Book: Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World

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Despite all the romance, revelry and fun of witchcraft, the reality is that many people are deathly afraid of witches. They consider witchcraft terrifying and witches dangerous.

What exactly is it that they fear? That answer varies; as usual, much depends upon how one defines witches and witchcraft. Some are genuinely afraid of all aspects of occultism or Paganism. For these people, fear of witchcraft may border on hysteria. The witches don’t actually have to do anything to incite fear: their very existence is perceived as dangerous. Others are fearful of specific aspects of the magical arts—what are perceived as potentially hazardous practices. And then, of course, there can be a fine line between respect and fear: if witches do have access to greater knowledge and/or power, then they should indeed be respected and perhaps handled with care.

The flip side of the power to heal and bless is the power to harm and curse. This has always been a crucial dilemma for many when considering witchcraft. Much depends upon whether someone perceives witches as inherently good, neutral, or evil. If they are good or neutral, then even if they can cause harm, most likely they will not, in the same manner that although physicians and attorneys certainly have the knowledge to create damage and mischief, most rarely do so. However, if you believe, as many do, that witches are inherently evil and malicious and exist solely for the pleasure of creating havoc and harm, then there is no way to consider them without tremendous fear and anxiety. Because these fears and anxieties have existed for ever, various protective measures have developed over the ages as well.

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