8 reasons why witches were victims of menopause.
Halloween and witches go hand in hand. It was believed that a witch's 'powers' were at their greatest on Halloween night.
HF are thankful we weren’t menopausal women back in sixteenth-century Europe. Apparently most supposed witches were usually older women, post-menopausal, and generally poor.
Here's 8 reasons why witches were victims of menopause.
The old crone
The typical stereotype of the haggard, menacing, old witch with the warty hook nose, black pointy hat, cackling as she stirs magic potions in her cauldron, derives from a pagan goddess known as 'the crone'. Also known as the 'Earth mother' and 'the old one'. She symbolised change, the turning of the seasons and wisdom.
Devil in disguise
The word Witch is a derivative of Old English 'Wicca', meaning 'Wise One'. Perhaps once considered wise because of their life experiences and knowledge of herbal healing, witches became something to be feared and avoided. As Christianity spread across Europe, the church viewed these herbal healers as being anti-Christian, devil worshipers. They were accused of evil sorcery, pagan worship and black magic, doing the devil’s evil bidding and being in cahoots with him in a plan to destroy mankind.
Notion for a potion
Modern medicine not yet discovered, some of these wise women learned the value of healing herbs, and other types of homeopathic treatments. They sometimes functioned as midwives, assisting in the delivery of babies, easing childbirth pain with various plant-based remedies. A series of unfortunate events could also lead to accusations of evil spells being cast. Witches were often blamed for miscarriages, stillbirth and illness.
Infertile? You're finished
Women over forty who were at the end of their reproductive period, made up the majority of those accused of witchcraft. So ending of their fertility made them a probable witch!
Own a black cat?
The black cat associated with witches, dates back to the Dark Ages. It was seen as a symbol of bad luck, when witch hunts were a sign of the times. Truth be told, single old ladies were most commonly accused of witchcraft, and a lot of them had pet cats. Their cats were considered their ‘familiars', or demonic animals that they were given by the devil. So, the local cat lady could be tried for witchcraft. It was also believed that Satan had turned himself into a black cat whilst mingling in a witch’s company.
The stereotypical witch we see with a broomstick is based on truth. Witches often carried a broomstick, not for flying of course, but to cleanse a room, or area, prior to performing a healing ritual.
Just plain old
During the witch trials of the 1560’s, Johann Weyer, a Dutch observer, noted that most of those accused were ‘pathetic, melancholic, hallucinating old women, whose age and sex made them a prey to diabolic fancies’. Englishman Reginald Scot noted most ‘are women which be commonly old, lame, bleare-eyed, pale, fowle and full of wrinkles’. Often accused of being in league with the devil, women were dunked, hanged, pressed, drowned and burnt at the stake, when they may never have touched a cauldron or a broomstick.
Reaching fifty in those days was pretty rare. Nearly all the victims of the witch hunts were women over fifty whose bodies would have shown the physical changes of menopause: facial hair, bent posture resulting from fragile bones, wrinkled skin and thinning hair. Any woman unfortunate to be ‘crone-like’, snaggle-toothed, with sunken cheeks and having a hairy lip were assumed to possess the ‘Evil Eye’! If they had a cat it was proof. Yikes!
Let’s be thankful we’re no longer in the Dark Ages. Being over fifty, helping our neighbour’s, being a cleaning freak, taking herbal remedies, being prone to a little facial hair and owning a black cat, would put us at the top of the hit list!