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Witchcraft, manipulation of supernatural forces, usually toward evil ends. It has existed in most cultures throughout history and still has its devotees in modern society. In the Christian West witchcraft developed from surviving pagan beliefs. Witches were held responsible for disease and misfortune and were believed to acquire their evil power from the devil, whom they worshiped in obscene ritual (satanism, or devil worship, is not synonymous with witchcraft). From the 14th to the 18th century a witch-hunting epidemic prevailed in Europe, and many thousands of innocent people were tortured and executed in fanatical and hysterical persecutions.

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21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Willamette River to Yaoundé