Painting:Top part of Donnington Castle, Newbury with an angel and witch flying over.

It’s Halloween!

In Zoe Cameron Blog by Zoe Cameron

Detail. Oil on board 2020 .

Its a time when many of us celebrate by carving pumpkins and lighting candles to keep evil away. We dress up in costumes, share creepy stories of ghosts and spooky mysteries….. and everyone knows that on All-Hallows Eve, witches can turn themselves into black cats !

Woodcut. From – The History of Witches and Wizards, 1720.

Our traditions evolve as the years go by. Once this date was seen to bring luck, an opportunity to identify your future husband, or if you drunk a special concoction before bed, you might dream of him , so it was a time that could bring your true love to you .

Of course if you were accused of being a witch…. it was different, as you would have been tied to a chair thrown into deep water to test if you drowned or swam. If you drowned you were innocent, if you swam you were a witch ! To be a natural healer or ‘wise woman’ in your community at that time, was a very dangerous profession .

At school, I was both mesmerised and horrified reading The Crucible, in which children, led by Abigail Williams falsely accuse neighbours of witchcraft in 1692. Lying to gain attention and power, and human nature hasn’t changed at all. But what has been suggested more recently about the Salem Witch Trials, is that it may have been a way for Catholic and Protestant churches at that time to compete with one another for followers. Their success in persecuting witches could be seen as evidence they could protect the churchgoer from Satan.

Anyway, if you have got the outfit and do want to try a spell, this could be the recipe for you, as favoured by the witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth …….good luck getting hold of the ingredients.

Fillet of a fenny snake, In the cauldron boil and bake; Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.”

Ghost stories .Oil on board. 2003.

So, whatever you are doing … dressing up as an angel or the devil, cooking up spells or brownies …. enjoy yourself x