With Halloween quickly approaching, I’ve been watching far more spooky, horror, and occult-themed videos of late. This may come as a surprise to some, but though many of the monsters in Halloween-themed films are fictitious, others have significant history behind them. For example, contrary to popular belief, witches didn’t always have this “creepy” persona that we see in the mainstream now.
Witches were once viewed as powerful women in society; women who were in touch with their personal power and were connected to their environment. They understood how to use the elements and certain herbs to their benefit, and were often well-respected members of their communities, not fearful characters!
The term “witch” was derived from the word wicce, which means “wise,” meaning that “witchcraft” actually translates to “craft of the wise.” Witches were simply empowered women who saw the Earth and themselves as powerful entities, worshipping Mother Nature (also referred to as Mother God and eventually Mother Mary when Christianity started to rule). However, once the Roman Empire started to use Christianity as a means of controlling the masses, people were forced to begin worshipping an external, male God, stripping them of their personal power. Patriarchy began to rise and rights were no longer equal; thus, witches were frowned upon because they were ultimately just strong women who threatened the patriarchy.
Interestingly enough, the word “virgin” never referred to celibacy/chastity prior to the church taking rule, but rather implied that a woman was simply unmarried. A virgin was a woman who was independent of men, meaning she was “one-in-herself.” Of Latin origin, the word virgin was synonymous with powerful, strong, and skillful, which is very different from the innocent and sometimes weak contexts the word “virgin” holds today.
Then the witch trials and hunts began, resulting in far too many tragic deaths of strong, dynamic women. Women were tortured and killed because of their sexuality and independence, ultimately further fuelling patriarchy and a significant divide between the sexes.
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