Luxembourg’s witches torn between myth and history

By Gabrielle AntarLex Kleren

For those looking for powerful feminine symbolism, some people have turned to the legendary witch, good or bad, as the hero for deviant femininity. The Journal has spoken to a self-proclaimed witch, a witch historian, and a midwife to discuss this particular need for symbolism.

It is common knowledge within feminist theory, that an underestimated struggle women and feminine people face is the possibility to look up to strong female role models. Within the 21st century, there is still a deficit of complex representation of powerful feminine symbols. Due to a patriarchal* system of power that has lasted for many centuries, the contribution of women to history has been grossly undermined, as already described in the research paper entitled A new age of goddess worship in new wave feminism: witch way forward?. The built-in sexism within society has positioned men’s contribution in the centre while leaving women and queer people in secondary roles if they are even acknowledged. This long-standing misogynistic* tendency has left feminine folks longing for a kind of symbolism in which they can see themselves.

The witch: a tale as old as time?

As Simone De Beauvoir famously wrote in her book entitled The Second Sex: "Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of men; they describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with absolute truth."

Going against the normalisation that the most powerful and popular figures are men and that they are to be our idols, some women have taken it upon themselves to empower narratives of deviant women and create their own witchy contribution in defiance to this status quo. In order to trace back the current fluctuation behind the history of witches and the myth associated to this symbol, conversations were initiated with women of different backgrounds who helped clarify the similarities and differences between the symbolism of witches and the factual history that lies underneath it.

Some people have found refuge in the popular myths of witches. Indeed, a notoriously dated idea appears to be these frightening ugly big-nosed women who bring terror wherever they go. Even though these pejorative feminine attributes are normalised, in the last half-century people have also reappropriated the symbolism of witches for positive causes such as the fight for gender equality and self-empowerment.

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