Another tradition that has survived over the ages comes in the form of hunched over old ladies with warts on their noses. Any guesses?
That's right!! WITCHES!
Halloween was believed to be the day that spirits traveled the earth, and as spirits=dead people and dead people=scary, scary=witches and so it is follows that Halloween=witches. Logic. Based on this logical thinking, barns and homes would be blessed by priests to protect people and livestock from the evil effect of witches. Judging by the amount of pointy black hats I see in store windows, I would say that witches are just as prevalent for Halloween 2013 as they were for Halloween 1692.
Let's take a quick look at some important witches for whom we can gain knowledge and costume inspiration. (disclaimer: this is a list of witches from mythology and literature. I am not claiming that these women are or were real. I am also not claiming that these are the most important ones, they are just the ones that I know and want to talk about)
Morgan le Fay
A powerful sorceress in the Arthurian legend. She uses her power of seduction to entrap her prey and attempt to overthrow her step-brother Arthur–talk about a dysfunctional family relationship.
|Morgan Le Fey by Anthony Frederick Sandys (1864)|
From Homer's Odyssey. While she may seem perfectly normal and lovable, avoid eating anything she offers you or you may find yourself turned into a lion or a pig, doomed to spend eternity wandering around her mansion.
|Circe changing the companions of Ulysses into animals, an English mural from 1580|
and all others associated with the Salem Witch trials. While Abigail may not have been guilty of casting spells, she was most certainly guilty of being a right tart, a young
The Wicked Witch of West
seductress, and a manipulating bully, characteristics of another kind of witch altogether. For more information on this subject, read or watch The Crucible.
The White Witch
|Winona Ryder as Abigail Williams|
One of my particular favorites, capable of making it always winter and never Christmas, this woman is most certainly evil.
|Illustration from C. S. Lewis's The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe|
Terrifyingly green, beware of this woman, especially if you are a young girl from Kansas and wearing red slippers. But don't worry, if you have a bucket of water near by, you'll be fine.
|Margaret Hamilton in The Wizard of Oz|
Wickedly intelligent, scarily talented, and green in the world of magic, being born to a muggle family, this little smarty pants gives a good name to witches everywhere. Not to mention she is just too cute.
|Emma Watson in the first Harry Potter|
I could go on for days. But I don't have time for that. I just want you all to see how incredibly prevalent witches are. They are jumping out of books, prancing across screens, whirling on stages, glaring from paintings. They are everywhere. So while getting ready for you wild party this Thursday, or whenever you are choosing to celebrate Halloween this year, please don't forget these important members of Halloween history. While it may seem cliché, a good ol' witch costume never goes out of style.
Now to the spooking and candy eating!