Some, prominent among them being Ronald Hutton, claim that "traditionally" the word "Witch" always and unambiguously denoted practitioners of harmful magic, and, moreover, that it always and unambiguously denoted persons who were hated and feared by the communities they lived in -- indeed, that those "traditionally" denoted as Witches were viewed as "inherently evil".
I believe that the materials linked to below (both primary sources and contemporary scholarship) taken together form an overwhelming historical case proving that for as long as English speaking peoples have used the word "Witch", it has been used to refer to practitioners of beneficial magic, and, moreover, that it has denoted persons who were greatly valued and sought after by other members of the communities in which they lived.
- Charming and Witchcraft in Early Modern Scotland (a la Joyce Miller) (12/26/12) Miller tries to have it both ways, but still ends up demonstrating that those historically referred to as "Witches" in Scotland cannot be neatly separated from the practitioners of beneficial magic known as "Charmers".
- If You Masturbate, Satan Will Teach You Magic (12/23/11) In which we learn, from Guibert de Nogent (d.1124), that even diabolical Magic (Magic that is Satanic in its origin) need not be harmful. (The link given is to Part Two - be sure to check out Part One as well!)
- The Strange Case of Emma Wilby and the Wise & Cunning Witches of Britain (7/1/11) Wilby tries to have it both ways, but still ends up demonstrating that the following terms all "overlapped considerably": "wise man or woman, cunning man or woman, witch (white or black), wizard, sorcerer, conjurer, charmer, magician, wight, nigromancer, necromancer, seer, blesser, dreamer, cantel, soothsayer, fortune-teller, girdle-measurer, enchanter, enchantrix and so on...."
- "The Good Witch Must Also Die" (6/28/11) Four part series consisting mostly of excerpts from the sermons of the highly influential Calvinist theologian William Perkins (1548-1602)
- "In the name of the Father, the Son, King Arthur, and Queen Elspeth." (6/28/11) On the trial of Janet Boyman in 1572, the first Witchcraft prosecution in Scotland for which we possess the original indictment.
- An Erotic & Magical Greek Lesson (6/23/11) Socrates explains how Witchcraft and Priestcraft are simply two side of the same, erotic, coin.
- Margaret Murray's Thesis "Contained A Kernel Of Truth" (6/21/11) Carlo Ginzburg on Margaret Murray
- Margaret Murray has been completely rejected by everyone ... except for everyone who has not completely rejected Margaret Murray. (6/20/11) Mary Douglas on Margaret Murray
- Christina Larner on the Meaning of "Witchcraft" (6/19/11) Anthropologist Christina Larner on the historical reality of Witches being associated with beneficial magic, including healing, divination, and love magic
- "Maleficia Ad Sanandum": Healing By Means of Witchcraft (6/18/11) Brian P. Levack and Mary O'Neil on Witches and healing.
- Witchcraft: Black and White in Color (6/16/11) On the historical process of Christianization in both Europe and Africa and the concomitant literal demonization of Witchcraft
- Ronald Hutton vs The Witch of Endor (6/14/11) We need look no further than the Christian Bible to prove that the English word "Witch" has always referred to Healers, Diviners, and Pagan Priestesses.
- Ronald Hutton: Witches Are "Inherently Evil" (6/8/11) From the horse's mouth.
- "Shew me in all the scriptures where Witchcraft went without Idolatry." (4/17/11) Excerpts from Thomas Ady's "Candle in the Dark", first published in 1656.
- "The simplest explanation is that the essential foundation already existed." (3/4/11) Some suggested reading from modern Pagan authors on Pagan History and the notion of the Old Religion.
- Good Witches (1/14/11) A look at Frank L. Baum, Charles Leland, Jacob Grimm, and the various meanings and uses of words such as "Witch", "Wicce", "Strega", "Hexe", "Saga", and so forth.