Abortion & Midwifery: A Glimpse into the History of Witchcraft

In the days before medical science was advanced enough to safely and effectively terminate pregnancies, women would turn to their midwives or herbalists, or witches to procure herbs that would help them safely abort their pregnancies.

Top 12 Witches in Pop Culture

For years, popular culture has represented witches in such a negative light that they’ve become one of the most vilified groups of people throughout history. In movies and literature, they’re portrayed as evil creatures who desire nothing more than to use their magic to harm innocent people; in real life, however, witches are nowhere near as scary or dangerous as the average movie would have you believe.

#12 – Walpurga

Walpurga is a witch from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, appearing in The Warlock’s Child. Her father had also been a warlock and was so skilled he could travel through time. He ran away with his wife to escape being executed for witchcraft by their town’s Prince. A few years later, Walpurga was born. When she turned 15, her mother died of natural causes but her father knew she would be killed if anyone found out about her powers. So he sent her to live with an aunt who lived far away. When she turned 16, she met a young man named Hans who loved her despite knowing about her magic abilities. They were married soon after meeting each other and shortly after that Walpurga became pregnant with twins – one boy and one girl. One day while they were walking near a riverbank they saw two swans swimming together in the water and suddenly they heard something fall into it – it was Walpurga’s aunt!

She tried to stop them but it was too late – she was already dead. The family asked Hans to look after their children while Walpurga mourned her aunt’s death, and then they all travelled back home.

#11 – Winifred Sanderson

A good witch by any other name is still… Winifred Sanderson. The 1988 movie Hocus Pocus tells a tale of three witches: Winnie, Mary and Sarah, who return to life after 300 years to get revenge on those who did them wrong (namely Max). Winnie, played by Bette Midler in her finest hour, brings them back by hypnotizing Max and sucking out his soul. (No duh!) Max, along with Allison and Thackery Binx, manage to break free just as Hocus Pocus are preparing for their big party. What ensues is classic fun—and my personal favorite Halloween movie of all time.

#10 – Sybill Trelawney

Sybill Trelawney was a professor at Hogwarts and is widely considered to be one of its best teachers, especially for Divination. She taught from at least 1971 until June 1996 and died sometime before 2020, as she was not among those attending Harry Potter’s funeral. In her classes, Trelawney often speaks cryptically and makes very elaborate predictions based on seemingly trivial events. She also has a great fondness for tea and cakes, or biscuits as they are known in England. The Inner Eye is Trelawney’s specialty subject. In 1992 she predicted that Harry Potter would have great fame if he survived his ordeal with Voldemort, which later proved true when he defeated Voldemort himself.

#9 – Zelda Spellman

Zelda Spellman is a witch who appeared on Sabrina: The Teenage Witch. Zelda is clever and can be quick on her feet when she has to be, but she’s also sometimes self-centered and lazy.  She’s not very good at magic, either—but that doesn’t stop her from trying. She also tends to get bored easily and seeks out new things to do or people to meet. Her character arc shows that while you don’t have to be perfect at something (or even good at it), you should still try your best at whatever you do. You might surprise yourself!

#8 – Bellatrix Lestrange

Bellatrix Lestrange is one of Voldemort’s most loyal Death Eaters and she would kill anyone for him. Bellatrix is pure evil and her favorite spell, which she casts frequently, is Crucio. Bellatrix loves torturing her victims before finishing them off. It was thanks to Bella that Sirius Black died because she tortured him into madness before killing him with a knife in Azkaban Prison. She could also be jealous as well; when Harry Potter defeated Voldemort at Hogwarts, Bellatrix started screaming Traitor! after his death as if he had ever actually cared about her or anyone but himself. The point we’re trying to make here is: Don’t get on her bad side!

#7 – Morgana Pendragon

The ‘not so evil’ version of queen from King Arthur. Morgana is a character on ABC’s Once Upon A Time. She is portrayed by Bailee Madison and made her first appearance during episode 2 of season 1, The Thing You Love Most. She is based on characters from Disney’s The Sword In The Stone, and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. Morgana was cursed to be half-giant when she was born, due to Uther (the king) not marrying Igraine (the queen). This forced Uther and Igraine to marry under threat of war or dishonor.

#6 – Paige Matthews

Charmed (1998 – 2006) The third of four sisters, Paige is a no-nonsense realist who is completely out of place with her eccentric sisters. Unlike them, she’s not a witch—she just has to pretend she can do magic whenever they run into trouble. As such, it’s rare that we get to see Paige in full wicked witch mode… but when we do? She’s phenomenal. While Phoebe and Piper are often able to resolve their magical problems by themselves, Paige’s skills as a Whitelighter give her an edge over even those pesky Elders!

#5 – Bonnie Bennett

Doppelgänger and witch of fire, Bonnie Bennett is a character on The Vampire Diaries. She is a love interest for Jeremy Gilbert and, eventually, his girlfriend. She is also somewhat compelled to kill Stefan Salvatore as she was created by Esther with Klaus’s blood through magic. As Klaus’ doppelgänger, Bonnie shares several of her brother’s supernatural abilities including flight and siphoning abilities from other supernaturals. As a witch, she possesses telekinesis, empathy and pyrokinesis but has yet to master these powers.

Bonnie Bennett, is a fictional character from The Vampire Diaries and its spin-off series The Originals, portrayed by Katerina Graham. Created by writer Kevin Williamson, she first appeared in The Night of the Comet, as a witch trapped in Mystic Falls at her 18th birthday party who uses her powers to save Elena Gilbert’s life. She is portrayed as having great power with regard to witchcraft but not being able to control it. Bonnie has a positive outlook on life and often sees good things even where none exist.

One of the strangest things about Bonnie is that she eventually ends up being best friends with Damon Salvatore.

#4 – Willow Rosenberg

Willow is #4 on our list of best witches from pop culture because she was a gentle witch that was sometimes annoying, but had a heart of gold. Also, her Wicca phase was cool. In season five, Willow moves from San Francisco to Sunnydale to attend college at UC Sunnydale and leaves Oz behind. She joins Buffy’s Scooby Gang, where she has a girlfriend relationship with Tara Maclay. After experimenting with magic during her Wicca phase (it ended when Tara almost died), Willow later becomes addicted to black magic in order to keep Tara alive after an attack by Warren Mears’ vampire minions.

#3 – Hermione Granger

The heroine of one of our most beloved book series was just as brave and brilliant as any Harry Potter fan could have hoped for. Her magical talents made her a perfect match for The Boy Who Lived, but we wouldn’t be surprised if she had been a contender to top his list, too. Plus, she started it all—her love of magic led Harry to discover that he was also a wizard at Hogwarts. Even though JK Rowling created an entire universe complete with rules and spells, Hermione always defied them (except when it came to exams). The movie version got her right: smart and quick-witted with a soft side to boot. Her BFFs Ron Weasley and Harry Potter were both lucky to have her on their side.

It’s not just her intelligence that makes Hermione so amazing—it’s her bravery, too. When she learns that she can never go home again after leaving Hogwarts at age 17, she doesn’t whine about it—she drops out of school to continue fighting for wizarding rights. She remains an inspiring example for young witches everywhere, especially girls who need to hear that they don’t have to be perfect to be excellent.

Hermione is one of our ultimate role models for nerdy girls. She’s a brainiac who loves to read, study, and learn new things—in fact, she applies to be an intern at The Ministry of Magic just so she can spend time in their library.

#2 – Rowena Ravenclaw

The Ravenclaw section of our list brings us to Rowena Ravenclaw, featured prominently on Pottermore as one of its History of Magic teachers. Tragically (and indirectly) responsible for the death of her daughter Helena, Rowena is a witch whose popularity soared thanks to being a character people could relate to – even if they didn’t want to. Cursed into insanity by her Muggle-hating ways, history has only revealed her as a small footnote, but Rowling has confirmed that she will be more prominent in future Wizarding World content – specifically, we’ll see more of what happens with Helena’s story. It remains to be seen whether we’ll get an explanation for just how brilliant Rowena is – but at least we know she exists!

And the top witch is… Helga Hufflepuff!

While she may not have been onscreen for very long, Hufflepuff was instrumental to Voldemort’s defeat. After Harry is forced to leave Hogwarts, Dumbledore is left to stand alone against a wizard he knows full well is stronger than him. The headmaster’s only hope: enlist Hufflepuff’s help as a spy within Voldemort’s ranks. While it is unfortunate that we were unable to see more of Hufflepuff on screen, her performance in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows serves as proof of her magic prowess. How many witches can say they defeated Lord Voldemort? Only one: Helga Hufflepuff!