I have been pondering the subject of a Witches ritual clothing. What does the fashionable Witch wear about town? Obviously one of the main garments that springs to mind is the robe. Dark coloured, velvet possibly, maybe with a hood, dramatic flowing swathes of fabric and so on. A recognisable image of one who treads the Crooked Path. The internet is full of celebrity Witches posing in photos with marvellously gothic robe, hat, make-up and in some cases stripy socks. There is even one celebrity who seems to wear an old velour bathrobe tied with string round the middle, Witchtastic! Associated with the robe is the hat, pointy of course and other accessories in keeping with the image.
What I am pondering is who created this image? Where did the iconic look that the best-dressed Witch sports, have its origins? If you look back through the history of Witchcraft, it could possibly be Medieval wood-cuts of characters that the Witch-Hunters pursued and warned the public to beware of. Images of Witches riding their broomsticks, instructing their imps and cavorting with the Devil all feature a style of dress that does look familiar to the modern eye. More recently the Gardnerian movement advocated working a ritual naked or ‘Sky-Clad’, a lovely, euphemistic image. Looking back I agree this probably had more to do with Gerald Gardner being a naturist than it being necessary to spell-work. It would be very sorry excuse for a Witch indeed if they could not manipulate their power past a few bits of clothing. Equally I don’t think what is worn has any bearing on the power of the work, although it probably has a big impact on identity and feelings.
I do own a robe. it was made for me by a dear friend, is black crushed velvet with a lilac silky lining. The hem is ragged because I was supposed to finish it off, and haven’t got to it yet. I bought it a pewter Celtic knot clasp from a great little shop in Glastonbury, but haven’t had time to sew it on. Its covered in mud and dog slobber from when I visited some New Forest Witches and joined in a circle work on the Web of Wyrd. Mud was from the forest, dog slobber from my dog who was cross with me for not letting him chase rabbits and ponies. I really ought to wash it and finish it off, clearly I am failing on many sartorial levels where Witches are concerned.
I remember reading that a cloak was probably worn for secrecy by Witches walking through the night to gather and work their craft. In a dark cloak it is not easy to be seen and plain unembellished clothing is difficult to identify after a possible spotting by finger pointing, jealous neighbours. Witches in plain sight, but plain. So in a modern context, in order to move about society without revealing to all and sundry, ‘I am a Witch!’, I don’t think I will be wearing my robe about town. I dress normally. Well maybe a few hippy touches, giving a passing nod to my youth and outlook! I will finish off the robe one day and it will make a great part of my Halloween costume, when I give out sweets to the ‘Trick or Treaters’. If I keep it on for the later, more serious work of Samhain, no one need ever know.