“Something Wicked this Way Comes”: 20 of the best witches, crones, & midnight hags

“lascivious acts, brewing, hexing, goat-worshipping, broomstick-flying. For ages, we have been obsessed with the perceived power of Wyrd women to create and to destroy.”



October 19th, 2016  by M. Elise Hillestad


Whether you’re lighting up a jack-o-lantern or lighting the candles on a Samhain altar to honor beloved dead, this time of passage from the fruitful season of harvest into the season of decay bears many age-old rituals still observed, and along with them, familiar imagery conjuring up magic and darkness. The time of All Hallows, Dia de los Muertos, and Samhain have long been held as the time when the “veil” between spirit and material worlds is the thinnest. A time when communication with and remembrance of those passed comes with ease, but also a time of conjuring, mischief, and trickery.

For centuries, painters and engravers have had an obsession with witches and the rituals and lore surrounding them. Salvator Rosa couldn’t seem to get enough of the hideous hags. Waterhouse portrayed enchanting sorceresses. Goya devoted his Black Paintings period to the subject of black magic. Countless pictures have been made of women old and young alike, engaged in all manner of lascivious acts, brewing, hexing, goat-worshipping, broomstick-flying. For ages, we have been obsessed with the perceived power of Wyrd women to create and to destroy.


1. The Great Horned Goat Dreams in the Witch House by Harry O. Morris




2. Macbeth, Act I, Scene 3, the Weird Sisters by Henry Fuseli




3. The Four Witches by Albrecht Dürer, 1497




4.  The Witch by Salvator Rosa, 1646




5. Witches’ Sabbath by Goya,  1797-98




6. Hecate (Procession to a Witches’ Sabbath) by Jusepe de Ribera




7. Do Me a Wrong by John Katsikarekis




8.  Witches at their Incantations by Salvator Rosa, 1646




9. Witches’ Sabbath (The Great He-Goat) by Goya, 1821-23





10. Lo Stregozzo (The Witches’ Procession) by Agostino Veneziano Raimondi, 1520s




11.  Hexenküche by Frans Francken, 17th c.




12.  Fantasy Based on Goethe’s Faust by Theodor von Holst, 1834

(full title: Mephistopheles Holding a Goblet Leaps above a Cauldron before a Young Witch and Demonic Figures)


Fantasy Based on Goethe's 'Faust' 1834 by Theodore Von Holst 1810-1844


13. Witches’ Flight by Goya, 1797-98




14. The Three Witches from Shakespeare’s Macbeth by Daniel Gardner, 1775




15. Witches’ Kitchen by Frans Francken, 1606




16. An Incantation by John Dixon, 1773




17. Faust’s Vision (Walpurgis night) by Luis Ricardo Falero




18. illustration for Gustav Meyrink’s Walpurgisnacht by Stefan Eggeler, 1922




19. Hecate (The Night of Enitharmon’s Joy) by William Blake, 1795




20. The Magic Circle by John William Waterhouse, 1886







Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s