Witches, Warlocks, and Vampires
Witches, Warlocks, and Vampires have become ever popular in the last few decades thanks to Hollywood. Fictional characters have filled the heads (and hearts) of audiences with movies like “Twilight,” “Harry Potter,” and “True Blood.”
Just how much truth is there to these “creatures” of the supernatural world?
What is a Witch?
A witch is simply a practitioner of Witchcraft, and Witchcraft itself is the demon behind the witch. Believing to have supernatural powers and abilities, witches cast spells and practice magical rituals. The term Witchcraft varies culturally and societally, making it hard to precisely define. The most common belief is that witches use supernatural means to cause harm to innocent people.
Witchcraft dates back to the beginning of time, as most associate these powers with the devil. We all know he’s been around since the beginning. No doubt his influence on mankind has sweetened the pot for such things as spell casting, conjuring the dead, and demonology.
Some witches rose to fame and fortune for their supposed powers, while others suffered cruel and violent deaths. Whether a witch has a temperament of friendly or terrifying, they will forever be remembered by the world as a witch.
What is a Warlock?
A warlock is also a practitioner of Witchcraft. The term warlock comes from the Old English meaning of “breaker of oaths” or “deceivers,” which draws a line straight to none other than the devil himself.
Although the term witch predominantly refers to a woman, the word came to be used for the male equivalent. This term may have become associated with the term witch in Scotland due to the idea that warlocks made pacts with the devil.
What labels a witch?
Like witches, warlocks have been victims of witch hunts for centuries. It didn’t take much to label someone a witch, and the hunt was on. Simple practices such as using herbs and plants for medicinal purposes could be reason enough to charge someone with Witchcraft. Especially if the person it was used on died.
Casting spells and curses were also common accusations of witches. If someone lost a child in miscarriage, it was the spell of a witch. If crops failed, a witch cursed the land. God forbid should your cow die! It was indeed an evil spell or curse put on by a witch. When a storm was a-brewin”, take cover! That meant the witch was stirring her pot.
Characteristics such as moles, birthmarks, red hair, calluses, or rashes were all certainties that someone was a witch. Lordy be should you be left-handed. You were then, undoubtedly, a witch. Witches were merely scapegoats for the unexplained. And the fear of the supernatural. The supernatural is, after all, attributed to the devil in the minds of many.
What is a Vampire?
The first famed Vampire, of course, is Count Dracula. Count Dracula was a fictional character in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula.” The story goes, businessman Jonathan Harker stayed at the castle in Transylvania that is ultimately home to the Count. When Harker discovers the Count is actually a vampire, he hits the road running scared.
After the Count moves to England and terrorizes the town, Professor Van Helsing organizes a lynch mob to track the blood-sucking Dracula down. Driving a wooden stake through the Vampire’s heart, the Count dies. But not before he bites the neck of several people, turning them into vampires themselves. And the beat goes on.
Vampires are the undead (not to be confused with a zombie) that feed on the blood of the living. Some lore says they can morph into a bat or a werewolf. Folklore has it that vampires would visit the neighborhoods they inhabited while alive, causing mischief and mayhem, and most assuredly, death. Vampires are known to prey at night since the sunlight weakens their powers. They have superpowers and a mesmerizing, sensual effect on their victims.
According to legend, vampires were far from the handsome and debonair Dracula from Stoker’s novel. They were described as bloated and red or dark in appearance, wearing a shroud to cover their features. A far cry from today’s hollow-eyed, pale Vampire dating back to the early 19th century. Also, a far cry from Edward of “Twilight” or Kiefer Sutherland in “Lost Boys.” Let’s not forget Keanu Reeves in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” or Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in “Interview with the Vampire .” The list goes on…
Bottom line, the original description of a vampire has changed over the years, making the undead more desirable in the eyes of the beholders. However, the blood-sucking creature is still a blood-sucking villain, no matter what it looks like.
What labels a Vampire?
During the middle ages, vampire superstition thrived as entire towns were exterminated by the plague. Victims of the disease were often left behind with bleeding mouth lesions, which was a tell-tale sign of vampirism to the uneducated.
Similar to witches, anyone with an unfamiliar physical or emotional illness was labeled a vampire.
Even a blood disorder called porphyria that causes severe blistering of the skin when exposed to sunlight may be linked to the legend of the Vampire. Ingesting blood temporarily relieves the symptoms.
Other culprits to the vampire myth are rabies and goiter (enlarged thyroid).
Suspected witches and warlocks were burned on a stake or hanged. Anyone thought to be a vampire had a stake driven through its heart, so the undead stayed dead. Into the 19th century, accounts describe decapitations and burning the corpses to get rid of the Vampire for good.
Modern science may have silenced the fear of vampires of the past, but real-life people who believe they are vampires do exist.
They’re seemingly ordinary people who drink small amounts of blood, they believe, to stay healthy. The blood is (supposedly) donated by willing participants. Others feed off the energy of people. If they don’t feed regularly, they say they become agitated or depressed.
Stories of real Witches, Warlocks, and vampires
Agnes Waterhouse: Perhaps the most famous witch England has ever known. Her crimes were pretty heinous, and she and two other witches stood trial for them. Dallying with the devil, cursing people, causing bodily harm, and death through black magic were their charges.
Oddly, the Church wasn’t involved in the case accusing Agnes. She was actually the first witch to receive a death sentence by a secular court.
Agnes openly admitted practicing the dark arts and devil worship in her testimony. She claimed to have sent her cat named Satan to kill her enemies’ livestock and even, at times, the enemy themselves.
She was unrepentant and stated that Satan had warned her she would die by hanging or burning, and there wasn’t anything she could do about it, so, oh well!
The two other witches facing similar charges were let off easier than Agnes. One was found not guilty, and the other was sentenced to a year in prison.
As for Agnes, she was sentenced to death by hanging. After her sentencing, her Satanic bravado didn’t last for long. As she was headed to the gallows, she made one last confession. She had once failed to kill a man because his strong belief in God prevented the devil from touching him. Mother Waterhouse swung from the gallows praying for God’s forgiveness.
Eliphas Levi: This warlock was the man primarily responsible for the mystical arts we know today.
Eliphas Livi brought about several belief systems from Christianity to Judaism to fringe upon the beliefs such as Tarot and historical alchemist writings. This strange hybrid became what is known as “Occultism.”
Levi was more of a scholar than a magician. He was ridiculously charismatic and had vast knowledge in many areas of black magic.
His most famous work is the Baphomet- the gargoyle-like entity allegedly worshipped by Knights Templar. His famous drawing of the Baphomet is a winged, goat-headed female figure almost anyone thinks of when the occult is mentioned.
Mercy Brown: Dracula may have a rival when it comes to being the most famous Vampire. Mercy Brown was the daughter of a farmer, George Brown, from Exeter, Rhode Island. Tuberculosis took many of George’s family in the late 1800s, including Mercy.
At that time, it was common for the community to blame several deaths in one family on the “undead.” Each dead family member’s body was exhumed and searched for signs of vampirism.
For the Brown family, Mercy was the scapegoat. Since her body was placed in an above-ground vault during the New England winter, it didn’t display much decay. The townspeople accused her of being a vampire and making her family sick from her icy grave. Her heart was cut out and burned, where they then fed the ashes to her sick brother. Not surprisingly, he died soon after.
So, which is more of a threat, a vampire, or a witch? Well, the answer to that seems pretty obvious. A witch! Witches can cast a spell and perform juju from across the globe, and a vampire needs to sink his teeth into your neck. In appearance, witches and vampires can both be a sight for sore eyes or an eyesore.
Either way, vampires, and witches, to some, are just a bunch of hocus pocus! I wouldn’t say that too loud, though. You never know what may come out of the woodworks!
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