Strictly speaking, a witch is a "seeker". Ancient witches, and Modern witches, are seekers, observers of the world around them. Trying to "understand".
Witches, of course, are, and have been, known by many names; all over the world; from ancient times to the present day!
Magi,Romancers,Healers,Mystics, Wise Ones, even "idiots"! Many sometimes baffling names. But all were "seekers". They wanted to know!
And,as always,the "normal" people didn't understand.
Can you imagine the talk around the camp fires?
"Old Zekel,now.He's a bit mad! I found him one night laying on his back.He said he was studying the stars! What's to study? They're just lights!".
Then another might speak up,
"Yes, he's very strange! He has hundreds of bottles and jars with all sorts of ointments and salves. Do you know he is very good at healing? He healed my sister of a broken arm. He's good at that sort of thing."
That sort of conversation would go on wherever men gathered; in all languages.
And so the legends grew. These men and women, secretive, mysterious;slightly mad, could "heal". At least, they could heal "some" ailments and injuries.
But whenever the witches/healers gathered together they discussed a puzzle. Why was it that some soldiers died of minor wounds, whilst others with very severe wounds lived?
They would discuss how some wounds just would not heal.That the wounds began to "stink", and the flesh of the wound began to rot, and the soldier died! Why? How?
There was known to be one "substance" that seemed to help in healing. It was a sort of "powder" that "grew" on rocks,and trees, it even grew on stale bread! When this " growing stuff" was put on wounds it seemed that the wound didn't start to "smell", and it seemed to help the healing.
But,what was it? It seemed like a Moss,but wasn't. It seemed like
a Lichen,but wasn't.
The "stuff" was well known to the ancient witches/healers.It was known to the ancient Egyptians. The Greeks, the Romans.
The "father of modern medicine", Hippocrates, knew about it, and wrote about it!
It is now known that the Native Americans certainly knew of it!
By the Middle Ages witchcraft was banned! Witches became even more secretive. But something else was happening in the world of "Optics". Better and finer lenses! Better spectacles, better telescopes.The great work in Optics by Sir Isaac Newton.
Scientists began to "see" the world of the microscopic.
Many Chemists and Scientists began to look at this mysterious "green stuff" that was supposed to help healing.
Eminent Chemists wrote papers about this "stuff", in France,Italy, Britain, Germany, and the USA. All the "papers" were either destroyed,forgotten, or dismissed as "rubbish".
Even the Director of the Pasteur Institute dismissed it as "Witchcraft nonsense!".
In 1928, a Scottish Chemist realized what the "green stuff" actually was; a fungus! He found it in a Petra dish, and the stuff was amazing! It was killing the Bacteria that was in the dish! It was fantastic!
Because of that one Chemist's discovery,that "green stuff" is now the most effective anti-biotic the world has ever known. The Chemist's name was Alexander Fleming, and he had found "the golden bullet", and he gave it a name, Penicillin.
Fleming had found one of the greatest healers known to Mankind.
But the Witches found it first!
I often say that "magic" and science are two ends of the same spectrum, and that those who practice and explore either are only seeking answers. It's no coincidence that most of the words for magical practitioners generally can be interpreted into "wise one."
That's a wonderful post Brysing very well put. Herbalism existed long before science. Some can say it was one of the first forms of science along with medicine and mathematics. I m glad you brought it up again.