It’s Halloween in just a couple of days, and I think it’s about time to get into the ‘spirit’ of things.
Whilst I don’t have any young kids in the family anymore to go trick or treating with, it’s still fun to observe some of the ongoing traditions. Sweets – lots and lots of them!! Horror movies. Parties. And costumes.
One of the most common Halloween costumes I’m sure you’ve seen by now is a witch costume. And they all tend to go for a rather similar look – a pointy hat, green face paint, a ‘tattered’ dress, perhaps it even comes with a broom stick or a black cat.
Now costumes ARE fun, and I’m all for having a good time and letting your inner child out. But did you know that real witches looked completely different (unless you’re in the world of Oz!)?
What if I told you they looked just like an ordinary woman?
Where did witchcraft start?
It’s unclear where or when the first ‘witch’ came from, but the era of witch executions came from the 1400s. Yes, you heard me right, executions.
As you may have guessed, witches weren’t always seen as a fun, spooky concept, or as devious movie villains, but rather as a real threat to society.
People thought that witches were dangerous, that they did the devil’s work, and that they brought harm to those around them.
Even the monarchy were afraid of witches – King James I for example was involved with the treatise ‘Daemonologie’, which painted witches as fairly gruesome creatures.
Were any of these people really witches? No.
People were accused of being a witch for a number of reasons, many of which that were pretty ridiculous! Like for being an (ugly) old spinster – old in those days being anyone over 40 (imagine 40 being ‘old’!). And other ridiculous (to us) reasons.
Birthmarks, for example. Midwives would help identify marks on people’s bodies that they believed were witch marks. Or outcasts, people who didn’t fit into the social norms of the times.
Women were the most targeted as witches.
There were around 6000 men who were accused of witchcraft, and only 10-15% were executed. That may sound like a lot, but let’s compare that to the statistics for the women.
80-85% of people who were suspected to be witches were women, and 25% were found actually guilty. But were they really guilty? Whether they ‘worshipped the devil’ or not, witches were sometimes tortured until they “confessed”.
And women were considered witches for the smallest of reasons! Maybe it was because their career was misunderstood, because they suffered from illnesses, or just because they were single or widowed. It could be purely the accusation of a resentful neighbour, or a name blurted out by another accused ‘witch’ who was being tortured.
Modern day ‘witches’
Now you might think that compared to that women have come a long way! Nowadays most people see the positive sides witchcraft – becoming closer to nature, tuning in with the energy of the universe, using traditional remedies and many others.
After a long history of having a bad rep, people are spinning the idea of witches to something more positive, by embracing some of the fun tools and strategies.
Crystal therapy. Astrology. Tarot cards (maybe I’m a witch myself!). Using witchcraft for fun, or for any good purposes, rather than harmful intentions.
What could be better than taking something negative and spinning it into something new and positive?
We live in an entirely different world now, and whilst things are much better in the modern generation, there are still challenges women have to face. One of these is the confidence gap (read about it here if you haven’t already!).
The ability of mankind to demonise others, especially those who are ‘not like us’ still exists, and there is still progress to be made.
What can we learn from the witch hunts of the past?
It’s easy to feel angry about what happened.
At the end of the day, witches were wrongly accused and executed because of people’s fear. They also often used the ‘witch’ as a scapegoat – a cause for everything bad that happened within the community. Their fear came from them not understanding the women’s way of life, or the more unusual ways they contributed to society.
Fear can bring out the worst in people, as it did in the past. A more useful emotion when faced with uncertainty or something you have not experienced before – is curiosity.
Of course, people in the 14th century lived in a very different world. A world where life could change in an instant and there was much to be fearful about.
Being too cautious won’t put your life at stake anymore, but it can cause you to miss out on new opportunities. You could miss out on learning something new about someone else OR yourself, and if you discover something new you enjoy, you can do it again!
Try something new.
If you’re looking for a new opportunity, why not join our Facebook group ‘Female Public Speaking Tips‘! Not only is it a safe space for women, but also a great way to develop your speaking skills AND find out when our next event will be!
And if you enjoy getting into the Halloween spirit, let me know how you’ll be celebrating!
PS – The genetic blueprint really helps with understanding who you are and what you are here to do – fill in this 2-minute questionnaire and I will send you your own ‘genetic blueprint’ which will help you understand yourself so you can begin to find your why! You will find it here.
PPS – If the link doesn’t work for any reason (sometimes technology has a bad day) then email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will sort it out for you!
PPS – If you liked this blog and want to read more blogs surrounding female empowerment, you can find last week’s here: ‘More Than Just A Voice‘
“I’m on a global mission to help 10 million disheartened souls, who are at a crossroads, to STOP asking why me? And START saying why not me!”