“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

 

the-great-horned-goat-dreams-in-the-witch-house-by-harry-o-morris-jr

 

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

 

henry-fuseli-macbeth-act-i-scene-3-the-weird-sisters

 

3. The Four Witches by Albrecht Dürer, 1497

 

the_four_witches_1497_albrecht_du%cc%88rer

 

4.  The Witch by Salvator Rosa, 1646

 

salvator_rosa_-_the_witch1646

 

5. Witches’ Sabbath by Goya,  1797-98

 

goya_-witches-sabbath-1797-98

 

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

 

jusepederibera-hecateprocessiontoawitchessabbath

 

7. Do Me a Wrong by John Katsikarekis

 

john-katsikarekis-do_me_a_wrong_by_rothmansmoker-da9mzew

 

8.  Witches at their Incantations by Salvator Rosa, 1646

 

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

 

francisco_de_goya_1821-23_witches_sabbath_the_great_he-goat

goat5_700

 

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

 

marcantonio-and-agostino-de-musi-called-agostino-veneziano-raimondi-lo-stregozzo-the-witches-procession-after-raphael-or-giulio-romano-1520s

 

11.  Hexenküche by Frans Francken, 17th c.

 

fransfrancken-hexenku%cc%88che-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

 

witches_flight_goya-1797-98

 

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

 

the_three_witches_from_shakespeares_macbeth_by_daniel_gardner_1775

 

15. Witches’ Kitchen by Frans Francken, 1606

 

frans-francken-ii-witches-kitchen-1606

 

16. An Incantation by John Dixon, 1773

 

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

 

luis-ricardo-falero-fausts-vision-walpurgisnacht

 

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

 

01-stefan-eggeler-illus-for-gustav-meyrink-s-walpurgisnacht-1922_900

 

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

 

william_blake_hecate-or-the-night-of-enitharmons-joy-1795

 

20. The Magic Circle by John William Waterhouse, 1886

 

john_william_waterhouse_-_magic_circle-1886

 

 

 

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