What does Broomsticks, black cats, and spell books remind you of? Witches, of course. Do you think that these unusual people actually exist? The art of witchcraft has been around for hundreds of years. Even now many people believe in witches and their supposedly horrible works. Witchcraft is the practice of magic, predominately evil magic, often referred to as black magic or sorcery. What is a witch? The most common concept of a witch is that of an old, ugly, woman. She is said to have been dressed in black, with dirty hair, and warts. Witches are also supposedly able to exercise their supernatural powers through the aide of the devil or evil spirits. Witches are believed to have the ability to fly, cast harmful spells, disclose future or hidden matters and produce anything she wishes. But does this hold true to everyone's idea of what witchcraft is? All of these beliefs are typical stereotypes of witches. In this paper I am going to discuss in more detail these stereotypes.!.
One common stereotype of witches is the ever-popular broomstick, along with the pointy black hat and ominous black cat. In the short story, "Young Goodman Brown", by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the witch Goody Cloyse, is recorded saying that her broomstick "hath strangely disappeared". However, this stereotype is very untrue. "The information about witchlike stereotypes such as brooms, pointy hats, etc. is referred to as being 18th century or perhaps a little earlier." (New Standard Encyclopedia) "As far as the pointy hats, they are derived from English 16th and 17th century representations. The hats were actually just an article of dress, in which some people wore. The hats were not actually pointed though. The hats came into artistic use depicting witches in English pamphlets. In these pamphlets, witches were sometimes shown wearing one." (Yoder, Carolyn) .
The black cat stereotype is also incorrect. During the middle ages, the cat's links with the ancient, pagan cult of the mother goddess inspired a wave of persecution that has lasted several hundreds of years.