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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Halloween Witch

The Witch of Halloween

What is it about the bewitching witch that makes it the favorite Halloween costume each year for girls and women alike? What is it about the pointed black hat and witch’s broom that females find so intriguing? Is it the notion to cast an evil spell? Turn a handsome prince into a toad? Turn a pumpkin into a horse-driven coach? To find her Glass Slipper and Prince Charming?

The word witch is derived from the old English word “Wicce” meaning wise one. The witch was thought of as a wise woman who lived in harmony with nature and the season. A witch had a vast knowledge of herbs and was often called upon to heal the sick. The witch associated with centuries ago was a homeopathic healer. Being a wise woman and a healer, the witch had a huge assortment of utensils. One such item was her Athame, a double edged witch’s knife with a black handle used in rituals.

We think of the witch’s broom as her mode of transportation, right? This is a myth. The purpose of a real witch’s broom is to cleanse the area where a ritual will be performed. So how did the legend that witches fly through the air on their broomsticks evolve? On All Hallow’s Eve, witches would often anoint themselves with magical oils. These oils would caused the witch’s skin to tingle, making the witch feel light-headed. A real witch would often use her broomstick to help her cross a brook or stream in the woods on her way to the festival, giving the illusion she was flying.

And in the movies, we’ve all seen our favorite witches standing over bubbling cauldrons and drinking out of large silver chalices. The cauldron was a pot used to concoct magical potions and for scrying (the ability to look into the future on the water’s surface). And the chalice was thought to be a reciprocal of magical spirits. These were all rooted from supernatural powers.

The witch’s wand, carved from hazel wood, crystal, ebony, ivory, silver or gold, were thought to be extensions of life forces of the witch. With all these powers that be bestowed on the witch, it didn’t take long for the general populace to stir up a few superstitions of their own. Witches can fly on broomsticks, turn themselves into black cats, and cause a big ugly wort to grow on the tip of the nose.

Halloween is one of the four most celebrated Pagan holidays and was thought to be the greatest of the four, thus earning its name of “The Great Sabbath.” On this day, the Halloween witch observes the supernatural powers of this world and other worlds and takes the time to ponder both. This night is for honoring ancestors, celebrating the harvest and ringing in the New Year.

The Halloween witch is magical, mystical and very powerful. Given all these facts and trivia, is it any wonder she is the most revered of women on Halloween?


Mary Malcolm said...

Very interesting!

Sharon Donovan said...

Thanks, Mary! No matter how many masquerade parties I've gone to on Halloween, the witch is always my costume of choice. There's so much variety--the good witch, bad witch, wicked witch of the east and west...and so many more! Something very intriguing about the Halloween witch.

P.L. Parker said...

Love your Halloween month. Lots of interesting tidbits. Scrying was my heroine's focus in my free read, Prophecy's Bride. One year for Halloween at work, I found a T-Shirt that said "I've used up all my sick leave and I'm calling in dead." I ratted my hair out, painted my face green with pieces of skin fall off, etc. It was great.

Sharon Donovan said...

Patsy, I love it! You must have been one wicked witch! I've gotta go check out your free read. Sounds like a real intriguing read for this time of year.

Skhye said...

Hi, Sharon! My characters are always descrying something... like Truth! :) It works since they're alchemists and Druids. Great post.

Sharon Donovan said...

Skhye! Somehow I knew you'd make your way over here today! LOL The witch has always fascinated me since Dorothy and the Wizard, I suppose. Nora Roberts has a trilogy about witches and their spells and I was totally drawn in. Very mysterius and I'd love to learn more about scribing!

Catherine Bybee said...

What a fun October blog. Thanks for sharing.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Catherine! So thrilled you are enjoying it. Stay tuned, there's plenty of good stuff coming up with lots of authors and more tid bits.

Hywela Lyn said...

Hi Sharon, I had to come over here today, didn't I!Q What a fascinating post, and some really interesting information. I love the way myths and legends grow and alter in the telling!

Cate Masters said...

Loved this post, Sharon! Witches have always intrigued me. Some of my favorite movies include Practical Magic and The Witches of Eastwick - sassy, beautiful witches looking for love, like the rest of us. And the novel Wicked gave a "human" face to the Wicked Witch of the West!
I used scrying in my Halloween short Reflections. Such fun to write!
Thanks for the cool info.

Sharon Donovan said...

Oh Lyn! What would my witch's blog be without my dear Welsh Witch popping in on her broom to sprinkle good fortune! We do so adore our superstitions and myths, don't we? And hearing how they get twisted along the way adds to the fun of the legend!

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Cate! Ohhh another witch lover! And do you know until I did this research I didn't know what the word "scrying" meant? I knew witches stared at the surface of the pond or their brew, but never knew it had a name! Your Halloween story sounds fascinating! I'd like to read it.

Becca Simone said...

Thanks for a very informative post. I had no idea about most of that info. :)

The witch is my fave costume, too, primarily because it's so easy and cheap to put together. (Guess that makes me easy and cheap, too). Plus, you can either wear nice makeup to be a sexy witch, or hideous green makeup to be a bad witch. The variety is endless.


Sharon Donovan said...

LOL Becca! Isn't it the truth! And I've been the good witch, the bad witch, the pretty witch and the wicked and ugly witch and always had a lot of fun. I use the basic black dress and dress it up or down and then there's the hair and makeup!

Mary Ricksen said...

My family had what they called women of power. My mother, her mother, her grandmother and on, all had some kind of ability, they believed. My mother used hers only when she was very emotionally excited. So what does that mean for me......heh, heh, heh
True story by the way I have examples of things she did.

Kathleen said...

What an interesting blog. Love all the magical, mystical moments associated with Halloween

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Mary, Hmmm. Very interesting about all this power. Would you like to schedule a post here to enchant us more?

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Kathleen, Thanks for popping by! Yes, there are a lot of interesting witchie facts indeed floating about out here. And isn't it fun?


I learned alot about witches that I didn't know. I looking at witches differently.

loretta canton

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Loretta! Isn't it fascinating to learn new things about old traditions? Happy Halloween!

Bad Wolf said...

What are you talking about?
Witch no such thing LOL