The word "witch" comes from the Old Church Slavonic "to know", that is, to have knowledge, or witchcraft. So in ancient times they called women practicing magic. They were often persecuted.
Since ancient times, the people respected and feared people who possessed dangerous skills or knowledge. Back in the Middle Ages, there was the idea that women become witches after concluding a pact with the devil. It was believed that witches participate in sabbaths, sacrifice children, copulate with demons. Such ideas led to the beginning of a "witch hunt" throughout Europe in the 15th-17th centuries - women were accused of witchcraft, persecuted and executed. It should be noted that lawsuits against witches at that time were initiated only on specific charges of harm. Unfortunately, there were plenty of accusers subject to the general hysteria of the "witch hunt", so the number of women convicted and executed is very large.
Human imagination endowed witches with the ability to fly on brooms or brooms. It was believed that before the Sabbaths they were rubbed with a special ointment that endows them with superpowers. There was a belief that only the witch's soul flies to the Sabbath, and the body remains in the same place, and if you just move it or turn it to the other side, the witch's soul will not be able to return to the body.
It is believed that witches can rise from their graves, just like ghouls. Most often they do this to get revenge. In particular, the story "Viy" is based on this superstition. Witches can influence the weather by delaying rain and causing drought. They can induce damage or the evil eye, send diseases or heal from them. It is believed that witches see things that are inaccessible to ordinary people.
Witches are described in different ways. There are two stereotypes about witches. According to the first, witches are ugly, pale old women with bulging eyes, hooked noses and large mouths. According to the second, witches are beautiful, forever young women with red or black hair, in whose features an attentive observer can find traces of evil and vice. Some people believe that the main property of a witch is the ability to reincarnate, change her appearance, and be diverse.
There are two types of witches - scientists and natural born. The latter receive witch powers from nature at birth, scientists acquire it by learning from innate or spirits. Natural-born witches are considered more good-natured and merciful, they often help people, in particular, speaking out against learned witches, if they have planned something unkind.