The fear of witches is ancient and dates back to the times before Christianity. Perhaps evolved from Greek and Roman goddess worship, the idea of these magical beings, who cast spells in order to cause wrongdoing, is a prominent feature in the histories of Europe, The British Isles, and America.
The Latin term, wiccaphobia, is used to describe someone with a persistent and intense fear of witches.
Witches – Are They Real?
I have always been fascinated by the barbaric practice of witch-burning. I have read many accounts of the flimsy reasons why women were taken out and killed in such a cruel manner. The fear of witches always seemed to me to be an excuse to separate someone from society and to persecute them for being different. In my heart, I always felt that people in centuries past knew on some level that these women were not really the agents of Satan. I had little sympathy for those who would set someone alight because they had green eyes, or were left handed (I have green eyes and I am left-handed).
Witches As Agents Of Satan
The fear of witches seems to have developed due to a pervading fear of Satan and black magic. Witches were thought to meet in covens and practice the dark arts, as well as partake in perverse sexual activities, such as pagan orgies where they dance naked and frolic under Satan’s approving gaze. A witch would often have a cat or other small animal as her familiar, and the pet was felt to be a conduit of Satan himself.
Witches are always depicted as evil crones, often with pointed noses, warts, and the ubiquitous dark robes and hats. They fly on broomsticks through the inky night sky, or lean over cauldrons, muttering incantations.
Those with a strong belief in Christianity will be more apt to fear witches in modern society. They will feel revulsion when faced with any element of devil worship. Some witches are believed to practice the black art of necromancy, which allows them to communicate with the dead. For those who believe in the spirit world, witches are fearsome. Any person prone to magical thinking will be more apt to fear witches. Those who put no stock in magic and religion will not be likely to believe that a human being can be imbued with dark powers, bestowed by a horned devil.
Witches are often associated with other symbols and events. For example, pentagrams are a feature in Satanism, and so are black candles. Halloween is an example of a holiday or event that is strongly linked with witches. Some Christians shun Halloween and these people may fear witches as well.
It is certain that some people in centuries past were impressionable enough to believe that certain women were witches. The mob mentality is nothing new. But it is just as certain that some people used the archaic practices of witch-dunking and witch-burning as tactics of revenge. It was all too easy to cry “witch” for any petty reason.
Witches and Feminism
Women are expected to be pure, chaste, and virtuous, in the Bible and in many cultures. Women who defy set doctrines that dictate what they can and cannot do or believe are more apt to be called out as witches. These days, women are no longer burned for their alleged dalliances with the Devil, but women still struggle with the Virgin/Whore dichotomy and with stereotypes about what they should be. The whole sordid history of witches and witch-burning is a sad commentary on the way women were degraded and labelled in past eras. The fear of witches is passed down due to ignorance and due to a misguided sense of righteousness.
Symptoms Of Wiccaphobia
People with Wiccaphobia will become nervous, frightened, and physically ill when confronted with any trace of “witchcraft” or black magic. They will shun any places were Wiccans meet, and they will be offended by the sight of pointed hats and black robes. Halloween night may fill them with trepidation.
Treatment Of Wiccaphobia
Treatment of Wiccaphobia should probably begin with a good therapist. Any elements of magical thinking that tie into the fear of witches should be addressed by a psychologist or psychiatrist. Antidepressants and other pharmacological treatments for this phobia can also be considered.