|“||No, it could be anyone. Neighbor, coworker, man, woman. That's the problem, Dean - they're human, they're like everyone else.||”|
A witch is a person who is learned in witchcraft. A witch can be either female or male, as they commune with the natural forces and channel them in order to practice magic. Witches can be extremely long lived and very powerful.
Humans who practice magical powers are often called "witches." The origin of witchcraft remains unknown; however, it is believed that witches have existed since the beginning of humanity, passing down their knowledge and skills through generations of family lines. Contrary to popular belief, not all witches receive their magic from demons, nor do they worship the devil. Some witches, such as wiccans (e.g. Nora Havelock), receive their power from nature and practice their witchcraft however they saw fit. Depending upon the individual, some witches practice their power by certain belief systems, such as Hoodoo, Voodoo, Wicca, or any number of other magical practices from countries and cultures all around the world.
Some witches also have a companion known as a familiar who can appear in either animal or human form. When a witch dies, willow moss is said to grow on the graves, making them easily identifiable to hunters.
According to the Grand Coven, as described by Rowena MacLeod, there are three recognized kinds of witch in the world: the most common are the Borrowers; secondly, and rarest of all, are the Naturals; and the third are the Students.
The term "Borrower" is used to define those who harnesses the power of a demon in order to practice witchcraft. These witches are known to have summoned demons and made deals with them in exchange for power. While it is common for these witches to have traded their souls for power, it has been implied that not all Borrowers sell their souls, but rather promise the demon something else of value. Unlike humans who sell their souls to Crossroad Demons, Borrowers do not appear to have a time limit on their deals as the Borrower Witch mentioned living a very long life and only expecting to go to Hell when she was dying of an unknown condition. In this witch's case, her powers took the form of a ring that enabled her to cast powerful spells. By passing the ring onto another witch, she passed on her powers and the deal with the demon and as such, believed that it would save her soul from being condemned to Hell by the deal she had made. Max Banes was able to use the witch's power to resurrect his sister Alicia Banes as a Twigs and Twine doll, but in doing so had to utilize the witch's magic and so condemned himself to Hell for taking on her power even though Max himself was a natural witch.
- Known Borrowers
- Amanda Burns (unknowingly, deceased)
- Borrower Witch (deceased)
- Elizabeth Higgins (unknowingly, deceased)
- Renee Van Allen (unknowingly, deceased)
- Ruby (formerly, deceased)
The term "Natural" is used to define any witch who is born with a predisposition towards practicing magic. Not much is known about these witches apart from the fact that they are known to have an innate affinity to accessing certain supernatural powers of the universe. It has been implied that being born of a natural witch doesn't necessarily make that individual one as well; for example, Max Banes was a natural witch like his mother, but his sister, Alicia, was not.
- Known Naturals
The term "Student" is used to define those with no natural ability who, with enough practice and training, and a Grand Coven-approved mentor to show them the path, can eke out a modicum of witchly power. While these witches are commonly known to have been taught about witchcraft from other witches, it has been implied that some are self-taught.
- Known Students
- Charlie (deceased)
- Gary Frankle
- Nora Havelock
- James Frampton
- Spencer Wallis (deceased)
- Trevor (deceased)
Witches who are in this section are unknown as to where they draw their magic from, and cannot be classified as either a Borrower, a Natural or a Student witch as of now in the series.
- Agnes (deceased)
- Boyd Loughlin (deceased)
- Broomhilda (deceased)
- Catriona Loughlin (deceased)
- Charisse (deceased)
- Clea (deceased)
- Clea's Friends (deceased)
- Delta Mendota (unknown)
- Don Harding (deceased)
- Don Stark
- Emily (deceased)
- Gideon Loughlin (deceased)
- Katja (deceased)
- Letitia di Albioni (unknown)
- Lia (deceased)
- Jacinda (deceased)
- Jamie Plum (deceased)
- Jennie Plum (deceased)
- Magda (The Bad Seed) (deceased)
- Magda (Unhuman Nature)
- Maggie Briggs (deceased)
- Maggie Stark
- Melodie (deceased)
- Mrs. Plum (deceased)
- Nadia (deceased)
- Sonja (deceased)
- Thomasin (deceased)
- Three Unnamed Witches (deceased)
- Tracy Davis (deceased)
- Witch Mother (deceased)
The Grand Coven is a council of witches who ruled and controlled the affairs of witches and guarded the lore. However, the Grand Coven and the witch community is now greatly weakened, after many years of attacks and witch hunts coupled with an organized effort by the Men of Letters to plunder them of their spell books and records, which they hid in various spell-guarded bunkers around the world. According to Olivette, witch-on-witch murder is anathema to the community.
A coven is a community or gathering of witches who commonly gather together for celebrations of holidays, ceremonies of worship, practices of witchcraft, and more. According to Clea, it takes at least three witches working together in close proximity to form a coven; Rowena refered to just herself and Clea as a "witches' den" instead. Covens normally seem to have a high priest or priestess acting as their leader.
According to Rowena, each coven has its own set of laws and punishments created by the leader(s) of that group.
- Known Covens
- Book Club (disbanded)
- Gary's Coven (disbanded)
- The Community
- The Grand Coven
- Mega Coven (disbanded)
- Loughlin Family (extinct)
Powers and Abilities
According to Bobby Singer, the power of a witch is not only dependent on the source of their magic, but also on their knowledge and training in witchcraft, and Rowena strongly implies there are differences of power among them, as she claims witches of sisters Plum's level would not be able to make good use of Black Grimoire in its totality. For example, whereas novice witches may struggle to defend themselves from human attackers (i.e. the Book Club was easily intimidated by Sam Winchester who threatened to shoot the women if they didn't stop the hex that was placed on his brother), more experienced witches have been known to overpower some of the most powerful creatures in existence (i.e. Don Stark nonchalantly stunned a leviathan whereas Rowena MacLeod has immobilized the archangel Lucifer). By joining together, witches can increase their magical strength, as seen when Rowena used the power of five witches to attack Amara.
- Spell Casting - The power to change and control events through the use of incantations and/or ritualistic gestures. Witches can access various supernatural powers via spells such as:
- Astral Projection - The power to separate from one's body and project the spirit to another location.
- Chronokinesis - Rowena mentioned going back in time using a spell from the Book of the Damned.
- Conjuration - Spells that magically create objects seemingly out of nothingness. Such spells can be used to conjure various objects (e.g. maggots, blood, needles, razors, or even hearts), through a hex.
- Elemental Manipulation - The power to control and manipulate the elements of air, earth, fire and water.
- Electrokinesis - Some to a degree.
- Energy Blasts - James Frampton and Spencer Wallis were able to launch a blast of magical energy at each other.
- Healing - Rowena was able to heal the Darkness' vessel. She was also able to cure Oskar of a terminal illness and use a healing spell to close the Rupture to Hell by in effect healing the wound.
- Hexing and Cursing - Witches have the ability to hex and curse others. Spells such as these affect an object or person in a negative manner; hexes cause major inconvenience to the target, while curses are truly malevolent acts of magic.
- Illusions - The power to alter the senses of others to perceive a false reality.
- Immobilization - The power to immobilize a person in place through a spell.
- Immortality - Via spells, witches can gain immortality.
- Invulnerability - Powerful witches have displayed invulnerability to conventional forms of harm, with one scoffing at the idea of a bullet being used against her and the Plum sisters doing the same.
- Longevity - The power to live hundreds, possibly thousands of years while maintaining a youthful, even beautiful appearance.
- Mind Control - The power to control and manipulate the behavior and thoughts of others.
- Memory Manipulation - The power to take away memories from people and/or place false ones.
- Molecular Combustion - Through a spell, Rowena was able to cause three witches to combust into blood and ash.
- Necromancy - The act of controlling and manipulating death. This is inclusive of undead creatures such as zombies.
- Portal Creation - Using a ritual from the Demon Tablet, one witch displayed the ability to open a rift to another reality.
- Power Granting - Rowena was able to grant Oskar immortality. Katja was also able to grant Hansel immortality as well.
- Reality Warping - Some, to a limited extent.
- Resurrection - Rowena resurrected herself with a spell. Agnes was able to create a resurrection spell that she placed in the Book of the Damned that required a lot of power to perform and the dead person's body, but otherwise only required fairly common ingredients. Using a spell created by Rowena, Sam was able to resurrect Eileen Leahy.
- Scrying - Using crystals, mirrors, or prisms, witches are able to find whoever they want, although the spell is easier to perform if the witch knows the appearance of, or possesses an object belonging to, the person they seek.
- Spell Creation - Powerful witches have shown the ability to create their own spells. Agnes created the Necromantiorum, a resurrection spell, in order to bring back her friends who died in prison. Rowena was able to created Defigere Et Depurgare, a spell for killing demons and Sanetur Acre Vulnus, a healing spell powerful enough to close the Rupture to Hell created by God himself through in effect healing the wound that the rupture was. Rowena was able to create a resurrection spell capable of bringing a dead soul back from the dead by turning the spirit into flesh.
- Super Strength - Empowered by spells, witches can be endowed with superhuman strength.
- Telekinesis - The power to move objects and persons through mental influence.
- Teleportation (limited) - The act of disappearing from one location and instantly reappearing in another location through supernatural means. Witches can gain the power to teleport if they are powerful enough.
- Warding - The power to place protection spells and wards on places and people, shielding them from harm.
- Potion Brewing - The power to brew and concoct potions, remedies and elixirs that have supernatural properties.
- Distraction - Preventing a witch from concentrating or giving full attention to their spells, may render them ineffective.
- Emotion - According to Rowena, one of the cardinal rules of magic is that disposition affects execution; this implies that performing spells correctly demands a certain frame of mind.
- Iron - A hard and strong magnetic metal that is able to repress the supernatural power of a witch, supposedly rendering them powerless. However, some magic can still be practiced while cuffed to iron, as Rowena was still able to cast the Mark of Cain Removal Spell while still cuffed.
- Magic - Despite being noted for their use of magic, witches are still susceptible to the effects of magic. This is inclusive of mystical objects such as the First Blade and Death's Scythe.
- Witch-killing Spell - There exists spells and potions that can kill witches, even when they are protected through powerful magic.
- Witch-killing Bullets - Invented by Sam Winchester, witch-killing bullets are a type of hollow-point tipped bullets that have been injected with "witch-killing brew." The ingredients of the "brew" are not known, other than it requires fresh chicken feet. Unlike the normal spell, the bullets don't cause the witch to disintegrate, but have the same effect as regular bullets, killing witches who would be otherwise invulnerable to a bullet or any other regular weapon. The bullet casings are engraved with a capital W to identify them.
- Power Sealing - The Grand Coven cast a binding spell which limited aspects of Rowena's magic. There was a page in the Black Grimoire that documented a ritual to reverse this.
- Witch-killing Spell - There exists spells and potions that can kill witches, even when they are protected through powerful magic.
- Mortality - Despite their mystical attributes, witches are still human and share many of the same weaknesses as non-supernatural beings (e.g. age, blood loss, decapitation, disease, heart-failure, incineration, suffocation, snapped neck, etc.). However, it is known that especially skilled witches can overcome these weaknesses through powerful magic.
- Overexertion - The excessive use of magic could lead to fatigue, unconsciousness, the depletion of one's reserves of power, and if taken to the extreme, death.
- Witchcatcher - A witchcatcher is a device used to restrain witches, most were thought to be destroyed after the Inquisition. The witchcatcher is a large iron collar with seven spikes affixed to the inside of the collar. Once affixed to a witch's neck, the witch is forced to do the bidding of whoever is in control of it.
- The First Blade - When Crowley wanted to give the Winchesters the First Blade to kill Cain, Rowena described the First Blade as a weapon that can kill them all.
Common Arsenal and Tools
- Amulets - An object that is normally enchanted for a magical effect.
- Athames - A ceremonial dagger with a double-edged blade that is commonly used to direct energy.
- Candles - A block of solid wax with an embedded wick that is commonly lit during spells and rituals.
- Cauldrons - A large metal pot that is commonly used to hold the ingredients for elixirs and potions.
- Coins - Used by witches to focus the power of a spell.
- Crystals, prisms or mirrors - They are necessary to perform scrying spells.
- Grimoire - Witches often utilize tomes documented with magical recipes, rituals, and spells. There exists several note worthy spell books, such as the Book of Shadows, Amanda's grimoire, Charlie's grimoire, Gary's Witchcraft Book, the Book of Spells, the Book of the Damned, Sonja's spellbook, the Black Grimoire and Rowena's journals.
- Herbs - Various flora used as ingredients to be incorporated into spells or potions.
- Hex Bags - A charm composed of a mixture of herbs, talismans, and other supernatural ingredients, placed in a piece of cloth and bound with leather. It is used to bring about a specific effect – usually, but not always, malicious. A hex bag intended to harm someone also contains a personal belonging of the intended victim (usually clothing).
- Stones - Various minerals and ores used to boost or bind a witch's spell.
- Symbols/Sigils - Seals drawn or written used as physical representations of spells.
- Voodoo Dolls - Used by Emily to threaten Sam Winchester in one occasion, Rowena was also seen to own one more than once.
- Season 1
- Season 3
- Season 4
- Season 5
- Season 7
- Season 8
- Season 10
- Season 11
- Season 12
- Season 13
- Season 14
- Season 15
- Bobby Singer's Guide to Hunting (non-canon, mentioned only)
- Supernatural: The Men of Letters Bestiary: Winchester Family Edition (non-canon, mentioned only)
- There are supernatural beings who are described as witches, but possess characteristics not shared by most other human magic practitioners.
- Shtrigas are described as Albanian witches that often take on the form of an elderly woman or a doctor; however, whether or not they are considered witches isn't confirmed.
- The Wicked Witch, having come from Oz, was able to demonstrate various abilities that witches from this dimension appear to be incapable of; she may have been a type of fairy.
- Although witches are not inherently evil, many are often corrupted by their power.
- According to Olivette, the practice of witchcraft was once very common among the human population. However, since the brutal witch trials that occurred during the 17th century, the practice of witchcraft has severely declined. Furthermore, because the Men of Letters destroyed most of their grimoires and kept the others locked away from the public, most humans nowadays either disbelieve in magic or they simply choose not to practice.
- It is notable that hunters like Sam, Dean and Bobby often use the same spells and rituals, but would not consider themselves witches.
- Only ten of the witches encountered have been defeated by Sam or Dean.
- In Season 14, Sam has begun sharing his witch-killing bullets with other hunters as seen in The Scar when a hunter uses a witch-killing bullet Sam gave her to kill an evil witch while on a hunt.
- In Paint it Black, Olivette, High Priestess of the Grand Coven, referred to a non-supernatural human as a non-magic.
- In Ouroboros, Rowena notes that the Winchesters are commonly accusatory of witches, even when the culprit was a gorgon, and Dean tells Rowena that they are so suspicious of witches because they are often responsible for strange killings.
- In The Rupture, Rowena asks for Sam's help with a spell because he's "as close to a seasoned witch as we've got in this lot." In Golden Time, Dean calls Sam "Rowena's protégé" and Rowena is indicated to have left her magical stash specifically for Sam. Sam in turn shows impressive magical ability, resurrecting Eileen Leahy using one of Rowena's spells and killing the Witch Mother with another that Rowena had taught him.
- In some ways, as a result, Sam could be considered a Student witch who was taught magic by Rowena, though he never fully embraces witchcraft.