How Much is That Witch in the Window?
Author: Sage Runepaw
We’ve maybe even written an essay to someone telling them that witches are real, that they live, breathe, and look like normal people and don’t have sallow, waxy skin with pointy black hats on, that they don’t fly on broomsticks or sacrifice babies or spew dark Words of Evil to the Devil or even that they cackle, “I’ll get you… and your little dog too!” We’ve even probably surprised someone by telling them we even (gasp!) had children of our own who play among all the other children.
We may have become enlightened through our personal beliefs and practices, and we may have taken offense at one point or another at the stereotypical ‘witchy’ image- but at what cost?
The cost of a part of our childhood?
Just think about it a moment, if you will. We all celebrated Halloween at some point or another (unless of course, we were forbidden by our parents for some reason that likely at the time seemed horrible and cruel to us). We all dressed up- put on some flimsy store-bought costume or something we thought was the best we could make at the time, or painted our faces or done -something- to get dressed up and raid the local streets in search of a free sugar overdose.
And it was great, wasn’t it? In fact you maybe even bounced off the walls until 3 in the next morning.
But hey, we were kids then, right? Now we’re Witches! – and we have to take Halloween seriously and point our fingers at the stereotypical witchy images we see every October, don’t we? Samhain is a death-energy time, not a time where children should be dressing up in some image that was used to persecute probably innocent people centuries ago, right?
I admit, this sounds a bit harsh, and perhaps it is- but isn’t there someone out there who’s every bit as sick of people pointing and taking offense to the stereotypes? Sure, they might go away if we wail and stomp our feet loud enough, but seriously- just take a look around any city or even on the Internet, and you’ll see that stereotypes don’t go away.
If anything, they just get ignored and outdated, but they’re there. If we take offense to them and work to combat them, power to you- but- and maybe this is just me- I’m tired of the fighting.
Get your robes back in proper order; don’t let the stereotyping phase you. As I hinted about above, we too once played dress up and might have dressed up as a witch years ago. Sure- what’s wrong with that? As it may have fooled the spirits once upon somewhen, didn’t you feel free, feel -alive- then?
Where then, along the path of your life, did that suddenly get traded out for taking offense to the stereotypical witchy image?
As a child, I never did dress up as a witch, I admit- I personally favored black cats for years on end, and a few times, something else which is now forgotten- but my grandmother, who raised me (and is Catholic, though it doesn’t matter for the purposes of this essay) always had this one Halloween decoration we would put up year after year.
Apparently, I’d dubbed it “Witchypoo” when I was a toddler, and the name stuck. It was this black bead-eyed, stuffed witch with black and orange felt for robes and none of the green-skinned stereotyping. And she sat on this little round wooden dowel broom. I wish I could show you it; it was very cute. Amazingly cute. But you get the point- I took childlike, innocent glee at this witchy figure that took to dangling underneath the kitchen light every October.
And just last October, my grandmother bought a stuffed mantle decoration of three green-faced witches smiling crookedly and brightly out at the world, with purple and black robes and stuffed witchy hats and a pumpkin at their feet. All of October thus far, I’ve worked retail and sold many such stereotypical things: hundreds of pounds of candies, spooky costumes- and witchy ones, too.
Should I be offended by my grandmother’s decoration? No, not really- I could choose to if I wanted. She knew by that point what my practice was, that it wasn’t Satanic (though she expressed her worries and I allayed them as best I knew how at the time) and was something I was serious about.
Should I be offended by working retail and selling these things for a large chain store? I could.
Would the same things offend someone else who’s witchy? Maybe; everyone’s different. But if I chose to be offended and started fighting against the stereotypes, who knows who I could impact?
What if there was a child just down the street telling her mother that she wanted to be a witch for Halloween? Or that she wanted to be a smart witch like Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter movies? – Or something along those lines.
Now, let’s take it a bit further. Supposing I stuck that stereotypical image on my living room windowsill for everyone to look at whenever they walk by my suburban home this month, or on Halloween eve next to a glowing carved pumpkin? Supposing some youth dressed up in a Witch outfit this Halloween saw it, and after some time had passed, found out about ‘real’ witches and that Halloween became a catalyst for him or her- a catalyst that spurred the youth on to become a real witch and transform their lives through their spirituality?
I’m tired of the fighting over stereotypes in a bid to be recognized as legitimate- aren’t you? We already -know- we are legitimate. We know that, and we know also that with time comes acceptance. We work our butts off year round at our jobs and taking care of our children, and fight for our rights.
Why can’t we just recover that moment of our childhood where we took glee at these figures again, if even for a little while? Sure, they might be meant to offend us- but we have the choice to -let- it affect us. Those stereotypes are images of the past. Yes, let’s change it- but let us not lose a part of ourselves by becoming too jaded to smile.
Even the best warriors need to smile and laugh on occasion, after all.
I, for one, see those witch decorations on tree trunks and bushes that portray the witch as having run into a tree face first as an amusing reminder not to get too “hung up” on things in life.
So let us make our celebrations for Samhain and honor the ancestors- but times are a’ changing. Even though there may still be witch-hunts and witch wars somewhere, we cannot fight all the time.
Let us laugh for once, regain a bit of the child within, and see this coming Samhain with newer eyes. Let us release feeling as if we must fight for our rights all the time- just for a bit- and relax. While we can educate our children (if we have them) about those stereotypical images, we can still take time to let our inner child take a breather. Our ancestors, after being oppressed for so long, would want to take a breather from being persecuted.
We have the choice this time- but it is we who are doing the fighting. Perhaps it’s rightfully so- but no warrior can fight all the time.
Even though it’s the dark half of the year, let the light inside you grow brighter. Give yourself a much-deserved respite from the fighting- and smile. Maybe those decorations will help some young one down the road become a priest or priestess of the Craft. After all, you never really know how the universe works. Let us restore our own inner children by taking a brief break. The gods know we work hard enough all the time as it is.
Someday, we’ll achieve what we desire. But we must be careful of those who could be affected- and we must be careful not to let the price of that achievement be our own inner children. We must not become jaded.
Balance in all things, after all.