Real Witches Aren’t Really Scary

Given our commitment to anti-bias education, we consider the messages young children receive from media, images and stories. We think about which ones affirm our full humanity and which ones oppress us. Halloween is a time for many to play and pretend about what is scary. During this time, we encounter the cartoonish stereotype of witches as dangerous, evil, green-skinned, warty spinsters. In an effort to combat that stereotype, and to encourage a message of female empowerment along with the transformative power of being in tune with our sacred Earth, I invited HFP alumni parent, Hailey, and her friend Sunshine–both self-identified witches– to join us for circle.
 
It was a pleasant and fabulous opportunity to begin to flip the patriarchal script on the traditional ideology that witches are inherently ‘bad, green skinned spell casters, ‘interrupting a common and oppressive association of thought on women as a whole. With special focus on honoring the Earth through pictures, the beauty of music, stones, and plant medicines the children were invited to explore different ideas of what a witch can be, we begin to redirect ideas of the ‘evil witch’ to that of compassionate and thoughtful earth protectors and healers..”- Kimberley, HFP’s Teaching Assistant
  
  
                                                                                                         *Passing around herbs, salves, candles and stones.
 
We read a beautifully illustrated board book and echoed the statements on each page:
“Hello sacred earth. Hello sacred water. Hello sacred moon…” 
 
And we sang Bonnie Lockheart’s song revering witches as knowledgeable, powerful healers and caregivers who suffered misunderstandings, targeting and oppression. Click title below to hear the song. 
 

Who Were the Witches by Bonnie Lockheart

(Unfortunately, this video lacks representation beyond white females).

Lyrics:
Who were the witches? Where did they come from?
Maybe your great, great grandmother was one.
Witches were wise, wise women they say.
There’s a little witch in everybody today. 
 
Witches knew all about flowers and weeds,
How to use all their roots and their leaves and their seeds.
When people grew weary from hard-workin’ days,
They made ’em feel better in so many ways.
 
When women had babies, the witches were there
To hold them and help them and give them some care.
Witches knew stories of how life began.
Don’t you wish you could be one?
Well, maybe you can.
 
Some people thought that the witches were bad.
Some people were scared of the power they had.
The power to heal and to help and to care–
Isn’t something to fear; it’s a treasure to share.

 

What Have We Learned?

Our next class period, we talk briefly about the difference between real and pretend things that might be scary. I remind the group of Hailey and Sunshine’s visit and reiterate what they shared: “Witches love and protect the Earth.”

As we prepare to sing the chorus of “Who Were the Witches,” I ask children a series of questions and am met with a chorus of “No’s!” 
Do witches really have green skin?  Children: “No!”
Do witches really cast evil spells? Children: “No!”
Are real witches like Hailey and Sunshine scary?  Children: ” No!”
Yep. Real witches aren’t really scary. 

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