Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Celebrating All Hallow's Eve with Witches and Wizards...Part Two

Speaking of wizards and witches...Did you know that:

The Three Witches from Shakespeares Macbeth by Daniel Gardner, 1775

Cauldrons, often associated with Ceridwen (see part one), is said to symbolize the womb of mother earth. According to Celtic legend, dead warriors could return to life after a swim inside these mighty pots. Because they lacked the power of speech after their awakening, there were those who believed they no longer had a soul.  Nonetheless, these warriors were sent into battle where they would fight valiantly, until they were killed again.  (I suppose it's a good thing that nowadays, our magical minions just use them to brew their potions.)

The mandrake, known Biblically as an aphrodisiac, also happened to be a favorite among witches and warlocks. This most powerful of plants, both deeply feared and highly desired, harbored a tiny demon that could kill a gatherer with a single shriek. However, once properly harvested and contained, the demon would unveil the future and offer counsel to its host.

Familiars could come in a variety of forms. Dogs (as in Prince Rupert's poodle that accompanied him into battle and was ultimately shot at the end of the war with a silver bullet), cats (all colors, not just black), bats, snakes, crows and even frogs.

A spider, the ultimate trickster and silent killer, could also be used as a witch's familiar, for they were so small, they could hide within a sorcerer's shroud. They could then reveal the secrets of the unsuspecting victim and offer up some good advice to the witch or warlock...

1451 - Martin Le France (1410-1461)

The broom, some say, couldn't be used for flight unless the witch or wizard first slathered their bodies with magical ointment made of mandrake, monkshood, nightshade, hemlock, and henbane. To these ingredients it was also necessary to add a base of fat (please don't ask where some of it came don't want to know). Once applied to the body, the broom or distaff could spirit the witch across continents in the mere blink of an eye. Don't try this at home kids...

Charms and Knots were used to strengthen spells and heighten powers. A witch could use the gorgeous peacock feather with its circle of turquoise and blue, to cast the "evil-eye" on her hapless victim, thus condemning them to a slow, miserable death. On the other hand, white witches used stones such as amber, lodestone and bloodstone to heal or avert evil.

Do you have a favorite...or not so favorite...witch accessory?


  1. I didn't know many of these stories. When I think of witches, I naturally think of the cauldron and broom...and a cat (though not always a black one). I associate ravens and crows as familiars for warlocks and sorcerers.

    That bit about fat for the broomstick makes me shudder. Must have been one of the victims that got the "evil-eye." :)

  2. unbaptized infant... (See! I told you that you wouldn't want to know...) I mean really, where do these stories originate?? Thanks for stopping by Mae! I love your visits and comments!