The Halloween Witch-A Garden Variety Pagan’s Perspective
This post originally appeared on All Things Books on October 31, 2011.
The Halloween Witch-One Garden Variety Pagan’s Perspective
by Lisa Beth Darling
I grew up in the Dark Ages (the 1970s) when Trick or Treating was definitely the ‘in’ thing to do. Everybody dressed up, kids and adults, everybody put out decorations and bowls of candy. Black, white, Jew, Christian, Pagan…everybody, if you had two bucks you had a bowl of candy on your front stoop for Halloween. If you didn’t have money for a fancy costume, then your mom threw the worst sheet in the house over your head, cut out two eyes, put a pillowcase in your hand, gave you a pat on the butt as she told you to have fun and look before you crossed the street. Like Thanksgiving, Halloween is a non-denominational, non-secular holiday. Everybody’s invited and welcomed with open arms full of spooky good cheer.
As a whole and as country (the US),Halloween became passé as it went through a whole period where it was considered ‘evil’—and still is—by a bunch of close minded people. Crazy Teenagers wreaked havoc and destroyed property. People gave out poisoned candy! Geez! Talk about real downers. WTH?
In recent years, mostly pushed by people my age, Halloween has made a grand comeback. It is now the second ‘best selling’ holiday in the US right behind Christmas. If you look closely at all of the costumes you’ll see this year as the adorable Trick or Treaters come to your door and you think way back, you will find three or four that are just as prevalent today as they were, well, when MY parents were young.
The last is my personal favorite for her timelessness, her endurance, and her willingness to see things through year in and year out over the centuries. This is the ‘character’ that usually dress up as for Halloween not because of my Pagan Path but because I’ve always felt a strange kinship with that green face gray haired old hag. Even before I found Paganism she had a place deep in my heart. As you can tell, I am not offended by her as some of those who follow other Pagan Paths may be. I don’t think she’s degrading or stereotypical. I think she is much loved, if she wasn’t she would have gone the way of ‘Luke Skywalker’ a long time ago. Don’t see too many of him at Halloween anymore, do you? But I’ll bet you at least five witches will come to your door on the 31st. When she does she will have with her many things.
She will be dressed in black. Black is the culmination of ALL color. (I know, most people think that’s white, but white is actually the ABSENCE of color. If you don’t believe me, grab your kid’s paints, mix all of the colors together, and see if you get white.) Black takes into itself all that there is, therefore it is strong and bold. It is protective and pushes away (or dispels) all that would seek to cause harm.
She will (probably) be green. The green face became popular with “The Wizard of Oz” it’s actually a symbol of the herbs the witch works with. All of her plants, roots, flowers, potions, and concoctions. Just like the cauldron she’s known for stirring but probably won’t be dragging around with her on Halloween.
She will have a broom. Not to fly upon, unfortunately, I’m still waiting for ‘Harry Potter’ to come along and show me how to pull off that particular trick. No, in this case, the broom is a symbol of home and hearth. She uses it to keep her home clean and to shoo out negativity.
She will probably have gray hair. I know, today every woman is told to cover up that gray! But not her. She is bold and she is beautiful as she turns to face the Crone Stage of her life with grace. Her lovely silver gray hair symbolizes her wisdom and her knowledge, all that she has learned, gained, shared, loved, lost, and regained during her time on Planet Earth. As is each and every line in her face.
And maybe…just maybe…yours too.