I just completed this set of miniature witch balls for a special customer. Sometimes my shop supporters will have these wonderful requests, ideas that really let me revel in my materials and designs. This set of 8 witch balls in different colours, all with hand-forged hooks and adjustable chains, was one such request. They look so happy together, don’t they?
I was inspired to make my version of the traditional witch ball after seeing a one such wonder in the “moorland cottage” room of the Castle Museum in York. The museum has myriad recreations of domesticity throughout the ages. I was particularly moved by the 18th century cottage, full of rough-hewn furniture. Every object had at least one use, if not three or four. But there in the window– something mysterious and glamorous, even! A glass ball, decoupaged with roses. I, like many unseelies before me, was certainly mesmerized by it. This is my take on the witch ball– made with love and mindfulness, based on old Yorkshire custom where glass orbs were blessed by a wise woman and placed in a window or mantle for protection against malevolence.
You can see more of my miniature witch balls in my Etsy shop.
This Samhain passed quietly, without a single trick or treater, despite our expertly carved pumpkin in the window. People don’t really celebrate Halloween here– it is seen as a crass commercialisation of an ancient Celtic holiday, a “Yank” import.
It remains my favourite holiday, and really, I celebrate it all year round. Last night we had to decide what horror movie to watch. I don’t like to watch anything too scary at night. I love horror films but I have to watch them during the day. So that ruled out most things, leaving us with our Hammer boxed set, Ginger Snaps, and Season of the Witch from 1972.
George Romero’s little known masterpiece of Suburban witchcraft is a nod to the pyschological horror of Hardy’s The Turn of the Screw while still being a feminist meditation on the mainstreaming of non-conformity happening in the early 1970s. It is also proof of the power of a title– marketed as “Hungry Wives” in the US and “Jack’s Wife” in the UK, both distort for me the heart of the film. The thrill of watching this is similar to seeing the seductive and colourful British folk customs through a cinematic distortion in original The Wicker Man.Here we get to glimpse of the pagan rituals of a solitary witch who later joins a coven, all glamorised for the big screen. Of course, this might seem cliche– we have had many witches on mainstream telly in recent years. But Jan White’s sincere performance of a woman coming to power strikes me as very real in a film genre that is full of histrionics and dazed women victims. As she discovers who she is, you feel as if you are seeing this moment of transformation for the first time as well. Romero says it is the only one of his films he would like to remake, and I would be curious to see that happen.