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"It is argued here that the medical arts played a significant and sometimes pivotal role in the witchcraft controversies of seventeenth century New England.

Not only were physicians and surgeons the principal professional arbiters for determining natural versus preternatural signs and symptoms of disease, they occupied key legislative, judicial, and ministerial roles relating to witchcraft proceedings.

Witchcraft of a more benign and socially acceptable sort may then be employed to turn the malevolence aside, or identify the supposed evil-doer so that punishment may be carried out.

The folk magic used to identify or protect against malicious magic users is often indistinguishable from that used by the witches themselves.

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.

It is most notably practiced in the Wiccan and modern witchcraft traditions, and no longer practices in secrecy.

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.They have been present or central at various times and in many diverse forms among cultures and religions worldwide, including both "primitive" and "highly advanced" cultures, Scientifically, the existence of magical powers and witchcraft are generally believed to lack credence and to be unsupported by high quality experimental testing, although individual witchcraft practices and effects may be open to scientific explanation or explained via mentalism and psychology.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.Probably the most widely known characteristic of a witch was the ability to cast a spell, "spell" being the word used to signify the means employed to carry out a magical action.

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Some practitioners are simply mentioned in passing." There has also existed in popular belief the concept of white witches and white witchcraft, which is strictly benevolent.