For Halloween, a tribute to real witches

In October, people think about witches.

Sure, some people think about witches all year round. But in October, the folks who don’t the rest of the year suddenly do. They see pointy hats, pointy noses, pointy chins everywhere. Cauldrons and black cats and flying broomsticks abound.

Standard-issue, Church-sanctioned witches. From an Australian production of “Macbeth.”

Except, those aren’t really witches.

Those are bits of folklore, handed down from a time when anyone who disagreed with the status quo (i.e., the Catholic Church’s view of the world) was labeled evil. That applied especially to women who disagreed with their roles in society. Whether they’re burned at the stake or shot in the head (like the brave Pakistani girl in the news), women have suffered at the hands of repressive religion and rigid society for (if you’ll forgive the pun) a hell of a long time.

Real witches doing what they do.

Witches are individualists: there’s no central text, like the Bible or the Koran, that lays out the religion for its believers. Each witch decides what he or she* believes, and how best to express that belief. There are common denominators, of course: a belief in a god and goddess, a reverence for nature, a sense of personal responsibility and an open attitude toward sexuality. You can imagine how even these simple things send fundamentalists into apoplexy.  And it’s these beliefs that, to me, make a modern witch such an interesting and courageous character, and why I write my Firefly Witch stories.

Most importantly, from a common-perception perspective, witches do not worship the Christian devil. Since both God and the Devil are Christian beliefs, you have to be a Christian first to do that. When Christians say that witches worship the devil, it’s a bit like calling a football penalty in a baseball game: it’s applying a standard that just doesn’t work in context.

So when you see a witch depicted with a pointy hat, a wart on her nose, a black cat underfoot and a bubbling cauldron before her, keep in mind: this is propaganda. It’s no different than any group demonized by the majority.  A real witch can be found planting a garden, reading a book, supporting women’s rights or buying groceries. You might know a witch already, and not be aware of it. Because that’s the most powerful thing about them, and the one thing the fundamentalists drive themselves into a frenzy trying to obscure: witches are just like everyone else.

Want to know more about real witches?  Try here.  And here.  And here.

Shameless self-promotion: want to read fiction about a real witch?  Try here.

*The term is gender neutral. Warlock is not a male witch, it’s something else entirely.

5 Comments on “For Halloween, a tribute to real witches”

  1. *raises hand*

    I always laugh when people tell me they’ve never met a “real” witch. (Okay, it is possible I cackle.)Most folks have probably met a few, they just don’t realize it, since we look just like everyone else.

    Thanks for spreading the word. Love the book cover, BTW.

  2. Great post! I’ve known one person I knew was a witch who was a stinker, but all the others I know of are among my favorite people. There are others who don’t identify themselves as witches but who fit the profile. Including, although I am a Christian, me.

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