||It has been suggested that Granny women be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since March 2015.|
A folk healer is an unlicensed person who practices the art of healing using traditional practices, herbal remedies and even the power of suggestion. A folk healer may be a highly trained person who pursues her specialties, learning by study, observation and imitation. In some cultures a healer might be considered to be a person who has inherited the "gift" of healing from his or her parent. The ability to set bones or the power to stop bleeding may be thought of as hereditary powers.
White witch and good witch are qualifying terms in English used to distinguish practitioners of folk magic for benevolent purposes (i.e. white magic) from practitioners of malevolent witchcraft or black magic. Related terms are "cunning-folk", "witch doctor", and the French devins-guérisseurs, "seer-healers".
During the witch trials of Early Modern Europe, many practitioners of folk magic that did not see themselves as witches, but as healers or seers, were convicted of witchcraft (Éva Pócs' "sorcerer witches"): many English "witches" convicted of consorting with demons seem to have been cunning folk whose fairy familiars had been demonised, and over half the accused witches in Hungary seem to have been healers.
Some of the healers and diviners historically accused of witchcraft have considered themselves mediators between the mundane and spiritual worlds, roughly equivalent to shamans. Such people described their contacts with fairies, spirits, or the dead, often involving out-of-body experiences and travelling through the realms of an "other-world". Beliefs of this nature are implied in the folklore of much of Europe, and were explicitly described by accused witches in central and southern Europe. Repeated themes include participation in processions of the dead or large feasts, often presided over by a female divinity who teaches magic and gives prophecies; and participation in battles against evil spirits, "vampires", or "witches" to win fertility and prosperity for the community.
- The "white witch" Glinda is the Good Witch in L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the film based on it.
- C.S. Lewis inverted the image of "white" witchcraft as "good" in his children's book series The Chronicles of Narnia, naming one of his primary villains The White Witch, although this may be more a reference to her power over snow and winter.
- Traditional medicine
- Home remedy
- Alternative medicine
- Granny woman
- Kitchen witch
- Witcher (mythology)
- "There were a number of interchangeable terms for these practitioners, 'white', 'good', or 'unbinding' witches, blessers, wizards, sorcerers, however 'cunning-man' and 'wise-man' were the most frequent." Macfarlane 1970 p. 130; also Appendix 2.
- Emma Wilby 2005 p. 123; See also Alan Macfarlane 1970 p. 127 who notes how 'white witches' could later be accused as 'black witches'.
- Monter () Witchcraft in France and Switzerland. Ch. 7: "White versus Black Witchcraft"
- Pócs 1999, p. 12
- As defined by Mircea Eliade in Shamanism, Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, Bollingen Series LXXVI, Pantheon Books, NY NY 1964, pp.3-7.
- Ginzburg (1990) Part 2, Ch. 1.
- Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic (1971), p. 534.
- Ryan Stark, Rhetoric, Science, and Magic in Seventeenth-Century England (2009), 123-27.