Hubble bubble! The fascinating magic of witches

Hocus pocus: A new TV remake of Sabrina the Teenage Witch has just been released. © Netflix

Should we believe in magic? For centuries, societies have been terrified and entranced by stories of witches and their spells. Maybe we all believe in magic more than we think.

What’s happening

Halloween is upon us! Expect to see lots of witch costumes this week, complete with broomsticks and black pointy hats. From Hogwarts to Hansel and Gretel, we love stories about magic and witchcraft.

To most of us, these are just stories, but some modern witches say that magic is realer than we think.

Find out more

When we say witch, most of us imagine an old woman with a wart on her nose, cackling over a bubbling cauldron with her black cat.

One of the earliest mentions of witches is in the Bible. “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” reads the line. Historians say the idea of witches, who were thought to worship the devil, came from sexist attitudes which saw women as uncontrollable and threatening.

In the 1500s and 1600s, thousands of women were put on trial and burnt at the stake for the crime of witchcraft. However, as people started to understand science, they stopped believing in magic and put more faith in scientific evidence.

There are still some women who claim to be witches. Many even try to perform spells. Should we really believe in magic?

Some say…

It’s obviously not real. Hundreds of years ago, when people didn’t really understand how nature worked, it’s understandable that they believed in things like magic to explain the world around them. Those times are now over. Thanks to scientific discoveries, we know that everything in the universe follows set, scientific rules. Magic is nonsense.

Others think…

There’s more to magic than we think. It isn’t just about cauldrons and incantations. We all have our own rituals and superstitions, like not walking under a ladder or even wearing a particular shirt for a big sports game. Many people think there are things controlling our lives that cannot be explained by science, and who can prove otherwise?

You Decide

  1. Do you believe in magic?

Activities

  1. Draw a perfect witch. Include and label as many different objects and activities associated with witchcraft as you can think of. Be creative.

Some People Say...

“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Roald Dahl

What do you think?

Word Watch

Hogwarts
The magical school for witches and wizards in the Harry Potter books.
Hansel and Gretel
A fairy tale written by the Brothers Grimm in which a scary witch traps two children.
Cackling
Laugh in a loud, harsh way.
Suffer
Allow or permit.
Sexist
Being unfair or prejudiced to women.
Evidence
Proof that something is true.

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