I thought that, after the last posts concerning the wonderful world of fairies, we could say something about another legendary figure we frequently find in a lot of fairy tales and stories and which always scares children who listen to them: the WITCH.
We are going to have a look at a secret and almost unknown world, but… Don’t worry!
I’m not going to learn to cast spells or do any witchcraft! I only want to talk a bit more in detail about this dark, but fascinating figure. Did you know that the English word “witch” derives from the Anglo-Saxon “wicca”, which means “learned woman”? On the other hand, the Italian word “strega” comes from the Greek word “stryx” – that refers to a rapacious nocturnal animal, and is closely connected to the Greek myth of Lamia, one of the many lovers the Greek god Zeus had. When the jealous Era, Zeus’s wife, killed all of Lamia’s children, Lamia got from Zeus the power to transform herself into anything she wished, and used this power to revenge herself sucking the blood of other babies and killing them. However, the witch, although not belonging to the “litte folk” (fairies are a race apart from us humans), has always been considered the antagonist of fairies because she is ugly and bad and she usually hinders human fate, while the fairy helps people with their worries and fears and she is also incredibly gorgeous… Hey, wait a minute… all this seems to be a bit confusing… 😉
First of all, for those who don’t know it (but who doesn’t know what a witch is?!?)…
WHAT IS A WITCH?
A witch is a woman, usually described with long black (grey or white if she’s very old) hair, a long hooked nose with a pimple on it (she can also have one on her chin) and without a front tooth. She usually wears a long black, grey or violet dress with a wide belt and a big golden buckle. On her head there is a huge conical hat with a large round shield and she usually rides her broomstick (just like the Italian “Befana”, who is a good old witch that, on 6th January, brings gifts to children).
Witches are often represented around a cauldron or while weaving or twisting nodes, symbolizing that they can decide about the people’s future and that they can be very revengeful.
Witches can prepare filters and potions, they can cast spells to make people sad or evil, often only to have fun or to get some followers. For example, they can turn someone into an animal, like black cats, owls, cockroaches, spiders, toads and frogs, crows and blackbirds, that are also considered faithful helpers of witches.
According to some, there are two kinds of witches: the WHITE WITCHES, considered -like fairies- good women who help people in difficult situations and can heal them with their magical powers, and the BLACK WITCHES, that are evil and were thought of operating with the devil.
Historically speaking, witches have been cruelly persecuted and thousands of women, even innocent ones, were burnt at the stake because people believed they were evil and devoted to the devil.
Between those who believe and those who don’t, Voltaire, the French philosopher, writer and poet, once said: “Witches have ceased to exist when we stopped burning them”. It’s clear that he thought -like me and, I think, most people- that witches were only a popular belief… or not? 😉
I wonder if there is someone among you who thinks that witches exist!