Sister Witch

8
40061
Illustration © Guinevere von Sneeden

 

Every Halloween, no matter what the newest costumes might be, there are always little girls who insist upon dressing as witches. You can see them on the street, in their black hats and rustling black capes, in groups or alone. These girls instinctively know it is far better to be a witch than a princess or a queen, for they are self-defined rather than being defined by men. They have no need for a prince or a king to give them worth. Perhaps a friend or a sister may travel with them, but in the long run they are strong enough on their own. There is no mythic female figure that is as powerful. When it comes down to it, on a clear, cold October night, she is the woman we want to be.

The legacy of the witch is in our blood. As girls and women we know that these women were our foremothers, wise women who claimed power for themselves and their sisters. The history of the witch is that of a woman who was an outcast in society, mistreated and victimized, a woman who had to fight for her rights.

Witches were persecuted for having too much land or money, for being independent, for being old, or alone. During the Salem witch trials (1692–93) nineteen witches were hanged on Gallows Hill and 200 were accused of practicing magic, all based on “spectral evidence,” which is to say gossip, half-truths, and tall tales. Witch hunts have existed throughout time, and what they all have in common is that the ruling patriarchy tries to control women who are uncontrollable, punishing them for alleged misdeeds. Perhaps this history is ingrained in every little girl dressed up on Halloween night. The heritage of the witch runs deep. Witches draw their power from nature, the green magic of herbs and healing. Through storytelling they have often been recast as dark, twisted figures, but in fact they are healers, forever linked with midwifery, folk medicine, and magic, all of which have been outlawed at one time or another and all of which are included in women’s traditions. Mystery, power, birth, death, medicine, sexual empowerment, liberation—the witch lays claim to all of these and more. In her realm are the power of the imagination and the doors between reality and creativity.

Mythic stories and fairy tales remind us of a time when women refused to conform to society’s ideas of what they should be. The witch is not a mother or a daughter or a queen, but she’s our sister, a soul sister who resides deep inside each of us.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Fantastic and empowering article! This article really touched me, when I was younger bullies would call me mean names, but them calling me a witch was never an insult. I found it as an honor being called as such a powerful being. Thank you for writing this article.

  2. Wonderful article in that wistful, whimsy style of Practical Magic. I can’t wait for the new book! I still read the book and watch the movie several times a year! Thank you for empowering us all with a little bit of magic…and love…and pepper in our mashed potatoes….

  3. As a child my family went to Salem several times, while no one said it, what sunk into my consciousness was ‘oh so they hang women who have powers’. Through the years on numerous occasions Salem would come into conversations I had with friends and with women I didn’t know well; I realized that by now it’s probably in our DNA, a powerful and in most cases unconscious awareness that we could be killed because of our skills. Women are reluctant to talk about their ‘sight’, or ‘knowing’, let alone any other gift or skill. It’s unfortunate that the events in Salem have had a very long reach of negative impact on women’s’ self perception. Fortunately articles like this have started to appear. I, for one, thank you!

  4. I’m very pleased to uncover this great site. I want to to thank you for your time due to
    this fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every little
    bit of it and i also have you saved as a favorite to see new information on your site.

  5. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely donate to this excellent blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will share this blog with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here