Sea witch (mythology)
Some of this article's listed sources may not be reliable. (March 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Sea witches are traditional folklore characters usually portrayed as women with a magical bond or power regarding the sea, the weather, or other aspects of seafaring life. Sea witches have been featured in European folklore for centuries.
Traditionally, sea witches were witches who appeared among sailors or others involved in the seafaring trade. A sea witch may be presented as a magical or fairy creature such as a mermaid or selkie, or as an ordinary human who uses magic to influence the sea. Their powers ranged from control over the winds and weather or the ability to influence the catches of fisherman, to complete power over the sea, the tides, and the moon. Offending a sea witch by such means as refusing to pay her for her services, insulting her looks, or refusing to acknowledge her powers could end in disaster, as the sea witch might choose to destroy an entire ship.
In addition to their powers over water, sea witches were said to control the wind and weather. A common feature of many tales was a rope tied into three knots, which witches often sold to sailors to aid them on a voyage. Pulling the first knot could yield a gentle, southeasterly wind, while pulling two could generate a strong northerly wind, but the third knot would unleash a hurricane. In some versions of sea witch lore, the witch had the power to call up treasures lost in shipwrecks. In some stories a grieving widow begs the sea witch to bring to shore the body of a drowned husband, child, or sweetheart, so that it could be given a proper burial; in some versions this requires casting a coin or a ring into the sea as the witch's payment.
Spiritual and religious
A sea witch may refer to a Practitioner of a Pagan or Wicca group that often uses water when casting spells. (The term spell in this sense would be the equivalent of a prayer.) Within the Occult spectrum, the term Sea Witch and Water Witch may be used interchangeably, though a Water Witch is often applied to one that dowses for water. In 1997, Llewwllyn published a book written by Scott Cunningham named Earth Power, that gave information on natural magic(k)including water magic(k). The author refers to water magic(k) as a sub section of elemental magic(k) given water is an element found in Pagan and Wiccan practices.  While Cunningham divides rain, fog and storm magic(k) into the subheading of Natural magic(k) in his book on pg 121, given they are associated to water, some may believe the acts pertain to water magic(k) and Sea Witches.
In popular culture
Along with their inclusion in older stories, sea witches have been included in contemporary stories as well.
- The nymph Calypso is portrayed in The Odyssey with some powers of a sea witch: she is able to lure Odysseus' ship to her island while simultaneously causing the seas to repeal all other ships that would rescue him, and she uses her powers to keep the weather around her island beautiful so that Odysseus will be seduced into remaining there.
- The witch Sycorax in Shakespeare's The Tempest is often interpreted to be a sea witch.
- Created in 1929, the Sea Hag is a pirate and the "last witch on Earth" in the Popeye comics and cartoons.
- Ursula, the main antagonist in Disney's The Little Mermaid (1989) is a sea witch who is a mythological hybrid, a half-human, half-octopus creature. The antagonist of the sequel The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, is Ursula's younger sister Morgana, who's a sea witch. In the live-action movie Descendants 2, Ursula's daughter Uma is also a sea witch.
- The character of Tia Dalma in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End presents herself as a mortal witch with some power over the sea, but is later revealed to be a sea goddess named Calypso.
- The Feldons 2012 album Goody Hallett and Other Stories is based on the legend of Goody Hallett, a sea witch who in the mid-1700s reputedly sold her soul to the devil and lured sailors to their deaths on the rocks.
- The Sea Witch is a hero unit featured in the video game Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. The Sea Witches are the foremost of the Naga (night elves mutated into aquatic creatures by the Old Gods). The most prominent of them is Lady Vashj, the handmaiden of the infamous Queen Azshara and an ally of Illidan Stormrage.
- Countess Palatine Ingrid Von Marburg in Salem is a Water Witch, able to travel spectrally in her hag form via bathtubs and wells. Her presence can also be detected by a water charm spell.