Ancestors Miscellaneous

Hereditary Witches: The Long Line of Witches Claim & The Truth

Before saying whether the hereditary witch exists or not, we have to define the term “hereditary witch”. According to Wikipedia, a hereditary witch is someone who is “born into a tradition of esoteric origin.” Basically, a hereditary witch inherits practice from generations before (mother, grandmother, aunt, etc.) Debate continues as to whether the tradition is passed down over a few or MANY generations or whether the tradition has to be defined (by the family) or not.

Hereditary Witchcraft: Stregheria, Romanian, and Other Familial Traditions

Today we hop online in a FaceBook Group and see people referring to themselves as “hereditary witches”. And that they come from a “long line of witches”. I’m not saying this can’t happen, because it does. What I’m saying is this labelis often a means of fluffing up egos rather than being truth in many cases. I was introduced to witchcraft by a family member, but I don’t go around claiming I’m a hereditary witch. There are indeed familial witchcraft traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation in certain cultures and families. So what are some of the hereditary witchcraft traditions we know of?

Italian Hereditary Witchcraft Traditions

An Italian form of witchcraft called Stregoneria is passed down from generation to generation in Italian and Southern European families. You may have heard the term “stregheria” which is a close (but more modern) form of Stregoneria. The difference between the two is Stregoneria is more geared towards Catholic folk magic than modern day Witchcraft religion. However, much of the magical practices are the same and so these terms are often confused and can even overlap. Another form of Italian hereditary witchcraft is called Benedicaria, of whose practitioners claim devout Catholicism with folk magic mixed in. If you go to Italy and ask them what they call their practice, most say it’s just what they’ve always done.

Romanian Nomadic Hereditary Witchcraft

In a land mostly spared from the Inquisition and Witch Trials, Romanian hereditary traditions have almost all remained intact. Watch the eye-opening and intriguing video below of REAL modern Romanian hereditary witches.

American Hereditary Witchcraft Traditions

There are magical traditions handed down from family member to family member in the United States to this day. Some include Appalachian folk magic (Granny magic), Ozark folk magic, Hoodoo, Irish American folk magic, and more. Every American has been taught at least a little folk magic, but this alone doesn’t mean you’re a hereditary witch. It takes more than just owning a rabbit’s foot or hanging a horseshoe to make one a hereditary witch. Which leads us to the next section…

What truly constitutes a Hereditary Witchcraft Tradition?

In terms of genetics, hereditary means passed on from the parents to their offspring. We can look at hereditary witchcraft in the same light – a tradition that’s passed down through generations. Technically, it only requires two generations to be called hereditary witchcraft. SO if your mom, grandmother, aunt, uncle, etc. taught you witchcraft or folk magic, then you could claim hereditary witchcraft as a tradition.

The Confusion

HOWEVER, I believe this is where many people get mixed up. Hereditary witchcraft is a robust (and unique to the family) set of traditions, practices, and beliefs. This doesn’t mean (as said previously) that ONE folk magic practice or even two makes you a hereditary witch. There should be MANY. Otherwise, we could say everyone is a witch as nearly everyone has practiced some form of folk magic (think lucky charms, holidays, etc.) Now, if your grandmother taught you how to use herbs to heal and make magic, taught you how to cleanse the air in the house, and told you folk stories of her ancestors’, among other magical customs, you could DEFINITELY claim hereditary witchcraft.

The Long Line of Witches Claim

As much as I believe in ancestor work and folk traditions, it’s hard for me to believe all the people who claim the “long line” of witches. I’m sure they exist, but not in the numbers we see online. Particularly if you live in the United States, because most of our ancestors came here from Europe for religious freedom to practice Protestant religions. And while even those Puritans had a few folk magic practices, most of them lived staunch lives under strict dogmatic rules. So, if there are Americans from “long lines of witches”, they are rare and maybe come from a Hoodoo or Native American tradition moreso than a Puritan Colonial ancestral tradition.

Hereditary witches are taught MULTIPLE folk magic practices and beliefs by an elder family member.
Hereditary witches are taught MULTIPLE folk magic practices and beliefs by an elder family member.

If you read your history…

Some want to deny hereditary witchcraft traditions that include Christianity in any of its aspects. BUT you’ll also notice how even the magical traditions that have survived the longest in the United States weave Christian practices and beliefs into their customs. For example, Hoodoo often uses Biblical verses in uncrossings, healings, and even curses. Hoodoo practitioners will also call upon the aid of Saints from the Catholic tradition to aid in magical workings. Any surviving Native American traditions might also have Christian beliefs woven in because of the pressure the Colonials put on the Natives to convert. So no matter if the hereditary witch believes in Jesus or Hecate, if a folk magic practice with MULTIPLE magical customs and beliefs is passed down from one generation to the next – it could be considered hereditary witchcraft.

We All Have Witch Ancestors!

If we really want to get down into the nitty-gritty of family trees, we’d realize that everyone has a witch, midwife, occultist, or water witch somewhere in our family trees. Think about how many people have lived over the years whose blood is in your veins. Chances are – you descend from witches somewhere in your family tree! So, if we want to get really technical, we could all say we descend from witch ancestors! To learn more about how to find witch ancestors in your family tree, click here.

To wrap it up…

I’d have to say that I definitely believe hereditary witchcraft traditions exist. BUT I don’t believe all of the people claiming it online. As I said before, I was introduced to witchcraft by an older family member, BUT I don’t claim hereditary witchcraft as my tradition because I was never taught folk magic practices or beliefs by an elder in the family…I learned my practices and beliefs on my own through books, nature, and experience. Do I have witch ancestors? Yes. But to tell people I’m from a long line of witches would mean my mother’s mother’s mother started the tradition and it’s been passed down consistently since. There’s a difference.

I think we need to be more careful when swinging the word “hereditary witch” around. To me, it’s the same as claiming you’re a modern day “guru” or “ascended master”. If you have to tell everyone you are such and such thing, the reality is…you’re probably not. Let’s put our egos aside and learn from one another without waving around arrogant labels. That’s all I’m going to say.

Read More about Ancestral Witchcraft:

7 Comments

  1. Alyssa

    June 3, 2020 at 9:06 pm

    I usually really enjoy your articles but you seem to have a very large bias against hereditary witchcraft. People could practice their craft at home and still go to Church and even hold some christian beliefs and still be a witch. Like you say countless times, being a witch is something you decide. My family kept journals for generations detailing potions and how most women posses the sight. If you goggled us however you would not know any of this. To all the young witches on here, go somewhere else for your searching about other hereditary witches.

    1. admin

      June 5, 2020 at 12:11 pm

      Wow! I’d LOVE to see those magical journals with potions and thoughts on the sight.

    2. admin

      June 5, 2020 at 12:16 pm

      Alyssa, one more thing – did you read my entire article? I clearly say you can be Christian or Catholic etc. and still be a hereditary witch. The whole point to this article is to say that this term is used often as a means to fluff up people’s egos instead of having actual truth behind it.

  2. Ellen

    February 2, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    Hi- I really enjoy your articles and find them informative. I wanted to respond to your reference to those whose ancestors came to America were Protestants and Catholics who were running from persecution in Europe….while some were, many were not. People were sent to the colonies to avoid debter prison and various other things…..just like Australia takes pride in being born from the prisons of England. The colonies offered wealthy traders and land owners a fabulous opportunity for cheap labor…slaves were only one group forced to work in the fields. America has a dark history and just because we “ claim” all things puritanical…it doesn’t mean that many families didn’t practice home magic at home and went to church on Sunday.

    1. admin

      February 4, 2019 at 12:09 pm

      Ellen – OH, wow! Thank you for educating me. And you’re absolutely right, there were more than likely multiple reasons people came to the U.S.

    2. Doris

      January 28, 2020 at 2:49 pm

      Hello, I find your article informative, but there is one thing that I don’t agree with. I am romanian, I watched the video above with romanian witches 2 years ago and it is true, there are witches doing thar sort of magic in my country, but they are gyspy. Please do not mistake romanian with gypsy, and their magic. They are very powerfull, and they can be found around europe. Everybody knows gypsy people are nomads. So, romanian are not hereditary witches, just some of them, and those who are, are mixed with gypsy’s, or other european witches. Romanian do not practice witchcraft ( even tho I wish they did), they pay witches to do their bidding. Thank you 😁

  3. Is Witchcraft In Your Blood? 15 Signs You Come From A Family of Witches

    February 1, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    […] Because of the Witch Trials and the forced conversion of our pagan ancestors to Christianity, many of the old magical families either hid their abilities and beliefs, denied them, or simply forgot them over time. You may come from a family of witches and not even know it! Is witchcraft in your blood? Here’s 15 signs you come from a family of witches. […]

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