Yesterday was International Women’s Day and I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the importance of women to witchcraft and witches to women. Although people of any gender are witches, the term has always been more heavily associated with women and the archetypes of the sorceress and the witch explore the otherness of women that are not properly the ideal of societal femininity, be it because their bodies do not fit the restricted molds or because their behavior is not mediated enough by patriarchal mores.
The first type of witch is the Halloween hag; her face is asymmetrical adorned with wrinkles and moles or warts, her skin-tone is neither a radiant warm brown nor a fair glowing white, rather it is gray, pale, jaundiced or even a little “green.” Nonetheless you cannot look away, her weirdness is her power. Her age represents her experience and ability. Her eyes are fierce and she takes control of the situation because she has something you want: be it the love potion, psychic advice, or a second chance at your destiny.
The second type of witch is the sorceress woman, no mere teen, but not a motherly type either–this woman confronts with her self possessed sexuality. In the face of the sorceress, a petitioner senses their own shackles to societal constraints on their freedom of self expression. The otherness of the magical woman, be she unconventionally beautiful or unabashedly strange and proud, enchants and tempts. An encounter with the sorceress forces a choice, do you continue to do as you should, or shall you try what you might?
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