‘Which is Witch?’ is the title I coined for a documentary I helped produce for a colleague during our film degree course twenty years back. For my younger colleague the course was the start of a successful career as cameraman, for me it was a three year sabbatical creatively refreshing my existing work.
I’m all for make-believe, having grown up with Grimm Brothers’ tales taught me a few things. The other day I came upon this 80s photo of my son and recalled an incident when his favourite primary school teacher must have become a little too identified with the character of her Halloween Witch role.
As Santa Claus was cool fun
Yet his headmistress
Becoming a cackling witch
Stirred his first nightmare
Halloween offers a rare occasion when the dropping of one’s regular mask in exchange for another, like the archetypal witch, permits the normally hidden to push up from the shadow world, causing surprise, awe, delicious scares, and even nightmares.
There are good reasons to get acquainted with the hidden 90 or so percent of our psyche, the personal and the collective unconscious. This seems a good opportunity to re-share one of my first posts on this site, from March 2011 – well worth reading.
A Letter to my Shadow
Without the Shadow I’d only be fluff on the coat of real human beings.
9 responses to “… Which is Witch? …”
I have to admit that I am bemused by the rise in popularity of Halloween in England over the last decade. We had a thing – mischief night but it wasn’t this Disney dressing up thing that we have now and no pumpkins etc. I am not really that comfortable with it to be honest. In the US it is different, it is an old established tradition and one that (it seems to me) unites families and communities in an evening of fun. However, I am aware that what is being celebrated has been lost and it is now just a money spinner for conglomerates. Home made costumes, ducking for apples (from the days of the ducking stool one imagines – and what a horror that was) and so on are on the face of it innocent fun but the cruel and unjust treatment of wise women and herbalists through the ages wasn’t fun at all. I will of course have a bowl of sweets for any children that come by dressed in their supermarket finery but no – I am not comfortable with it all.
Fascinating piece about shadows.
Thanks Diane, I agree, Halloween has become a commercially generated farce, which goes for every other annual tradition. Their meaning is gradually being lost.
Re: Halloween, is for me about remembering the souls that departed. Without the ripe fruit of their existence before us we would not be here.
As to witch hunts, don’t get me going. The shutting out the dark, the projection of evil onto the unexplainable, and the unacceptable (in each of us) is only held in balance by our periodical sleep periods, otherwise it would overwhelm us. It makes therefore good sense to befriend the unconcious, as Jung has pointed out.
A Robert Bly book you might like: ‘A Little Book on the Human Shadow.’ You can get an idea listening here:
It’s a lovely book. I recommeded it lots. Thanks for the link to the site. I saw him in London once, reciting his poetry.
‘Delicious scares’ indeed.
I like the point you made about the 90% of our psyche being hidden. It’s quite nice to think that the unconscious is toiling away with me knowing, but un-settling to think that my personality is that of an iceberg ‘ All white and glistening above the water line – with most of the activity happening below’.
Halloween is a strange mix of history and non-history. It is quite difficult to have explained other than to call it a riotous time where all and sundry dress up and frighten each other.
Kids must absolutely love this occasion, a chance to free themselves of the modern chains that bind them to being good little soldiers.
Yes, it’s humbling to think we’re floating silently in this big ocean of life, seemingly solid for a while, piloted through time by what we can’t see.
Just thinking, I may dig out a mask from the playbox in my shed to welcome the monsters at the door tonight 🙂
Great post sweetie and thank you for signposting your earlier one, I’d missed that and it’s excellent. You always have the capacity to stop the merry-go-round we all find ourselves on and stop us for living our lives in constant ‘automatic pilot’. Look, question, remember, think – these are the invaluable lessons you teach. Thank you! 😀 xxx
Thanks, Sopie. It’s important to add, we also hide good stuff under the bushel 🙂
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Lol, totally! My bushels are full of hidden stuff! 😀 xx