Forty six male physicians, surgeons, and apothecaries are named in court transcripts or other contemporary source materials relating to New England witchcraft.
These practitioners served on coroners' inquests, performed autopsies, took testimony, issued writs, wrote letters, or committed people to prison, in addition to diagnosing and treating patients.
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Witchcraft or witchery broadly means the practice of and belief in magical skills and abilities exercised by solitary practitioners and groups.
Witchcraft is a broad term that varies culturally and societally, and thus can be difficult to define with precision, The concept of witchcraft and the belief in its existence have persisted throughout recorded history.
They have been present or central at various times and in many diverse forms among cultures and religions worldwide, including both "primitive" and "highly advanced" cultures, Scientifically, the existence of magical powers and witchcraft are generally believed to lack credence and to be unsupported by high quality experimental testing, although individual witchcraft practices and effects may be open to scientific explanation or explained via mentalism and psychology.
Historians of European witchcraft have found the anthropological definition difficult to apply to European and British witchcraft, where witches could equally use (or be accused of using) physical techniques, as well as some who really had attempted to cause harm by thought alone.
Historically the witchcraft label has been applied to practices people believe influence the mind, body, or property of others against their will—or practices that the person doing the labeling believes undermine social or religious order.
Some modern commentators believe the malefic nature of witchcraft is a Christian projection.
The concept of a magic-worker influencing another person's body or property against their will was clearly present in many cultures, as traditions in both folk magic and religious magic have the purpose of countering malicious magic or identifying malicious magic users.
HIV/AIDS are two examples of often-lethal infectious disease epidemics whose medical care and containment has been severely hampered by regional beliefs in witchcraft.
Other severe medical conditions whose treatment is hampered in this way include tuberculosis, leprosy, epilepsy and the common severe bacterial Buruli ulcer.
This culminated in deaths, torture and scapegoating (casting blame for human misfortune), and many years of large scale witch-trials and witch hunts, especially in Protestant Europe, before largely ceasing during the European Age of Enlightenment.