Depending upon your point of view a witch is a practitioner of an ancient nature religion, a pagan, a crone capable of riding brooms and casting spells, or a suburban house wife who is actually a member of an immortal species divided along gender lines. The latter works magic primarily with nose twitching.
|In the days when men were men, women were women and mothers-in-law could turn you into a monkey by using "jazz hands"|
|EC Comics's "Old Witch" the host of the Haunt of Fear horror comic|
|It takes me literally minutes of blood sweat and tears to churn out these diagrams for you folks|
So what makes a Halloween witch?
Glad you asked. The Halloween witch could have any number of characteristics, but we need a visual shorthand to tell us, instantly, that we are seeing a witch.
No questions there, right? Now what tells us she is a witch? Pointy hat, dark garb, hag-like face, broom. All "classic" witch characteristics. How did that happen? I've seen plenty of artwork on the internet showing witchcraft studies through the ages and what I don't see is pointy hats. I see mostly uncovered heads or head scarves. Black garb? Again, not so much. Brooms I see in a fair supply, but mostly from middle ages onward with the witch hunting manuals and demonology books. Stripey socks seem a good characteristic as well. Again, not sure how, but stripey socks are cool.
The problem with an accurate witch costume is that it is dependent upon time period, location, belief system and ultimately explanation. That's right, you'd end up having to explain yourself to everyone. That's no fun.
Halloween costumes should be funny or scary. Yes, many people like slutty costumes, but the idea is to scare away or blend in with the spirits, not get them all hot and bothered. Of course some people in their slutty costumes would scare a ghost to death, so maybe that's fair. While the Wicked Witch of the West up there may be "insulting" to Wiccans, I would ask that we not make a sodding political issue out of every single thing we see and just enjoy the spooky. Funny or scary, spooky or ooky, that's what Halloween is all about today.
See, go to a Halloween party as any of these witches and you will spend the whole night explaining yourself. And what about the Puritan "witches" in Salem? Or other early American witches for that matter?
|Me? I am Sarah Good, unjustly accused and executed during the witch trials in Salem. Hey, where are you going? Okay, no I'll just wait here. Damn, lost another one.|
Of course you will. Pirate. A sodding, bloody, pirate. Hey, I love pirates, but I was being a highwayman. Even my "stand and deliver" line did not help. I kept having to explain it. Not good. I thought I was giving the visual shorthand cues, and maybe I was, but the audience was not clued into it. The same thing is true with a witch costume. The pointy hat and broom are visual cues that instantly tell us what the costume is. Now with the Harry Potter crowd this could also mean Wizard and females in the Wizarding World are called Witches, so that's fair, but Harry Potter costumes are fairly easy to spot. So when Halloween rolls around if you are looking for a witch costume, I'm afraid that playing to stereotypes is your best bet, lest your joy be drained away by small-minded folk who have already made their decisions based on less than a second spent looking at your hard work.
If I sound bitter it is probably because I really thought I was on to something with that highwayman thing.
Anyway, Witches and Halloween, a classic combination. I love the movie Hocus Pocus and consider it a Halloween classic along with those Halloweentown films. You know, maybe you can get away with a witch look without having to use the pointy hat. Witches are the official "magical representative" of Halloween appearing in cartoons, poems, songs, movies and books.
|Loony Tunes own Witch Hazel|
Oh sure, the odd wizard may show up now and then, but I'm afraid the ladies really have the magic act cornered when it comes to Halloween time. In this way the witch gets to be good and evil, scary and comforting, she gets to be our protection and the villain that causes all the trouble in the first place.
But then there are warlocks...
Eh, maybe next time.
Keep your pumpkins lit and your cauldrons boiling. Oh yeah, I forgot about cauldrons...