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By Tammy Smith, Sep 30 2014 03:15PM

The Queen of the Niight, relief also found at the British Museum
The Queen of the Niight, relief also found at the British Museum

For me, October is synonymous with Halloween.


I grew up in a small eastern town on the border between Quebec (Canada) and Vermont (U.S) and, for most people who would grow up to tell stories, putting on a costume and acting like someone or something else was always really exciting. I've dressed up as a witch many times for Halloween when I was a kid and when I was older.


In reading stories and fairy tales that have witches in them, I quickly realized there seem to be three kinds of witches in fiction: the Good Witch (White Witch, the fairy godmother), the Old Witch (The Hag, the harpy, the Babba Yaga, the Evil Step Mother) and the Sexy Witch (the seductress, the Medusa, the fallen woman). These kinds of witches all play with elements of archetypesfound in fiction, but the thing they all have in common is power. It's power in various forms, from controlling the elements, fertility and sexuality to fortune-telling and casting curses. This is why witches have been such fantastic characters, because for centuries their magic represented all that was hidden from society about women. In tradition and religion, the capacity to create life has always been something to celebrate, but it was also seen as something to fear. Even today, in many parts of the world women's reproductive rights are still not recognize. The witch is a woman who posesses secret knowledge. In fairytales, she is the woman I thought was more fascinating than the main heroine; the witch was someone who achieved her aims (whether they were good or bad) by using her wits and her talents; very much unlike the charm and beauty of the myriad princesses that needed to be saved.


I'll be going to the British Museum this October to visit this exhibit: Witches and Wicked Bodies

This exhibition will examine the portrayal of witches and witchcraft in art from the Renaissance to the end of the 19th century. It will feature prints and drawings by artists including Dürer, Goya, Delacroix, Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, alongside classical Greek vessels and Renaissance maiolica.



And I'll be attending this lecture on Friday Oct 3, 2014: Evil hags and mothers: women and witchcraft in Germany Lyndal Roper, Regius Professor of History, University of Oxford, talks about the witchcraft trials of 16th- and 17th-century Germany and asks why witches were so often older women.


There will also be an evening at the Dirty Dicks bar, near Liverpool Street:

FORTEAN LONDON HALLOWEEN: GHOST, WITCHES AND DEMONS, Lurking on the night before Halloween, our October meeting has gathered a coven of the finest speakers on London ghosts, witches and demons as well as our own Scott Wood. Each talk will be 20-30 minutes.



Wishing you a great October!


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