Witches throughout history have been women of evil intent, with hidden powers and dark secrets. Through superstition, religious upheaval and persecution of anyone who adhered to ancient pagan beliefs, midwives and healers became demonized as witches. They were usually older women, and so the image of the hag as a witch took root. Fear of witchcraft reached a fever pitch in the 16th and 17th centuries, when a simple accusation was enough to send a woman to her death.
Today, few people believe in witchcraft, and our modern world has moved away from superstition. Still, we all love the idea of magic and mystery, and the witch has clung on in a far different form. Instead of being an old hag stirring a cauldron, our image today of a witchy woman is someone younger, prettier, and quite a bit less evil.
The change in attitude may have begun with the scientific revolution that led people to scoff at the idea of magic, but what really cemented the vision of a witch as a pretty woman of power rather than an evil, cackling old hag was Hollywood. From Bewitched to Practical Magic to Charmed, beautiful witches without an evil bone in their lovely bodies took the small screen and big screen alike by storm. The witch is now a modern woman who dresses in the latest fashions and hasn’t a wart anywhere in sight.
With the ugly look of the witch, the evil cackle and cauldron stirring pretty much disappeared as well. Today the witch casts her spells in a different way – and while she might not always be completely good, she certainly isn’t wasting her time on turning milk sour or turning men into frogs.
Modern witch costumes have followed the trend of beautiful and attractive witches. While they still tend to have an old-fashioned appeal – after all, they are costumes, the ugly black dress is a thing of the past. Today’s witches are sexy, witty, pretty and still able to knock a man over with just a look.
Witch costumes are one of the most popular Halloween looks and have been for many years. But as the image of the witch shifted away from the ugly hag to the new, modern sorceress, the costumes changed as well. You don’t see many witches with green skin and warts on Halloween night, especially at adult parties. Instead she has been replaced with the modern witchy woman. Today’s witch costumes reflect the change in our view of the witch – no more evils spells, but definitely still full of magic.