A witch was a practioner of magical arts. The term was often primarily applied to female magicians, though not all female magicians considered themselves witches. Some cultures used the term "wizard" to refer to a male witch (TV: The Dæmons) while others used witch to refer to practioners of both sexes. Less advanced cultures had a fear of witches and would sometimes mistake psychic powers or advanced technology as witchcraft.
Significance in human history
During the 17th century in Europe and in Salem Village, fear of witchcraft was the pretext for the trial and state-approved murder of many innocents. (TV: Image of the Fendahl, PROSE: The Witch Hunters) Several Witchcraft Acts were passed by governments prohibiting its practice. Suspects of witchcraft were bound and thrown into a pond. If the suspect sunk and drowned, they were considered innocent. If he or she floated, however, they were found guilty and were executed. One way or another, the suspect would die. (AUDIO: Plague of the Daleks)
As late as the 20th century, in England, witches both "white" (benevolent) like Olive Hawthorne (TV: The Dæmons) and evil, like the members of the Hecate Cult, still formed covens. (TV: Image of the Fendahl, TV: A Girl's Best Friend)
In the early 21st century, neopaganism gained in popularity. Neopaganists ecompassed violent young gangs. One, the Witchkids, spread across the United States. They rejected technology and knowledge and gloried in violence and superstition. (PROSE: Cat's Cradle: Warhead) Another called themselves the Ravens. (COMIC: Ravens)
Across space, the Travellers of the 26th century, who had originated on Earth, honoured ancient gods and conducted rituals. The Travellers used puterspace as a way to experience mystic realities without drugs. (PROSE: Love and War)
- At an unknown point in time, Ashildr cured a whole village of scarlet fever. However, they believed she was a witch and attempted to drown her. (TV: The Woman Who Lived)
- In March 1215, Turlough found himself locked up as a witch for supposedly conjuring up demons in the court of King John of England. (TV: The King's Demons)
- In July 1553, when Mistress Ellen and Queen Jane Grey witnessed Rani Chandra return to her own time via a time window, Ellen believed it witchcraft, but Jane believed Rani to have been an angel. (TV: Lost in Time)
- In June 1692, Susan Foreman found herself accused of witchcraft in Salem Village. (PROSE: The Witch Hunters)
- Peril Bellamy's ancestors, who like her possessed telekinesis, were sometimes mistaken for witches. Miss Tremayne overheard this fact and threatened her with a butcher's knife, as the Bible instructed not to allow witches to live. (AUDIO: Winter for the Adept)
- Martha Tyler knew the ancient traditions and posessed second sight because of the Fetch Priory's time fissure. Local gossips painted her as a witch. Locals deferred to her and called her Mother Tyler, as an symbolic sign of respect. A genuine coven of malign witches, led by occultist Maximillian Stael, also lived in the area and plotted to resurrect the Fendahl. (TV: Image of the Fendahl)
- Martha Tyler actually worked as an agent for Faction Paradox, sent to keep an eye on matters. (source?)
- The Third Doctor once encountered a peasant who had been sent to 1970s London by a time eddy. The peasant claimed that a witch cast a spell on him, he was going to tell the priest so he could have her burned. (TV: Invasion of the Dinosaurs)
- Sarah Jane Smith and K9 encountered witches who worshipped Hecate in 1981. (TV: A Girl's Best Friend)
- Though not precisely a witch, the Seeker appeared to serve a similar cultural function. (TV: The Ribos Operation)
- The Sycorax leader regarded the Doctor as a practitioner of witchcraft when he saw him regrow his hand after his cut it off. The Doctor told the Sycorax that he was a Time Lord. (TV: The Christmas Invasion)
- The Sycorax, not understanding their own stolen technology, such as blood control, might have regarded it as a form of witchcraft, though they used it themselves.
- The Carrionites were witch-like creatures who used voodoo and "spells" to kill their victims. They tried to overthrow the Earth, but they were stopped by William Shakespeare. (TV: The Shakespeare Code)
- Evil witches from throughout the universe held a gathering on the planet Vargo that was led by the Grand Witch. The Second Doctor posed as a wizard to scare off most of the witches, then dealt with the remaining Grand Witch. (COMIC: The Witches)
- These witches might be related to the Carrionites.
- On Talderun, a cult of witches led by Jal Dor Kal worshipped Shara's relic. These witches were all killed when the relic was removed and the temple collapsed. (AUDIO: Nekromanteia)