A simple illustration of a stereotypical witch

The word witch derives from the Old English nouns wicca /ˈwɪttʃɑ/ (masc.) "sorcerer, witch (male)" and wicce /ˈwɪttʃe/ (fem.) "sorceress, witch (female)". The word's further origins in Proto-Germanic and Proto-Indo-European are unclear.

Witches are historically recognised as (usually) female practitioners of specific manners of magic, which can be used for religious, divinatory or medicinal purposes. What makes them differ from wizards and sorcerers is that witches do not require physical tools for many of their magicks, capable of casting spells through sheer force of will.

Throughout history, witches have been percieved by society as inherently evil beings who call upon demonic powers to terrorize humanity. In many parts of the world, particularly Europe, fear of witches provided a scapegoat for people's misfortunes, leading to countless accusations against those believed to secretly be practicing witchcraft. These individuals were persecuted by neighbours and even their own families and would often find themselves being lynched by mobs and subjected to barbaric forms of execution.

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