October 28, 2018

HALLOWEEN: JACK-O'-LANTERNS by Joshua Dowidat


Editor's Note: I'm carving pumpkins this weekend leading up to All Hallow's Eve, and thought it would be fun to share a little bit about jack-o'-lanterns with this article by author, Joshua Dowidat, that was originally published on his blog.

Hello Everyone,

I wanted to address the Halloween subject of carving pumpkins or also known as Jack-o’-lanterns. It is not often we hear the term, Jack-o’-lanterns, anymore but I guess times change.

Origin of Jack-o’-lanterns :

Well before they were Jack-o’-lanterns they were called will-o’-the-wisp. At least in the old folklore’s of England and other parts of Western Europe. This started around the mid to late 1600s. The term “Jack” just replaced “Will” but they meant virtually the same thing. One was of the torch. Will of the torch, and the other of the lantern, Jack. It was based off the lighting phenomenon that occurs but the will-o’-the ‘wisp was most commonly just a torch. I know it’s confusing but it slowly grew from a standard torch, a bundle of sticks and what not, to the surrounding vessel that contained the flame.
The carvings from the pumpkins was not original either. Most often it was gourds or other small vegetables that could be hollowed out for their carving purposes and it wasn’t until later that the use of adding the flame became a common thing. The Maori people have recorded history of doing it as far back as 700 years ago. Carvings of gourds and so forth go back further in Europe with the celebration of Samhain. But like I mentioned they were not always used to contain a fire. So still they were not technically Jack-o’-lanterns yet.

Jack-o’-lanterns Purpose :

The original uses are based on many assumptions and some history. The carvings of the ghoulish creatures for faces was most often used in ways to scare people away. The day after October 31st, or Halloween, is November 1st and also known as All Saints Day. Using the carvings to symbolize the deceased, or the spirits of the deceased, was meant to be a purpose of respect. Some other cultures beliefs were that certain carvings on the pumpkins or gourds would be a means to keep evil spirits away and ward off bad karma.
Jack-o’-lanterns Today :
Well as we know, they are carved for many different reason today. Tradition, fun, competitions, decorations, and some places still use them for their beliefs or other rituals.
The carvings as we know it has changed dramatically over the years from specialized tools to the plain old simply triangle patterns for orifices. They are all still great in their own way and fun to do. So I hope everyone thinks a little about these origins and brings back the term, Jack-o’-lanterns,  a little this year and educate the young ones.
Thanks for Reading,
Joshua Crane Dowidat
Read about Josh HERE
Follow him on Twitter: @joshuadowidat
And check out his blog at http://joshuadowidat.com/

Cover: Amanda Bergloff

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October 25, 2018

All Hallow's Read - MIDNIGHT VISITATION by Deb Whittam

What did Jack and Jill go up the hill for?
Only one witness knows...
Detective Tom Walker cast one last glance towards the building that rose up like a monolith against the moonlit sky before turning to approach the young man who slouched against the police car with his arms folded. He had his suspicions, he had his theories, but he didn’t have his proof, and he scowled as he withdrew a notebook from his pocket, his irritation rising.

“Tell me what happened, slowly.” His words were precise as he fixed his implacable gaze on his witness, who had the courtesy to shift uneasily. Taking a deep breath, Tom staunched the inclination to grind his teeth; instinct declared the others words would be a complete fabrication, the only question remaining was the level of creativity his witness would employ.

“I already told that lot.” The young man’s tone was belligerent as he inclined his head towards an officer who stood nearby; “They went up the hill with a pail.”

“Why did they go up the hill?” he prompted. His reputation for perseverance was legendary. He liked to joke that it was in his genes, that his sixth sense told him when someone was hiding something. Those nearby knew that everything would be divulged, there was no other option.

“I told you before – I assumed for water. Why else would you need a pail?”

While he was used to his witnesses prevaricating, circumstance on this occasion suggested that this crime needed to be viewed from an alternate perspective. The consideration of key aspects prompted questions which might otherwise be ignored. There was the location and time of the attack, midnight excursions to secluded churches weren’t the norm. There were the victims. Jack and Jill were noted crusaders against the unnatural, their reputations were legendary, but more importantly, there was the behavior of the witness, the way his eyes kept darting towards the shadows spoke volumes.

These factors explained his presence, explained why he had been summoned to investigate.   

He was silent for a moment, weighing the others words carefully as he reached over his shoulder to scratch a familiar itch, unsurprised when the other flinched at the not so innocent gesture.

“Go on,” he prompted, with satisfaction. The other’s reaction was all the confirmation he required, and as if he recognized his error, the other continued in a rush.

“Jack and Jill went to the top; they were gone a long time. Then I saw them standing at the crest of the hill, holding the pail between them.” His words were almost infused with desperation.

With a smile, Detective Tom Walker let the response hang unacknowledged, enjoying the escalating tension, and then he gestured the other forward to whisper, “And that’s when you saw the shadow?” The other nodded. “A vampire?”

“I don’t know, it went dark, and then there was a scream. They came down like they had been thrown, ending up over there.”

Some may have chosen to believe him, they may have bought into his fabrication, but he wasn’t that gullible. It stunk of deceit. With a deliberate slowness, he glanced towards the spot indicated. The bodies had been removed, the other believed they had died but that wasn’t the case. Once the paramedics had recognized the cause of the injuries, they had acted and treated the victims accordingly with the old fashioned vinegar and brown paper remedy. They wouldn’t suffer the consequences of the vampire’s bite – their conversion had been averted.

“Can I go now?” It was there in his tone, the other was itching to flee.

He glanced towards the clouded sky; the full moon remained hidden from view, “In a moment, just one last question. You state that you witnessed the attack on Jack and Jill – known vampire hunters, yes?” A quick nod. “So, why did the vampire leave you, a witness, alive? Why weren’t you killed?”

As the clouds slid away, revealing the moon, it also illuminated both of their faces and any truths hidden were revealed in that instant. The other smiled grimly, acknowledging the adept manipulation which had caught him fair and square.

“Got me there werewolf,” the witness stated as his fangs jutted down to pierce his bottom lip, and Tom tensed at the scent of a familiar adversary.

“Let’s see how fast you can run vampire.” His features contorted, as he changed from human to werewolf, leaping at the other who was already fleeing.

The chase was on.


Deb Whittam is a graduated from Macquarie University Bachelor of Arts and is currently she traversing the great continent of Australia in a caravan. She seeks to explore the many forms of reality in her writing and examine how perspectives can alter when life is viewed through an alternate lens.
Follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/@DebbieWhittam
And check out her blog at http://debbiewhittam.wordpress.com

Cover: Amanda Bergloff

Follow her on Twitter @karenleestreet
and
Check out Karen's books
Edgar Allan Poe and the Empire of the Dead
AND
Edgar Allan Poe and the Jewel of Peru 

October 20, 2018

Grateful Dead Tales - SILA TSAREVICH & IVASHKA with the WHITE SMOCK: A Russian Folktale by zteve t. evans

On reaching the open sea a strange sight
was seen by those on board the three ships,
for floating and bobbing in the water,
was a stone coffin...

Grateful Dead tales fascinate us, so we're leading up to All Hallow's Eve this month with a Russian folktale re-telling by one of our favorite authors, zteve t evans, that was originally published on his blog, Under the Influence, (a fantastic source for myths, legends, folklore and tales from around the world.)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: The Grateful Dead is a type 505 tale as classified Stories of The Grateful Dead under the Aarne–Thompson–Uther classification system used by folklorists to categorize folktales. Grateful Dead tales usually share a basic structure of where a debtor dies leaving the debt unpaid and is thus refused a proper burial, or in this case, floated out to sea in a coffin. In this case, the dead person did not receive a proper burial and was held in a state perhaps similar to purgatory until he received one. In gratitude, his ghost or soul returns to Earth to help the person who took the trouble to ensure he had a proper burial. There are several other motifs and themes interwoven in the story that are also found in tales around the world. Presented below is a rewrite of Sila Tsarevich and Ivashka with the White Smock, from The Russian Garland, edited by Robert Steele, which is a collection of stories collected from Russian Chap-books.

Sila Tsarevich and Ivashka with the White Smock


This story begins in a time when Russia was ruled by a tsar by the name of Chotei who had three sons. The eldest was named Aspar Tsarevich, the next eldest was named Adam Tsarevich and the youngest was named Sila Tsarevich. There came a day that the two eldest brothers went to their father and asked his permission to travel the world. They wanted to journey abroad and see all the foreign countries and meet all the different people who lived outside Russia and see strange and wonderful things. On hearing their request, Sila Tsarevich, the youngest of the three, was also filled with a yearning to see strange and wonderful things and travel to foreign climes and also begged permission from his father to travel like his two brothers. However, although his father granted the two eldest permission, he was reluctant to grant Sila permission due to the immaturity of his years telling him,


“Unfortunately you are too young to go wandering the world.  You are not used to traveling and there are many difficulties and dangers that can be encountered.  Drive this idea from your mind. Wait until you are older, wiser and stronger!”

Despite what his father said, the yearning to see new lands and people had awoken the wanderlust in Sila Tsarevich. He could think of nothing else, talk of nothing else and repeatedly asked for permission. Eventually, he wore his father down, and he reluctantly consented to his request.

The Floating Coffin


Tsar Chotei had given each son a ship manned by skilled mariners and eventually all the ships were laden with provisions and goods and made ready to sail. The first to sail was Aspar Tsarevich, the eldest brother, followed by Adam Tsarevich the next eldest. The last to set sail was Sila Tsarevich. On reaching the open sea a strange sight was seen by those on board the three ships, for floating and bobbing in the water, was a stone coffin. When Aspar saw this he immediately ordered the ship to chart a wide berth around it and continued on his way. When Adam Tsarevich saw the coffin floating in the water he too ordered his sailors to keep clear of it and continued on his way. When Sila Tsarevich saw the floating coffin he had it be brought aboard and then ordered the ship to continue on it way.

The next day dawned, the wind blew and a violent storm was whipped up, and the ship bearing Sila was taken by the storm and driven to a strange unknown country where it was thrown upon a sandy shore. Sila ordered his men to carry the coffin on shore where he then told them to dig a grave and give a proper burial.

Then Sila Tsarevich informed the captain that he was going off alone and told him that he and the crew must stay with the ship. If he did not return after three years, the captain and crew were free to sail back home without him
Sila then left them to journey on into the land beyond.

Ivashka

Long he roamed and had traveled many miles from his ship. One day as he was walking along, he heard the sound of someone running up behind him. Startled, he turned and saw a man dressed all in white who was waving and hurrying up to him. Instinctively he drew his sword both for his own protection and to give fair warning that he was armed and prepared should the need arise to fight. However, no sooner had the man reached him, than he fell upon his knees and thanked Sila, showing great gratitude and respect.
Bemused, Sila asked the man what he had done to deserve such great praise and thanks and the man replied,
“Sila Tsarevich, I am deeply indebted to you and can never thank you enough.  Do you remember the coffin you found in the sea and took on board your ship? I had been laid in that coffin a hundred years before you came to pick it up. Had you not done so, I could have been left to float alone in the ocean for another hundred years, or more, but for you.”
“Who are you and how was it you came to be in that coffin?” asked Sila surprised.
“My name is Ivashka. When I was born, it was discovered I had great magical arts.  As I grew up, I became a great magician, but my powers did not please my mother who accused me of making mischief and misusing them.  She ordered her servant to put me in that stone coffin. Then they took me and set me adrift in the sea, thinking I would sink in the coffin.  I did not sink, but I did die of suffocation. Ever since, I have floated around in the sea for a hundred years before you passed by. Then you came along and rescued me, and now it is my duty to serve you in return and help you obtain your heart’s desire.  If it is marriage you desire, I can tell you I know of Queen Truda who is a most beauteous and gracious woman who would make a worthy wife for you. Perhaps you are interested?”
Sila agreed he was interested, and if she was as beautiful and gracious as he said then, yes, he would like to marry her. He asked him to take him to her country so that he may court and woo her. Ivashka readily agreed, and the two set off on the long journey to the country of Queen Truda.

The Country of Queen Truda

Ivashka led Sila many miles through forests and over mountains for many many days. They saw many strange and wonderful things along the way that Sila had never seen before. Eventually, at last they reached the country of Queen Truda, but Sila had a shock. The entire realm of Queen Truda was surrounded by a palisade. Upon each and every one of the sharpened posts there was a human head impaled. There was just one stake that had no head impaled upon it. Sila looked at the heads in horror then turned to Ivashka and asked him what had happened here. Ivashka then explained that the heads had all belonged to the suitors who had come to court Queen Truda.  Sila looked on in horror and turned to Ivashka and told him he no longer wanted to present himself to Truda’s father and wished instead to go home. Ivashka promised him he had nothing to fear and urged him to proceed with courage to the father of Queen Truda to ask for her hand in marriage.
As soon as Sila and Ivashka had passed beyond the terrible palisade, Ivashka turned to Sila and said,
“Listen closely to what I’m saying!  You must now go before King Salom and speak most politely and humbly. Tell him what your business is and tell him who your father is and that that I am your faithful servant. You must not try to conceal anything from him as he will see straight through you. Then ask for his permission to marry his daughter, and he will be delighted and agree.”

King Salom

With this advice fresh in his mind, Sila Tsarevich went directly to the palace. As soon as he saw him, King Salom jumped to his feet and rushed across the room to greet him. He took Sila by the hand and led him into the marbled halls of his beautiful palace chatting to him all the way. He seated him in a splendid chair next to his throne, then sat down himself, and begged that Sila tell him all about himself saying, “Now my friend, please tell me where you are from, who is your father, your name and your business.”
“My father is named Tsar Chotei the ruler of of all of Russia, and I have come to ask your permission to court your beautiful daughter, Queen Truda,” said Sila politely and humbly.

The Wedding

This pleased King Salom greatly. He was delighted with the idea of a son of the tzar of all of Russia being his son-in-law and agreed immediately.  He sent for his daughter and told her the news, and she began the preparations for her wedding. The day of the marriage soon came around, and the King and all of his knights, noblemen and courtiers met at the palace. When all was ready, they formed a grand procession to the church where Sila Tsarevich, the son of Tsar Chotei of Russia, married King Salom’s beautiful daughter, Queen Truda. After the wedding ceremony, they all returned for a grand banquet thrown by the King to celebrate the marriage of his daughter to such a worthy husband. There was music and singing and jesters, acrobats and jugglers and entertainment of all kinds and the best food and drink his kingdom could provide and a merry evening was had by all.
When at at last the feasting and entertainments came to an end and it was time for everyone to go to their beds, Ivashka came to Sila and whispered in his ear,
“Listen to me Sila Tsarevich when you go to rest with your wife, beware!  You must not speak a single word to her or you will not live out the night.  Your head will be severed from your body and placed on the last stake on the palisade.  Your wife will try her hardest to make you speak and to make you embrace her but if you wish to live, you will not utter a word or fall for her embraces.  Listen well or die!”
Shocked at this revelation, Sila demanded to know what this all meant. Ivashka told him,
“Queen Truda is possessed by an evil spirit that can take the shape of a six headed dragon and fly through the night.  It appears each night to her in the form of a man. I warn you that when the time comes and she lays her hand upon your breast and pushes down, you must leap up and shake her with all your might.  You must continue to shake her until all your strength has gone. Throughout the night I will remain awake and on watch at the door of your room.”

The First Night

So Sila went to bed with his new wife with this strange warning going around in his head.  As Ivashka had warned, Queen Truda tried her hardest to kiss and embrace him, but he lay still and silent throughout. At last, his wife placed her hand on his heart and pressed hard against it. Remembering Ivashka’s warning, Sila jumped up and shook her hard.
Outside in the darkness of night, a storm arose and a six-headed dragon flew in through the window. It was about to attack and eat Sila, when Ivashka leapt through the door with his sword in his hand and attacked it. The two fought ferociously together for three hours, and then Sila managed to cut two of its heads off. This caused the beast to withdraw from the fight and escape through the window. Ivashka then turned to Sila and told him it was now time to sleep and need fear nothing more. At this, Sila laid himself back in bed and went to sleep.
The next morning the king called his servants to him asking them if his new son-in-law was still alive and was told Sila was indeed alive and well.  The king was delighted and rejoiced because Sila was the first of his daughter’s husbands to survive a night with her. He requested that Sila be brought to him, and the rest of the day was spent celebrating.

The Second Night

The next night, before Sila went to bed with his wife, Ivashka again gave him the exact instructions and warnings he had given him the previous night and hid by the door to keep watch. That night, everything unfolded exactly as it had done the previous night. As Sila shook his wife, the dragon flew in through the window and was about to eat him. Ivashka leapt from his hiding place with his sword drawn and fought the dragon and managed to sever two more of its heads before the dragon escaped through the window.

The Third Night

On the third night, Ivashka gave the same warnings to Sila and again hid himself by the door to watch. Again his wife tried to make Sila speak and embrace her, and again, he would neither speak or respond to her entreaties to embrace her. Once again, she pushed down upon his heart, and he began shaking her. Once again, the dragon flew in through the window and attempted to devour him, but was attacked by Ivashka who cut off the remaining two of its heads and burnt the remains of the dragon scattering the ashes across the fields.

The Journey Home

Sila continued living with his wife at the palace of KIng Salom for one year, but through all that time, he continued to refrain from speaking to her or win her love. One day, Ivashka went to him and told him it was time to go to King Salom and request permission to return to his own land. The king gave his permission and provided two companies of his soldiers to escort him home. So Sila, taking his wife and Ivashka with him, set off with his escort on the journey back to the ship and to his homeland.

The Freeing of Queen Truda

When they reached halfway, Ivashka told Sila to make camp for the night. The next morning Ivashka collected pieces of wood to make a fire and then brought Queen Truda near to it. Then he took out his sword and cut her into pieces.
This shocked Sila and he began to weep and wring his hands but Ivashka said, “Have trust, my friend and stop your weeping! I tell you she will return again to life.”
Sila stopped weeping, but watched in horror as all manner of vile and evils things crept and slithered from her body. Ivashka threw each and every one of these on the fire and said, “Now you see for yourself the evil things that have possessed your wife, but now she is free from them!”
When all the evil things had left her and been burnt, Ivashka placed the pieces of her together to form a new body. Then taking out a vial he said contained the water of life, he sprinkled this over the reassembled body and Queen Truda instantly sprang to life whole and free from evil. With that, he turned to Sila Tsarevich and said,
“Now my task for you is done, and I have repaid my debt to you for saving me from the water and giving me a proper burial.  You will soon discover that your wife loves you above all things and that you will have great happiness together until the end of your days.  You will never see me again, and now I bid you farewell.”
With that, the smiling figure of Ivashka dissolved into the the thin air before the eyes of Sila Tsarevich and his wife, Queen Truda. Sila and his wife continued on the journey to his homeland. When he reached the place he had left his ship, the captain and crew were still faithfully waiting, and he and his wife went aboard after dismissing his escort.
The ship met with a fair wind which carried them quickly and safely to the port Sila had previously set sail from. On news of his arrival, his father, Tsar Chotei, was delighted and welcomed them with a spectacular volley of cannons and fireworks. He came down to the ship and led them back to his palace and threw a lavish banquet to celebrate the return of his youngest son and his wife.

Heart’s Desire

Sila Tsarevich was pleased to find that his wife seemed to love him more and more every day. He felt the same about her, and they were very happy together. After two years living with his father, Sila decided he and his wife would return to her homeland. On their return, King Salom abdicated and handed the crown to Sila, who with Queen Truda beside him, ruled the kingdom for many years in peace and happiness. Let us remember that, and all of this came about because Sila had stopped to take in an abandoned coffin floating in the sea and give the dead a decent and proper burial, and because of that, he received the help of the Grateful Dead to achieve his heart’s desire.
© 08/08/2018 zteve t evans
References, Attributions and Further Reading
The Grateful Dead: Folktales of Type 505
Original source Robert Steele, The Russian Garland of Fairy Tales: Being Russian Folk Legends Translated from a Collection of Chapbooks Made in Moscow (New York: Robert M. McBride and Co., 1916), pp. 194-201.
The Russian Garland, Being Russian Folk Tales by Steele and Rosciszewski
The Grateful Dead: The History of a Folk Story – By Gordon Hall Gerould
Grateful dead (folklore) – Wikipedia
The Grateful Dead: folktales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 505
File:Бой Ивана Царевича со Змеем.jpg – Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


In April 2013, zteve launched his first blog that focused on legends, myths and folktales from around the world at Under the influence!. This has has grown steadily receiving visitors from 189 countries around the world so far. He has contributed  articles to the #FolkloreThursday website regularly since its launch and haunts Twitter here, @ztevetevans


Cover Art: Ivan Billibin
Layout: Amanda Bergloff
Thanks for reading!
For more of zteve's writing, check out his book
Havelock the Dane:
Hero-King of Two Realms

October 12, 2018

EC's Readers Choose 30 FABULOUS WITCHES

Witches...strong, powerful, independent, at times a frightening catalyst in a story, legendary, wickedly alluring, and closely associated with Halloween. Who doesn't see imagery or costumes of this iconic figure at this time of year? After all, witches and Halloween go together this month like wands and spells.

So, I asked EC's readers through Twitter, what some of their favorite witches were in literature, TV, and film, and I compiled the list below. Their 30 witchy-picks are arranged in alphabetical order instead of from best to worst, because after all, aren't all witches equally fabulous? 


Special thanks to everyone who responded!

They’re all worth checking out and following on Twitter:
@MarylouMorning  @VoVat  @Carrie_A_Brown  
@PriyaJSridhar  @BlackKerryblick  @GuyRicketts  
@storieswriting  @crownofpetals  @S_h_e_e_n_a_   
@DebiCady  @MitchellJrArt  @celestial_chic  
@GypsySpirit4  @GerriLeen  @Carrie_A_Brown  
@LLMadridWriter  @ReligiosityPod  @AMMacapanas  
@BrakDBarbarian  @WhyDoWeBelieve  @kotnaksiazce  
@shroppiemon  @Perlalaloca  @theartistschild  
@SarahBrentyn  @Krusidull2
and follow @EnchantedEzine to participate in future poll questions.

Hold on to your broomsticks....
Here we go!
BABA YAGA
This slavic folktale-favorite witch with the penchant for living in spinning houses on chicken legs and flying in a large pestle, can be either terrifying or comedic. I recently wrote the forward to EC's own Kate Wolford's upcoming World Weaver Press Baba Yaga anthology about this enigmatic figure in folklore who is enjoying a pop culture resurgance. Check out the Russian film Morozko if you're unfamiliar with her. Here's a clip of Baba Yaga in action from it HERE.

BELLATRIX LESTRANGE
This weird and wonderfully bizarre witch is a double threat, since she's in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books and in the film adaptations (played to strange perfection by Helena Bonham Carter.) I've even dressed up as her a few times for Halloween. She definitely dances to her own tune with no apologies.  
CASSANDRA NIGHTINGALE
From The Good Witch TV series, Cassie is (you guessed it from the title) a good witch with unique gifts of perception and intuition that she uses in positive ways. Plus, she owns the Bell, Book, and Candle shop where I would spend all my money. 
THE ENCHANTRESS/CRONE
From Disney's animated Beauty and the Beast. Even though she only appears briefly in the film, it is her curse that puts the story in motion. Her seemingly heartless curse is the opportunity for the vain and selfish prince to grow and transform himself into something a beauty can love.
FIONA GOODE
From the TV series, American Horror Story, Fiona Goode (played by the enchantingly wicked Jessica Lange,) in season 3's Coven storyline, is the Supreme of the coven of the Salem descendants. Extremely powerful, her ultimate goal is immortality without aging...and to do it with style. After all, as she says, "I'm Fiona Goode. I'm in charge everywhere."
GEILLIS DUNCAN
Can time travel and witches go together? Yes, yes they can. Geillis Duncan from the TV series, Outlander, is a witch who isn't quite what she seems at first. A complicated woman in any time period, she knows the secrets of travelling through the stones from the future, and her cunning, intelligence, and beauty make her a fascinating witch in the past and present.
GLINDA The Witch of the South
From the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, and also L.Frank Baum's OZ books where she is known as the Witch of the South, this good witch in the movie version had one of the most memorable, frothy, glittery pink and delicious witch costumes ever with an over-sized wand to die for. She helps heroine, Dorothy Gale, just enough (but not too much) so that Dorothy can realize her own power in the end.
EVA ERNST The Grand High Witch
What an entrance. What a witch. This powerful leader of all the witches on Earth presides over the convention where witches plot to wipe out all the children in England in Roald Dahl's book, The Witches, as well as the film of the same name. As played by Anjelica Huston in the film version, the Grand High Witch is beautiful, scary, and fierce in her witchy-attitude.
GRANNY WEATHERWAX
From Terry Pratchett's Discworld book series, Granny Weatherwax is the leader of the community of Witches in the Ramtops. She is a no nonsense witch who appreciates practicality over the bells and whistles of so-called, "magick." This witch gives people what they know they really need. Oh, and did I mention she can capture unicorns? Mic drop.
GINNY WEASLEY
Never underestimate the youngest in a family. Ginny Weasley, from the Harry Potter books and films, starts off shy but ends up becoming her own witch, bravely rising to any occasion and ultimately winning the heart of the hero with the lightning bolt scar on his forehead. 
ISABEL BIGELOW
So there's this witch who wants to try something different and live a normal life without her magical powers, but then she gets cast in a film remake of a TV series about a witch who wants to try something different and live a normal life without her magical powers. Wait...what? Isabel Bigelow (Nicole Kidman) in the film, Bewitched, shares traits with the TV version of Samantha Stephens, but Isabel is her own, independent witch who will find love with her own mortal in this show within a show premise. 
...and we'll revisit Samantha later in this list.
LILY IVORY
From Juliet Blackwell's Witchcraft Mysteries book series, is a natural born witch, skilled in brewing and botanicals. Lily owns Aunt Cora's Closet, a vintage clothing store located in San Francisco, where supernatural mischief and murder go hand in hand. A witch solving crime and vintage clothes? Yes, please!
 "MAD LORI" MacGREGOR
From the 1963 film, The 3 Lives of Thomasina, (based on the book by Paul Gallico.) This kind-hearted witch has the power to calm and cure animals. Lori (played by Susan Hampshire) saves Thomasina the cat, and through her love and kindness, this special witch makes the world around her a better place. 
LUNA LOVEGOOD
J.K. Rowling certainly knows how to create interesting witches, as Luna Lovegood is the third witch from the Harry Potter books and films to make this "Reader's Choice" list. Thought of by the other students of Hogwarts as strange, dreamy, and odd, I personally, share her passion for reading, which makes her a witch I'd like to hang with. 
MOMBI The Wicked Witch of the North
Originally introduced in L. Frank Baum's second Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz, Mombi is the Wicked Witch of the North. She's also the one who brought Jack Pumpkinhead to life, so whatever her complicated and up-to-no-good-in-Oz history is, at least she did that because I love Jack Pumpkinhead. 
NANCY
From the 1996 film, The Craft, Nancy (Fairuza Balk) is the ultimate Goth-girl who bonds with three other teenage outcasts to pursue witchcraft for their own gain. When high school is blended with magic, trouble follows. With her Joker-esque smile and attitude, she is one witch you would not want on your bad side.
NIGHTSHADE
This powerful witch from Terry Brooks' The Magic Kingdom of Landover book series was originally from the fairy world, but was cast out of the mists and forbidden reentry because she used her magic for greed and torture. She is one of the main antagonists to Ben Holiday, but c'mon, with a name like Nightshade, he should be expecting that.
RACHEL MORGAN
Rachel Morgan, from The Hollows book series by Kim Harrison, is a detective/bounty hunter witch who...do I even need to go on? Detective. Bounty. Hunter. Witch. Who wouldn't want to be her?
SABRINA The Teenage Witch
Starting out in Archie Comics, this teenage witch has had a couple animated shows, along with the popular 1990's TV series starring Melissa Joan Hart as Sabrina. Living with her witch-aunts, Sabrina tries to get through high school as normally as a teenage witch can with magical powers and a talking black cat.
And the animated Sabrina had style and records, so she's a "win-win" in my book.
SALLY OWENS
From the film and book, Practical Magic, the quiet Sally (Sandra Bullock) is taught "practical magic" by her eccentric aunts. With her fiery sister, Gillian, they find out that the Owens family is cursed that whoever they fall in love with will meet an untimely death. But Sally is so cute and appealing I think a lot of men would take that risk.
SAMANTHA STEPHENS
Yes, we're back to the original Samantha Stephens from the late 60s-early 70s TV show, Bewitched. Elizabeth Montgomery played the beautiful nose twitching witch who traded in her pointy hat for a normal life with her husband, Darrin...if you call having magical relatives drop in and turn your husband or his ad clients into various things "normal." Even though Samantha was determined not to use magic in her suburban setting, magic still worked its way into her everyday activities. A witch is a witch after all, and that's why we loved her.
And of course, you can't have Samantha without...
The Fabulous ENDORA
Always in Samantha's corner, this witch mom encouraged her daughter to embrace who she really was. When I was younger, I wanted to be Samantha, but now that I'm older, Endora is the only way to go. Her sense of style and witchy-joie de vivre make her the one in the room that's having the most fun. I'll hang with her any day! Get out of our way, Derwood. 

LAMIA
From the film, Stardust, based on Neil Gaiman's novel of the same name, Lamia is the most powerful of three witch sisters who are members of the Lillim Coven. But does any of this matter when you can sit back and watch Michelle Pfeiffer (who plays Lamia) get her bad-witchy-self-on? Sure she's trying to eat the heart of the heroine to stay young and beautiful, but it's Michelle Pfeiffer! Let the viewing fun begin! 
THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST
She is the stuff of all kid's nightmares. This green-skinned witch (played by Margaret Hamilton) in the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, defined what "witch" was to me growing up. With her uber-creepy flying monkey henchmen, her crackly voice, and willingness to go after Dorothy's little dog too, she is the grandmama witch that all bad ones aspire to. She scared me terribly, yet I couldn't wait to see her again in the film...and that's what makes her WITCH SUPREME in my book.
And since we've featured the OZ witches from all the other directions on the compass...here's
THE WICKED WITCH OF THE EAST: R.I.P.
Wearing striped socks with glittery ruby colored pumps? Genius. This witch's one tip: Don't fly under falling houses.
WILLOW
As Buffy's best friend in the TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow (Alyson Hannigan) starts out as a regular teenager, but ends up becoming a powerful witch when she develops an interest in magic to help her demon-slaying friends. Now that's what friends are for!
THE WITCH
From BBC TV's 1970's children's show, Lizzie Dripping, this witch (played by Sonia Dresdel) could only be seen or heard by Penelope...a young girl, living in the village of Little Hemlock, with a vivid imagination. With a reputation for being an imaginative liar, it was difficult for Penelope to convince others that her witch was real. But who cares who believes you- you've got a witch for a friend, girl!
The Witches of Eastwick: ALEXANDRA
She has attitude. She has style. She's blunt and sassy and encourages others to grab life by the horns. (I think I just described Cher in real-life.) That's why she's so good at playing Alexandra in the film, The Witches of Eastwick, based on the book by John Updike. I would gladly spend a night at the mansion sipping martinis with this fabulous witch!
XAYIDE
From the book, The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, and film, The Neverending Story 2, as well as two spin-off cartoons, Xayide (Clarissa Burt) is an evil witch who is the source and mistress of something called, the Emptiness. While presenting a warm exterior, her true nature is cold and calculating. With her heterochromatic red and green eyes, she epitomizes the classic beautiful-but-beware-witch that deserves to be taken down a few pegs.
YUBABA
This old witch from Hayao Miyazaki's animated film, Spirited Away, runs a bathhouse in the spirit world that traps Chihiro, a girl (and her parents) from the mortal world. Yubaba is a selfish, greedy witch, but she indirectly helps Chihiro mature through a series of different conflicts that Chihiro must solve which eventually leads to Yubaba letting the girl and her parents return to their own world. This interesting witch actually shares a lot of traits with the first witch on this list, Baba Yaga, as antagonist/helper, so now we've come full circle!

These are just a few of the many fabulous witches throughout literature, TV, and film for you to check out if you haven't heard of them before. We hope you enjoyed our reader's eclectic choices and please share your favorite witch in the comments section below.


EC's editor-in-chief, Amanda Bergloff, writes modern fairy tales, folktales, and speculative fiction. Her work has appeared in various anthologies, including Frozen Fairy Tales, After the Happily Ever After, and Uncommon Pet Tales.
Follow her on Twitter @AmandaBergloff
Check out her Amazon Author page HERE

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