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Many neopagan witches strongly identify with this concept, and profess ethical codes that prevent them from performing magic on a person without their request.
Where belief in malicious magic practices exists, such practitioners are typically forbidden by law as well as hated and feared by the general populace, while beneficial magic is tolerated or even accepted wholesale by the people – even if the orthodox establishment opposes it.
Historically the witchcraft label has been applied to practices people believe influence the mind, body, or property of others against their will—or practices that the person doing the labeling believes undermine social or religious order.
Some modern commentators believe the malefic nature of witchcraft is a Christian projection.
One popular belief is that it is "related to the English words wit, wise, wisdom [Germanic root *weit-, *wait-, *wit-; Indo-European root *weid-, *woid-, *wid-]," so "craft of the wise." In anthropological terminology, witches differ from sorcerers in that they don't use physical tools or actions to curse; their maleficium is perceived as extending from some intangible inner quality, and one may be unaware of being a witch, or may have been convinced of his/her nature by the suggestion of others.
Historians of European witchcraft have found the anthropological definition difficult to apply to European and British witchcraft, where witches could equally use (or be accused of using) physical techniques, as well as some who really had attempted to cause harm by thought alone.
Witchcraft or witchery broadly means the practice of and belief in magical skills and abilities exercised by solitary practitioners and groups.
Witchcraft is a broad term that varies culturally and societally, and thus can be difficult to define with precision, The concept of witchcraft and the belief in its existence have persisted throughout recorded history.
Witch hunts, scapegoating, and killing or shunning of suspected witches still occurs in the modern era, with killings both of victims for their supposedly magical body parts, and of suspected witchcraft practitioners.
It posits a theosophical conflict between good and evil, where witchcraft was generally evil and often associated with the Devil and Devil worship.
This culminated in deaths, torture and scapegoating (casting blame for human misfortune), and many years of large scale witch-trials and witch hunts, especially in Protestant Europe, before largely ceasing during the European Age of Enlightenment.
Christian views in the modern day are diverse and cover the gamut of views from intense belief and opposition (especially from Christian fundamentalists) to non-belief, and in some churches even approval.
From the mid-20th century, witchcraft – sometimes called contemporary witchcraft to clearly distinguish it from older beliefs – became the name of a branch of modern paganism.