“Into the air, over the valleys, under the stars, above a river, a pond, a road, flew Cecy. Invisible as new spring winds, fresh as the breath of clover rising from twilight fields, she flew.” – Ray Bradbury
Witches are those most mysterious beings that have perplexed and enchanted people since the dawn of human existence. Although perceptions about witches and witchcraft have constantly evolved over time and amid differing cultural understandings, their allure continues to endure in pop culture today. In honor of Halloween, here are five iconic pop culture witches that have defied stereotypes and – ahem, bewitched – audiences around the world:
Willow Rosenberg. With her cropped red hair, sweet smile, and nerdy persona, Willow hardly embodied the stereotype of a raven-haired, broom-wielding witch in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As Flavorwire contributor Judy Berman once wrote, “Like the other characters on Buffy, Willow is cool because, for all her supernatural misadventures, she’s a regular, flawed person who you could imagine as one of your own pals.”
Nancy Downs. The Craft is a 1996 supernatural horror film that focused on a group of teenage girls who pursue witchcraft to earn power in their high school. At the center of this group is Nancy Downs, a terrifying, complex witch who has become both a style and supernatural icon. Her punk and goth clothing and foray into sorcery helped solidify her pop culture witchy status, and her attitude and ferocity allowed her to wield a kind of human power that young women envied then and now.
Sabrina Spellman. A huge contrast to Nancy Downs, Sabrina Spellman is the blond, girl-next-door type witch that delighted audiences in the 90s version of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Sabrina is your average teenager, except for the magical powers, extended witch family, and talking cat. Melissa Joan Hart brought a wholesome, genuine likability to Sabrina on the small and silver screens; she made being a witch look kind of quirky and fun.
Hermione Granger. Perhaps one of the most iconic witches of pop culture, Hermione Granger of the Harry Potter series is a socially-awkward, academic kind of young witch, and one with formidable powers. Loyal and kindhearted, Hermione is a far cry from the macabre imagery often associated with witches, although Harry Potter does embrace objects such as broomsticks, witch hats, and cauldrons.
Winnie Sanderson. Hocus Pocus is one of the most beloved Halloween movies of all time, and Winnie Sanderson, the leader of the three witch sisters the film focuses on, is one of the reasons the film is so popular. Suggest.com says that she is “by far the toughest, wisest, and most powerful witch,” and also calls her “one of the coolest movie witches of all times.”
Other iconic pop culture witches include Alexandra Spofford of The Witches of Eastwick, the Wicked Witch of the West, Samantha Stephens and Endora from Bewitched, Minnie Castevet from Rosemary’s Baby, and the White Witch. Do you have a favorite pop culture witch?
Featured Image: Jhayne via Flickr CC.