“Just because you don’t believe it […]doesn’t mean that it’s not true.”
― Katherine Howe,
Witchcraft and witches are usually relegated to the realm of fairy tales and sometimes explained as the manifestation of subconscious fears. They populate picture books, appear in fantasy-based films and television series, and their stereotypical features inspire Halloween costumes.
1 – Medusa
Medusa is one of the three sisters Gorgons. The other two were Stheno (the oldest of the sisters) and Euryale. The three Gorgons appear sometimes as women or mermaid like creatures but monstrous, with serpent’s skin, sharp teeth and venomous snakes on their head instead of hair living near Libya.
Medusa is an incredibly sinister and evil individual, as well as a very powerful witch. She was once a very beautiful lady, who unfortunately made love to the Olympic sea God Poseidon in the sacred ground of Athena”s temple. Athena as a virgin Goddess was furious for her sacred groves desecration, so she cursed Medusa to this monstrous form, but at the same time she granted her the ability to petrify anyone who would look into her eyes.
2 – Baba Yaga
In Russian folklore there are many stories of Baba Yaga, the fearsome witch with iron teeth.
She is also known as Baba Yaga Boney Legs, because, in spite of a ferocious appetite, she is as thin as a skeleton. In Russian that’s: ‘Baba Yaga Kostianaya Noga’. Her nose is so long that it rattles against the ceiling of her hut when she snores, stretched out in all directions upon her ancient brick oven.
Not being a boringly-conventional witch, she does not wear a hat, and has never been seen on a broomstick. She travels perched in a large mortar with her knees almost touching her chin, and pushes herself across the forest floor with a pestle.
Whenever she appears on the scene, a wild wind begins to blow, the trees around creak and groan and leaves whirl through the air. Shrieking and wailing, a host of spirits often accompany her on her way.
Being a somewhat secretive lady, (in spite of all the din she makes,) she sweeps away all traces of herself with a broom made of silver birch. She can also fly through the air in the same manner.
3 – Hecate
Hecate, Greek goddess of the three paths, guardian of the household, protector of everything newly born, and the goddess of witchcraft – once a widely revered and influential goddess, the reputation of Hecate has been tarnished over the centuries. In current times, she is usually depicted as a “hag” or old witch stirring the cauldron.
But nothing could be further from the image of Hecate’s original glory.
A beautiful and powerful goddess in her own right, the Greek goddess Hecate was the only one of the ancient Titans who Zeus allowed to retain their authority once the Olympians seized control. Zeus shared with Hecate, and only her, the awesome power of giving humanity anything she wished (or withholding it if she pleased).
Usually classified as a “moon goddess”, her kingdoms were actually three-fold: the earth, sea, and sky. Having the power to create or withhold storms undoubtedly played a role in making her the goddess who was the protector of shepherds and sailors.
4 – Kikimora
Kikimora is known in the literature as sziszimora or szyszymora. The meaning of her name may come from the Finnish language, where “kikke mörkö” means scarecrow. No matter what the roots of the word are, it is used for a being without a body, a nightmare, or a scary spirit which disturbs people at night. Kikimora is a creature which settles in a house and doesn’t want to leave – making the lives of people who live there unbearable.
Kikimora is usually blamed for sleep paralysis, nightmares, and anything bad which happens to food at night. She was well-known in the territory of Ruś, but is also known in several Slavic countries. Her story also spread to many other countries. Her appearance is usually associated with bad news.
5 – The Bell Witch
Adams, Tennessee, in 1817 was the site of one of the most well-known hauntings in American history – so well known that it eventually caught the attention and then the involvement of a future president of the United States.
Known as The Bell Witch, the strange and often violent poltergeist activitythat provoked fear and curiosity in the small farming community has remained unexplained for nearly 200 years and is the inspiration for many fictional ghost stories.
The facts of The Bell Witch case share little in common with the mythology created for The Blair Witch Project, except they both attracted a great deal of public interest. And because it really happened, The Bell Witch is far scarier.
6 – The Graeae
The Graeae were three sisters of fate who shared one eye and one tooth in Greek mythology. They were born as old women and their names were Deino (dread), Enyo (horror) and Pemphredo (alarm).
One might also compare the Graeae with the three spinners of Destiny, the Moirai who were also called the Fates in Greek mythology. The three Moirai determined the span of human life of every mortal from birth to death. They were so powerful that no god had the right or the means to alter their decisions.
Although, the Fates were the personifications of destiny, no human could blame the fates, since there were times he was the only one responsible for his failures.
7 – The Witch of Endor
The Witch of Endor is known also as the biblical Medium of Endor. According to legend, she was a medium who apparently summoned the Prophet Samuel’s spirit. She is known from the Old Testament, but became a part of other traditions too.
As the story goes, King Saul went to the Witch of Endor for answers about how to defeat the Philistines. The Witch then summoned the ghost of the prophet Samuel—who didn’t tell him how to defeat the Philistines—but prophesied that he would be defeated and join his three sons in the afterlife. Saul, who is wounded the next day in the battle, kills himself out of fear. And while the Witch didn’t technically make Saul kill himself, she was certainly an accessory.
8 – Morgan Le Fay
Morgan Le Fay (alternatively known as Morgaine le Fey, Morgane, Morgain, Morgana, Fata Morgana and other variants) is a powerful sorceress and antagonist of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere in Arthurian legend. Although always depicted as a practitioner of magic, over time her character became more and more evil until she began to be portrayed as a witch who was taught the black arts by Merlin.
The early works featuring Morgan do not elaborate her character beyond her role as a fay (fairy) or magician, although she became much more prominent in the later Old French cyclical prose works such as “Lancelot-Grail” and the Post-Vulgate Cycle. In these works, she is said to be Arthur’s half-sister, daughter of Arthur’s mother, Lady Igraine, and her first husband, Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall. She has at least two older sisters, Elaine and Morgause, the latter being the mother of Sir Gawain, the Green Knight, and the traitor, Mordred. As a fairy later transformed into a woman and King Arthur’s half sister, she became an enchantress to continue her powers.
9 – Circe
Circe was a minor goddess of magic in Greek mythology, daughter of the Titans Helios, god of the sun, and Perse, an Oceanid.
She is best known for her role in Homer’s Odyssey. During their adventures towards Ithaca, Odysseus and his companions reached Colchys, where the residence of Circe was. She invited them all to a grand feast, which a lot of Odysseus’ companions attended but not him. At the feast, one of the dishes was laced with a magical potion; when Odysseus’ companions ate it, Circe made a quick move with her wand and turned them into pigs. Only one of the companions escaped unharmed and informed Odysseus. The hero, after taking advice from Hermes, protected himself from the spell by using a holy herb, and managed to befriend Circe and save his companions.
10 – Jenny Greenteeth
Jenny Greenteeth was a water fairy associated with the Lancashire area. She and her sisters ‘lurked at the bottom of pits, and with their long sinewy arms dragged in and drowned children venturing too near’. There has been, since the nineteenth century, an attempt to rationalize Jenny. She was a form of social control: parents evoked her to keep their children away from dangerous ponds, streams, rivers and later canals (Jenny moved with the time). And certainly we have accounts that tend in this direction: ‘Jenny’ll get you!’ One little boy was brought into the garden and told that the moaning of the wind in the trees was Jenny’s voice: another was shown some enameled teeth that had been stained green! But Jenny was also a proud boggart with her own agenda and there are parts of the legend that do not serve to save lives. For example, the idea that duck weed was particularly associated with her or even that it was her hair. It should also be noted that even if there was only one Jenny Greenteeth she apparently dwelt in tens of different bodies of water simultaneously.
11 – Chedipe
The word ‘Chedipe’ literally means prostitute. The Chedipe is a very interesting vampire creature of India. She was a type of sorceress in the Godavari area.
The Chedipe was pictured riding a tiger through the night.
Stories said that the Chedipe was a sort of seductress who brings impurity into the home. At night, she would enter a home unclothed, and use a form of hypnotism, she would put the household into a trance-like sleep so that they were unaware of her presence in the home. She would pick the strongest male in the house, and she would suck his blood out of his toe. In some cases, she may sexually assault the man.
In the morning, the man would awaken by feel drained of energy and somewhat intoxicated. If he did not seek treatment for his condition, the Chedipe would return. She would continue to return, and the man would not have any idea of her actions except feeling drained. Over time, he would begin to waste away, grow sick, and die.
12 – The Weird Sisters
Shakespeare’s Macbeth is one of the Bard’s defining plays, with brilliant characters galore and a story rife with magic, betrayal, and fear. But the very first characters in the story are the ones that set everything in motion—the Weird Sisters. And yes, they are more than a little weird, but in this case “weird” means “fate,” so they are the Sisters of Fate. They act as agents of destruction and not only send Macbeth into a spiral of corruption and paranoia, they send all of Scotland to war just to take one man out of power. Now that’s evil.