Witch Sorceress Enchantress

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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?

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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