Happy Halloween, everyone! Last night, I watched a History Channel special about the origins of Halloween traditions. Fascinating! The part about witches was particularly interesting because it goes along with women’s study workshops that I’ve led for a few years. These classes explore women’s contributions to the arts, religion, politics, & literature. They’re not Religion 101 or History 101 courses… they are opportunities for women to pursue their spiritual journey while learning about women’s roles in history. How does that relate to Halloween & witches?
In pre-Judeo-Christian traditions, women held positions of power & authority. In fact, the earliest religions were goddess-based & influenced matriarchal societies for generations. Women were healers, mystics, & leaders. Back then, the terms “crone” & “hag” meant wise women. Somewhere along the way, these terms were twisted into something negative by authorities in a changing world. An independent, land-owning woman who could heal with herbs & perform midwifery was seen as a threat to the new “barber-surgeons” & religious leaders who were male. The tools of their trade– cauldrons, herbs, & a broom were villiafied. According to the documentary, even the headcovering of a peasant woman (pointed hat) was turned into a symbol of witchcraft. All this would be ridiculous if it hadn’t led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of women during the Burning Times in Europe & early America.
Many women feel it’s time to reclaim their divinity. There is honor & value at every stage of a woman’s life– maiden, mother, & crone. How this impacts each woman can differ widely. It has definitely influenced my art & how I see my place in the world. I feel a greater connection & sense of responsibility for the earth & all living things. That’s why so much of my art has animals and landscapes as subjects. How would your life be different if you saw yourself as divine?