Fairy tales for centuries have portrayed the witch has an ugly hag, the old crone with ragged hair, hideous features and warts on the nose and chin. A frightening portrayal of a woman with torn, ink black clothing, who lured, cooked and ate the children of the local village if they were unfortunate enough to wander too close to her home. The quintessential Wicked Witch.
That image though iconic as it may be, is a myth. Even during the height of burning times, or witch hunts, 15th through the 17th centuries, the figure of the so called “witch” did not fit this description at all. The accused were neighbors, friends and even family members who looked and dressed like the other persons of the household or village. They were old and infirm, pretty and young, male and female. There was really very little distinction between the accused and the accusers.
Mid October bring us in to the long, cold, dark nights and that special moment of thrills and chills, Halloween. As a child I loved the idea and the look of the Halloween witch. Tall pointed black hat, long flowing robes, pointed shoes and the black cat sitting on a broomstick flying against the full moon. I was fascinated with the idea of snapping your fingers, having all you wanted at your command and cutting down your enemy with the point of a crooked finger. Although the iconic look of the wicked witch is rooted firmly in my imagination, movies and television have propelled the witch in to the contemporary world with a very modern look.
When October begins I bring out the werewolf, vampires and ghost dvd’s and spend the evenings shivering in my skin. I have a few favorite television programs I watch for thrills, chills and scares. One of the finest paranormal, ghost hunting shows produced, debuted in December of 2007 and although the final episode aired in May of 2011, it remains one of my top choices to catch on Netflix on a regular basis.
Paranormal State is “a student led college club that investigated paranormal phenomena at haunted locations”. One of the group’s paranormal investigators, the ethereal and enchanting Eilfie Music lives the daily life of the modern witch. Ms. Music was kind enough to participate in a Q & A for this October article series.
KE: Society today is filled with misconceptions of the witch. What do you feel is the most common myth of today’s witch?
EM: I think one of the misconceptions is that all witches are the same in appearance and practice. Not all follow the same creed or ideas. Many do follow a earth base spiritual path, but not all. You could past by some and not even think they are a witch without asking them. Not all are public about their practice for safety or feeling they don’t need to share with the public. I enjoy the icon of the witch in entertainment with the pointy hat and the green skin cackling and turning people into newts. This is just a cartoon, but does not define all witches.
KE: What message would you like most to convey to people to try and dispel this way of thinking?
EM: To some this is a spiritual path, for others it is a magickal practice with the idea that things can be change through will, and others its a mix of both. Just like any community or culture, they don’t fit in a neat little box. People approach this path for different reasons just like any other spiritual or religious practice. Basically, we are not different than any other person that goes to work and pays the bills in day to day life.
KE: During the holiday season, families practice many customs that are rooted in times before Christianity. Quite often they are not aware of the customs roots or what the original meaning was. What do you find to be the strangest custom followed today.
EM: In the Western world, Halloween is both entertainment with horror, trick or treating, costumes, and parties. It is also called Samhain, a time to giving offerings to the dead and celebrating the last harvest of the year. I celebrate both the Halloween with horror movies and scare houses, but also Samhain with remembering the dead and giving offerings after sunset.
KE: Halloween is a wonderful “safe-scary” holiday for children to play dress up and emulate their favorite goblin or ghoul. What was your favorite “monster” or icon of Halloween while you were growing up?
EM: When I was little, I usually dressed as a black cat or a witch in the pointy hat and stripe stockings. A favorite monster of mine was Bela Lugosi’s Dracula with the opera cape and accent. The classic black and white horror movies were a favorite during this time of year.
KE: Before investigating or walking into a location known to be haunted or possessed by a supernatural entity, what precautions do you take to protect yourself and possibly those in attendance as well?
EM: I wear some personal symbols all the time for protection during an investigation and a reminder of my personal path. When I go into a location that is possible haunted, I try to be respectful to whatever is at the location as long as it is respectful to me. I try not to set myself up to expect activity when investigating, though it’s hard not to. After an investigation or even just an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) session it is good to say thank you to the entities and ask them not to follow any of the investigators home.
KE: Things that go bump in the night ~ Out of all of your investigations what has frightened you the most?
EM: The times I’m most afraid is in a dark basement or attic during an investigation. These are not always my favorite spots, but they seem to be hot spots in a haunting. This is possibly due to the creep factor and how they are not always inhabited other than for storage. Places we don’t think about in a house.
KE: Do you feel there should be more of a move to educate society on the witchcraft hysteria of Early Modern Europe to further assist people in understand the dangers of mob mentality and the destructive force of fear and its eventual evolution to hatred and mob violence?
EM: People fear what they do not understand or it does not fit within their reality. Witchcraft hysteria is not just in history but still happening today. The witchcraft hysteria of Europe was not cut and dry. The people being tried weren’t always actual witches and people trying them were just following the laws of that day under the Church, but that does not make it right.
KE: Every practitioner has his or her own natural strengths and those they need to work hard to develop. What are your natural strengths and what area do you feel you have to work extra hard at?
EM: I guess my strength is my work in sympathetic magick, with creating items like poppets, grisgris bags, and anointed candles. I try to study on many different subjects to be well rounded in my occult practice, but that is always ongoing.
KE: What frightens you—what is your bugaboo?
EM: What could be in the dark since I dislike jump scares.
KE: With Samhain / Halloween approaching, what steps do you take to prepare?
EM: This year I am trying to do more work on preparing my garden for the winter so I can do more the next spring. I also gather food such as squash, breads, white wine, candles, and sweets to give as an offering to the spirits and Gods for Samhain.
KE: The method of witchcraft varies from practitioner to practitioner. Learned lessons are modified over time by each witch as they learn, grow and develop their craft to be unique to themselves. There are many “Book of Shadows” available on the market today, for research and practicing guidelines. Have you thought about publishing your own?
EM: I hope to someday publish a book on various subjects, but I think that might be later down the road. I still have much to learn. I do enjoy teaching workshops such as the Tarot and hopefully much more. I try to stress in my classes that I don’t know everything, but here is what I have learn so far. I enjoy people taking what I taught them and going even further with the information.
I would like to extend a very special thank you to Eilfie Music for so graciously participating in my series. If you would like to learn more about Eilfie, you can find her on Facebook, Fan Page, browse her Etsy Shoppe, “Hecate’s Crossroads” where she sells her art and occult items and follow along on her blog.