Famous Witches in History

There were many famous witches through history...here are just a few.
There were many famous witches through history...here are just a few. | Source

Famous Witches in History - What is a Witch?

Before we take a look at some of the most famous witches in history, let's examine the real definition of a "witch". The general and misunderstood definition of the term witch (according to dictionary.com) is: A woman thought to have evil magic powers. Witches are popularly depicted as wearing a black cloak and pointed hat, and flying on a broomstick. Though this is the general population's image and idea of what a witch is, it is incorrect and utterly misconstrued. While the true translation of the word witch varies and has been debated by many, it can simply be exposed to mean "wise woman".

In this hub, I don't plan on introducing accused famous "witches" in the idea of women who were accused of the ill-conceived idea of a witch as one who flew on a broomstick and consorted with the devil. I actually plan on sharing some historical and modern day accounts of wise women who, in reality, can be called famous witches by the true meaning of the word "witch".

Famous Witches - Pictures

Morgan Le Fey
Morgan Le Fey
Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn
Aradia
Aradia
Marie Laveau - Voodoo Priestess/Queen
Marie Laveau - Voodoo Priestess/Queen

According to the oral tradition of Witches, we were once the priests and priestesses of a peasant Pagan religion. Members of this secret sect met at night beneath the full moon, for these were the "misfits" and "outcasts" who did not fit into mainstream society. Little has changed over the centuries and the Witchcraft community still embraces individuals frequently rejected in mainstream society. These include gays, lesbians, transgendered individuals, and other people with the courage to live their lives authentically in accord with who they are inside their hearts, minds, and spirits.

RAVEN GRIMASSI, Witchcraft: A Mystery Tradition

Famous Witches in History - Before the 20th Century

Morgan Le Fey is a famous witch in history and has been depicted as an evil nemesis to King Arthur of Camelot; however, this depiction has been widely misconstrued, like many other famous witches' stories. While Morgan Le Fey's existence cannot be proven, those who believe in King Arthur's legend as a true story believe in the existence of Morgan Le Fey, as well as the Merlin. Morgan Le Fey, also called Morgaine by modern-day novelists like Marion Zimmer Bradley, was said to be King Arthur's half-sister and would eventually unknowingly bear King Arthur a son. She became a famous witch in history because of her direct association with the Isle of Avalon and with England's ancient Pagans known as the Druids. Much of the stories of this famous witch denounce her allegiance to her brother and her people, making her into an evil, vengeful witch who wants nothing more than to destroy and/or rule her brother's kingdom of Camelot; however, the true legend before the twisting occurred was that Morgan Le Fey actually aided King Arthur in his dying hour by leading him through the mists to the Isle of Avalon to be healed. We will probably never know the real story, or if it truly happened, but witches to this day do believe in Morgan Le Fey...and that she was indeed a famous witch in history who should not be feared but studied and revered.

Anne Boleyn was the second wife of the infamous King Henry VIII of England in the sixteenth century, and she is also one of the most famous witches in history. There are many scholars and non-believers who say that Anne Boleyn was not a witch, but if we are talking about whether Anne Boleyn was a famous witch in history because of her wisdom...well then, I have to disagree with the non-believers. Throughout her years as a queen of England, Anne Boleyn became a very educated, extremely intelligent woman and consort to the country of England. Despite the rumors and her later accusations of treason, adultery, incest, and eventually witchcraft which led to her beheading, Anne Boleyn has now become known as one of the most influential queens of England in history. Was Anne Boleyn a witch or wasn't she? That is the question. I call her a famous witch in history because of her incredible strength and wisdom during her life and her desire to appease her husband and country, others may call her a famous witch in history because they focus on the lies and accusations...either way, Anne Boleyn is a famous witch in history worthy of respect and study, too.

Aradia is a famous witch in history whose story originates in the country of Italy. Aradia is the main character in the book written by Charles Leland in the late nineteenth century, "Aradia or the Gospel of the Witches". The authenticity of this book is debated to this day, but the book has actually aided in the resurgence of Paganism in the twentieth century. Supposedly, Charles Leland was handed a book by a woman who lived in the Tuscany region of Italy named Maddelena and it was with this book that the Aradia or the Gospel of the Witches was composed. If one is to look at Aradia as she is presented in Charles Leland's Gospel of the Witches, one would believe in Aradia as a goddess of witches, of sorts. The actual basis of Aradia's story in Leland's book is based upon her birth to the goddess Diana and the god Lucifer. The followers of Aradia were supposedly a group of witches that have survived since the 12th century by using Aradia's knowledge of witchcraft to fend off the Roman Catholic church's advances to wipe out Paganism from the Tuscany region of Italy. Was Aradia a goddess of Italian witches or merely a powerful famous witch from the fourteenth century, according to the modern author Raven Grimassi? You must do the research on your own, as the story of the famous witch in history Aradia can be convincing either way. For me, I believe she was a famous witch who has had a strong following since her life in the fourteenth century, but others still believe Aradia was more of a goddess and much more than a mere famous witch.

The most famous Voodoo Queen of all time is Marie Laveau. Marie was born a free black woman in New Orleans in the mid-1700s and became the most well-known voodoo priestess in eighteenth and nineteenth century Louisiana. White and black folks alike would come to Marie Laveau for ailments in the areas of healing and love. It was said that Marie Laveau was a devout Catholic and would attend mass religiously; however, she was also an advocate for the Voodoo religion, believing and practicing Voodoo with the aid of the loas and being well-versed in the arts of intuition and seership. All three classes of New Orleans society would call on Marie Laveau, the famous witch, in order to acquire unknown information or will into being some desire such as health or beauty. Marie Laveau lived to be in her nineties, though some claim she died earlier than this. Her supposed grave in New Orleans' Saint Louis Cemetery #1 gets more visitors on Halloween than Elvis Presley's grave. This famous witch in history may have been a voodoo queen or priestess, but she was a wise woman and knew her craft well.

Read More about Famous Witches in History

Modern Famous Witches' Pictures

Sybil Leek
Sybil Leek
Laurie Cabot
Laurie Cabot
Scott Cunningham
Scott Cunningham
Silver RavenWolf
Silver RavenWolf

Witchcraft is not evil. At least not any more than lighting a votive candle, praying for a sick friend, or carrying a lucky charm is. However, there are some who do view witchcraft as evil. This is only because organized religion (primarily the Christian church) has conditioned them to fear anything which strays from their narrow condemning view. After all, if you have the ability to fend for yourself, solve your own problems, and choose your own method of spiritual expression, why would you need the confined structure of a church?

LADY SABRINA, Secrets of Modern Witchcraft Revealed

Famous Witches in History - 20th and 21st Centuries

Since the likes of the famous witches in history such as Anne Boleyn and Aradia, many witches have emerged from the shadows (or have "come out of the broom closet") in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries because of a man named Gerald Gardner. Gerald Gardner is called the father of modern witchcraft, as he is the founder of the Wiccan religion. The story goes that he was shown an old way of beliefs, known as witchcraft, and then decided to try to keep the religion and beliefs alive by making them public knowledge. Thanks to Gerald Gardner, many Wiccans and Pagans alike are able to come out of the broom closet today, without fear of being hung from the nearest tree or persecuted physically for their beliefs (though there is still much mental and emotional persecution for those who consider themselves witches or Pagans).

Sybil Leek was taught the ways of witchcraft from a young age, and was around during Gerald Gardner's time. Sybil Leek is one of the most famous witches in modern history, and has written about sixty well-known pagan and occult books such as: Diary of a Witch, Sybil Leek's Book of Herbs, and Star Speak - Your Body Language from the Stars. Sybil claims that she was taught much of her knowledge on witchcraft by Aleister Crowley himself and that she was supposed to be his successor. Sybil Leek died in the 1980s as "Britain's most famous witch".

Laurie Cabot is the "official witch of Salem" and modern times' most famous witch alive today (in my opinion). She is also an author and a wise woman, owns her own witchcraft shop in Salem, and even records videos on her own youtube channel! I am subscribed to her channel and if you're interested, you should subscribe, too!

Scott Cunningham was a famous witch, as well, but more or less called himself a Wiccan above a "witch" for personal spiritual reasons. He has written many books that are read all over the world on topics of Wicca, such as books on topics of Kitchen Witchcraft, magical herbs, magical stones, earth power, and practicing solitary Wicca. Unfortunately there will be no more wonderful Wiccan books published by Scott Cunningham because he passed in 1993 from a long-term illness. He continues to be one of the most famous witches and one of the most loved Wiccan authors in the Wiccan and Witchcraft world today.

Another famous witch that is alive today is Silver RavenWolf. She is also an author if books on witchcraft and her name is very well-known among Wiccans and Witches all over the world. She has a background in PowWow magic, from ancestral lineage and also is highly intelligent in different traditions of Wicca. Buy her books on Amazon or read more about her on the internet. She is a famous witch that you won't want to pass up!

"Witchcraft ... is a spiritual path. You walk it for nourishment of the soul, to commune with the life force of the universe, and to thereby better know your own life." - CHRISTOPHER PENCZAK, The Inner Temple of Witchcraft

© 2011 Author Nicole Canfield

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43 comments

Lantokey 7 weeks ago from Olde London Towne

Darklings!

Whilst 'scare queen' Elvira - the mistress of the dark, may not be a practicing 'whyche' in the craft. Elvira must be given due recognition for her powers both feminine and supernatural. Wonder what tricks she has up her sleeve now?

Sweet dreams!

the gargoyle


Lantokey 8 weeks ago from Olde London Towne

Greetings Darklings!

Just been pondering the facts on Elvira the Mistress of the Dark. Do we class Elvira in the 'wyche' category or the 'vampyre'?

Sweet dreams

the gadfly.


Lantokey 6 months ago from Olde London Towne

I was going to introduce Aradia the 19th century Italian wyche, but i can see that she already rates a mention here !


Lantokey 6 months ago from Olde London Towne

Greetings my little Darklings.

At this juncture we shall introduce ' the dakini' the Hindi equivalent of our wyches. Recorded in folklore since Sanskrit literature. The dakini were beautiful female entities with long flowing black hair, sometimes braided. They were malevolent, vindictive and sought out males to be punished for their evil deeds. They inhabited the realms of gloomy places such as burial grounds, battle fields or haunted location. Luring a young man through seduction she would hold him as her captive and cause him to age for as many years on as many days. Dakini's could also be liken to our imps and vamps.


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 11 months ago from the Ether Author

WhiteOwl87 - You didn't offend. Very interesting points. Thank you.


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kittythedreamer 11 months ago from the Ether Author

limpet - agreed!


limpet profile image

limpet 11 months ago from London England

The witch of Endor a psychic medium who summoned the ghost of the prophet Samuel for King Saul to gain advice. A quite dangerous practice for us to indulge in i would think!


WhiteOwl87 profile image

WhiteOwl87 11 months ago

Sorry didn't mean to offend.


WhiteOwl87 profile image

WhiteOwl87 11 months ago

Hmmm, Anne Boleyn...Henry was a nutcase as were most of the malicious, prejudiced, greedy, and easily swayed fools of that time. So many lies would be thrown around to gain wealth it's impossible to know what is truth or lies. It's believable that the Boleynes manipulated the King to gain wealth, favor, and popularity. Considering at that time witchcraft wasn't quite an indictable offense, (though still added to the list of accusations) maybe it's possible they truly believed she was a witch. It's documented that Henry said he was bewitched by her. Anyone today can expect people back then to take that allegation very seriously so it would come as no surprise that once that idea was circulating there was no way or interest to invalidate it. I don't know who initially made that claim but I am confident it was a misinterpretation and if it wasn't then is was solely out of spite. Though I do believe she studied witchcraft. My speculation*


limpet profile image

limpet 19 months ago from London England

Though not a wyche but rather more a psychic medium one of the last people accused and to stand trial under the 1735 Witchcraft act occurred as recently as 1944. The woman concerned had been conducting seances with a theme on next of kin having lost 'loved ones' in the war. The lady got 9 months gaol but the Prime Minister of the time was instrumental in getting the Act repealed citing the court of indulging in 'tomfoolery'.


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kittythedreamer 20 months ago from the Ether Author

limpet - I see! Wow...very intriguing.


limpet profile image

limpet 20 months ago from London England

Kitty.

Oh it wasn't a real throne but rather a medieval type of 'DAIS' which was used for clairvoyant activities. The lady in question told me of attaining a euphoric state when meditating there.

Bless


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kittythedreamer 20 months ago from the Ether Author

limpet - Very interesting...I too have known quite a few. :) Never have I heard of a witch who sits on a throne, though...why would she do that other than to feed her ego? Just curious. Thanks and merry meet!


limpet profile image

limpet 20 months ago from London England

merrie we meet

I find the subject fascinating in the 'adult' context rather than in children's faery tales the object was to scare the daylights out of us kids. What the practicing whyche has achieved is 'power' which she uses wisely. Having met a few in real life myself, bona - fide as well as self - styled and the pantomime witch as well. One whom i am not prepared to name here told me that when she is seated on her throne she feels an enormous heightening of a rapturous feeling. More on other whyches i have known later.

many blessings to all kindred spirits


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 20 months ago from the Ether Author

erorantes - Thanks for reading! Glad you enjoyed it. I believe there were both good and bad, yes. Sometimes it their "magic" was in a gray area, though...just like life.


erorantes profile image

erorantes 20 months ago from Miami Florida

I like your hub. It is fascinating how you have the pictures of famous witches. I did not have knowledge of many witches that live in this planet. What, I like about the good witches. They knew how to make the right tea for people that got sick. Long ago, the king had his own tea testers. In case, the tea maker made a mistake with the herbs. Also, they made paste for injuries. Thank you for a great hub. You are great. The evil part from the witches, it was. When, they made a mistake. You did an excellent job.


limpet profile image

limpet 2 years ago from London England

merrie we meet

Sophia Loren the Italian actress in her portrayal as a wyche in the 1967 More than a miracle was rather disapointing to say the least. Miss Loren traeted her character as a cheesy commedienne rather than a practicioner of magick. The plotline was also corny and plagiarised from the Cinderella faery tale.

many blessings

the limpet


Lantokey 2 years ago from Olde London Towne

Greetings my little Darklings.

Right at the cusp of her career Italian actress Sophia Loren quite convincinly portrayed a wyche in a 1967 production of More than a miracle. Isabella the rustic girl dabbles in magick with advice from a crone to do battle with evil princesses and win the affections of a macho paramour. She successfully tames his stampeding stallion and temporarilly deep freezes him to prove her powers. The hatching of hundreds of eggs producing a swarm of little yellow chickens has to be seen to be believed.

Believe it or not!

Gadfly


Lantokey 2 years ago from Olde London Towne

Geetings my little Darklings

The lineage of practicing witches can be traced back a long way perhaps even to Atlantis the lost continent.

Seet dreams

the gadfly


limpet profile image

limpet 2 years ago from London England

merry we meet

Rosaleen Miriam Norton was a New Zealand born 'Wyche' practicing the craft under the name Thorn.

Bless


limpet profile image

limpet 2 years ago from London England

merry we meet

i shall call Her Merkah the main protagonist in 'Cauldron of Souls'

Bless

the limpet


limpet profile image

limpet 2 years ago from London England

Might i offer Tituba from the Arthur Miller play 'The Crucible' who while probably not qualifying as a practicing Wyche may have known a little about sorcery.


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 3 years ago from the Ether Author

I always found Baba Yaga to be more of a goddess than a witch in history, ya know?


Witchy woman 3 years ago

Willow Rosenberg.

JK. Actually you forgot Baba Yaga. Dark and powerful.


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 3 years ago from the Ether Author

I'll have to check into that, thanks!


Eryss Brightstar 3 years ago

I love your article, but there's one problem... The picture of Anne Boleyn you have there? It's actually a picture of her famous daughter Elizabeth I. Just thought you should know...


OldWitchcraft profile image

OldWitchcraft 4 years ago from The Atmosphere

I love vampires, but I keep saying how I'd really like to see another great witch movie come out. You can't imagine what a boon it was to bookstores when that movie came out and then it snowballed a few years later with Charmed. They mentioned Wicca a few times in their first few episodes until they realized they were flirting with a public relations disaster. But, people still related that show to Wicca more than anything and it was all about books of shadows, the triquetra and the power of three thereafter. I miss those days.


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 4 years ago from the Ether Author

Old Witchcraft - Thank you for pointing that out about Sybil. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I wrote that originally but I agree with you 100%.

It's kind of funny that you mention the interest in Wicca because of The Craft. It's sort of like the modern day fascination with vampirism, which has obviously been stemmed from the Twilight movies, specifically with teens.

I'll have to check out that video, thanks for sharing it!


OldWitchcraft profile image

OldWitchcraft 4 years ago from The Atmosphere

I thought you might enjoy this link, if you haven't already see it. - http://www.hulu.com/watch/154383/the-amazing-world... - It's Sybil on the Amazing Kreskin show back in the 1970s. I watch it again every now and then. You won't hear her mention Wicca once. I knew a few Wiccans back in the 1980s and early 90s, but I had never heard the term used in popular media until The Craft movie in 1996. A few weeks after that movie came out, I went to support a fellow witch at a meeting one afternoon. It started out as an intimate meeting, just three of us. Next thing we know about 20 college kids showed up asking about "the craft" and saying all kinds of crazy stuff right out of the movie. I remember the look of consternation on my friend's face! She's a little witch who resembles the cartoon of Broom Hilda! After that we hit the big time - but, it was all about Wicca... never seen so many blessed bees flying around in my life!

I think it might be fair to say that Sybil had an impact on Wicca and neo-paganism. Hers was a form of initiatory witchcraft with a lot of the Golden Dawn and a heaping helping of all kinds of Hermeticism in it. But, Wiccans are usually very disappointed in her writing. I could never move her books when I had my store. Most modern Wiccans just don't recognize her or her brand of witchcraft - 'cause it's not Wicca.


OldWitchcraft profile image

OldWitchcraft 4 years ago from The Atmosphere

Glad to see you mentioned Sybil Leek here. This is a good article, but I don't think you can say that Leek was a pioneer Wiccan. She was very vocal in opposition to it for its nudity and eschewing of black magic. Sybil was British-born and well-acquainted with Wicca, but the witchcraft she wrote about was definitely non-Wiccan.


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 4 years ago from the Ether Author

That Grrl - I agree, very good authors indeed. Thanks and blessings!


That Grrl profile image

That Grrl 4 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

I like reading the books by Marian Green and Doreen Valiente.


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether Author

Sybil - Merry Meet, friend! I would have to agree with you in that Wicca and Witchcraft are totally separate entities. Though they can work in conjunction with one another, they are definitely separate entities. I'm curious though - how was your father a scientist in the art world? That sparked my interest!

The black arts are easy to slip into...curiosity usually kindles the urge...thanks for sharing your story. Wonderful to meet another witch! Please come back and visit any time. Blessings.


Kimberly Ann Rogers 5 years ago

Merry Meet! I loved this article, it was benign and beautiful. I am a practicing eclectic 'Hedge Witch' who works alone. I practice the art of spellcraft with a little wicca thrown in, since witchcraft alone and wicca

a religion, are to me, two separate things. I'm 44 years old and have been into occult since the age of six, with my father being a scientist/chemist in the art world and he also studied alchemy. I was fascinated as a youngster

and couldn't let it go. Witchcraft is my calling, my spells are cast appropriately and carefully, although I have dabbled in the black arts. People are usually afraid of me because when my dark side emerges, it's threatening, like thunderstorm. I'm sorry about that, and the way people think of me, but that's THEIR problem!

I'm PROUD of being a witch and proud of who I am.

Merry Part...Kimberly Ann Rogers

(a.k.a Sybil Kestrel Starwitch)


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether Author

Thanks, ashley!


fancifulashley profile image

fancifulashley 5 years ago

This was such a great hub, I could not stop reading!


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kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether Author

By the way, I don't think the 30th century has happened yet? LOL


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether Author

Tom - If I had included your suggestions, that would be negating the whole purpose to this hub. Thanks, though!


tom hellert profile image

tom hellert 5 years ago from home

kITTY,

yOU FORGOT SOME IN THE 30TH CENTURY - LIKE SAMANTHA sTEVENS- SABRINA 0 THE TEENAGE WITCH THOSE 3 GALS FROM CHARMED Lucy from its the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

Broom Hilda-from Bugs Bunny...??????\

hehehe

TH


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kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether Author

Jama - I'd actually never heard that Laurie Cabot story...but WOW I love it! Is that in a particular book that she wrote that you can remember? What other authors do you recommend? Right now I'm in the middle of a book about Native American spirituality and how they are linked with the "one love" movement in Jamaica! Thanks for reading and commenting. Blessed Be.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

It would take an entire hub to list the books I've acquired on earth-based religions known as witchcraft after suffering most of my life from the Christian guilt trip. Without looking, I do know I have several by authors you mention here and many you don't.

My favorite Laurie Cabot story is the time she and her daughter were in a cafe in Salem and she produced snow that fell *only* over their booth! ;D


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kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether Author

Hi, Nell. So glad you found it interesting! I love that book by Sybil Leek...I used to have it but gave it up when I went into a guilt-phase that it wasn't Christian...so glad I'm through that nonsense now! I do have Silver's To Ride a Silver Broomstick, and it's fabulous but a little basic for me now. Thanks for reading.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, kitty, this is fascinating, I have got the Sybil Leek book of witchcraft somewhere floating around in my house, and Silva Ravenwolf too, I believe, If I can remember right, that my very large book of spells is actually partially written by her. This is a great hub, really full of facts and great info, cheers nell

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