Friday, October 31, 2008

Reconsidering the Witch

Here on Halloween I offer you the words of my friend Erika Mailman. Read her insightful op-ed piece in the Chicago Tribune today about how our hallmark Halloween version of the witch ignores the true history of witch persecution. Then you'll be inspired to purchase her amazing novel, The Witch's Trinity--in which a medevial German town facing starvation turns against its own. She's a fabulous writer and you won't be disappointed!

Ding-dong, the witch isn't dead
Chicago Tribune
By Erika Mailman
October 31, 2008

Last October, my neighbor stretched synthetic cobwebs among the branches of her tree. Against this creepy backdrop, she hung a broomstick and a badly made female figure, clearly a witch. The sight made me wince.

How did we evolve to find this display lightly amusing? Our forebears did hang women from trees. I imagine the devastation a time-traveler might feel as she realizes people crudely pantomime the appalling circumstances of her death each Halloween.

I may take this more personally than some. Townspeople accused my ancestor, Mary Bliss Parsons, of witchcraft in Massachusetts, three decades before the Salem hysteria. The court acquitted her, but neighbors pointed the finger at her again, 18 years later. I imagine she never relaxed in the interim. When the woman in the next cottage averts her eyes because she believes you know the devil, you can't exactly run over to borrow a cup of sugar...

Read the rest HERE.


At 4:52 PM, Blogger Maryanne Stahl said...

I read this abashed. I am a fan of witches, real (wiccan) and otherwise (green-skinned and warted). I just love the idea of the powerful crone who can make magic--for good, mostly, but there is always that hint of danger.

I am decidedly not a fan of torturing women, nor of accusing them of crimes or sins out of fear and politics. no, of course not, and this column has made me think.

but part of me still maintains that when I display a witch on halloween (never crashing into a tree), I am celebrating her and the power of the eternal feminine. at least that's how I feel.


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