Throughout history, there have been many witches who have influenced the world. Some of them are well-known and others are not. Either way, they all deserve to be recognized for what they did in their time.
Not all of these famous witches actually considered themselves witches. Many were healers or village shamans, while others had no association with witchcraft and were simply accused.
However, all of these famous witches in history shaped witchcraft as we know it today. Plus, many modern witches call upon these famous witches and work with them to hone their craft!
22. Morgan Le Fay
Morgan is famous for being King Arthur’s half-sister and Merlin the wizard’s love interest. Morgan was also known to be a powerful witch, famous in British folklore. She cast spells on many infamous individuals, including her family members and Queen Guinevere. It has been said that she even tried to kill Arthur but failed.
Though we can’t prove that Morgan was real, she originated from Welsh mythology and is famous for being a witch in British folklore. The legend of Morgan is truly infamous.
Many modern day witches choose to call upon Morgan as a part of their practice, and she’s said to be quite helpful.
Aradia is a famous witch who was born in Tuscany, Italy. She’s also known as the Queen of Witches and her story says that she was a peasant girl who had an especially strong connection with nature.
The story of Aradia has been passed down through generations by oral tradition and there are many variations on this famous witches origin story. The tale usually follows Aradia as she was told that she is a divine goddess, which led her to the discovery of witchcraft.
Aradia became famous in England and America when Margaret Murray wrote about her in 1921 for The Witch Cult in Western Europe. In this book, Murray argued that Aradia was an incarnation of Diana who had come into the world on the eve of the Christian era to teach witches how to worship Diana.
Aradia’s story has inspired a lot of famous witches in history, like Gerald Gardner, who wrote about her and founded England’s Wiccan movement. He based his belief system on witchcraft as taught by Aradia.
One famous witchcraft rite that’s attributed to Aradia is the “Ritual of Diana, Goddess of Witches” which was published in 1916 by a man named Charles Leland. It describes how witches invoked and worshipped her while looking for love and good health.
While there’s not much information about this famous witch from history, legend says that she was a famous witch who had strong connections to nature, which was where her power came from.
20. Marie Laveau
Marie Laveau was famous for being the Voodoo queen of New Orleans in Louisiana, who practiced an Afro-Caribbean religion that combined elements of Catholicism and West African religions such as Dahomey or Yoruba. It is believed by some scholars that she might have been of Houma Native American heritage.
Marie was famous for her skills in mid-wifery and folk remedies, as well as magic spells including the famous Gris-gris bag to protect against enemies. She became wealthy by selling voodoo talismans and potions, which she claimed had been given to her by Saint Anne: a famous Catholic saint from the Bible.
Marie Laveau was born free in 1801, but she is believed to have been of mixed race heritage with one white and black parent.
In spite of her integration into New Orleans society, Marie was never accepted by white society and she suffered constant discrimination from people who looked down on her for being mixed-race. She also had to live with the stigma associated with Voodoo ceremonies which were often misunderstood as dark or evil.
Marie’s famous rivalry with another famous New Orleans voodoo queen named Anna, led to her arrest on suspicion of practicing witchcraft in 1832. She was later released and continued to practice voodoo openly until she died at the age of 80.
Nowadays, Marie Laveau is known as one of the most famous witches in history. Many witches work with Marie Laveau – she is said to be kind yet stern and can be incredibly helpful to those who are beginning to learn about the craft! Marie Laveau is especially celebrated during Samhain.
19. Mother Shipton
Mother Shipton was born in England but spent most of her life as a traveling soothsayer. She is well-known for predicting many significant events including the Great Fire of London and World War I (although she never predicted when it would happen).
She also had an old prophecy that said: “When witches go riding, and Black Dogs appear, The night shall be filled with terror.” This was written in the 16th century but it has been interpreted to refer to both the Great Plague and World War II.
She is said also to have predicted that men would walk on the moon before she died which came true in 1969 when Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon.
Mother Shipton is an influential famous witch who deserves to be remembered for her predictions and prophecies that came true!
18. La Voisin
One of the most notorious famous witches in history is La Voisin. She was a French sorceress who was accused and convicted for selling magic to King Louis XIV, which he used against his wife Queen Marie-Thérèse among others.
She met with her clients on Tuesdays (the day before the full moon) at nightfall, where they would meet in a dark street and she would teach them how to make love potions.
She was executed by being burned alive for her crimes on the Place du Vieux-Marche, Parisian market place.
La Voisin is one of the most influential famous witches because of her effect on history.
17. Grigori Rasputin
Grigori Rasputin is famous for being the Russian mystic who was linked to Tsar Nicholas’s family and a major figure in Russian politics.
His influence among high ranking officials grew prodigiously until Felix Yusupov killed him on December 16th, 1916. He is purported to have had an interest in doing so because he felt Rasputin was a threat to the Tsar’s marriage.
In some ways, Rasputin is considered a witch because he was famous for his ability to heal people. It’s said that he bewitched the Tsarina, who relied on him to heal her son’s blood disease, though she also took political advice from him.
16. Alice Kyteler
Alice Kyteler was a famous witch during the 1200s. She had been accused of being a witch and practicing witchcraft with her husband, William Outlawe in Kilkenny, Ireland for more than 20 years.
The accusations began when Alice’s daughter married John le Poer who was under suspicion by King Edward I as an enemy to his throne. He sent the two to trial where Alice and her husband were both found guilty of sorcery, heresy, devil worship, and necromancy.
Her daughter was also on trial for witchcraft but she managed to escape before she could be tried.
Alice Kyteler is famous because this accusation against her led King Edward I as well as English Lords to believe that the Kyteler family had all practiced black magic and sorcery. One of Edward’s famous quotes was, “All manner of things happened according as they wished it.”
Whether or not Alice Kyteler was actually a witch, she’s certainly one of the most famous witches in history because her trials influenced Irish culture to such a large degree.
15. Gerald Gardner
Gerald Gardner was an influential magician and notable author in the 1900s who lived in England. He is famous for founding and developing what became known as the ‘modern’ or Wiccan religion.
Although Gerald Gardner’s teachings were controversial, he created a religion that is immensely popular today.
14. Agnes Sampson
Agnes Sampson was famous for being a witch and having attempted to kill her husband.
In 1590, Agnes’s neighbors suspected she had bewitched their children after they were found with symptoms of paralysis, convulsions, vomiting in fits that left them unable to eat or drink anything except milk. The physicians could not find a medical explanation for the children’s condition and instead suspected that Agnes was a witch.
Agnes Sampson confessed to being a white witch, but not practicing witchcraft in her neighborhood. She also said she had never seen or communed with Satan, only God who sent her messages through angels Gabriel and Michael.
She was found guilty of witchcraft by the Court of Oyer and Terminer in 1692.
13. Laurie Cabot
Laurie Cabot is famous for being one of the most famous witches in America. She has been practicing witchcraft since she was 13 years old and now she’s over 70!
Her house is modeled as a full-time coven, which means that there are always people who are working to learn about different forms of magic. They live together as a group and they practice rituals together. Cabot is famous for her annual Botanical Witchcraft Conference, which has been going on since 1997.
Laurie Cabot lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband. She’s famous for a lot of different reasons including being the “Grand Poobah” or head witch at The Witches’ League for Public Awareness.
Cabot has had a lot of famous witches that she’s taught and mentored, including Sybil Leek! She also wrote the book “How to Be a Wicked Witch,” which is about different types of witchcraft in America.
Check out Laurie Cabot’s books here.
12. Merga Bien
Merga Bien was a famous witch in ancient Egypt. She is often credited with inventing the first system of writing, although this may just be an exaggeration and Merga could have been one of many people who contributed to its development.
An accomplished magician, Merga had many famous spells attributed to her, including one for making beer. It’s more likely though that she is not actually credited with inventing any specific spells at all but rather famous for her impressive knowledge of ancient Egyptian beliefs.
Merga is often depicted as a woman with the headdress worn by high priests and priestesses, which suggests that she was an important figure in ancient Egyptian society.
She may have been worshipped alongside other famous human beings such as Imhotep or Nefertiti due to her famous reputation as a magician and inventor.
11. Dion Fortune
Dion Fortune, born Violet Mary Firth in 1890 and died in 1946, was a famous witch who lived during the 20th century.
She also had many famous spells attributed to her name such as “The Devouring Flame of Desire” which she used to help women with their love lives. In addition, Dion Fortune is famous for inventing the famous “Ritual of Transcendental Protection” which was a way to protect practitioners during magical ceremonies.
She also founded an occult school called The Society for Psychical Research, and worked as a hypnotherapist in addition to her other famous professions.
In 1920 she wrote the famous book “The Mystical Qabalah” which was a famous text on magic.
Dion Fortune is one of the most famous witches in history and has helped to shape spiritual practices that persist today.
Learn more about Dion Fortune’s books here.
10. Isobel Gowdie
Isobel Gowdie was a famous witch who lived in Scotland during the 17th century. She confessed to practicing witchcraft under torture and since her trial, she is now often considered one of the most important witches in history.
The confessions were written down by Isobel’s interrogator Father John Kelly, which experts believe to be the first recorded account of a witch trial in Scotland.
Isobel was famous for her ability to cast spells and prophecy, as well as being able to tell fortunes by looking into people’s tea cups or reading their palms.
She is sometimes known as ‘Isobel Long-beard’ for her long, white hair.
Isobel also believed in shapeshifting and transmutation of the soul – the belief that witches can transform into animals at will.
9. Malin Matsdotter
Malin Matsdotter was a famous Swedish witch and healer. Her dates are unknown, but she’s been linked to around the 13th century AD. She is one of Sweden’s most famous witches in history due to her role as an influential figure.
Malins story starts with some disagreement between farmers about their land boundaries. The disagreement led to a fight, where one farmer died from being stabbed. Malin was called in for help by the family of the deceased and she used her magic powers to summon a demon who killed the other man with his own knife.
She would also use healing spells on people affected by various illnesses such as epilepsy, tuberculosis, and vomiting.
8. Scott Cunningham
Scott Cunningham is famous for publishing books on Wicca. He has published two best-sellers: “Wiccan Roots” and “Earth Power.”
He was also a founder of the New England School of Occult Arts and Science, which he ran with his wife Sheila Kelley from 1974 to 1986.
In 1985, he went into seclusion and began to work on his final book, “Living Wicca.” Sadly, he died before it was published.
Today, Scott Cunningham’s books are used by many witches and students of spirituality. Check out his works here.
7. Moll Dyer
Moll Dyer was famous for the spells she cast against her husband’s opponents.
Her most famous work was casting a spell on General George Washington to cause his defeat in battle with Great Britain during the American Revolution. It is said that he lost because of “the evil eye.”
However, Moll Dyer was also known for casting spells on behalf of famous individuals who either wanted an added layer of protection for their families, or for people who wanted to make the object of their desire love them.
Tituba was famous for being the slave of Reverend Samuel Parris in Salem, MA.
She became famous when she was accused of witchcraft and leading other slaves to come up with a plan against their masters during the Mass Witch Trials.
Before that time, Tituba had been famous locally as an indigenous healer; therefore many people were shocked to hear her name come up as a suspected witch.
During the trials, Tituba confessed to being a “witch” under pressure from Reverend Samuel Parris because he wanted someone to blame for his daughter Betty’s illness.
She said she had signed the devil’s book – but later retracted her confession after being beaten.
She was then whipped, shackled and held in jail for several months until she finally escaped with assistance from Reverend Parris’ daughter Elizabeth.
Tituba returned to her old home in Barbados where it is believed she stayed until she died.
Because of the influence of the Salem Witch Trials on today’s witchcraft, Tituba is known as one of the most famous witches in history, whether she actually considered herself a witch or simply a healer.
In Greek mythology, Circe was a famous sorceress who lived in the island of Aeaea and turned many visitors into animals.
She is known for her role in Homer’s Odyssey as providing hospitality to Odysseus and his crew while they were lost on their way home from Troy, but she also has an extensive history of being mentioned in other famous works.
From the Bible’s Book of Daniel to Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Circe is a famous witch that has been in many famous stories through different genres and time periods.
Circe had the ability to turn people into animals with her magic, and she frequently did so when they came to visit on the island of Aeaea. Nowadays, many witches work with Circe and worship her as a dark goddess of magic.
4. Rebecca Nurse
During the Salem Witch Trials, Rebecca Nurse was famous for being accused of witchcraft and found guilty in court.
Despite the testimonies from those who knew her, she wasn’t afraid to stand up against the Connecticut judges and tell them that they were wrong about her.
When it came time for sentencing, Judge Danforth refused to put a woman on death row who had never been convicted of a crime. Instead, he ordered her to wear an A on her clothes so that everyone would know she was not guilty and had been falsely accused.
Rebecca Nurse is famous for being one of the few witches in history who wasn’t punished by death because she stood up against her accusers in court.
3. Malin Matsdotter
Malin Matsdotter was born in the early 16th century and is famous for being accused of sorcery by King Erik XIV.
Malin’s family managed to escape, but she herself was not so lucky. She died a prisoner at the tender age of 18 years old because her relatives would not risk trying to save her from captivity.
Though Malin Matsdotter is mainly famous for being the youngest woman ever to be executed in Sweden, she is also rumored to have been a powerful healer.
2. The Witch of Endor
One of the oldest famous witches in history, the Witch of Endor is actually talked about in the Bible. She is famous for raising the spirit of the prophet Samuel, who was dead.
We first learn about the Witch of Endor in the book of 1 Samuel in the 28th chapter. King Saul instructed her to raise Samuel from the dead, in order to gain advice in battle from Samuel.
While other accounts say that God is actually the one who raised Samuel’s spirit, the Witch of Endor is typically the one referenced. She is one of the first famous witches in history to be recognized.
1. Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley (born Edward Alexander Crowley) was an English occultist, ceremonial magician and poet.
He founded the religion of Thelema, identifying himself as the prophet entrusted with guiding humanity into the Æon of Horus in the early 20th century. A prolific writer, he published widely over the course of his life.
Crowley was also famous for being a mountaineer and explorer, having traveled in India, Asia, North America and Europe as well as Mexico with several important first ascents to his credit. He died after falling from a platform on which he had been standing while holding open an umbrella to protect him from the rain.
Today, Crowley is known as the father of modern witchcraft and spirituality. His books provide a theoretical basis that explains much about energy and how spells actually work.
If you’re struggling to understand why magic works or are questioning if witchcraft is real, I definitely recommend that you start with Crowley!