In Swaziland, the air traffic regulations state that “witches on broomsticks” should not fly above the 150-meter limit.
This is just one of the odd laws about witchcraft that still exist today.
In the west, most countries had stopped executing people for witchcraft by the late 1700s but that was not the end of persecution.
Is witchcraft illegal? Witchcraft has a long history and nowadays it’s not illegal in western countries. There are, however, many countries where witchcraft is considered to be a crime, and people accused of practicing witchcraft are often punished either by state or by ordinary people who take the law into their own hands.
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Religious tension in the 16th and 17th centuries resulted in Henry VIII passing the Witchcraft Act of 1542, which was the first law to define Witchcraft as a crime that resulted in the death penalty.
In 1563 Elizabeth I passed the Witchcraft Act of 1563, which was perhaps a little more witch friendly and only called for the death penalty if harm had been caused.
During this time 1,158 homicides are recorded in surviving records and 228 of them gave Witchcraft was blamed.
The same year the Scottish Witchcraft Act was passed.
This was just a brief respite for witches, and the Witchcraft Act of 1604 once again brought the death penalty to anyone who invoked evil spirits or communed with familiar spirits.
This was the period that we see in the movies with Witchfinder General, Mathew Hopkins.
Things changed completely in the Witchcraft Act of 1735 when penalties for witchcraft were replaced by laws on the pretense of witchcraft, an acceptance that witchcraft did not really exist.
This law remained in force in Britain until as late as 1951 when the Fraudulent Mediums Act of 1951 was passed.
This act was replaced by the 2008 EU Consumer Protection Regulations.
The last person to be executed for witchcraft in the British Isles was Janet Home in 1727.
The Witchcraft Suppression Act of 1957 was base on the UK Witchcraft Act of 1735 is still in force.
In 1692 when the famous Salem Witch trials took place, what is now the USA was still a British colony and the trials were under the UK Witchcraft Act of 1604.
Thirty years earlier, in 1662, a similar trial to Salem took place in Hartford Connecticut under the UK Witchcraft Act of 1604.
The First Amendment protects Magic as an integral part of religion, so in the independent USA, witchcraft is not illegal.
History of Witchcraft in North America
North America has its own history based on witchcraft traditions.
There are many native American traditions connected with witchcraft but these are not very well known due to a reluctance of the Native Americans to reveal them to outsiders.
Then of course the European settlers brought their own concepts of witchcraft.
One of the first big events connected with witchcraft in North America was in 1658 The Witch of Easthampton (now East Hampton), Elizabeth Garlick, was accused by a dying 16-year-old mother of being a witch.
This caused quite a stir in the community and became a controversial issue.
The local magistrates were overwhelmed and deferred the case to Hartford, Connecticut’s court. (in those days Connecticut has ties with Long Island.
Fortunately for Goody, the Governor of the British colony at the time was John Winthrop Jnr. who was of the opinion that the charges were a result of community hysteria.
He kept the same point of view in all witch trials he presided over.
In truth, Elizabeth Garlic was a local resident who did not get on well with the rest of the community.
She was a bit of an outsider (as were most accused witches).
Once she had been accused of being a witch numerous people came forward with accounts of things she was supposed to have done.
Witchcraft was still a capital offense under British law, so the case was a serious one, but fortunately for Goody John Winthrop Jnr. was a progressive thinker, and although he would not have recognized the term, a scientist, with a high degree in skepticism about things magical.
Winthrop’s court eventually pronounces a not-guilty verdict.
Then of course, in 1692 we had the Salem Witch Trials.
Reverend Samuel Parris had a 9-year-old daughter called Elizabeth, his 11-year-old niece, and another girl of 11 began experiencing fits.
They blamed the Parris family slave Tituba, Sarah Good (a homeless beggar), and Sarah Osborne (an unpopular local woman).
The latter two women denied the allegations, but Tituba made up all sorts of stories. The three women were jailed (Osborne died in prison, and Good was hanged after giving birth to a baby, which also died). Strangely Tituba was released after 13 months.
In the meantime, Special Courts were put in place for further Witch trials.
Four months after the initial accusations Bridget Bishop, a local gossip, who was known for her promiscuity was the first person hanged as a witch.
A total of 19 people were-hanged as witches. One other of the accused was pressed under heavy stones.
With the creation of the United States of America, British law came to an end in 1776, and that was the end of the persecution of witches in North America.
Canada inherited its witchcraft laws from when it was a British colony.
Witchcraft laws based on the UK Witchcraft Act of 1735 were repealed in 2018.
Witchcraft in Canada was treated a lot less harshly than in the Puritan American colonies.
One of the last witch trials that took place was of Anne Lamarque, who ran a bawdy bar, and she made the mistake of falling out with the local Parish Priest.
He accused her of adultery, promiscuity, running a brothel, and most seriously of witchcraft.
He claimed she had a book of spells that she used to get people into her establishment.
Fortunately, the authorities were more enlightened than the priest and she was acquitted.
Persecution of Witches Still Goes On
Accused witches have been the subject of hanging, burning, and drowning throughout history.
The persecution of people (Predominantly women) accused of witchcraft still continues in many parts of the world.
Increasingly in Africa children are being accused of witchcraft and there are shocking reports of torture and starvation inflicted upon those accused.
Unexpected problems, disease, or bad luck are blamed on witchcraft and the accused are used to take out frustrations and fight these ills.
Witchcraft is very real for those who believe in it, and these can be both uneducated and educated people.
In countries where these beliefs are prevalent, being accused of witchcraft leave the individual open to death, no matter what the law of the country may say.
The central African Republic
Every year hundreds of people are convicted of witchcraft, and Christian militias have kidnapped, burned, or buried women alive in public ceremonies.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Up until 2006 between 25,000 and 50,000 CHILDREN have been thrown out of their homes as witches after violent abusive exorcisms, carried out by self-appointed pastors.
In Ghana, there are witch camps where women accused of witchcraft can flee for refuge.
They are often accused of Penis Snatching and attacked.
Penis snatching is an explanation of impotence that is blamed on the witches.
Kenya, Malawi, and Nigeria
In all these countries children are frequently accused of witchcraft and often end up killed.
In India, there are occasional reports of the lynching of witches
Many occurrences of communities accusing and abusing women as witches.
The penalty for witchcraft or sorcery is death in Saudi Arabia.
Witchcraft In The USA Is On The Rise
As mistrust of the establishment rises in the USA so interest in witchcraft is growing.
Professional witches are appearing, some even opening websites where they peddle their spells.
There are also websites that offer step by step online training, so you can learn witchcraft from the comfort of your home.
Juliet Diaz, one such professional witch has some 8,900 students in her online witchcraft school. She comes from a family of witches with its roots in Cuba.
In a 2014 survey, the Pew research center announced that the adult population of Pagans and Wiccans was over 730,000.
Paganism represents just one approach to witchcraft, there are numerous other routes, so the total figure of those involved in witchcraft may be substantially more.
Now there are no laws against witchcraft there is little to stop people openly claiming to follow witchcraft in one of its forms.
Wicca is a faith that was formed from the 1954 book “Witchcraft Today” written by Gerald Gardner.
Witchcraft itself has origins much further back as far as around 35 B.C. when it was mentioned in Horace’s Satires.
Nor does witchcraft stem from one particular part of the world. Every continent that is inhabited has spoken of individuals who can cause misfortunes through magical means.
Witchcraft is gaining popularity all over the world.
But how can you learn it?
If you don’t find any mentor in your local community, online training is probably the best option.
This training will teach you Witchcraft practices from the beginning, step by step.
So if this is something you’re interested in, the online course is the easiest way how to start!
The worldwide phenomenon of the Harry Potter “Universe” has begun a new wave of interest in witchcraft and sorcery, spawning more literature inspired by the Harry Potter books, and Chinese rip-offs of Harry Potter Movies.
Type “Witches” into the search in the Amazon bookstore and it comes up with over 70,000 results. This compares to just 50,000 for Buddhism or Islam.
So, whether you are a witch from Swaziland determined to abide by the country’s aviation laws when flying your broomstick, or a Commercial witch in Cape Town; you still need to take into account the law on witchcraft.
However, you are at least free from the threat of an unpleasant execution in the west.
No longer liable to be hung, burned, drowned, or crushed under heavy rocks by the state or church laws.
Most laws on witchcraft and sorcery are in the realm of consumer protection legislation these days, stopping witches from charging for bogus spells.