|This article is about the term for magic practitioners. For the episode, see Witch (episode).|
- "I'm a witch! I can make pencils float. And I can summon the four elements. Okay, two, but four soon!"
- ―Willow Rosenberg[src]
Humans who practiced magical powers were called "witches." The origin of witchcraft remains unknown; however, it is believed that witches have existed since the beginning of humanity, passing down their knowledge and skills through generations of family lines. Contrary to popular belief, not all witches receive their magic from demons, nor do they worship the devil. Some witches, such as Wiccans, receive their power from nature and may practice witchcraft however they see fit.
While some humans, such as Tara Maclay and Amy Madison, obtain their magical powers from biological development, one does not need to be born with magic in order to use it. This has been proven on a number of occasions, where ordinary people, such as Willow Rosenberg, have successfully used magic with just as much proficiency, if not more, as natural-born witches.
Willow has also proven that while hereditary witches are generally extremely powerful, they could still be surpassed, as seen by how she grew to surpass both Tara and Amy despite being the very first witch of her family lineage.
Depending on their level of skill, witches possessed a number of magical abilities. While most witches focused their powers through the use of incantations and rituals, more advanced witches were known to use magic by sheer force of will. From telekinesis to teleportation, witches were virtually unlimited in their magical conquest. Minor can-trips (such as levitating a pencil) were relatively easy to perform, requiring only emotional focus, mental clarity and an understanding of the forces involved, while the more powerful witches could alter the very fabric of reality. The more powerful the witch was, the greater the feats they could accomplish in this way, but in general the effects achieved were straightforward.
By joining together, witches could double their magical strength. Witches also gained their magic powers by invoking the names of deities (such as Hecate or Osiris), or summoning other supernatural entities such as demons. Highly skilled and experienced witches (and warlocks) who drew much of their power from dark forces were sometimes, if not always, identified by their black eyes, as was the case with Catherine Madison, Willow and Roden.Sometimes, witches may manifest other powers not mystical in nature but psychic. Tara Maclay portrayed the ability to perceive the energy fields ("aura") around a person. Althenea, a powerful witch of the Devon Coven, was considered a seer, having the ability to experience visions and knowledge of future events. With the aid of magic, witches were capable of achieving telepathy, projecting their thoughts and reading the minds of others. Many witches also possessed psychic intuition, capable of sensing powerful mystical phenomena and imbuing them with general awareness of their environment.
Despite their amazing abilities, witches still had limits which prevented them from being truly invincible. For a novice, and in many cases even an adept witch, tapping into volatile and powerful magics could be particularly dangerous. All magic was draining, drawing mystical energy out of the witch to fuel it, the more so when the power was channeled directly, instead of through tools. Unless she took a break, even the most powerful witch would quickly be worn down by the effort of hurling spell after spell. Prudent witches would merely rest until their powers resurfaced, while more reckless witches could search for a new source of power to replenish their strength and energy reserve. Weaker-willed witches could fall victim to the addictive properties of utilizing mystical energies, especially dark magics.
Views and treatment of Witches
- "It could be witches, some evil witches! (Tara and Willow frown at him) Which is ridiculous 'cause witches they were persecuted. Wicca good and love the earth and women power and I'll be over here."
- ―Xander Harris, spouting misconceptions about witches.[src]
Witches were subject to persecution throughout history. The demon who assumed the guise of two deceased children caused strife among communities for centuries by making residents believe witches were responsible for the deaths of children. The Salem Witch Trials was a notable event in the history of witchcraft, though Anya Jenkins claimed that it wasn't that bad as the witches-in-question could have just used magic to escape, though this did not apply to those who were falsely accused of being witches.
Modern witches were subject to stereotypes in maintain stream society. Willow Rosenberg was especially vocal about this, apparently complaining about the usage of a cauldron in a witch-themed movie (which was actually used by real witches) and refusing to sell a book about witchcraft to a trick-or-treater dressed as a stereotypical witch with warts, a pointy hat and a broomstick.
Ironically, certain witches correspond to this stereotypes like the dark witch Esme
- All witches received their power from the Seed of Wonder.
- Between the destruction and restoration of the Seed of Wonder, all witches were forced to draw upon magic stored in magical objects before its destruction, until Willow discovered a way to use magic without it, but to a far lesser extent, by drawing on the magic within themselves.
- After the restoration of the Seed of Wonder, all witches regained their powers and were once again able to practice magic.
- Magic is an all-inclusive force of nature that anyone can use. While witchcraft is commonly practice by humans, it is not limited to the human race as demons and vampires have also been known to practice witchcraft. Kumiko Ishihara is a vampire and a skilled witch who is able to fly with ease.
Individual witches listed by their first appearance: