What is Witchcraft? - The Art of World Building
Feb 222021
 
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While we all know what’s typically meant by witchcraft, also known as witchery, the term is a broad one. Both white and black magic interpretations exist on Earth. It can mean using the supernatural to cause harm or be more beneficial such as divination. Using spirits for these practices is assumed to be dangerous and possibly evil; there is an assumption that spirits who have not gone to the afterlife, or are willing to be contacted by the living, must be nefarious. This rises from fear, ignorance, and lack of comfort with all of it, with people assuming the worst about what these spirits and those contacting them are capable of.

Pagans have often been considered witches, which has led to many associations, such as full or partial nudity, being barefoot, wearing loose and flowing clothing, chanting, singing, and dancing in the woods to conjure spirits, typically at night and during specific moon phases. The celebration of basic natural elements can be seen as championing base human needs and instincts like sex. This combination, along with fear, leads to the assumption of copulation with the devil or similar figures as a means of gaining supernatural powers.

One practice common to witchcraft is the use of archaic runes or symbols inscribed on a target, such a person, building, or item that is the focus of the spell. Another is a poppet, a figure made of wax or clay to represent another person, with the spell cast on this. Incantations differ slightly from speech in other magic types in that they are often chanted or sung rather than simply spoken, sometimes specific actions being taken at moments within the incantation, rather than there being no coordination. Witchcraft that involves scrying often makes use of reflective materials such as a mirror, blade, or scrying ball. This reliance on a material, the existing properties of which offer some aid, helps distinguish witchery from other magic types.

As with necromancy, we should understand the afterlife in our world if any interaction with the dead is to take place. And if beings like demons are to be communed with, we’ll benefit from having worked out places like Hell, where they dwell. The rules we’ve devised for such places can impact the rules we craft for witches and others to interact with the beings there.

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