Witches and witchcraft are among us since thousands of years. Times came and went; many of them were killed, but the amount of women who died as witches while actually innocent is overwhelming. Witches exist in all folklores around the world. They are fascinating ladies, sometimes seductive, sometimes as ugly as the Devil himself. Even though today we have some clues about the lives of the most famous witches in the world, we may never know for sure who had real occult powers and who was merely an ordinarily lady. Take a look and decide for yourself:
1. The Witch of Endor
In The Old Testament, the Witch of Endor is mentioned in chapter 28, verses 3-25. Apparently, she owned a talisman which helped her make contact with the prophet Samuel (who, at that time, had just died). The Biblical verses which mention the Witch of Endor are very intriguing and caused much controversy especially in the Middle Ages, when theologians could not accept as true the fact that it was possible to call the ghost of saints by means of magic. They were rather eager to believe that he who the Witch of Endor had summoned was actually a demon taking the shape of Samuel.
Cassandra is a renowned character from the Greek mythology. She was the daughter of king Priam of Troy and was apparently both blessed and cursed by Apollo who loved her but was not loved by Cassandra in return: blessed with the gift of clairvoyance and cursed so that her prophecies would never be believed. She had a sad fate as she was raped and became the concubine of the victorious Agamemnon. Upon their arrival in Athens, the king and Cassandra were both killed by Clytemnenstra, Agamemnon’s wife, and her secret lover.
3. Morgan Le Fay
She is among the most famous witches in the world. Always portrayed as the enemy of King Arthur, Morgan is an important figure of the Arthurian tale. She was a powerful sorceress, Arthur’s half sister (from their mother’s side) and a student of Merlin’s in the art of witchcraft. The first mention of her name comes from the 12 century when Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote the story called “Vita Merlini”. Here, we encounter Morgan (called Morgen) as the leader of the 9 magical sisters from the Island of Apples who took care of Merlin who had been badly wounded.
4. Angéle de la Barthe (1230-1275)
A wealthy and noble woman of Toulouse, Angéle lived in the 13th century. She was an adept of Catharism, a sect which was considered heretic by the church. Angéle de la Barthe is supposedly the first to ever been executed for witchcraft as part of the Medieval Witch Hunt. She was accused of having sex with the Devil and she supposedly gave birth to his son, a baby eating monster. This accusation came after many babies had disappeared in the area that same period. In order to “encourage” her to confess these sins, she was severely tortured by the Inquisition. Later, de la Barthe was found guilty of being a witch and executed. No record of her trial exists however and many people doubt that she ever existed.
5. Alice Kyteler (1280-1325)
Alice Kyteler was a wealthy woman who lived in Ireland. At her husband’s death, she was accused of having poisoned him (and that she sacrificed animals to the Devil) by her step children who were after her money. Many of the accusations against her were rather curious and strangely detailed, such as the magical rituals she performed using some awkward ingredients as hairs from buttocks and clothing items taken from unbaptized babies. It is said that mysterious items, such as incantations and magical powders were also found at her home. As a result, she was condemned to death but she somehow escaped one night before the execution and was never seen again.
6. Mother Shipton (1488-1561)
This is one of the greatest (possibly real) witches of all times. On her real name Ursula Southeil, she was predestined for the life of an outcast. Not only was Ursula born of a teenage mother who was herself suspected of witchcraft, but she was also severely deformed and extremely ugly, with ill twisted legs, a large head and sunken cheeks . She also had a whole set of teeth from birth. All the villagers believed that she was the child of the Devil, especially since the name of her father was unknown. Although many strange things happened around her in childhood (flying objects and other such sorceries) she remained in history for another talent, namely, as an amazing seer. Her reputation matched the one of Nostradamus. Apparently, she predicted many historic events of the century and of the faraway future (“around the world thoughts shall fly in the twinkling of an eye” may be the description of the Internet). Although not many of these original prophecies were kept, and most are known to have been invented, she remains England’s most famous seer.
7. Moll Dyer (?-1697)
Moll Dyer’s whole existence is a myth. However, most of the stories surrounding her describe a noble woman of Irish origin who found refuge in Maryland from her troubled past. Soon, her isolation, combined with her dubious herbal knowledge transformed her in a witch in the eyes of the locals. They chased her out of the town in a frosty winter night. She froze to death in the nearby forest, not before throwing a curse on the town and its inhabitants who had acted with such cruelty. It is said that the rock(image) she stood on bears the marks of her knee and hand, as a reminder of the curse. If you still doubt, then find out that many people reported strange sensations when finding themselves in that location and even cameras were told to malfunction in the area.
8. Marie Laveau (1801-1881)
This lady is the most representative voodoo practitioner in the world. She lived in Louisiana, the state where the first voodoo dolls appeared and managed to become an icon of this religion. This Voodoo queen was famous for her talent in performing voodoo rituals, as well as for her kindness. It is said that she was once approached by a New Orleans gentleman who asked her to help his son (trialed for murder), to escape from prison. She apparently asked in return the house that the family owned in the city. Even though the young man was almost sure to be convicted, Marie Laveau’s charms functioned and he was set free.
9. Silver Ravenwolf (1956-)
Silver Ravenwolf is a contemporary witch. She is the American leader- as well as an elder -of Wicca, a modern Neopagan religion which is believed to be one of the fastest growing on Earth today. Among Wicca practices are magical rituals and witchcraft. A very reputed author of Wicca and Paganism, she is also the director of Black Forest Circle and Seminary, an organization which includes many Wicca clans in America and Canada. This modern witch is without a doubt, much more fortunate then her predecessors as she lives in a world that is ready to accept anything, as long as this ‘anything’ does no harm to anybody.
10. Maggie Wall (?-1657)
She is the most mysterious witch in the world. Maggie was one of the 4,000 women that were executed as witches in Scotland. However, she alone has a stone monument to be remembered by. All we know for sure is Maggie’s name and the year of her death, both mentioned on the monument: “Burnt here – as a witch – 1657?. This cryptic message does not enlighten us but rather, raises even more questions: Who was Maggie Wall? Why was she burnt alive and why is it that this large stone monument was built on the place where she died? No one knows. No local tale mentions her, no legend or piece of information was ever discovered regarding Maggie Wall. However, there is someone who knows about her: Every year, a mysterious person leaves a garland at the cairn, with an anonymous message stating ‘In memory of Maggie Wall, Burnt by the Church in the Name of Christianity’. Another mystery surrounding the monument is the inscription itself. No one knows who writes it. It just appears to be repainted on a regularly basis, and this does not happen since yesterday, but probably since the time of her death. Here is a more comprehensive article on this subject. `