Monday, January 2, 2012

Monster Monday: Witches

“Only bad witches are ugly,” Glenda the Good Witch of theNorth often proclaimed, and she may have a point – at least in books and onfilm. Certainly, her Wizard of Oz sibling,The Wicked Witch of the West, has inspired many a child’s nightmares over theyears.

Might have something to do with that infamous green skin.

Indeed, it is Glenda’s sister often portrayed at Halloween –children and adults alike flock to all-black costumes including tall-pointedhats and striped stockings. Their well-practiced cackles echo on busytrick-or-treat streets.

But not all evil witches can be characterized by thisstereotypical look. In fact, most modern witches don’t conform to anycommercial stereotype at all.

According to anthropologist Phillips Stevens, Jr., forcenturies, witches have been seen as something far more terrifying thananything found in Harry Potter or The Wizard of Oz. A quick look at theSalem Witch Trials of 1692 demonstrates societies long-standing fear of witches– way before Disney and the like jumped on the “evil” bandwagon.

Thankfully, in recent literature, the idea of white magic has becomemore popular, recognizing wicca as religion like any other, including ritualsand a doctrine. Unlike most Western religions, though, Wiccans worship agoddess and a god.

As Stevens points out, “witch” and “witchcraft” are amongthe most loaded words in anthropology, conjuring images not only popularized byfiction, but also the idea of pagan religious practices, the persecution ofinnocent people, mysterious night time rituals, and mass murders.

While the word “witch” is still synonymous with evil, theconcepts of good witch vs bad are still under much debate. The most commoncharacteristics – on either side of the argument – include the ability tochange shape, the power of flight, use of animals as familiars (such as a blackcat), nocturnal behaviors and the ability to cast a spell – either by wavingher wand, mixing up a powerful potion, or simply twitching her nose.

Of course, we’ve merely scratched the surface on this "supernatural" –keep watch for more posts about witches in 2012.

Survival Tip: Wedon’t recommend setting out on a witch hunt. As one of the most camoflaugedparanorms, you could stumble come across a witch anywhere and there’s notelling which side of the good vs evil parallel she stands.

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