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Submitted on
October 3, 2012
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Witch Sorceress Enchantress

Wed Oct 3, 2012, 6:47 PM by techgnotic:icontechgnotic:

The Witchas Multifaceted Icon

Throughout history artists of every discipline have been fascinated, inspired and transfixed at every historical stage of the shifting perceptions of the “Witch” in any given time or society.  The seams within every page of every chapter written against or in defense of the witch have been alternatively filled with oppressive sexism, blind eyed religious bigotry, occult doctrine, fevered and forbidden lustful sexuality, misplaced fear, and reams of wide eyed superstition.

Consequently, the colors, and lines within every stroke upon every canvas and visceral depiction, carry all the burdensome weight of the long intricacies of this subject.   With respect to this much maligned, religiously and politically repurposed, perpetually misunderstood subject matter, we bring a little of the Witch or Sorceress or Enchantress throughout art history and in the artworks of deviantART as she has appeared, the eternal female sometimes revered as symbol and icon of human power, but also sometimes reviled, hunted and depicted as symbol of all that is traitorous and deceptive.

Witches Sabbath, 1797-98
by Francisco Goya

The eternal “Eve.”  Or is it "Lilith"?

No other figure in art, or in common popular consciousness for that matter, has been so diametrically and extremely counterposed in dueling iconic presentation as the witch. She is either the repulsively ugly old hag with a bag of vile tricks she looses upon unsuspecting innocent souls – or she is the beautiful Earth Goddess, at one with all nature and the rhythms of life. Both iconic extremes were depicted in "The Wizard Of Oz". The evil witch was terrifying and dangerous. The good witch was positively angelic and acted as a protectoress of the lost little girl. Why the opposing “witch” narratives? Because both storylines are the received remnants of “true” stories from Europe’s knotted socio-political history.

When the Holy Roman Empire achieved control over most of Europe, Christianity became the official religion of the masses and was rigorously enforced. But the suppressed Druid and other pantheistic religions did not totally die out, with some adherents refusing to stop practicing their religious rites which had much to do with the woods and the fields. These practitioners – mostly elderly midwives and herbologists dispensing natural medicines – were slandered and labeled “witches” by the official church and violently suppressed. And so the schizophrenia swirling around the image of the witch was born. In our modern times the witch has become mixed in with vampires and werewolves as a Halloween monster, the children certainly having no notion that witches were “real” once upon a time.

Questionsfor the reader

  1. Which witch do you prefer to picture in your mind when that word in invoked?

    a. The fun Halloween character.

    b. The (maybe real) monster lurking in the deep woods.

    c. The Earth Mother Enchantress with special powers.

    d. The Earth Mother with knowledge of herbs and natural remedies but no special powers.

  2. Some are drawn to modern “witchcraft” seeking the very supernatural “powers” that Druid women were falsely accused of practicing and burned at the stake for possessing as “witches.”  Do you find this:

    a. Ironic.

    b. Sad but instructive in human nature.

    c. A victory for modern cultural acceptance.

    d. A comment on our “anything to gain an edge” society.

  3. What’s your favorite artwork depicting the iconic “evil” witch?
  4. What’s your favorite artwork depicting the iconic “good” witch?

Depictions of the Witch throughout history are filled with oppressive sexism, blind eyed religious bigotry, occult doctrine, fevered and forbidden lustful sexuality, misplaced fear, and reams of wide eyed superstition. She is either the repulsively ugly old hag with a bag of vile tricks she looses upon unsuspecting innocent souls – or she is the beautiful Earth Goddess, at one with all nature and the rhythms of life. So, Which Witch Is Which?
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LushmindaWolf Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
witches are super rad >W<
C-195 Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
3. Gruntilda Winkybunion 
4. I would say Dr Strange but he's male and not a witch.
Dancerofbeauty Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
ooooh i like all images of witches, it brings great contrast, as all things do come in all shapes and sizes figurativly speaking
alienscot1 Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
It has to be 1 d for me

2 a and 3not sure about but 4 would have to be Mrs Weasley from Harry potter, a nice, kind motherly witch.  Good article :D (Big Grin)
ThortheWraith Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Very cool articles!!! And as I love quizzes and questionlists and meme's of that sort, let's see how I solve the questions hmm

1. How you like to depict the witch
B. The lurking monster in the shadows

2. about modern witchcraft
C. The fact that being a witch is now accepted fills me with joy

3. Favourite evil witch in artwork
It answers especially my first question. I can feel her power and anger jumping from the screen and that gives me power and thrill, so yeah. 
What concerns movies I like the witches from "Hocus Pocus" but even more the witch from "The Wicked" She's badass!!

4. Depicting the good witch
hmm...sorry I can't recall at the moment :*roll* Too much horrormovies muddled my brain for that :p So yeah I'm going with Hermoine Granger. Or Molly Weasly, she really looks like that motherly sweet witch. 
IkioStar Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013

1. None of the above


2. None of the above


3.&4. Don't currently have one, but likes all of the above. 



belbin2 Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013
She may become any of these characters, by simply flipping the witch switch...
robb66 Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I didn't intend to put an anger emoticon inmy comment--Im new at this-Can someone else place it there?
robb66 Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
1-c-In my minds eye I picture shamanistic art, then my thought process shifts to Lame Deer, Grandfather- (Tom Brown Jr.'s). Then back to art -then a very charasmatic friend who is very witchy who has been both a good and bad influence in my life, Then (all-male)-and now I am seeing a very powerful elemental image I haven't shared yet. And to think of a female in terms of a "witch" in terms of "Evil" or Negative forces I think of how powerful that force can be, but karma bein what it is I try to just beware or something, I picture things like the dude in the movie " The Hunted", and of course the wicked witch of the west in Oz that I always thought of fake, but damn those monkeys haunted my dreams for years as a child ! In terms of a more realistic female, I think more and actually visualize -- A haunting spirit like"jezebel", I see bad, good, and neutral nymphs, I like to tune in to the Eternal Godess of the Earth and beyond, and I love to visualize beautiful healing human "White Witch" type females and need to find one to settle down with. I believe words are quite limiting and friends who are into witchcraft seem to like the term, and I feel the power in it but that word sometimes stirs up very negative thoughts about the persecution of certain peoples with different belief systems than thier own, and very open minded peoples as myself.
2- none of the above, an odd path to take, but could have an entirely "positive" outcome for said person being if only enlightenment, or personal empowerment, maybe more.
3- whew- you got me feeling that one, mostly a plain black left hand profile of a bat-winged-finley shaped nude female on a red background, sorry, don't know the artist, , but she just smiled at me with her eyes and gorgeous flowing hair, oval face with beautiful smiling lips annd fangs- Yikes !
4- Lilith in the movie Legend, and again I don't know the artist but there exists a painting I've seen in a few media mediums of a forest with a lady in the right and corner with a " flowing " Long white dress and golden hair, and again its mostly a right hand profile.
Sorry no good art references, but Thank You, Ive thouroughly enjoyed your thought provoking words, some! awesome artwork and the chance to reply ! my new deviant account is "wakeup2112" but there's nada there xcept a few! fav's at this point.
I do not agree with your Once upon a time comment but, Thats You and I fully Respect that -PEACE!
Lady-LM Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
1) C

2) B

3) I don't really know...

4) Too hard to narrow down
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