October is without question my absolute FAVORITE time of the year. I have studied all manner of folklore and custom in my quest to better understand my atheism. None fascinate me more than the true story of witches. You will find my blog filled with posts like this. HERE
Traditionally fall in general is a time of year when I post more than usual. This is probably because it’s the time of year when I find myself the least busy. Today I wanted to start of this months posts with something I think you will find interesting related to witches.
Your basic haunted house witch is actually a creation of the commercial machine. Real “witches” laugh at these images because of their inaccuracy and sheer ridiculousness. Like all things commercial, these images do have some basis in fact and history.
Some scholars say is it possible that the witch’s hat is an exaggeration of the tall conical “Dunces Hat”, popular in the royal courts during the 15th century. These pointed hats were a fashion icon seen all around the city of London when it was seen as the fashion capital of Europe. You have probably seen these hast in pastel pinks and blues usually with a flowing sheer cloth hanging from the point. Since it took much longer for news to issue back in these times, it took a long time for fashion to trickle into the country. Usually by the time these fashion trends landed in the outlying villages they had already become out of fashion in the city. City folk called Country folk “pagani” which means country dweller. This is a slang term that would be much the same as calling someone a “hick”, today.
As fate would have it, pointed hats soon became considered something only the pagani would wear. These folks were often herbalists or farmers wives who lived in the country and understood the land. Since they were wise to the ways of nature and could grow and harvest herbs, the pointed hat became associated with the “Wise Woman” or “Witch”. By Victorian times, the tall black conical hat worn by an old crone became readily identifiable as symbols of wickedness in illustrations of children’s stories and fairy tales.
During this same period the Christian church chipped-in and associated pointed hats with the horns of the Devil, by which time they frowned upon their use. This served to further demonize this hat style.
Today most contemporary witches go bareheaded or wear ritual headgear such as headbands with a crescent moon or other religious symbols on it. Normally the symbol is positioned on the forehead. During rituals in which the Goddess and Horned God are represented, the high priestess may wear a headband or a crown, while the high priest may wear a helmet with horns or antlers.