Now, as most of you will be aware, we're just over a week away from 31st October or Halloween, All Hallow's Eve and 'Turn the lights out and pretend we're not home!' night. In Britain there have been some fairly awful controversies over bad taste halloween costumes available in supermarkets and on-line, for example this one, Lord save us all...
Nice. Most worrying is that I actually dress a bit like that normally, so we better move on. Yes, you can buy all manner of 'mental patient' outfits and my personal favourite 'Anna Rexia' the skeleton girl. For goodness sake. Best stick with something nice and traditional. Something inoffensive. Like a witch...
|Me on my way to the Harry Potter Studio Tour.|
|The Magic Circle (1886) John William Waterhouse|
|Medea Frederick Sandys|
It seems almost rude to call these girls 'witches', maybe 'sorceress' is a more elegant word for their graceful conjuring? It maybe semantics but we are in the domain of words and images and what they mean. A sorceress will charm you, conjure with your feelings and you will be helpless to resist but something tells me you'll quite enjoy it. Witches however are another matter...
|Visit to the Witch (1882) Edward Brewtnall|
|Girl and a Witch Beatrice Offor|
|An Arrest for Witchcraft in Olden Times (1886) John Pettie|
|The Witches (1897) Lovis Corinth|
|The Witches in Macbeth (1842) Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps|
|The Witch (1913) John Currie|
As a side note, actually the most terrifying image of witches in my humble opinion is not of female witches, but of men...
|Witches in Flight (Witches' Sabbath) (1798) Goya|
|The Witches Luis Falero|
|The Witch Luis Falero|
|Walpurgis Sabbath Adolf Munzer|
Maybe my point is this: Seemingly we never question the role of the witch as woman, in fact we embrace her as a positive female archetype. She is disruption, destabilising in a world when men rule. The least powerful women in society have a secret source of power that is unavailable to those in charge and that is a thing of terror to those who rain terror down on us. So far so good, the witch is an icon of subversion.
Before you clutch her to you too tightly, bare in mind that she is also a poster-girl for why women were held back, she is the excuse used to put so many innocent, inconvenient women to death, she is the embodiment for all those attributes that mark us as less intelligent, less rational, less reasonable, heavens, less clothed. The witch who provides charms to women is just one fool peddling mischief to others while men sit back and mock. A witch can give you spells to make something you are not entitled to yours, probably at the expense of another woman. Right on, Sisters.
In the end, it's only fun, only costume on a dark autumn night. Which of us ladies hasn't donned a pointy hat and longed to fly on a broom? Plus, there is that promise of eternal youth by magical means. I already wear a lot of black, I think I feel a future career calling. See you tomorrow for the mind reader in my own home...