My daughter recently told me that for Halloween, her school allows the kids to dress up as anything they want. Anything except witches, that is. Apparently, some Christians found that to be offensive.
There was no word on dressing up like Jesus or the Holy Family, but my kids didn’t find that particularly interesting. Or funny. But I couldn’t stop thinking why witches are so offensive so some people.
After all, there isn’t universal disdain for witchcraft among Christians. German people have long shared stories about the spirits of the forest and those who commune with them without any apparent fear of damnation. The French and Italians are also pretty open about the whole idea. Certainly, the Spanish Inquisition carried a stigma through their colonies, but the presence of Santeria was long a part of what made Cuba such a fascinating place.
So what’s the deal with witches here in the UsofA?
I think it has something to do with the Salem Witch Trials, at least indirectly. It seems that English people in particular have a problem with witches, at least in the sense that they pose some major threat to Christianity. No other nationality seems to care so much. The offence in question seems related to a peculiar English problem. What could that be?
The process of making a Great Britain that covered all of the British Isles was a messy one. The core of it was the Roman capital of Loudinium, which in turns became a Saxon capital and then a Norman one. The rest of the place? It was full of Celts. Wales and Scotland and let’s not mention Ireland, the place was full of these strange and slightly primitive people that just weren’t with the whole Imperial program.
It wasn’t hard to spot a Celt. They spoke their own language and, more importantly, had their own religion. What we call “Witchcraft” they called “Wicca”, the religion that stayed close to the spirits in every living thing whether made of flesh or wood. The Celts were regarded as a type of redneck, but the power the Wiccans held was feared.
All of this has to be seen against a backdrop of what can only be called a policy of genocide. The Irish were systematically starved out during the Potato Famine as part of a pacification already 500 years in the making. Wicca had been outlawed for centuries at this point, as were many other aspects of Irish culture.
The apparent fear of witches cannot be separated from the subjugation of Celts. If it was more common among other Christians, it might be different. But the disdain for witches as an offense to Christianity is nothing more than a held-over disdain for Celtic Wiccans as an offense to the Crown. That led directly to the genocide of my people once, not all that long ago.
I am not a follower of Wicca, but I have respect for my ancestry. To think that the terrible troubles that led us to the USofA have followed in some weird form is a ghost story worthy of Halloween itself. The spirits of Imperial genocide are with us to this day, albeit in a form that most people can’t understand any longer.