This lecture discusses the transformation of the 'white witch' into a malevolent female figure from ancient times onward.

Throughout the Bible, we find attestations of women who were engaged in divinatory and magical practices. Most of these female figures could be popularly described as 'white witches', who used magic for healing, divining and other benign purposes, but they are cast in a negative light in the Bible itself or in its reception history afterwards.

The same phenomenon occurs elsewhere in the Ancient Near East, for instance in Mesopotamian literature, where the figure of the 'white witch' was side-lined and subsequently dehumanised and demonised.

History tends to repeat itself because a similar development took place many centuries later in Europe during the early modern witch-hunts, when mostly female practitioners of beneficial magic were accused of performing malefic witchcraft, with devastating consequences.

In this talk, we look at this recurring literary and historical phenomenon in more detail and discuss its continuous impact.

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About Dr Alinda Damsma

Image of course leader Alinda Damsma Dr Alinda Damsma lectures on ancient Semitic languages and is the Deputy Head of the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University College London (UCL).
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