Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Which Witch?

Halloween is a week away. I’ve set my DVR to record The Haunting (as mentioned, THE definitive ghost story). Ready for the chills to follow. Yet there’s more to the supernatural than the plaintive wails of the undead. After finishing the second story in Patricia Clapp’s book, Witches’ Children, my thoughts veer towards the proverbial weaver of spells.

Patricia’s story was particularly chilling. A fictional exploration of the gnarled roots of the Salem Witch trials. Spooky and more real than one would like to imagine. Most frightening is the realization that this mind-set can happen anywhere, anytime.

Still, I remember back when Casper was a friendly ghost and Wendy was a very good witch indeed. *smile* Made me wonder, which witch do you adore?

I have my hands-down favorite. Kim Novak in Bell, Book, & Candle. A 1959 classic film, also starring Jimmy Stewart as the hapless innocent Kim spells into love, with Jack Lemmon as her mischievous warlock brother. Included is Elsa Lanchester (the original Bride of Frankenstein) as a wonderfully dotty witch, and a rare and brilliant performance by Ernie Kovacs.

What I love about this movie would take pages and pages to describe so let me just say two things.

First… Kim Novak.

The epitome of coolness. In black Capri slacks and as sinewy as her Siamese familiar, she captures the essence of what I imagined a true witch to be. Somewhat eerie, beyond the human ken, yet heartbreakingly real in her discovery of true feelings.

Second… the myth. A true classic manages to tap into something deeper. The wellspring of consciousness, the primal pool of archetypes Jung explored. When someone taps into that collective consciousness, there’s a familiarity to the tale, even if it’s never yet been spoken.

“A true witch cannot shed a tear.”

With that simple statement, an image is born. An image that haunts and intrigues. So… a witch has all these fabulous powers. She can cast spells and live among humans manipulating them as she pleases. But… She Can’t Feel Emotions.

Rather like finding out you can eat whatever you want without gaining a pound. Only drawback? You no longer have taste buds.


To me, Kim Novak perfectly captured this archetype, which is forever stamped within my soul.

I still love the original Bewitched and her adorable nose twitch. But the hopefulness and tragedy of the witch who could never shed a tear haunts me to this day.

How about you? Any favorite witches cast a spell on you?

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