Reading List: The Witching Hour

Even as Starbucks switches to its Red Cup holiday menu and the radio plays Christmas music, Halloween tugs at the coattails of my subconscious. To honor our dearly departed All Hallows’ Eve, here are four pieces about witchcraft in the United States and abroad.

“Sex, Drugs, and Broomsticks: The Origin of the Iconic Witch” (Dylan Thuras, Atlas Obscura, October 2014)

Hallucinogenic herbs, phallic domestic tools … Thuras shares art, historical records of witch trials and farming traditions and examines the origin of the broomstick-toting, cackling, flying witch. (Not Particularly Safe For Work.)

“The Truth About Witches: An Interview with Katherine Howe” (Jia Tolentino, Jezebel, October 2014)

Katherine Howe is the editor of The Penguin Book of Witches and related to three of the witches of Salem. She talks about the social, cultural and religious influence of witchcraft in the early days of the United States, as well as misconceptions about early witches.

“Portrait of an Iranian Witch” (Alireza Doostdar, The New Inquiry, October 2013)

Mersedeh is an up-and-coming entrepreneur, using her knowledge of witchcraft, Islam and psychology to minister to her clientele’s needs. But in Tehran’s class-conscious society, is that enough?

“The Witch in All of Us” (Jaya Saxena, The Hairpin, October 2014)

Armed with the soundtrack to Practical Magic, the adolescence of the author evolves from spells and facades to opinions and confidence.

Photo: John William Waterhouse’s Magic Circle, Wikimedia Commons