Thursday, October 15, 2009

Halloween witches and a little witchcraft history

I have always been fascinated by witches. When I was little, I remember being scared to death of The Wizard of Oz. I'm not kidding, I can remember hiding my face and leaving the room when the Wicked Witch of the East appeared in the movie. She and the flying monkeys horrified me.
The photo above is my witch wreath that adorns the door from the foyer into the kitchen. She is a kind of funky looking witch that is decorated with various kitchen items, making it perfect for a kitchen area.
Through the years, I have loved various shows featuring witches: Witches of Eastwick, Hocus Pocus, Bewitched, Charmed, etc. I can also remember frequently being a witch on Halloween. I get a good laugh out of my memories of those brittle plastic masks.

I read on a Halloween Forum message board tonight that someone was having trouble locating witch masks this year. There are countless full witches out there if you are looking for props, but it seems that the masks or the heads of witches are hard to come by this year. I did buy one at Dollar Tree that is sort of interesting. (Hey, what can you expect for a buck?) I have that one hanging on the cabinet that flanks my sink. The kitchen theme this year is a Witch's Kitchen, so I have a few scattered around. Some of my witches are sinister looking, some are funny. One of them is a rock n roll witch that sort of dances and has loud sound effects.
Another looks like a sinister witch Barbie doll and is actually made with an orange crocheted body. It is really unusual.
Yet another sits atop a cone shaped piece of plastic that looks like a tree topper.
These three are just a few that I picked up at thrift stores this year. They show the vast range of witch types.
I also read another post on the same forum about a fellow poster who hosted a Witches Wing Ding for the past two years. It is a party of all females dressed as witches. She posted photos and they were wonderful. I am going to have to steal that idea for next year. I just wish I would have known about it earlier, because I so want to host one, but it is too late this year. I am in the final days of planning and decorating for our first Boo Bash Costume Party.

It would even be fun to organize a Witches Wing Ding event on Halloween where the group went out to dinner or out for drinks. I think it would be great. Now, I just have to wait over a year to do this! :(

Did you know that the Halloween witch is still one of the most popular costumes chosen by young girls and adults each year? It's amazing. And one needs to ask... what is so fascinating about witches and witchcraft?

Well, here's a little bit of history behind real witches, not the Hollywood variety that we so like to copy. First, something that needs to be made clear is that the word 'witch' is derived from the old English word 'Wicce' (meaning wise one) - and 'Wicca (meaning healer). The witch was considered a wise-woman who lived in harmony with nature and the seasons. They were skilled in the use of herbs and were often called upon to cure the ill.

Essentially, the "Halloween witch" of centuries ago was a homeopathic healer. Being a wise woman and a healer, the witch had an assortment of special items that she utilized. Ancient Mysteries - Witches (DVD) One of these specialized items was the Athame. This was the witch's personal steel knife and was used in most rituals as it was believed to have been imbued with magical properties. The knife itself was double-edged and often had a black handle.

The broomstick was symbolic of magical powers. Its real purpose? To cleanse the area where magical rituals were performed. So how did the belief arise that the Halloween witch rode a broomstick and flew through the sky? On All Hallows Eve, witches would often anoint themselves with a "magical" ointment. The ointment made the skin tingle and gave the illusion of being very light, perpetuating the belief that they could fly. A witch walking through the woods on her way to the festival would often use the broom as a means to help jump over a brook or stream. Hence, they were believed to be flying.

It's amazing what the imagination can dream up, isn't it? Of course, we've all seen witches standing over bubbling cauldrons and drinking from large chalices in the movies. The cauldron was a pot used for concocting magical potions and for scrying (looking into the future on the water's surface). The chalice was believed to be a receptacle of spiritual forces.

Remember, we're talking ancient witchcraft history here... most beliefs were rooted in supernatural and spiritual powers. The wands that many witches carried were made of hazel wood, crystal, carved ivory or ebony, silver, or gold. It was believed that these wands were extensions of the life force of the witch herself. By themselves, each one of these symbols alone wouldn't create much of a stir, but when combined, all these ritualistic items and beliefs in mystical, magical powers would soon convince the general populace that witches had abilities beyond what the normal person should have.

Add in the ability to create "magical healing potions" to cure the sick, then superstitions would quickly grow and soon you have tales of witches being able to turn themselves into cats and doing all sorts of strange things. In conclusion, Halloween is one of the four highest holidays of the pagan celebrations and is often considered the greatest of the four, sometimes called the Great Sabbath. This is when the "Halloween witch" takes the time to observe the supernatural powers of this world and otherworlds, and ponder the mysteries that lie in both. It is a night for honoring ancestors, celebrating the harvest, and ringing in the New Year (which begins on November 1).

(Source for history: che11eness at

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Halloween Related Phobias

There are a lot of fears or phobias, out there. Halloween certainly has it's share. Here is a list of those we are aware of:

Name: Fear of:

Achluophobia Garlic

Arachnophobia Spiders

Bogyphobia the Bogeyman

Catoptropobia Mirrors

Ceraunophobia Thunder

Claustrophobia Confined spaces, like coffins

Cleisiophobia being locked in

Coimetrophobia Cemetaries

Cucurbitophobia pumpkins....heaven forbid!!!

Dementophobia Insanity

Demonophobia Demons

Eisoptrophobia mirrors, or seeing oneself in a mirror

Hagiophobia saints or holy things

Heliophobia the sun

Hemophobia blood

Noctiphobia night

Phasmophobia ghosts

Placophobia tombstones

Samhainophobia Halloween, what's to be afraid of!?!

Satanophobia Satan

Staurophobia the crucifix

Taphephobia being buried alive

Triskaidekaphobia The number 13

Wiccaphobia witches

This was again found on a message board and posted by che11eness at

I thought it was fascinating and wanted to share it, but since it was a list, it was hard to rewrite, so I want to be clear that this is from another source than me. Interesting stuff. I remember doing similiar lists for my junior high school newspaper!