Merry Meet, everyone!
I'm happy to bring to you some information about the history of witchcraft and the modern Wiccan faith.
Unfortunately, the most famous incident involving Witchcraft were the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, when mass hysteria brought about the brutal deaths of many innocent people. But the Salem Witch Trials were far from being the first time "witches" were hunted and killed. Mostly women were accused of worshiping demons and working all kinds of strange magic. There is one major flaw with this theory. Witches do not beleive in Satan. Satan and demons are "inventions" or beliefs of Christian religion.
The roots of magic come from the Celts, people living from between 700 BC and 100 AD. They were a deeply spiritual people who worshiped both the God and the Goddess. The Celtic New Year began at Samhain, which means "Summers End" and was the final harvest of the year. This was also their "Festival of the Dead", where they honored their ancestors and deceased loved ones. Many contemporary Halloween traditions come from Samhain. And despite centuries of persecution, Witchcraft and magic have survived into modern times.
In the 1930's, Dr. Gerald Gardner stumbled upon a coven of Witches and he learned the true meaning of Witchcraft. He found that far from being devil worshipers, witches were a benign people closely atuned to nature, whose first and only commandment was "And it Harm None, Do As You Will". He and many others helped bring about what is known today as Wicca.
Wicca is a religion like any other, with its rituals and ceremonies. Magic is only a part of the Wiccan life.
Magic is defined as the change of any condition by ritual means. It's nothing more than channeling focused energy toward a specific goal. In fact, Christians do it all the time. They pray for something and they get it. Prayers that bring wants and wished to fruition contain at least four compnents: intent, focus, concentration and a strong dose of will. Precisely the same components necessary for spellcasting.
So yes, Witches cast spells, but not for harm or personal gain. We believe in the Threefold Law, that whatever harm we do to others will come back to us threefold. Each Witch has a Book of Shadows - this is their spell book, filled with spells they have written themselves or many that have been passed down through families for generations. Our religion is based in pulling and bending the energies of the earth to do our bidding. Many Wiccan's use folk medicine whenever possible and because of our close relationship to nature, many are vegetarians. We celebrate the cycles of the moon and use them at different times for different magic.
So if you wish to honor the dear this Samhain, just leave a few apples and pomegranates outside your door, and say, "O fruit of Death and Fruit of Life, Fruit that eases mortal strife; Ease the hunger of the Dead until They reach their final stead. Be food enough for everyone, until Their journey's fully done".
Blessed be, everyone! Have a safe and happy Samhain!