Witchcraft is a sensation that has captured the minds of people since the beginning of time. I think it important to first discuss some history of witchcraft. The World Book Encyclopedia (2002) describes some of the history as follows: .
The term witch comes from the Old English word wicca, which is derived from the Germanic root wic, meaning to bend or to turn."" "In many places around the world, witchcraft beliefs and practices have existed for centuries with little change, [and] [p]rehistoric art depicts magical rites to ensure successful hunting. (p. 371, 372). .
Some beliefs about witchcraft may have risen from stories and legends told, possibly around a fire, just as ghost stories are now told around a campfire. Around A.D. 700, Christian religion saw witchcraft as denouncing the Catholic Church and began to question "heresy-, a rejection of the church, and, "began a long campaign to stamp out heresy [and] [b]eginning in the 1000's, religious leaders sentenced heretics to death by burning- (World Book, 2002 p. 372). It was then that society and the church began associating witchcraft with devil worship. Although, according to The World Book Encyclopedia (2000), "historians doubt that worship of the Devil was ever widespread, if indeed it even took place. But stories about it created a mood of fear and anxiety- (p. 372.) By the 1600's, the "witch hunt- craze was at its highest point and most of the people who were accused of being witches were women. In author Ann Llewellyn Barstow's book Witchcraze: A New History of the European Witch Hunts (1994), a typical witch was usually described in this way: "women which be commonly old, lame, bleare-eied, pale, fowle, and full of wrinkles- and "[like] a bitch far more hideous to look at than all the others- (p.16). A comparative analysis of a society, the Nupe of Northern Nigeria, and examples of witch-hunts throughout Europe during early European history, will show difference in time-line and reasoning, but one thing stands true; women were the focal point, and were most often thought to be, and accused of being witches.