The modern interpretation of witches is rooted in Dark Age superstation. The stereotype being an ugly old woman who rides a flying broomstick, has a black
cat, brews potions in a cauldron, and is able to cast spells to curse and vex others. In a broader sense witches are any person who cast spells rather for harm or benevolence.
It’s hard to distinguish between what true witchcraft was and what authorities at the time were portraying it as. In Dark Age Europe women had very few rights and if a woman wanted to be independent and break social rules people could accuse her of witchcraft and she would be punished. In many cases the woman might have had knowledge of medicinal plants which would have added to her mystique. Exodus 22:18 states “Thou shall not suffer a witch to live” was used a justification for this persecution.
Stories of witches are rooted in mass hysteria and religious zealotry. Powerful hallucinogenic plants such as Datura, Henbane, and Belladonna were used in folk medicine at the time giving the illusion of magic.