Nature Of The Witch
n 1022 a 'heretic' was burnt at the stake in France. It was the start of a 'witch' hysteria that would drag on for centuries. The accusations, the trials and the burnings are well known to this day. People might think of these as the bleakest of days for witchcraft, the oldest religion in the world, but actually this era was bleak for everyone as innocent people were falsely accused by their neighbours and burnt alive at the stake.
Those who know the true history of witchcraft know of a deeper and darker danger- a threat which has stalked the witches throughout the centuries, lurking in the shadows, watching and waiting.
This is the real story of the witch.
Thousands of years ago, in a time without doctors and medicine, people turned to nature. Women used the healing power of plants and herbs to cure and protect their families from diseases. Through practice they acquired great skills, learning nature's secrets and passing this knowledge on to their daughters and then down through the generations.
The power of the natural world was harnessed and used for good. Throughout the generations a select few skilled women were set apart from the rest, and it seemed as though Mother Nature herself rewarded their good deeds with gifts beyond normal capabilities.
These chosen women used these gifts and became exceptional healers in their communities. Witchcraft is known as the 'craft of the wise' and these women were turned to not just for cures, but for advice, shelter, comfort and leadership. Their gifts enabled them to glimpse into the future, therefore avoiding mishaps and some could communicate with the dead, connecting people with lost loved ones. They used their powers to protect people, and bring good fortune and happiness. They could be identified by a marking on the wrist; a branding to show they were the servants of the earth.
Every witch believes in karma. For it is a fact that the universe balances everything out in the end. Whilst these chosen women were using their powers for good, all blessings were bestowed upon them. But eventually something went wrong.
Exactly how it happened is cause of some debate. Instead of nature selecting the witch, the witches found a way to use their powers to initiate others. They formed covens, and by uniting, their powers were magnified so that it seemed the women were more powerful than nature itself.
One coven remained true to their calling and respected the natural world in all that they did. They became known as the Daughters of the Earth. It was formed by some of the most gifted of the chosen women and people travelled from afar for their counsel and skills. However, some covens were arrogant and weren't content to use their gifts for the service of others, instead using them for personal and financial gain and to hurt enemies.
And so, nature turned against the witch. Before their numbers grew too many, a new species was born out of the darkness of the Cornish caves; a terrifying beast, devised by Mother Nature, whose only purpose was to hunt and kill the witches, thus keeping their numbers and powers in check. There is no written record of their appearance, as so few who have laid eyes upon them have lived, but the legends talk of bodies ripped apart with an impossible ferocity. They are said to be part human, and so able to pass through the world unnoticed, but in truth they are more animal than human, slinking through the shadows.
However, another legend says that it was a witch who created the first creature. After finding her husband unfaithful, she used her powers to kill the woman he was with, and then punished him by turning him into a being that was less than human. For her abuse of powers Mother Nature twisted the witch's spell, and instead created a violent beast that turned on the witch and tore out her throat. He was the first of an immortal species that was consumed with an insatiable thirst for revenge on the witches who had created them. They became known as the Kasadow, meaning 'full of hate' in Cornish. For that is what they were, their every deed driven by their hatred for the witch. Over time people simply referred to them as the Creatures.
There is no way to be sure which story is true. What is known is that a fierce battle for survival began for the witches, and they were forced into hiding from their relentless hunters.
But Mother Nature didn't forget her loyal subjects. For the Daughters of the Earth, who devoted themselves to her service, she gave them protectors. The first was a man from a local village, who was in love with a member of the coven. He chose to devote his life to her protection. They became known as the Gwithiaz and, because they were born out of love, they were more powerful than the Creatures. For everyone knows that love is stronger than hate. They were ultimate warriors, the only beings able to kill a Kasadow.
Innocent people were harmed in the battles and a council was established to try and control the situation. The members of the council deliberated over the dilemma and prayed to various gods for an end to the violence. They sent the witches away, evicting them from their homes and villages in an attempt to protect themselves, but ultimately standing between a Gwithiaz and a Creature was to stand between David and Goliath and they couldn't find an end to the war.
The Daughters of the Earth had protection from the Creatures but other witches didn't. For them, their powers, although great, were able to keep the Creatures at bay for a while, but were no match in the end against such a vicious and bloodthirsty beast. Some fled to the remotest of hiding places, but the Creatures hunted them down and slaughtered them.
Eventually, witches dwindled in number and so did the Kasadow. Battles became less frequent and so less public. The only remaining coven was the Daughters of the Earth and they lived quiet lives alongside their protectors, always looking over their shoulder. Their time was spent learning, healing and helping others. They blended in, always afraid of being hunted by the Creatures and shunned by their neighbours.
Over the years it all began to pass from memory. Decades turned into centuries and the Creatures became a myth, a bedtime story to frighten children to sleep, and then they were forgotten altogether.
The witches became a legend that changed over time. In some stories it seemed they were confused with the Creatures as ugly, evil beings. As for the Daughters of the Earth, their great powers blessed them and the Gwithiaz with everlasting life.