The History of the Witch Doctor

I have for the longest time always thought that in a past life I must have been a witch doctor. Even as a kid I used to love going into my mother’s spice racks and making up potions and concoctions (sorry mum).

I would take them out into the garden and pour them on the plants and the grass. Looking back, I had no idea what I was really doing and at the time, I just used to love ‘cooking’ things. I would pluck flowers and leaves and put them all in with my spice mix and some water and pretend I had my own cooking show.

In fact, even to this day I am a proud member of the Facebook group “Pretending You’re the Host of a Cooking Show When you are Home Alone Cooking.”

My first real exposure to anything remotely ‘witchy’ came from pop culture. My older sister was always enamoured with witches from the green wicked witch of the west and even Roald Dahl’s famous book, ‘ The Witches’.

I always thought of a witch being an evil woman with a pointy black hat and a wart on the end of her long nose but witches in fact were nothing more than herbalists.

On a recent trip to Salem, I learnt that the idea that witches were green came from the fact that they were always out in the garden tending to their herbs. Even today we commonly use the expression ‘green thumb’ when talking about those who are savvy in the garden.

The idea of the broomstick also came to be as a common folklore tradition was to jump up and down in the garden holding a garden tool to promote fertility and a luscious crop.


During the patriarchal times when paganism was outlawed, only men were permitted to be doctors. Healthcare became increasingly expensive for villagers and so they sought out these herbalists for treatments. Jealous and annoyed that these women were taking their business, they set out to destroy them.

They painted horrible pictures of these women and threatened to hang them if they were caught practicing herbalism.

They scared the locals against these ‘witches’ and many were hung to death for practicing herbal medicine.

Today being a witch is associated with the religion of Wicca which has practices very similar to that of a herbalist.

Herbal medicine is now a widely accepted practice, although there are still a few organizations- ie. the pharmaceutical industry, that will do anything to stop herbal medicine from becoming more widely known.

In fact you can even get your degree in Herbal Medicine, something I myself set out to do.

I did end up dropping out (sorry mum again), but that’s a whole other story….

While I don’t have my degree or any qualification other than the innate abilities that perhaps stem from another life or perhaps even my blood line, I still have a little cupboard filled with potions and lotions and concoctions and knock-on-wood, I haven’t used mainstream medicine in a very, very long time.

Disclaimer: I am a horrible flyer and suffer from bad motion sickness. I have tried every herbal supplement and homeopathic remedy on the market but those 16 hour flights from Australia to the US are brutal and the only thing that works for me is Dramamine. So yes, I do take that! Hey, Western medicine has it’s place too 🙂 

About the author

Tanaaz

Creator of Forever Conscious and other things.