Witches are real - and they're actually a lot more interesting than the black-cats-and-broomsticks legends we see in TV and movies. There are dozens of forms of paganism still practiced today, and witchcraft is found around the world.
Many witches you encounter in modern life are practitioners of Wicca, a pagan religion founded in the 1950s and based on ancient European paganism. Though paganism goes back to the dawn of human history, the Wiccan faith has revived and updated ancient practices for use in the present day.
With all the stereotypes out there, you might be surprised to learn about a real witch's approach to nature and spirituality, and the role that witches have played throughout history. Here are some of the strange and beautiful traditions of the Wiccan religion, and witchcraft in general.
It's True - Blood Is Used In Spells
Blood, as well as other bodily fluids like urine and semen, is viewed as a powerful bonding agent. Not only does adding blood to a potion make the witch more connected to its power, but it also helps protect the witch from harm. Generally, only a few drops of blood are used and the blood either comes from the witch who is making the potion herself, or from a friend who has voluntarily provided it.In some cases, practitioners of witchcraft will add menstrual blood to a significant other's food or drink. This is supposed to help strengthen their relationship, and ensure their partner doesn't stray.
Every Witch Has a Book of Shadows - and It's Burned When She Dies
The book of shadows (also called a grimoire) is more than just a spell book. Originally written in coded runes to guard against anti-witch hysteria, these books serve as a Wiccan's diary, where spiritual revelations, dreams, and research are recorded. In addition, every spell a witch casts goes into their book of shadows, along with information about potions and incantations. Each witch has their own book of shadows, and it is to be burned once the witch passes away.
Brooms Are Not for Flying
Sorry, Harry Potter fans - flying on broomsticks isn't really a thing. Brooms do have an interesting symbolism for witches, however - they're commonly used to sweep away negative energy from the circular area where Wiccan rituals are performed. A broom is also used in hand-fasting ceremonies, a form of marriage ceremonies where couples participate in "jumping the broom" together.
The Pentagram Isn't Evil - but It Is Powerful
Far from summoning satanic forces, as some rumors claim, the pentagram has a positive spiritual significance for Wicca. Each point of the star represents the five elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit. The pentagram was also used as a symbol in the earliest days of Christianity, representing the five wounds of Christ.