Who’s a Witch?

She was lying on the cold metal. All her sisters were gone. She was damaged, threads dangling from her clothes, the broomstick ripped from her hand. She was a dollar store discard, worth 100 pennies but because of the shaky world economy she now costs $1.25. She was alone on the bottom level near the floor. Above her, the skeletons and orange and black paraphilia were sparse and picked over but nobody wanted her.

I have become a champion for those left behind. I took the witch home, glued the broom stick back into her left hand and trimmed the messiness of her outfit.

I have become an amateur sociologist with an intense interest in the reasons why there is scapegoating. I’ve always wondered why some people are seen as having less value and why some are labeled deviant and shunned.

What is a witch? Who were these women? What can we learn from them in today’s world of social conflict?

The concept of “witch” is like a dark sea creature with many tentacles. It is more than magic and spells and warts on the noses of old ladies. I follow the money. It is a path that repeatedly illuminates my way.

“A witch is born out of the true hungers of her time.” -Ray Bradbury

Centuries ago in Europe, a radical economic shift happened in which society became more interested in profit than tradition. Feudal manorial estates and castle towns began to disappear causing the country folk to lose their plots and homesteads and become wage laborers. Pauperization and alienation increased and those in power feared the anger of those who were below them. Targets were needed to divert the masses from looking too closely at the schemes of those in charge. Witches became a persecuted subculture of that time. They were usually older women who lived alone, had a connection to nature, and exhibited the intuitive wisdom that comes with age and trail and error. They were sought after by other women who had little controlled over their lives. They eased the uncertainty of life including the trials of childbirth. Their lore and our fascination with them still exists today. Each chapter of their existence in history “can map our endless complicated feelings about women’s attractiveness, age and agency.”

Much of the supernatural occurrences associated witches originated as result of torture that forced them to confirm things that weren’t true. And, as always, the social mechanisms of gossip and slander intensified their persecution and their horrible deaths by burning.

Joseph Campbell in his book, The Power Of Myth , writes about standard men’s roles in books and fairy tales. Males were predominantly portrayed as strong adventurers on quests or heroes rescuing helpless females. The witch is one of the few symbols in Western literature of independent female power. She was the woman who had the guts to live life on her own terms. She is tied, as all women are, to the uncontrollable but enviable power of the moon and the strength and perseverance of the women who came before her.

Centuries later modern women still look for personal meaning in the supernatural. They buy crystals, seek out fortune tellers, and believe in the occult. I recently went to a physic fair about 20 miles from my home to find evidence of this. This event was mainly attended by women who, during these tough economic times, were still willing to pay $75-$100 for a reassuring look into their futures.

Society and culture are strong inescapable forces that press on all human beings. But it seems that a woman must dodge more deftly the ever evolving and fluctuating standards that try to define who she is. I, like many woman, have dealt with the uncertainty of who I am and I have frequently questioned my worth. Many times growing up I saw myself as stupid and ugly as I struggled to fulfill the expectations imposed on me by the world and those around me.

I am older now and with that comes wisdom and, just maybe, a bit of magic. I have broken the spell! I accept who I am. I’m finally enough!

“One of the witchiest things we can do is to unlearn the limiting beliefs we have been taught about who we are, what is possible, and how to act in alignment with our true needs and desires.”-Erica Feldman

Happy Halloween!

Copyright 2022 @theautonomoustraveler.com All rights reserved.

14 thoughts on “Who’s a Witch?

  1. Karen Peters

    I love this! I just completed the book “Pope Joan” based on the history legend of a female in the 800s who dressed and acted as a man to pursue her dreams of education and self-direction. She succeeded by beginning as a priest, and worked her way through the church hierarchy to Pope for about 2 years! She was eventually discovered and died, but her life had been filled with education and books, intellectual discussions and even power which would have been denied her as a woman. When she was a young girl, before changing her identity, she was scorned for her intellect and thought of as weird, and was even called a witch. It seems sometimes that we are still fighting this battle!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lhines421

    Hello, Joyce from Kenya & Tanzania! We’re on another Odysseys trip and guess who else is in our group of 14?

    Richard and Pieter from our India trip—purely by coincidence.

    Having a great time—wish you were here with us!

    Larry and Tom

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Autonomous Traveler

      So glad to hear from you. Yes, I wish I was with you. I broke my ankle on a tour of Israel in 2019 and then Covid came. I’ve been exploring and learning about the area around my home. I am really eager to travel abroad again. Please let me know about your next trip. I’d love to make it a reunion. Give my best to Richard and Pieter. Thank you so much for reaching out to me. Joyce


  3. Yes! Yes, we are finally good enough! Bravo my friend! Excellent research and study on these crafty ladies.
    I recently learned, back in the times of witch trials and burnings, that if someone “turned in or found” a witch that you could simply HAVE her property.
    Happy Halloween!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nancy Reilly

    Joyce, Great!Thank you! So interesting, I love your research and stories and I can so relate to it and you. I think we have had similar paths in life and I appreciate and admire your path.

    Nancy Reilly CSL St. Aug


    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Autonomous Traveler

      Thanks, Nancy, for your kind words.. I hope you made it okay thru IAN. Saw that St. A. had flooding. I hope the people on the lower level of Quail Hollow didn’t get water logged again.


    1. The Autonomous Traveler

      Retirement gives me time to research. It’s fascinating how everything is connected. I love hunting down the clues. Thank you for always encouraging me to keep going.


  5. Joanne Harter

    Well put! As a woman who came to my pagan path later in life, I have found some reassurance of my worthiness and felt my power from time to time.

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy Tablet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Autonomous Traveler

      The wisdom and clarity of age has allowed me to accept all types of spirituality and, as a result, it is easier for me to accept myself. We need to get together soon. Would love to have you come to my North Woods.


      1. Joanne Harter

        Thanks for the invite! It would be wonderful to visit you and your woods, but I’m afraid that it will have to wait until Jim has more fully recovered from the serious heart attack he suffered Oct. 1, and the complications which have followed. He’s at Sam Keep for rehab, and is progressing faster than I thought he would.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The Autonomous Traveler

        Sending positive healing energy and wishes to Jim. Come visit me whenever you can. I have been known to serve coffee outside with a nice fire reflecting back from my rock ledges and a cozy bank of snow surrounding all invited.


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