The Season of the Witch

Do you remember the 1980s? I do, and I can tell you with certainty that “beautiful” usually meant bouncy blonde hair, blue eyes, small features, and a wholesome popular girl energy. In other words, cheerleaders were the thing.

I was not a cheerleaderesque kid. I was artsy and moody with stringy black hair, large features, and dark eyes. And I sure was not athletic. It’s a good thing I had those cute freckles and squeezable cheeks, otherwise I might have felt wholly unacceptable. As it was, I practiced in front of the mirror trying to make my lips look smaller and I begged my parents for a perm (incredibly grateful they said no!). And so I took my aspirational pop culture images of beauty where I could find them.

The wicked Maleficent in Disney's Sleeping Beauty (1959)

The wicked Maleficent in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Who, then, was I able to admire? The wicked women, of course! Every time a dark and dangerous villainess hit the screen, I was rapt. There’s one particular Scooby Doo vampire etched in my memory; she had hair like mine, and she was elegant and forever young — amazing. I also watched those ancient Mighty Hercules cartoons in the hopes that the witch Wilhelmine would make an appearance. And when I was 9 or 10 years old, my Halloween costume was the evil fairy witch from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. I wasn’t even a fan of the Sleeping Beauty story or Maleficent really, but I dug her look. I was a kid who wanted horns… and a staff with a perched crow.

Even though I was absolutely a goody-goody, those witchy characters intrigued me. Not only did they have the dark looks to which I could relate, they also seemed more powerful than the “good” female characters. Despite the fact that they usually met their demise in the end, it was fun to see them manipulate and bewitch people. Later, when I read Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, I relished the concept of glamours, those visual tricks witches play. I thought – yes! That’s exactly what women still do. We trick people with makeup and hair and sexual energy… not exactly supernatural but powerful nonetheless.

Anjelica Huston as the Lady of the Lake in The Mists of Avalon mini-series (2001)

Anjelica Huston as the Lady of the Lake in The Mists of Avalon mini-series (2001)

Of course, the real women who were tried for witchcraft in Europe were a lot more ordinary than the magical girls and spell-casting crones we see in pop culture today. What had those Medieval ladies, many of them elderly, done to cause the clergy, judges, and often neighbours too, to loose their shit with persecutory zeal? Probably just the same tasks women had always performed: concocting herbal remedies, serving as midwives, and likely practicing some [pagan] folk rituals related to good harvests and such. Ooo, scary.

I’ve heard many conflicting theories regarding the social and political conditions that led to thousands of women (as well as some men) being burned, drowned, hanged, or otherwise tortured for the crime of witchcraft. There were probably a combination of factors, but I think it’s safe to say that those in power were only too willing to believe in the intrinsic wickedness of women. There’s nothing more dangerous than a bunch of repressed men with a fear of women’s sexual and/or economic powers over them (I’m looking at you church, courts, and paranoid populace). Whatever the reasons, atrocities occurred and women were the primary targets. And that makes me want to cast a celebratory spell in honour of witchy gals everywhere!

Some of my favourite witches: Susan Sarandon, Cher, and Michelle Pfeiffer with Jack Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

Some of my favourite witches: Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer with Jack Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

So haul out the tickle trunk because it’s my favourite time of year again — Halloween! Here are some last minute wicked costume ideas to inspire your festivities:

  • Get black contact lenses, draw on some veins, and be dark Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Go old school with green skin, warts, and a pointy hat
  • Dress like a fairy princess and be Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz
  • Channel the extraterrestrial lizard within with a “visitors” costume from the 1980s V series (I loved Diana!)
  • Wear a pentacle, patchouli oil, and talk about Mother Earth a lot… you’re a Wicca
  • Do it up voodoo style (no blackface please, white folks!) like in Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Dress like a 13th century British Isles babe and be Morgaine
  • With a 1960s shift dress and a lot of nose wiggling you can be Samantha from Bewitched
  • Get a baby doll, cover it with guck, stick on an umbilical cord: voilà, you’re a midwife!

P.S. — I’d also like to wish myself a very happy one year blogiversary! It was one year ago that Bjütie went live.

*Watch this space* I’ll add a photo of my costume on Nov. 2nd. I’m celebrating on the Day of the Dead this year. 

Hello, this is Lady Gaga. Stop telephoning me -e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e

Hello, this is Lady Gaga. Stop telephoning me -e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e

Comments

  1. Happy blogaversary!!!

  2. Yes, isn’t it exciting to have been blogging for one year? Wait till you reach my milestone (3 years in Summer, 2014)! You’re doing great and I always look forward to your posts 🙂

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