The Salem Wiki
The Salem Wiki

The Devil is the light that reveals the path through the dark woods of desire. After all, getting what we want is what the craft of the witch is. Witchcraft is wish craft, for our wishes are his wishes, and our worlds shall be his world.
— Sebastian von Marburg

Witchcraft is a very powerful form of sorcery that channels its power from the Devil. [1]


Witchcraft is a word used colloquially to describe the more specific Maleficium, a Latin word which means "wrongdoing" or "mischief" and is the basis of the English word "malice". Malice, often poetically referred to as "Crooked Way," [2] is an extremely dark and powerful form of sorcery that draws on malevolent powers, primarily used for malicious purpose. While the Church is known to disapprove of all magical practices, Malice is the only magical tradition that is prohibited by law as it involves the affiliation with demonic forces. The ancient witch who is currently known as Countess Von Marburg considers Witchcraft as a long path to endarkenment [3]. According to Rev. Increase Mather, the practice of Witchcraft dates as far back to the beginning of humankind, implying that the biblical characters Adam and Eve were the first of all witches. Reverend's implications were later confirmed by Countess Von Marburg, who expressed how Eve (possibly the Countess' biological mother), was the first witch who "followed the Serpent". Since then, witches have existed, passing down their knowledge and skills through generations in family lines or by making deals with the Devil.

Unlike other forms of magic, the specific practice of Witchcraft appears to corrupt its practitioners by distorting their perception between right and wrong. While more benevolent characters, such as Anne Hale and Mary Sibley, were simply shown to become morally corrupt as a result of their Witchcraft, other characters, such as Mercy Lewis, who struggled with bipolar disorder and mild schizophrenia,[4] were shown to become even more insane and bloodthirsty after her initiation. Furthermore, while Witchcraft can, for the most part, be used however the witch see fit, it was proven that if a witch were to abuse or misuse their power by the few standards that are held by their Dark Lord, that the Devil can sever the connection between him and the witch, preventing the latter from further harnessing his power. However, it is unknown if the Devil can only perform this ritual from Earth or if he can also perform it from Hell. Though given the requirements for the spell to work, it seems as if the Devil and the witch must be present in the same location.

Deal with the Devil

Main article: Initiation

One of the simplest and most common ways to join the legions of the Antichrist is to make a pact with the Devil. Generally, there is an exchange between the aspirant witch and the Devil, although the nature of this exchange is not yet entirely clear. Tituba tricked Mary making her believe that her unborn baby would have been the price to pay in exchange for the powers. Anne Hale had to undergo a rape by the Devil in the guise of a man with caprine features, but it was not specified if this happens to every witch or Anne Hale was a special case, being both a virgin and a born witch. In the initiations shown so far, the aspirant witch has always been pushed to the brink of despair: A young Tituba desperate for her new status as a slave and the desire for revenge against her Puritan owners; Mary because of the burden of pregnancy out of wedlock and the absence of her lover John went to war; Mercy threatened with death by Mary and Anne Hale was desperate due to the recent discovery of her heritage and involvement in the witches' plots.

Sexual Magic

A method to harness enough energy to be used in spells is to achieve sexual arousal both with a partner or through autoeroticism, generally via the use of a wooden shaft. This method seems to be very common among witches as lust is one of the cornerstones of witchcraft, while the other is to cause bloody death with sacrifices. Several rituals require the use of sexual arousal, especially the rituals that allow projecting an astral double of the witch wherever she wishes to reach her purposes. Because during the excitement the soul is inebriated and the mind is free from the material world, a witch is able to use this altered state of consciousness to manifest her will and get magical results. Sexual activities are not limited to partners of the opposite sex, but rather the homoerotic transgression seems to accentuate the significance of this practice.


Main article: Sacrifices

The ritual sacrifice is a voluntary offering of the witch's own blood, but more often it is the shedding of the blood of a victim chosen specifically because it meets certain prerequisites, be it animal or human. The bloodshed not only appeased the spirits of darkness but also has the property of being a key ingredient for special rituals of longevity or for mass murders such as the Ritum Magni, that is no more than the sum of many sacrifices to harness a large amount of energy sufficient to higher purposes.

Memorable Quotes

Cotton Mather (to John Alden): "Everything the witch does is powered by two things: lust and death. The lust they provide for themselves, but they must look elsewhere for the dead parts."
The Stone Child
Rose Browning (to Mary Sibley): "True malice, like that which powers the Grand Rite, ferments best in a loveless heart. I have looked into your heart, and it is anything but loveless."
The Red Rose and the Briar
Mary Sibley (to Anne Hale): "I, too, came into my powers in the wake of great and painful loss. And I remember what it was first like to feel my body from within like a fever in the blood, that I could now do things, do things with words, with gestures."
Cry Havoc
Mary Sibley (to Anne Hale): "You have yet to feel the terror, slowly becomes fascination, and eventually joy as you learn to take in the life force in all the creatures around us, turning the power within it, directing it as you will, into another person...Or into say, a doll."
Cry Havoc
Dr. Wainwright: "My religion is science and I am more convinced than ever that what the Church calls magic and witchcraft is but undiscovered science. I told you once that I had never met a woman like you, one who would peer into the abyss with me. And this orrery, like some celestial clockwork, tracks the comet overhead? Only the great Edmond Halley has even speculated that comets are not singular occurrences, that they cyclically return. And yet you witches have known for centuries. Such knowledge, such power, and yet you hamstring your own great achievements. You are scientists years beyond the rest of us. Why do you hide?"
Mary Sibley: "Because they kill us if we do not."
Dr. Wainwright: "I understand now. Like Socrates, like Galileo, like Bruno, you are martyrs of truth. And finally, you are fighting back, waging war against the Puritans. And wiping out your enemies. Well, I will tell you, your enemies are my enemies."
Dead Birds



  • During different interviews, co-creator and executive producer Adam Simon expressed his interest in witchcraft and his personal vision of it then transposed on the show. The following are just a few of these statements. [5]

"I had been interested in some time in the tradition of European witchcraft in the early modern period and the borderlands between early science and the occult. There is a lot of exciting historical material that sort of turns the history of witchcraft upside down. Suggesting that there was more reality to it than most of us have come to believe. More and more evidence that some of those accused did, in fact, conceive of themselves as involved in some form of witchcraft."

"I was also fascinated by a wider landscape of magical belief in this last period in which magical thinking dominated all of the thinking. Even as late as the period we are talking about, say the 1690s, the vast majority of people still have a fundamentally magical view of how the world works, how the universe works, what's out there and what's in there. In particular, I've been interested in the body of work being done on European witchcraft and its relationship to Shamanism and other worldwide witch traditions."

"Every episode contains many elements drawn from or inspired by history — we feel free to use pretty much anything that anyone believed about these things, anywhere in the world, for a couple of centuries leading up to our period. If one had the will and the patience one could footnote dozens of details in every episode."

  • Adam Simon has implied several times that there is more than one god and that there is more than one way to practice magic. While the Salem coven (as well as many other covens around the world) worship the Devil, many Native American tribes worship a god called the Great Spirit.
    • Close to the release of the third season, Adam Simon also revealed a pagan origin of the Essex Hive, asserting that only in recent centuries the witches are subject to the Devil, but their practices were initially oriented towards different beliefs.[6]
  • In an interview, Adam Simon expressed that many of the magic practitioners – or cunning folks – have the role of charmers, healers, and sages and that the only form of magic that is considered dangerous and illegal is Black Magic, or "Malice". Adam Simon also referred to Malice as Left-Handed Path in few interviews. [7]
  • According to Reverend Cotton Mather, everything a witch does is powered by two things: death and lust. While many witches draw energy from the former by channeling the electromagnetic forces that are created from both animal and human sacrifices, many witches also draw power from the latter by channeling the energy of their own lewdness and sexuality.
  • In Salem Universe, Witchcraft is black magic, and the practice of it blackens the soul of the practitioner regardless of how it's used. This was proven by Anne Hale, who in spite of her vow to harm none, was still blacken by her power. 
  • The Devil is the primary patron of all witches who practice Dark Magic.
  • Almost all traditions of Witchcraft acknowledge the changing of seasons as well as lunar phases to mark and celebrate Pagan holidays and Witches' Sabbaths.

Historical Facts

Further information: Witchcraft

Hans Baldung Grün, "Witches' Sabbath" (1510), Medieval woodcut

Throughout history, witchcraft has been seen as wrongful means to use the primal forces of magic for personal gain and malicious intent. Opposed and fought by high public authorities and condemned by the priesthoods of the religion in charge, first by the Pagan and later by Christian ones, practitioners of witchcraft were seen as bearers of misfortune and evil. European history has an escalation of crimes aimed at those who were identified as witches. Both in popular culture than in the educated one, witchcraft was associated with evil forces and wilderness that could be identified with different creatures, deities or demons, depending on the culture. This fear of witchcraft led to those who have gone down in history as the Burning Times, long periods of systematic hunting, torture, and killing of alleged witches with horrific instruments of death. With the advent of the Enlightenment and of rational thought, witchcraft has been forgotten, outclassed as a mere scarecrow for children the same way as bedtime stories. Nowadays Witchcraft, particularly in its contemporary sense, is an umbrella term commonly used to describe followers of polytheistic Earth-based religions, such as Wicca and other neo-pagan religions and spiritualities.


  1. The Witchcraft described in this page specifically refers to Maleficium; For a wide range of magic practices, see "Magic."
  2. Mary Sibley referred to witchcraft as 'crooked way' in Wages of Sin
  3. Countess Von Marburg used these exact words in Blood Kiss
  4. ASK SALEM:Elise Eberle Talks Playing Mercy
  5. - Adam Simon exclusive interview
  6. Adam Simon reveal a pagan history of Essex Hive at San Diego Comic Con 2016; see Spoilers.
  7. Adam Simon about Season Two and Witchcraft lore.

See Also