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The Beauty of the Witch

I have never been one for celebrating Halloween. In fact, I’ve outwardly detested it since my late teens, when I realised how cheap it was to be dressing up with no sense of context to what the day was about.

I know there’ll be a few people at this point, yawning their protests about being a kill-joy, but entertain me for a few moments, while I lay out some facts.

The marking of Halloween evolved from the Pagan celebration of Samhain, where people would welcome the harvest from September and dress up to ward off ghosts. The 8th century Pope Gregory III designed the 1st November to be All Saints Day. This was mingled with some of the Samhain celebrations, which led to 31st becoming known as Hallows Eve, eventually becoming Halloween, as we know it today.

What’s so dastardly about that? Well…

Like any other period in history, we have a habit of cherry-picking the niceties to comfort ourselves from the actuality.

In present times, we are a relatively comforted society and we gaze upon past history though romanticised authors, who relish in the abundance that we are all rewarded, at the end of every tale. However, this doesn’t ring true for most eras and the reality is extremely different.

The word ‘witch’ conjures up a whole host of stereotypes that have dominated our thinking of what would be most commonly seen as a woman carrying this label. Needlessly glossing over the violence and hatred shown towards them for merely working with nature, spirit and the energetic forces that many of us spend years mastering for the greater good.

It may seem an era far distant to us now, but the kidnapping, torturing and burning of women (and men) at the stake, who showed potential to be working in mystical ways spanned an astonishing 350 years, with an estimated 60,000 executed for suspicion of witchcraft (although I believe that this figure to be higher considering the time frame).

Despite mystical and magical practice already being in existence in ancient history, Roman influence and the rise of Christianity across Europe, brought an emerging suspicion amongst practices outside of this and deemed them to be satanic and solely practiced to harm. This escalated to the biggest ‘witch hunt’ recorded, spreading across Europe, the UK and America.

A devastating purge on societal differences that still impacts cultures today. Sadly, not as well documented, ‘witch hunts’ remain common in some cultures and even UK law, the witchcraft act was not repealed until 1951. Leaving a well-bedded reputation and distrust for ways of healing and working with the elements that are not solely academic science.

Thankfully, a resurgence in ancient practices is taking place all around us and people are once again becoming comfortable with the tarnished world of ‘alternative.’ Afterall, herbs and plants are what the earth provides us to sustain ourselves, the sun and the moon give us our daily rhythm, the seasons offer us the ever-changing environments and opportunities and spell-making is a form of meditation to where we’d like to place our energies in life.

So, this Halloween I will be choosing to celebrate. Celebrating the loss of the many people demonised for working with nature and spirit and to all those ‘witches’ out there, beautifully continuing to do so.

Blessed be!

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