interested, on a hobby level, in astrology, stones properties, chiromancy and so on. It was not that she especially presented all her interests to me, but I am myself used to pick up some book on these topics and read it. It was all curiosity of course. Why not? This is indeed interesting and deserves our attention.
Idon't specifically like a witchcraft or all this black magic things or especially to do it (no way), but as soon as it exists in our world and it is something what we can't explain yet - it becomes an object of our observation and even research.
As soon as I am a philologist, I have a special interest in witchcraft. How many of the writers and poets made magic and wizardry as part of their works! I can't leave the fact that this theme can also inspire to create. You can see different dimensions of it's presentation in the literature, however some books can be called "magical", if you take an example of Harry Potter, the latest top book (hence, movie) about the world of witches and wizards.
In the next posts I would like to explore the witchcraft, and everything related to it, from the point of view of the literature. All the best to me and hope to realize my witch explorer potential!