Why We Need To Stop Blaming Witches For Hauntings
April 25, 2023 1:00 AM ‐ Witchcraft
Photo: © Anete Lusina
Witchcraft is often associated with hauntings and other supernatural phenomena. It's not uncommon to hear the host of a paranormal reality show make the claim that the activity at the location they are investigating is due to "a history of witchcraft in the area."
This short phrase might seem harmless, but it perpetuates misconceptions and dated stereotypes about witches and witchcraft. The claim that witches are the cause of negative phenomena today can be seen as disrespectful to the memory and the injustices faced by those accused of witchcraft.
It's time that paranormal investigators, especially those in the public eye, drop this practice of witch shaming in order to help dismantle stereotypes to promote understanding and respect for diverse traditions. Especially since these negative stereotypes can also affect people who practice witchcraft today, leading to discrimination, fear or misunderstanding.
Witchcraft is not a recognised religion as such but rather a diverse set of practices and beliefs that can be found across various cultures and spiritual traditions. It is often associated with the use of magic, rituals, and a connection to nature or supernatural forces. Some people who practice witchcraft may consider it a part of their religious or spiritual beliefs, while others may view it as a separate practice.
As a society, we've started to recognise and address the historical injustices faced by those accused of witchcraft, especially during the witch trials in Europe and the United States. As a result, some communities and governments have taken steps to apologise for the persecution of alleged witches and to pardon those who were executed or otherwise punished during these periods.
On International Women's Day last year, former Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon pardoned those accused of witchcraft who were executed between the 16th and 18th centuries. In a statement she said, "on behalf of the Scottish government, I am choosing to acknowledge that egregious historic injustice and extend a formal posthumous apology to all of those accused, convicted, vilified or executed under the Witchcraft Act of 1563."
Despite the fact that the opinion is changing on what Nicola Sturgeon calls an "injustice on a colossal scale," there are still those in the paranormal community who are happy to blame the negativity in the world around us today on these persecuted men and women of the past.
It is true that the history and folklore of an area can influence local ghost stories and even paranormal experiences, but blaming witches for negative events or phenomena today not only perpetuates false stereotypes but also overlooks other possible explanations and cultural perspectives. It is better to focus on the modern-day experiences and evidence rather than assigning blame based on historical misunderstandings or stereotypes.
Even if you were to believe that black magic existed, the records relating to these cases tied in with the witch trials. Most of us now understand that the people accused of witchcraft as part of these trials were innocent people. The trials were the result of widespread hysteria and fear rather than any genuine supernatural activity.
But this doesn't stop the hosts of paranormal shows and investigative teams coming out with claims like "a history of witchcraft in the area might have lead to the sinister attachment," or that "a portal might have been accidentally opened as a result of witchcraft being performed nearby."
Of course, there's nothing inherently wrong about building an investigation around witchcraft. For example, plenty of teams have investigated Pendle Hill and the surrounding area, which has links to the infamous 1612 witch trials. In these cases, the investigators are often on the hunt for the tortured spirits of these witches, perhaps even hoping to give them the chance to clear their name from beyond the grave.
If treated with appropriate sensitivity and compassion, these sorts of investigations can actually help to acknowledged the wrongs of the past and promotes healing and reconciliation for both the descendants of the accused and society as a whole.
We'll never be able to undo the suffering experienced by those accused of witchcraft, but approaching the subject with the respect it deserves is an important step in the right direction.
Christian Jensen Romer, a paranormal researcher and writer, has written an interesting response to this article in which he shares some valid points on the above. You can read Christian's article 'Spooks and Witches…' here.
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