Witch Sorceress Enchantress

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techgnotic's avatar

The Witchas Multifaceted Icon

Throughout history artists of every discipline have been fascinated, inspired and transfixed at every historical stage of the shifting perceptions of the “Witch” in any given time or society.  The seams within every page of every chapter written against or in defense of the witch have been alternatively filled with oppressive sexism, blind eyed religious bigotry, occult doctrine, fevered and forbidden lustful sexuality, misplaced fear, and reams of wide eyed superstition.

Consequently, the colors, and lines within every stroke upon every canvas and visceral depiction, carry all the burdensome weight of the long intricacies of this subject.   With respect to this much maligned, religiously and politically repurposed, perpetually misunderstood subject matter, we bring a little of the Witch or Sorceress or Enchantress throughout art history and in the artworks of deviantART as she has appeared, the eternal female sometimes revered as symbol and icon of human power, but also sometimes reviled, hunted and depicted as symbol of all that is traitorous and deceptive.

Witches Sabbath, 1797-98
by Francisco Goya

The eternal “Eve.”  Or is it "Lilith"?

No other figure in art, or in common popular consciousness for that matter, has been so diametrically and extremely counterposed in dueling iconic presentation as the witch. She is either the repulsively ugly old hag with a bag of vile tricks she looses upon unsuspecting innocent souls – or she is the beautiful Earth Goddess, at one with all nature and the rhythms of life. Both iconic extremes were depicted in "The Wizard Of Oz". The evil witch was terrifying and dangerous. The good witch was positively angelic and acted as a protectoress of the lost little girl. Why the opposing “witch” narratives? Because both storylines are the received remnants of “true” stories from Europe’s knotted socio-political history.

When the Holy Roman Empire achieved control over most of Europe, Christianity became the official religion of the masses and was rigorously enforced. But the suppressed Druid and other pantheistic religions did not totally die out, with some adherents refusing to stop practicing their religious rites which had much to do with the woods and the fields. These practitioners – mostly elderly midwives and herbologists dispensing natural medicines – were slandered and labeled “witches” by the official church and violently suppressed. And so the schizophrenia swirling around the image of the witch was born. In our modern times the witch has become mixed in with vampires and werewolves as a Halloween monster, the children certainly having no notion that witches were “real” once upon a time.

Questionsfor the reader

  1. Which witch do you prefer to picture in your mind when that word in invoked?

    a. The fun Halloween character.

    b. The (maybe real) monster lurking in the deep woods.

    c. The Earth Mother Enchantress with special powers.

    d. The Earth Mother with knowledge of herbs and natural remedies but no special powers.

  2. Some are drawn to modern “witchcraft” seeking the very supernatural “powers” that Druid women were falsely accused of practicing and burned at the stake for possessing as “witches.”  Do you find this:

    a. Ironic.

    b. Sad but instructive in human nature.

    c. A victory for modern cultural acceptance.

    d. A comment on our “anything to gain an edge” society.

  3. What’s your favorite artwork depicting the iconic “evil” witch?
  4. What’s your favorite artwork depicting the iconic “good” witch?

© 2012 - 2021 techgnotic
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AstroWitch1's avatar
She is the beautiful maiden, the kind, loving, and fiercely protective mother, and the old wise crone. All part of one, all three are aligned with nature. The seasons, the elements, even the nature disasters; because something isn't balanced, working properly. The is usually do to leaders that have no regard for the planet. The GNP is money at all cost. We are the cost included. She cannot and will not allow these to continue killing this planet. Will all that profit buy a new planet when this one can no longer sustain life? 

The reason a group is singled out as evil, public enemy, destined to be exterminated is fear. Witches were hated because men were afraid as to how powerful these women were. Look at all of the cultures/religions of modern day. How many are truly matriarchal? How many societies put women on the lowest rung of importance? The family dog is higher than the wife? Why is that? Anatomically, women are usually deemed unclean due to their monthly menstrual cycles. What they refuse to acknowledge is their wives won't get pregnant without it. I don't know when this line of thinking became the norm. What is frightening how hard-wired this thinking is. Who ever decided that is they can't control the witch; they will kill it. Most of the "witches" in Salem were innocent women who pissed off someone, and was therefore found guilty and executed. The day will come, very soon, when my sisters return and reclaim everything denied to us.

Blessed be
I'm training to become a witch (as in a pagan witch) and I'd answer the questions as follows:
1. D. Because I believe that magic isn't anything supernatural or "special". It's simply knowledge of herbs and natural remedies that can heal both body, mind and our various relationships among do other things.
2. I guess I'd say C, but I feel like there should be more options on this one. As I mentioned before, I don't think witchcraft and magic is supernatural. I think it's part of nature, and the powers that are deemed "supernatural" are just because most people who aren't into witchcraft don't truly understand them yet. Witchcraft is learning to get a better understanding of those powers (even though we don't fully understand them either) and put them to use.
3. The evil witch from spirited away.
4. A painting called "making sugarplum tea" by ladytor on tumblr. Or Kiki from Kiki's delivery service.
Lushminda's avatar
witches are super rad >W<
C-195's avatar
3. Gruntilda Winkybunion 
4. I would say Dr Strange but he's male and not a witch.
Dancerofbeauty's avatar
ooooh i like all images of witches, it brings great contrast, as all things do come in all shapes and sizes figurativly speaking
alienscot1's avatar
It has to be 1 d for me

2 a and 3not sure about but 4 would have to be Mrs Weasley from Harry potter, a nice, kind motherly witch.  Good article :D (Big Grin)
ThortheWraith's avatar
Very cool articles!!! And as I love quizzes and questionlists and meme's of that sort, let's see how I solve the questions hmm

1. How you like to depict the witch
B. The lurking monster in the shadows

2. about modern witchcraft
C. The fact that being a witch is now accepted fills me with joy

3. Favourite evil witch in artwork
It answers especially my first question. I can feel her power and anger jumping from the screen and that gives me power and thrill, so yeah. 
What concerns movies I like the witches from "Hocus Pocus" but even more the witch from "The Wicked" She's badass!!

4. Depicting the good witch
hmm...sorry I can't recall at the moment :*roll* Too much horrormovies muddled my brain for that :p So yeah I'm going with Hermoine Granger. Or Molly Weasly, she really looks like that motherly sweet witch. 
IkioStar's avatar

1. None of the above


2. None of the above


3.&4. Don't currently have one, but likes all of the above. 



She may become any of these characters, by simply flipping the witch switch...
I didn't intend to put an anger emoticon inmy comment--Im new at this-Can someone else place it there?
1-c-In my minds eye I picture shamanistic art, then my thought process shifts to Lame Deer, Grandfather- (Tom Brown Jr.'s). Then back to art -then a very charasmatic friend who is very witchy who has been both a good and bad influence in my life, Then (all-male)-and now I am seeing a very powerful elemental image I haven't shared yet. And to think of a female in terms of a "witch" in terms of "Evil" or Negative forces I think of how powerful that force can be, but karma bein what it is I try to just beware or something, I picture things like the dude in the movie " The Hunted", and of course the wicked witch of the west in Oz that I always thought of fake, but damn those monkeys haunted my dreams for years as a child ! In terms of a more realistic female, I think more and actually visualize -- A haunting spirit like"jezebel", I see bad, good, and neutral nymphs, I like to tune in to the Eternal Godess of the Earth and beyond, and I love to visualize beautiful healing human "White Witch" type females and need to find one to settle down with. I believe words are quite limiting and friends who are into witchcraft seem to like the term, and I feel the power in it but that word sometimes stirs up very negative thoughts about the persecution of certain peoples with different belief systems than thier own, and very open minded peoples as myself.
2- none of the above, an odd path to take, but could have an entirely "positive" outcome for said person being if only enlightenment, or personal empowerment, maybe more.
3- whew- you got me feeling that one, mostly a plain black left hand profile of a bat-winged-finley shaped nude female on a red background, sorry, don't know the artist, , but she just smiled at me with her eyes and gorgeous flowing hair, oval face with beautiful smiling lips annd fangs- Yikes !
4- Lilith in the movie Legend, and again I don't know the artist but there exists a painting I've seen in a few media mediums of a forest with a lady in the right and corner with a " flowing " Long white dress and golden hair, and again its mostly a right hand profile.
Sorry no good art references, but Thank You, Ive thouroughly enjoyed your thought provoking words, some! awesome artwork and the chance to reply ! my new deviant account is "wakeup2112" but there's nada there xcept a few! fav's at this point.
I do not agree with your Once upon a time comment but, Thats You and I fully Respect that -PEACE!
Lady-LM's avatar
1) C

2) B

3) I don't really know...

4) Too hard to narrow down
AvalonReese's avatar
1. I like all the types, and I have character's for each type. My favourite though has to be B. Just more fun that way.
2. a mixture of A and B.
3. My favourite artwork of an iconic "evil witch" is Maleficent by: Timswit
4. My favourite iconic "good witch" artwork is Glinda and Elphaba: Popular by: clarenceyao
YnxTheLynx's avatar
1) C all the way not all witches are monsters or evil
2) E the people who just want to find ways to torment other are stupid, i prefer the wiccan way
3) I dont know about art, but when i think bad witch i think Bellatrix from harry potter
4) Sorry not art again, but good witch first thought is Aggie Cromwell from Halloweentown (it's a disney kids halloween movie) she makes me think of my grandma
Drakonika2's avatar
Okay, first off, I'd like to say that ant force is neutral, and it just depends on how you use it. The Witch Trials were stupid. Second off, amazing pictures.
RosaRoseRozsa's avatar
1. E. I typically think "witch" is an innocent old woman, victim of scapegoating and projection of the sewer fantasies to Other.
2. E. I am atheist and find witchcraft fictional but mostly harmless.
3/4: I don't have any particular favorite.
RosaRoseRozsa's avatar
" fictional but mostly harmless?" Sorry about that, I am just tired, it midnight here...
Lindsay898's avatar
1 = c
2 = a
3: destructive. destroies anything in it's path.
deviantART muro drawing Comment Drawing
bllixy's avatar
1. A combo of:
a. The fun Halloween character.

c. The Earth Mother Enchantress with special powers.

2. d. A comment on our “anything to gain an edge” society.

3.Soul Eater

4.No "good" witch pops to mind, but that is not to say that I do not enjoy "good" witches
Moon-Phace's avatar
I can't answer questions 3 and 4, but here are my thoughts on 1 and 2:

1. I can't say "Earth Mother" ever pops into my mind, because that just makes me think of obnoxious hippie girls trying to outdo each other. Blech. I don't know what I think of.

2. If you're drawn to a spirituality looking for power, you're doing it wrong. As a Pagan/Witch/whatever, I have an appreciation for pre-Christian European spiritual practices because they make sense to me and reflect my values and upbringing. If you're just doing it to be "edgy" or cast love spells on some kid you have a crush on, or, worst of all, act like you're superior to others, you probably don't get it at all.
RyanMason's avatar
Didn't even touch on the old hag baba yaga. She's a scary mother
deviantART muro drawing Comment Drawing
TheRealFry1's avatar
1 A
2 B
3 Uhm,something with her and some kind of magical curse.
4 Helping people and animals!
deviantART muro drawing Comment Drawing
limaneko's avatar
What’s your favorite artwork depicting the iconic “evil” witch?
What’s your favorite artwork depicting the iconic “good” witch?
limaneko's avatar

1. a and c
2. c
3. the stepmother of Snow White and the evil witches of "Puella Magi Madoka Magica"
4. Doremi ("Magical Doremi"), Sally, the witch, Blair ("Soul Eater"), Takakura, Akane and Sae ("Mahotsukai tai!"), Kiki ("Kiki's delivery service"), Konata (in the OVA XD) and Francis ("Raspaberry song")
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