Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Season of the Witch

I have had a growing fascination with witches, lately.  Witches are almost always powerful women, embodied with supernatural abilities which they can use for good or bad.  The first witch I remember seeing was in the animated Disney movie, The Sword and the Stone.  Madame Mim, a short, tiny ugly old women nearly gets the drop on the wizard Merlin by acting crazy, cunning, and seductive, all in equal turns.

Witches rarely seemed to be weighed down by their man or their children.  I'm not saying all witches don't have these problems, but they seemed not to be as encumbered by the limitations that most female roles find themselves in, whether it be moms, daughters, sisters, or romantic interests.

Witches are forces to be reckoned with.  Good or bad. However I'm not too fond of the current trend of having a coven of witches function as the main story line.  The plots become too melodramatic with the witches all up in each other's drama and the show veers off into Real Housewives of Whatever territory.  Initially I was excited to see Angela Bassett in American Horror Story; Coven but then got turned off by the female student drama.

What Coven did well was guest feature Steve Nicks, which was brilliant!

Here I have pulled some examples of powerful, fierce women from books, films, music and TV, that could be considered witches in the broadest sense of the term.  Female empowerment never looked good.


Harry Potter Series 

All right, this is a bit of a cheat because half of the characters in these books are witches just by being female wizards but there is a such a wide range of powers and personalities.  From McGonagall's stoic sense of duty, to Bellatrix Lestrange's psychotically scary nastiness, and Hermione's brave, intelligent heroics, there are enough witches to here to shake a broomstick at.

Wizard of Oz Series

The original books by L. Frank Baum continue to inspire countless spin-offs and adaptations in movies, films and even comic books.  The witches in the Land of Oz are some of the most powerful characters and yet still retain their humanity, able to transform and evolve, for good or for bad.  These women always have a choice, and are not forced to be one side or the other.

The Chronicles of Narnia Series

Jadis, the White Witch is one bad azz muther. Seriously.  She plunges Narnia into never-ending winter, cancels Christmas, turns people to stone and yet has the delicacy needed in seducing a young child into selling out his entire family.  Power hungry, manipulative and pretty stylish to boot.


American Horror Story: Coven

Okay, so I jumped off the bandwagon early with this one.  Partly because Jessica Lange can pour it on kind of thick and partly because I couldn't stand Emma Roberts' character.  I don't like my spooky stories too campy but I'm thinking of maybe coming back just for Angela Bassett.  She's so captivating and gorgeous on screen.  She's like a living sculpture.  I'll just fast forward to get to her scenes.

Hell yes.

Witches of East End

Witches of East End follows a witch mom, with her two adult witch daughters and their aunt, who can turn into a cat.....because she's a witch.  Perhaps because this show is on the Lifetime Channel, it does skew toward being melodramatic but each of the women have their own personalities and cannot be considered completely good or completely evil.

Game of Thrones

As the Red Witch, Melisandre is also a character with mixed motivations.  She seems neither entirely good nor entirely evil.  She has been responsible for setting dissenters to flame, birthing a shadow monster to kill a rival and also for coming to the aid of the Brothers of the Night's Watch.  She is intensely focused on assisting Stannis Baratheon to the throne but what for what purposes?  Ultimately, only time will tell.  Plus she wears a bitchin' garnet choker making her immune to poison and is played by the lovely and intense Dutch actress, Carice Van Houten.

PS - I was too afraid to Google Image Search her at work, since she is naked a lot.  This is the first photo I could find.


Maleficent/ Sleeping Beauty

According to the recent movie, Maleficent (2014) the title character is actually a faerie and thus not technically a witch but she still is quite powerful and supernaturally gifted.  In the animated 1959 Disney film, Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent displays more characteristics of a classic witch, such as placing curses, keeping an animal familiar, and transforming into a monstrous dragon.  Besides, Maleficent just nails the classic evil witch costume, complete with a set of wicked spiraling horns.

The Witches

This 1990 film, based on Roald Dahl's children's book (voice dripping with irony) of the same name, scared my generation goddamn senseless.  Angelica Huston stars as the Grand High Witch, Evangeline Ernst.   Absolutely breathtaking in a slinky black dress and Bettie Page haircut, she vamps it up deliciously until removing her skin to reveal her true hideous witch form.  She's not alone, she presides over all of England's witches who reveal themselves to be equally bald and equally evil, which make-up provided by the legendary Jim Henson.  The witches make Bellatrix Lestrange look like the pre- Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana in comparison.

The Sword and the Stone

I feel like all of my posts circle back to my childhood, in some way or another.  Of course I had to include crazy, wily, unpredictable Madam Mim.  Until then, I never understood how one used their feminine wiles to their advantage.

This....this is how.


Stevie Nicks

Her music, her look, her sound.  If she can't convince you that life can be magical, romantic, one with nature experience to enjoy then, I don't know....maybe you need more magic in your life.

Erykah Badu

A native of Dallas, Texas, Erykah Badu is known for shattering expectations and stretching boundaries in the way she sings, the way she dresses and in the causes that she champions.  A little bit soul, a little bit street, a little bit African priestess, Badu is magical in her own way, and even played a voodoo queen, Queen Mossuette, in the Blue Brothers 2000 film. 

Lykke Li

If you've never seen Lykke Li live, you don't know what you are missing. She performs draped in sheer black, enveloped in misty fog, and banging on the drums like the world's about to end. You become swept up in the ghostly power of her music and feel compelled to worship at her feet.  This is raw female power at it's best.

What witches inspire or terrify you?  Join me later this week as I reveal easy ways to incorporate a modern, romantic witchy look to your Halloween costume.

Happy Halloween, Witches!


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