We have alwaays had witches and Wizards. The derivation of the etymology through the gaelic and celtic tongues takes one from Wicca to Wissen in old high germanic. Thus witches is a perjorative use of he more nobler Wisdom or wise ways! This connects back to Sophia and through various roots of religious name calling to the Zoroastrian religion and the Magi. Gnostics and others classified under that name preserved traditions and wisdoms developed by an interaction with and a love of Natura as a goddess in the greek sense. Only in the west did these perjorative associations become established and linked to a whole class of behaviours. In the east the person who practiced the behaviours was good or bad, not the wisdom they extracted or possessed!
The understanding of the Musai in greek reveals that spirit influence and possession was not generally seen as bad. Rather it was explanatory. Thus a bad mood was caused by a bad spirit, and a good mood by a good spirit. Believe it or not these were early medical diagnoses.
Although Daimons or demons are found in all cultures, it is a western trend to demonize! We might blame the bible, but we would be wrong to do so, for the bible takes the common medical view of spirit possession. No, i am afraid we have to look at the fevered and dark western mind during the dark ages to explain how the west turned wise people and Shamans into witches and demon worshippers!
It took the Romantic poets to come up with the term "scientist" to help restore social respectability to those wise people who study nature intensely. In the same sense it created a reverse caegorization of those who actually wanted the bad reputation that went wih the term witch or wizard! The occult, or esoteric arts encourage those whose motives are not pure to study them just as much as it intrigues those who are pure of heart. So clearly it is the case that witchcraft,(cf wiseenschaft) is not the source of "badness" bad motives are. If you subscribe to the medical diabnosis of a bad spirit implanting those bad motives then it requires doctors who can remove or drive out these bad spirits.
In the course of doctoring ove the millennia , doctors have learned to treat their patients according to medicinal, therapeutic or spiritual needs. The theory of spiritual treatment takes us into the realms of Psychology, which is greek for the study of spirits or psyche, as they affect the persona. Such doctors have learned and benefited from the empirical methods of modern scientists(witches, wizards and alchemists, Phusis or physicians,philosophers tibetan monks.. the list goes on), revealing that the assumptions are best kept simple and observable and then constructed carefully.
This does not mean the old wisdom has to be ignored. Rather it means that it has to be rigorously reviewed and tested. In the course of doing that one may come upon empirical foundations for some of the older insights and views or a radically new understanding of everything.
The witches of the west and the sages of the east agree, we must study nature humbly and with an open heart and mind if we are to find ourselves in it, and our proper place relative to it. In the meantime, lose the attitude about witches !
This antipathy to witches and the occult has caused a misconception in 3 fundamental motions: Newton's Quantity of matter(Mass). Einstein'S CONCEPT OF rest energy, and Boyle's hypothesis of Electro magnetism.
I start with Robert Boyle. His main interests lay in Alchemy, but this was a difficult subject to pursue, due to religious bigotry against witches, and the clever utilisation of a law against multiplying gold and silver enacted ib Henry VII days. By this means, the church could legally pursue anyone they deemed as being a witch or in league with the devil. Alchemists were officially defined as practitioners of occult and arcane knowledges and dangerous to the State.
However, physicians, such as William Gilbert, we're still expected to come up with cures and potions to the royal ailments, and thus enjoyed tentative security and protection by the royal grace. To further this practice and research, it became necessary for physicians to meet in societies under the auspices of the royal patronage. And yet, this could not be done openly. Rather it had to be done discretely and thus in secret.
William Gilbert was able to make a thorough investigation of electric and magnetic phenomena, and to describe the magnetic nature of the world. The electric nature he distinguished as a curiosity of certain matter. As an Alchemist, Gilbert assigned these phenomenon to the 4 or five main Alchemical categories : earth(minerals)/ wood(biological material), water( solubles), air( Airs, gaseous fluids, essences) and fire( heat, light, molten metals and rocks). These categories formed early lists of material distinctions, from which it was conceived and conceivable that all matter was transgormably produced.
The early alchemists were pragmatists and drew upon much cultural and familial knowledge of matter obtained by metal workers, medicine makers, fire starters, cooks and cultivators. This knowledge was gathered together by the Arab empire and pieced together into a system of knowledge and experimentation by Al Khwarzimi, which became known ib the west as Alchemy.
The main aim of Arabic Alchemy was the purification of gold and silver by fire. Unfortunately this was read as the transmutation of base metals into gold! Whether it was thought possible to do this transforming of lead into gold is not clear, but what is clear that western translators gave this impression to western society. The reaction was swift and negative! The information was seized as being evidence of being in league with the infernal devil, working against the divine edicts that established a perfect order for all things, and attempting to destabilise the economies of kingdoms!
This seems hardly likely for a devout sincere Islamist to attempt or to be associated with. This was a case of the western religions demonising the eastern cultures and religions.
It became crucially important, at the time of the reformation, and in the enlightenment that followed these dark age Ruminations, to repeal the law against Alchemy. The British empire was starting to be formed, and it became apparent that vital knowledge was being exported due to restrictions in Britain. The English could not compete on a level playing field with the continent while such laws remained in place. Robert Boyle was instrumental in lifting the law against Alchemists, and gradually removing the dead hand of religious antagonism. It was not easy!
Boyle researched and wrote on many topics, even work done by Gilbert, but some of his treatises had to be written so intimately, as to be obscure. This was to avoid the public humiliation of bing called an occultist! This was a damaging bit of calumny to anyone's reputation at the time, and those who enjoyed society would hardly court scandal! Besides, most power in educational circles resided with the established church. One could not hope to teach if deemed a witch by the church!
I find in Boyles work, the first connections to the modern conception of matter. Unfortunately, sir Isaac Newton queered the pitch! In his Principia Newton sets aside any Alchemical notions of matter, and proceeds on the basis of the corpuscular theory. This is bases on Leucippus and Democritus theory of atomic matter. The only " occult " fluid he would allow in metaphor was magnetism, as explained by Gilbert. It was not until quite late in his career that Newton began the study of Alchemy. By then it was a respectable enough subject to study, and in any case his future appointments did not depend on him being acceptable to the church.
Boyle proposed that matter was not merely corpuscles. It was some mixture of corpuscles and fluids of various properties, not the least being that of the electric fluid. While we today associate fluid with liquid, be advised that in every case the notion of fluid means able to flow into any shape of container, and to do so with various properties of elasticity and viscosity. Thus a fluid rightly encompasses a phase we now distinguish as gaseous. What were called airs in Boyles day were still considered to be fluids, distinguished by their breath ability and combustibility. These airs were found to be of different sorts by miners who encountered them!
Boyles experiments with fluids and Airs made him aware thst certain airs existed even in vacuo. There was no perfect vacuum. Space always contained some invisible air, and this by an experiment, was conductive of the electrostatic fluid or permissive of it. Before Franklin, therefore Boyle had concluded electric phenomenon was due to this fluid that was present or absent in space, or matter through which it's flow was seemingly conducted in flow or emanated through vacuum.
He was not able to conduct more open research on this matter, due to health, but he hoped to inspire others to look into it more deeply, which, thanks to Newton, did not occur till much later. Newtons theory of matter was thus flawed from the outset!
Newtons corpuscular theory eas not one of particles in empty space, however. In vacuo was never understood as perfect vacuum. But rather as space out of which as much of the Airs as possible were pumped. Thus Newton acknowledged the action of airs on particles in terms of frictional anti motives, and clearly states that over time even the planets will whirl back into the sun due to frictional forces retarding their elliptical motions. Thus corpuscles always moved in a medium in vacuo, and by this means refraction became explicable in light.
Newton followed the classical Greeks and studied optics. His proposal was based on his scientific method.mstart with the observables and deduce and induce from these. Thus corpuscles are a natural deduction from observation of how matter can be atomised into finer materials. However, Newton did not allow for these particles to become differentiated by size into atoms and molecules of different configurations. That was too alchemical and not yet established until Lavoisier, Dalton and Mendeleyev. Instead he had a thin soup of particles to explain everything. Thus light, squeezing through an openining appeared to behave like a jet of water, hardly deviating or spreading. Only when it passed through a prism was it spread by the particles ther into its component particles. This spread, when passed through a secon prism either recombined the lights or maintained the colour with little further deviation.. His thin soup demonstrated thst the angle of refraction depended on the colour. Since all particles were the same, this was the only explanation he could give!