In Honor Of The Witch – Real Witches From History

February 20, 2016

Written by Kelli Marchman McNeely

Kelli Marchman McNeely is the owner of She is an Executive Producer of "13 Slays Till Christmas" which is out on Digital and DVD and now streaming on Tubi. She has several other films in the works. Kelli is an animal lover and a true horror addict since the age of 9 when she saw Friday the 13th. Email:

The Witch opens this weekend in theaters nation wide. In honor of the film’s release I have compiled a list of some of the most famous real witches in history. First, let me define what a witch is. According to the Oxford dictionary a witch is: a woman thought to have evil magic powers. Witches have classically been depicted as an unattractive, often old, evil woman in a black cape and pointed hat. Which simply isn’t true. Often women who were trained or gifted in healing were mistaken as evil.

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Let’s begin with one of the most famous witches to ever walk the earth, Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. Laveau has been depicted in everything from films to shows like American Horror Story: Coven as well as songs. Laveau was born a free black woman in the mid-1700s in New Orleans. People of all races and backgrounds came to Laveau for healing, spells and hexes. Laveau lived well into her nineties and to this day her grave in New Orleans’ Saint Louis Cemetery remains one of the most visited tourist stops in the state, in fact her grave is more visited than Elvis Presley’s. Tourist sometimes leave her offerings, including rum and money in hopes that she might bless them from beyond the grave. After her death her title was passed down to her daughter who was said to favor the darker side of Voodoo, leaving Laveau’s followers to be ruled by fear and intimidation.


Anne Boleyn was put to death by beheading for being a witch, but if she truly was a witch is up to debate. Ann was the second wife of King Henry VIII of England. He is the one who both accused her of witchcraft and sentenced her to death. Her sixth finger, told to be the mark of a witch, and her inability to give the king an heir were the main evidence at her trial in 1536.


Margaret Jones, a physician, was the first accused witch to be executed in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (1648). She was accused of witchcraft after her patients became sicker. Many said that the real reason her patients’ health deteriorated was because her patients refused to take the medicine she gave them out of fear that she would hex or poison them.


When you hear “Salem” one of the first things to come to mind are the witch trials of 1692. Two-hundred men, women and children were accused of witchcraft. Twenty of them were executed.  Many of the witches of Salem were confined, tortured and killed because of the community’s hysteria. It all began in February, 1692 when a group of girls blamed witchcraft for their behavior and fits. The first to be named was their slave named Tituba, followed by Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne. The trials came to an end in 1693 and the remaining accused were released from jail.


The Witch was written and directed by Robert Eggers. The film is set in the 1630’s New England, years before the Salem witch trials of 1692. It stars Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, Lucus Dawson, Julian Richings, Bathsheba Garnett, Sarah Stephens, Madlen Sopadziyan, Ron G. Young, Viv Moore, Jeff Smith, Wahab Chaudhry and Brooklyn Herd.

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In The Witch a family, cast out of a colonial plantation, has relocated to land that boarders the forest, rumored to be the home  of dark magic and witches. The crops wilt and the livestock begin to act oddly. Soon the families son begins to show signs of possession. The family and the surrounding town suspect the family’s eldest daughter of being a witch.

Be sure to catch The Witch in theaters now.

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