"This house has quite a long and colorful history. It
was built on an ancient Indian burial ground, and was the setting of Satanic
rituals, witch-burnings, and five John Denver Christmas specials."
||-- Mr. Burns, The Simpsons
Traditionally, witches are women (but can be men) who are possessed of
supernatural abilities which are said to be obtained by consorting with the
Devil. However, in reality, witches are those who choose another path of worship
which centers on a matriarchal paradigm (mother nature or the earth mother). The
modern day church of Wicca, for example.
Though the centuries, a witch has been thought of as an evil creature devoid of
beauty. In the Shakespearean tradition as in the play of Macbeth, witches are
depicted as gnarled, ugly, and old. This image of ugly compliments the Christian
church of good and evil whereas a follower of God such as an Angel is bright and
beautiful whereas the follower of the Devil must be dark and ugly.
The fact that a witch had to be dark and evil supported the Christians belief
that anyone outside of their belief system (Pagans) was an enemy to God (as they
perceived Him). Being dark and evil, witches were vilified. To be labeled a
witch, was to be given a sentence of death. This labeling, of course, was just
another control mechanism imposed by a male centered society to control the
females in their midst. Power was for men, not women.
Conveniently, the Christian religion (and non-Christian beliefs) has
manufactured a world view of what a witch is, namely people associated with
Devil worship, child sacrifice, Black Covens, etc. This world view impacts
negatively on innocent group of people (Pagans) who are labeled as witches
because they choose to follow religious practices that predates Christianity,
This conditions the society to hate the other group. By calling a group a
"witch" (with all its built in meanings of hate and dehumanization), this allows
all supposed true believers to justify their hatred and destruction of the other
group. After all, if witches are subhuman, they must be destroyed or at the very
least controlled as an animal is controlled by its master.
In the 20th century, the concept of witches consorting with the Devil and seen
as gnarled, ugly, and old continues especially in the popular media. For
example, in such movies as the full-length Disney animated cartoon Snow White
and the Seven Dwarfs (1938) and the classic film The Wizard of Oz (1939) where
Margaret Hamilton played the evil green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West.
Even into the 1990s, the tradition of the witch as being evil continued as in
the film Hocus Pocus (1993) with Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica
Parker as three witches who wreak havoc on Salem Massachusetts after being
resurrected from the dead on All Hallow's Eve; and Anjelica Houston as a witch
at a witch convention who intends to eat all the children of the world in The
Luckily, witches have not been fully disparaged. There have been a few along the
way with some saving graces such as Billy Burke as Glinda, the Good Witch of the
North in the film The Wizard of Oz (1939); the seductive Veronica Lake in I
Married a Witch (1942); and the curvaceous Kim Novak in Bell, Book and Candle
(1958). And with the introduction of television, such characters as Samantha,
Sabrina and Willow the witch (all good) have helped mellow the perceptions that
all witches are evil.
In the end, the word "witch" is like a tool. It is neither good nor bad unto
itself. It is not the word that we should fear, but rather the intentions in the
hearts of those who call themselves such who pickup this tool and do their
biding on society. After all, there are in this world, only two kinds of people:
Good and Evil - and either can be witches.
The above compilation of links reflects witches both good and bad to have
appeared on TV.
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