Double double, toil and trouble: witches and witchcraft

We’ve had Hallowe’en and now the nights are growing ever longer, it’s the perfect time for a spot of witchcraft, some would say. The images from Europeana below show both fictional witches, like the three that Macbeth meets on the heath in Shakespeare’s drama, and ‘real’ witches like Mother Shipton, a woman branded as a ‘witch’ because of her ability to tell the future and Mother Damnable, the ‘remarkable shrew of Kentish Town’. The selection also includes some typical associations to do with witches including cooking up potions – look out for the skulls and human bones going into the pot – as well as links with the devil, flying and broomsticks.

‘A witch casting spells over a steaming cauldron’, The Wellcome Library and The European Library, CC BY-Nc

‘A witch placing a scorpion into a pot in order to make a pot’, The Wellcome Library and The European Library, CC BY-NC

‘Mother Shipton: witch’, The Wellcome Library and The European Library, CC BY-NC

‘A circle of witches dance around a central figure’, The Wellcome Library and The European Library, CC BY-NC

‘The History of Witches and Wizards, 1720’, The Wellcome Library and The European Library, CC BY-NC

‘Ein Frühstück im Hexenloch ‘, French National Library and The European Library, public domain

‘Macbeth seeing thre witches, after Reynolds’, The Wellcome Library and The European Library, CC BY-NC

‘Witches: five silhouetted figures’, The Wellcome Library and The European Library, CC BY-NC

Macbeth and Banquo meet the three witches on a heath’, The Wellcome Library and The European Library, CC BY-NC

‘Macbeth meets the three witches’, The Wellcome Library and The European Library, CC BY-NC

‘Witches apprehended…, 1613’, The Wellcome Library and The European Library, CC BY-NC

‘Mother Louse,witch’, The Wellcome Library and The European Library, CC BY-NC

‘Satan sits on his throne at the centre of a witches’ sabbath’, The Wellcome Library and The European Library, CC BY-NC

‘A witch in the moonlight’, The Wellcome Library and The European Library, CC BY-NC

 

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