Lately, with Halloween having been and gone, the witchy stereotypes are more prominent than in other times of the year. Warty noses, green skin, pointy hats and flying on broomsticks – more like the Wicked Witch of the West than your standard everyday witch; but on the otherhand, there’s also the “good” or “white” witches all dressed up like the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella.
So where does the “bad” witch stereotype come from? Well, the pointy hats probably originate from a fashion statement way back, in fact you’ll probably recognise the style of the clothes that women wore in the 1600s, the big black hats and full dark dresses which more than likely was adapted into the stereotypical “evil witch” characters we see now.
The idea of witches flying on their broomsticks more than likely came from rituals involving jumping up and down with a broom, which may have looked like attempts to fly.
But are these stereotypes really that offensive to real witches?
Honestly, I doubt it. On a personal level, I think it’s easy to recognise the differences between a fantasy style witch and a real life witch. There are both good and bad depictions of witches in films, stories and books, such as in “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” or “The Little Mermaid” which both show witches as being evil beings, “The Witches” by Roald Dahl, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” or “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” which show both good and bad witches. However, you’re more likely to find good depictions of witches than bad ones within media such as in the “Harry Potter” francise, “Bewitched”, “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Rosario + Vampire”.
Well, the main problem we see is that all the witches are just fantasy witches – we never (or hardly ever) see any real witches or Wiccans in films or books (other than educational books/programmes). This means that whenever we see a witch perform magic, even if based on real rituals or spells, it doesn’t have the realism of actual witchcraft (admittedly, this would probably make a few films lackluster without the instant effects of lovespells, glamour or fortune) but it does mean that most people don’t understand that this isn’t really how spells work. This means that there is both the truth of witches and also the fantasy of witches moulded into one – which can make it confusing for a lot of people who don’t know much about witchcraft. For instance, in “The Craft” it has a few good representations of how some spells are cast, however it also has the artificial instant effects as well as some very unrealistic outcomes – but this is mostly what made it an interesting film to watch. Other examples lie in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “American Horror Story: Coven” and “Charmed”.
So, if we’ve established the opinion that witches are actually not demonised through the media of most popular books, films or old folk tales – what else could possibly harm?
Unfortunately, I feel that it’s actually people’s uneducated opinions of witches which leads them – us, to be demonised. When searching through the web (in the dark depths – I wouldn’t suggest the faint of heart to visit) I found several hate websites, (which I won’t be referencing as some of the content some people could find upsetting) saying that witches and Wiccans worship Satan and actually giving lists of “false religions” (most of which funnily weren’t even religions). I understand that yes, these individuals posting this don’t believe in Wicca, witchcraft or whatever, but that’s no excuse for writing completely false statements (considering Satan is of another faith entirely and not related to Wicca) which result in witches being seen as evil human beings.
I could rant on about these people who are claiming many more ridiculous statements, but keeping to the point – what’s your opinion and views on this matter? Are witches demonised? If so, to what extent? If not, why not?
P.S. I would suggest watching or reading all of the films, books and television shows that are mentioned in this post – they are all very good and highly recommended on my part.