Witches have been a part of human culture for as long as anyone can remember — and they haven’t disappeared. In Peru, brujas still offer up spells and potions; in the Philippines, aswangs claim to use sorcery to cure disease; and in the Western world, people still practice the modern Pagan religion of Wicca, initially known as witchcraft — although no Wiccan has managed to fly on a broomstick, as far as we know.
In many parts of the world, the classic image of a witch is a woman in black (sometimes green-skinned) with a pointed hat whose intentions tend to be nefarious. Various theories exist as to why exactly this portrayal emerged. Shakespeare’s Three Witches in Macbeth were certainly up to no good with their "Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble," but they wouldn’t have looked like the stereotypical witches we now see on Halloween. That image, of broomsticks and cackling laughter, owes much to L. Frank Baum's 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its film adaptation in 1939, which both feature the iconic Wicked Witch of the West.
At the same time, The Wizard of Oz introduced us to Glinda the Good Witch, who showed us that not all witches are bad. (For other benevolent pop cultural witches, consider Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, the beloved trio from 1993’s Hocus Pocus, Harry Potter’s Hermione Granger, and many others.) This is reassuring, because, as Roald Dahl tells us in his classic children’s novel The Witches, “For all you know, a witch may be living next door to you right now.” In honor of these enchanting figures, here are 13 quotes about the lighter, mystical side of witchcraft.
The witch knows nothing in this world is supernatural. It is all natural.
— Laurie Cabot, American Witchcraft high priestess and author
Never put your faith in a Prince. When you require a miracle, trust in a witch.
— Catherynne M. Valente, writer
Witches were a bit like cats. They didn’t much like one another’s company, but they did like to know where all the other witches were, just in case they needed them.
— Terry Pratchett, author
Being a witch means living in this world consciously, powerfully, and unapologetically.
— Gabriela Herstik, writer
I think that all women are witches, in the sense that a witch is a magical being.
— Yoko Ono
To me, a witch is a woman that is capable of letting her intuition take hold of her actions, that communes with her environment, that isn't afraid of facing challenges.
— Paulo Coelho
Above all, witches try to “connect” with the world around them. Witchcraft, they say, is about the tactile, intuitive understanding of the turn of the seasons, the song of the birds
— T. M. Luhrmann, anthropologist
Let the universe move you, surprise you, challenge you, and support you — as a witch, your connection to it is mystical and beautiful.
— Tonya A. Brown, writer
Real art must always involve some witchcraft.
— Isak Dinesen (also known as Karen Blixen), author
Witches don’t look like anything. Witches are. Witches do.
— Franny Billingsley, children’s author
Most books on witchcraft will tell you that witches work naked. This is because most books on witchcraft are written by men.
— Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Witches are moon-birds, / Witches are the women of the false, beautiful moon.
— Amy Lowell, poet
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