Do witches and wizards exist?

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jseligmann | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Witches and wizards? Magic? Come on! I'm sorry, but I'm not one of those who says, "Well, if you believe it, then it's true." Just like that, belief in something makes it true? I guess we don't have the same definition of the truth then. As far as I'm concerned, witches, wizards and magic are all dependent on the existence of and belief in supernatural forces and abilities, and I'm here to say that there are no supernatural forces or abilities. And guess what: since I believe that to be true, it is. So there.

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appletrees | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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Just to depart from the theme of magic for a little bit, I am surprised that no one has brought up the Wiccan religion thus far.  Although I can't speak for wizards, I know for a fact that there are certainly many witches all over the world.  They generally refer to themselves as "wiccans" and are members of that particular religion (generally a nature-based religion) whose symbol is the pentagram (it's the circle with the star inside:  their symbol of faith).  The Wiccan Rede is as follows:  "Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfil, An' it harm none, do what ye will."  Just the other day, I saw this on a bumper sticker on the car in front of me and was absolutely freaked out.  (It's a bit rare to see that proclaimed so boldly here in the Bible Belt South.)  : )

Still, if you are looking for the amazing world found within The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter universe, . . . I'm afraid those kind of witches and wizards do not exist.  Really neat tales of imagination and fantasy, though!

My earlier answer mentioned modern pagan witchcraft, which is another way of saying "Wicca." Hutton uses this slightly more open terminology when referring to what most people call Wicca, when in fact Wicca is a fairly narrowly-defined practice; what you describe actually includes a number of practices that are similar to but are not Wicca, including modern druidry, animism, pantheism, and so-called hereditary witchcraft. So it was in fact brought up before now.

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Just to depart from the theme of magic for a little bit, I am surprised that no one has brought up the Wiccan religion thus far.  Although I can't speak for wizards, I know for a fact that there are certainly many witches all over the world.  They generally refer to themselves as "wiccans" and are members of that particular religion (generally a nature-based religion) whose symbol is the pentagram (it's the circle with the star inside:  their symbol of faith).  The Wiccan Rede is as follows:  "Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfil, An' it harm none, do what ye will."  Just the other day, I saw this on a bumper sticker on the car in front of me and was absolutely freaked out.  (It's a bit rare to see that proclaimed so boldly here in the Bible Belt South.)  : )

Still, if you are looking for the amazing world found within The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter universe, . . . I'm afraid those kind of witches and wizards do not exist.  Really neat tales of imagination and fantasy, though!

appletrees's profile pic

appletrees | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Magic is real; it all depends on how you define it. - appletrees

Magic is the performance of an action which breaks the laws of science. This could be miracle healing, talking to the dead, predicting the future, etc etc. And no-one has ever performed magic.

This short clip says it much more eloquently than I have...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFO6ZhUW38w

 

As I said, it depends on your definition, and I happen to disagree with your definition. And no, my brain has not fallen out. I'd lay odds I am far more grounded in reality than those persons who claim there is no such thing as magic. I also disagree that the actions you describe have never occurred. Belief and the spectrum of what constitutes one's personal belief systems can be extraordinarily complex and nuanced, and can't be relegated merely to the realm of what has been empirically proven by one particular group or discipline. The very concept of belief belies this notion, at any rate. So, I have a belief, and I am sticking to it. Your mileage may vary. This does not mean that either one of is more correct than the other. Just that one of us had had different life experiences which have produced a different perspective and world view. It's not that complicated, really. I believe another way of saying this is, we can agree to disagree. Not accepting that viewpoint simply leads to ad hominem attacks, which I believe are frowned upon in these forums.

 

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gcollins5 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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It depends upon how you define wizards and witches. Are there people out there who call themselves wizards or witches and believe they can cast spells - certainly. Do they? Well, from their perspective they may be very successful.

However, since you are asking this in a science forum, I would have to say that no, they are not real. That is not to say that there are not things science does not yet understand, or cannot explain, but no magic has ever been scientifically proven to exist/work.

appletrees's profile pic

appletrees | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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There is in fact a large contemporary community of people who practice a form of modern pagan witchcraft, primarily based in the United States, Great Britain and Australia. They aren't the supernatural beings of legend and folklore, but people who follow a spiritual belief system that venerates nature as sacred, and tend to believe in animism (the belief that all things have a life force) and in pantheism or polytheism (many gods or deities) as opposed to monotheism (one god, as in Christianity or Islam). They do perform spells and believe in magic, but to them magic is a way of effecting change in the physical world through sheer force of will; a more intense form of prayer is one way to look at it. You can find out more by reading history scholar Ronald Hutton's historical survey The Triumph of the Moon, or NPR journalist Margot Adler's sociological survey Drawing Down the Moon.

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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As I thought more about your question, I realized that I had given an answer that was not enough.  I have neglected another aspect of our belief in witches that is important, too. Historically, when a woman appeared to be different, more intelligent or less willing to listen to her husband or perhaps different in physcial appearance, with a birthmark, for example, when something bad happened in the community, if a cow died suddenly or the crops failed, she was likely to be accused of being a witch.  This has happened in many countries, including the United States. In New England in particular, communities held "witch trials."  There are plenty of accounts of these, and I have provided a few links about them. 

What I wanted to convey, and hope I have, is that there is a dark side to our belief in witches.  When things go wrong, we would like to blame someone, and that someone is likely to be different from us in some way.  Of course,there is no relationship between crops failing and how a woman  looks or speaks, but we often misunderstand the idea of cause and effect.  

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Witches and wizards do not exist at all, except in our imaginations. If people were able to perform real magic, I think we would have been able to solve many of the world's problems by now, problems like hunger and drought.  Alternatively, if people were able to perform real magic, they could use that force for evil and become world dictators.  Since neither has occurred, I think it is fair to say that witches and wizards are simply not real.

There is no scientific basis upon which we can make a case for the reality of witches and wizards.  Someone who claims to do something magical cannot afford to allow anyone to observe everything he or she does because then the trick is always revealed.  Some people believe that things happen as a result of black or white magic, but there is no basis to show that a particular cause results in a particular magic effect. 

I think we need to have witches and wizards in our stories, movies, and imaginations because we love the idea of being able to control the world around us in a magical way.  This is why every culture has stories about some forms of witches and wizards. 

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milky-0-way | eNotes Newbie

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Witches and Wizards and other mystical creatures existed in the past. Just because you cant see wizards or witches now it doesn't mean that they're fake if they're fake why do they have a name? and why do all wizards or witches do the same thing whether its in movies or video games?

You might actually not believe this if I tell you,,, my great -great -great- grandfather was a wizard he had books of spells and chants, and guess what.. those books are now with me. And I'm not convincing you to believe in mystical/supernatural beings. :)

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user3007593 | Student, Graduate | eNotes Newbie

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Yes they do exist, and are very real. Unfortunately they are only a handful in the entire world and it would be like a lottery jackpot to find someone real or come across one because they like to keep a low profile and don't come and give interviews on oprah ;)

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nisarg | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Witches and wizards do exist, they are scientists. If you took any piece of technology from today and sent it back to the Medical Ages, they would call it witchcraft. The idea is that with technology beyond the time you can seem like a witch or wizard too because people would not be able to explain it and would fear you or praise you.

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riot174 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

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who really knows whats in this world? and who knows exactly what to believe?

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udonbutterfly | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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In this world of unknown it is hard to pinpoint an exact answers. In our imagination I'm pretty sure their existence runs rampant. However in reality the chance of them being real is slim but that could be because they don't want us to know about them. Or we can all warp the term wizards and instead of a magical being we can describe as someone who wields negative energies that gave of light, scientists are a great example of this type of wizard haha.

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user396107 | (Level 2) Honors

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It really depends on what your believe in. Witches and wizards exist in as they are interesting to children and can be seen through movies such as Harry Potter. However in reality, and in my opinion, witches and wizards are only a figment of imagination and are absolutely not real. But that is what i believe in and you should make about your own mind about this subject. 

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