Seduction, Witches & Long Hair.

Via Katarina Silva
on Jan 13, 2012
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Searching by K.Silva

It happened to me once, in a little Indian village bordering Bangladesh and tucked into the foothills of the Himalayas. Sneaking past armed guards into wilderness forbidden to tourists, I left modernity behind and entered into a remote part of our planet where backward superstitions ruled.

How dare I subject myself to such danger? The locals scolded. But they didn’t alert me to the danger of neighboring tribes descending from the hills to hack us with machetes, as the ministry of tourism had. Instead, the village women were trying to protect me from being falsely accused of witchcraft!

You see, I had behaved in ways that were questionable: Neglecting to avoid eye contact with men when they spoke to me. Not covering my head with a veil. Even worse, wearing my long hair down during twilight! That dangerous, most bewitching hour in which the pisachis appeared, the witches. “You wouldn’t want the men to think you are one of them, do you, with your long, loose hair?” The superstitious villagers asked, in all sincerity, their eyebrows twisted with concern.

A witch? me? because of my long hair? But why would being a witch be a dangerous accusation? What would they do to me, if they did decide I was a witch?

Every year, thousands of women around the world (if not more) are accused, harassed, humiliated, paraded around naked, and killed for being “witches”. From the African Congo to parts of India, New Guinea, and Saudi Arabia (where witchcraft is still legally punishable by death), innocent herbal healers and doctors, midwives and mothers, are being violently murdered for their “witchcraft”.

These women belong to all socio-economic status and levels of education, yet, they are senselessly killed because they turned down the advances of men. Or their crops mysteriously yielded a greater harvest than those of their neighbors. Or because they cured someone who was believed to be on the verge of death. Or they accurately anticipated a storm, or the sex of an unborn child, or had become the target of envy in their village.

And sometimes, just sometimes, a murdered woman’s only “crime” was that she was just too beautiful. The kind of beauty that imbibes luscious powers of seduction so tempting and irresistible they must be the result of sorcery, spell-casting or witchy potions. What else could it be, right? Feminine lure is the product of evil. So let’s destroy it.

Veiled by K. Silva

They say a witch’s power is in her long, wild hair.

They say when a witch lets her hair loose, she unleashes tornadoes and hurricanes, and causes comets to fly through the sky and volcanos to erupt. The middle ages were full of such beliefs, residue from the ancient world, when women followed the apostle Paul. He warns us in his epistle to the Corinthians that a female’s head should be covered, lest the mischief of lusty demons be fueled by her beautiful, long hair.

I’ve worn my hair long most of my life. Traveling around rural India, dutifully covering my long (now braided) hair to satisfy my indigenous travel companions, I couldn’t help but think that the misogynistic views of early Christianity had made their ugly way into this richly sensual land that birthed the kama-sutra, (of all things) and had once thrived on goddess worship! How ironic then, that the women in some of these villages were apparently being trained to feel almost ashamed of their femininity, of their beauty, and of the sensuality that naturally beams from their womanhood and their lovely, long hair.

The Egyptian goddess Isis gently aroused her dead lover, Osiris, back to life by caressing his body with with her silky, long hair.

Long hair is wildly erotic and luxurious. It can play an extravagant part in lovemaking. It suggests a sexual freedom that the church considered diabolical.

A woman’s loose, long hair, after all, had the power of seduction built into it, and “purity” required sexual deprivation. So, from the fourteenth to eighteenth centuries, long-haired “witches” were executed as conspirators with the devil against Christianity.

This is when the witch and the seductress became one. Or was it when Eve offered Adam the forbidden fruit? Or Pandora opened her box? Either way, it is man’s sexual arousal, and a woman’s power to sexually arouse that is being labeled as evil here. After all, erotic lure is connected to a pleasure so grand, it must be forbidden! And so our species sadly belongs to a long history of premature and unhealthy sexual deprivation in the name of spiritual liberation. Which, unfortunately, continues to this day, from international ashrams in Bengal, to monasteries in Tibet, and even trickling into the little yoga shala down the street from your favorite wheat grass bar.

Witchcraft by K.Silva

Witches symbolize the opposite of deprivation.

Witches are exciting emblems of sexual might and magic.

They honor and respect erotic energy in themselves, those around them, and the universe. Witches stand in opposition to puritanical fears that encourage the repression of our natural sexuality, representing rebellion, and freedom. Witches wear their natural beauty without shame or inhibitions. Witches let their hair fly wild and free.

Some of the fifth grade boys surrounded me before the teacher entered the classroom shouting: “Bruja! Bruja! Bruja!”. My girlfriend had insisted I wear my long hair down, for a change, instead of keeping it up in its usual ponytail. My ten-year-old heart thumped in my chest from embarrassment and I felt my face becoming flushed. The boys’ taunts made me feel so ugly, I quickly pulled my hair back, and wore it up for the next five years. That same school year, four boys asked me out. They were all the same boys who called me a witch that day for wearing my hair down. I suppose teasing me was their way of dealing with their own new and uncomfortable feelings of attraction for me.

I suspect this unpleasant phenomenon in the male species, of unconsciously punishing the object of their romantic desire, characterized the entire Roman Catholic Inquisition. A time when all feelings of attraction toward females were not merely sources of discomfort, but of evil itself.

No thanks to two sexually neurotic Dominican priests, a legitimized manual for prosecuting witches (the Malleus Maleficarum)was thus established, perversely encouraging celibate men to obsess over female sexuality. And although it called for all accused “witches” to be stripped naked, shaved in their pubic area, and thoroughly “examined”, if the inquisitor (usually a monk), was to become sexually aroused during the inquisition of a particular “witch”, the greater were said to be her powers of seduction, and, consequently, the greater torture she received. Because, of course, the monks were pure, and their sexual attraction was entirely the witch’s fault!

Projection of this type was, and unfortunately continues to be, a popular way to avoid facing oneself and one’s own challenges.

When it’s too scary to face ourselves in the mirror, we blame the witch. We toss our fears onto the witch in a kind of scapegoat phenomenon. This witch then becomes our own inner demons.  

For those who are uncomfortable with their own sexuality, a sexually liberated woman can be simultaneously enchanting and terrifying. For she deliciously wakes one up to one’s own erotic side, while at the same time revealing whatever yucky inhibitors one may harbor in relation to their own sexuality and its expression. And who is not in need of sexual healing these days, when more than one third of us have been sexually abused before we turn eighteen, and the child pornography industry is the highest grossing business on the internet?

Witches symbolize sexuality that is healthy, natural, healing and empowering.

If we feel ourselves being irresistibly drawn into a seductress, perhaps it’s because we intuitively feel the need to explore our own sexuality, become more comfortable with it, or perhaps, even heal it. 

Healing is about expression not repression. Because sexual expression is more than just a physical release, the sexually emancipated witch was also married to love mysticism.  Some say a witch’s riding broom is really a phallic symbol, and the ecstatic flight it sends her on, represents a long orgasm. Ecstasy from the Greek word ekstasis, metaphorically understood as “to stand forth naked”.

Like ancient love-mystics, witches celebrate the nude body as divine, as pure, as a symbol of one’s naked soul, and a passage to eternal pleasure.

The witch is a woman who is empowered in the harmonic convergence of her own erotic and spiritual energies. Who wouldn’t be drawn to her?

We are simultaneously scared and drawn toward witches because we are simultaneously scared and drawn toward our own personal power, sexual and spiritual. It is natural for us to be drawn to beauty. But to blame the beautiful for causing us to objectify it, degrade it, molest it and torture it, is another story entirely.

Blaming the potently beautiful for causing our own perversions echos with denial from darker times. Yet this modern day witch hunt still continues to this very day. 

A beautiful female is therefore still regarded as the source of tremendous destructive power because she is seen as being sexually arousing: The power to steal another woman’s beloved, the power to make a priest break his vows, the power to ruin the moral fabric of society. Oh! And if I let my long hair down, we might just have a tsunami hit us, or a volcano erupt!

Witch by Katarina Silva

~I dedicate this post to Janet Sellers who inspired me to present us witches in a more favorable light.

And to all the women around the world who have ever been killed, or abused, unfairly judged, or harassed, (and continue to be) for their “witchcraft and sorcery”.~


About Katarina Silva

Katarina Silva is an artistic self-expressionist who thrives on the spontaneous thrill of creating photographic images in ten seconds, and inevitably employs witchcraft to do so. Her autobiographical art reflects her emotions and dreams, and is characterized by the mysterious absence of her complete face. She lives unafraid of darkness, wrapped in nature, in an obscure corner of the planet with her magical kitty. You may view her work at The Art of Katarina Silva. Or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter


71 Responses to “Seduction, Witches & Long Hair.”

  1. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    You are one of my favourite, beloved witches. :) xoxo

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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  2. MarySol says:

    p.s. i love the pictures, long hair and all!

  3. Jason Gan says:

    Much of Christianity's fear of the Occult and Witchraft hinges on the historical downfall of King Solomon (Suleiman), who built an altar to Ashtoroth and Moloch, which, Christians believe, pits Solomon's Witchcraft practices against God. What we know of this particular type of witchcraft survives today in the preservation of his Grimoire, The Key of Solomon (Clavicula Salomonis). There are many other forms of practices, and rituals, not just of Solomon, but Druidic Wicca, and African voodoo and Native American spiritual healing, etc. Christianity is afraid of all these, because they fear GOD. If God even exists, it can only exist in the minds of those who want to expunge the existence of all other Gods.

  4. MarySol says:

    Thank you Katarina. I hear what you are saying about how this can play out in our personal relationships. When we feel that the other party is receptive, we feel encouraged to express ourselves. When we are able to express ourselves freely, without fear, we can truly know one another. To me, this is where the “healing, support, nourishment, and everything else that leads to sweet and meaningful exchanges” between persons takes place. It is perhaps a very vulnerable space, but I think that might be the price for real relationships. On the other side, as you say, is the “fear based attitude” which separates us and keeps us from interacting in healthy ways. Fearing judgment, we bury our “selves” trying to be who we think others expect us to be and we expect others to be who we want them to be rather than who they are. Yes, it is sad indeed! We can wind up having lots of acquaintances and no close friends. I am grateful to you for sharing your thoughts. I find your articles and these discussions very helpful. Thanks too for your answer about magic. I like the idea that this world is FULL of magic! :-)

  5. panchpuran says:

    "Indeed, Jason, there are many ritualistic practices, ideologies, philosophies, etc around the world and across cultures that feel threatening to orthodox Christians, as well as to other forms of orthodox, fanatic religion, be it within Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, or other paradigms. "

    What particular "ritualistic practices, ideologies, philosophies," feel threatening to "forms of orthodox, fanatic Hindus?"

  6. susan says:

    Increasingly , we don't call people jerks or crazy, we assign pathological and seek to find cures. I wonder what the author thinks of what we now call mental illness and how it relates to "accusations" of witchcraft, which was not addressed in the article.

  7. Anne-Li says:

    Ah, so interesting, also beautiful pics. Thanks for a great article, I must rad it again…. :).

  8. deleted3199113 says:

    Katrina, I'm going to have to disagree with your belief in magic. I am an evidence based person and I have seen no evidence that magic exists. I personally think a belief in magic is just another form of superstition.

    That said, I still would like you to know that I really enjoyed your post. I enjoyed how you explained the history of witchcraft through you own personal lens. A lens which is much different than the lens found in today's major religions. For my part I have always been fascinated by "witchy" women, they always seemed very "natural" to me.

  9. yogini k says:

    Terence Mckenna has some excellent lectures where he talks about the relationship of mental illness and shamanistic tendencies, basically saying that in older cultures a person who could see/hear/be beyond the immediate reality was highly treasured and respected, most of the times seen as a shaman. Nowadays though the opposite is the case. He has some really interesting points, I just recently "discovered him".
    Also I cant remember where, or much about it but somewhere I read about, I think within Christian religion that women used to be if not worship at least highly valued. And also, there was some sort of ritual where a woman would lie on the altar when she was looking for some sex and any man passing by could take her and even if they were married it was ok because it was a way to worship God or earth or divinity or something. Can't recall very well, sorry :/ maybe the author knows what Im talking about? I care very little about western religions so I didnt pay too much attention however I found that interesting because is different from what I thought, that women are always seen as worthless or demonic , or at least some of the main features of women's nature is seen that way. But apparently it didnt used to be that way, it became that way, somewhere along the lines it got lost… but maybe it was even before the Jesus guy and all. Im not sure… Anybody knows what Im talking about?

  10. Nicole says:

    This is one of the most unique and interesting articles I have read in awhile :) I superbly enjoyed it!! The writer did a wonderful job :) Usually I will go through an article, copying different bits and pieces to use as an intro for people to read it, and with this one I couldn't decide what to use!! So many good and interesting tidbits!! bravo!! and <3 much love to all us women dealing with a repeat of the Dark Ages – we shall prevail. Speaks volumes as to the importance of education – herbalists today are doctors not witches!!
    I love the pictures throughout the article as well – I have long red hair and would love to do some enchanting witchy photoshoots!! 😉 Wonderful article, thank you for sharing

  11. Stormy says:

    Excellent! I had to let my hair down while reading it ( I had put it up to keep it out of the food I'm taking a break from preparing). Btw, not all of us followers of Jesus judge and persecute. Blessings to you, my friend : )

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  13. MarySol says:

    wow, witches rule! this one conjured up some interesting discussions 😉

  14. Irfan Saeed says:

    Woman was a Queen, she is and she will ever be. Her beauty ruled the human history, without her everything is dull, deaf, dumb and colorless

  15. panchpuran says:

    "I’ve worn my hair long most of my life. Traveling around rural India, dutifully covering my long (now braided) hair to satisfy my indigenous travel companions"

    Strange. Were your traveling companion orthodox Muslims by any chance? If not, which particular region in India is that unmarried, non-Muslim women are expected to keep their hair covered?

    "I couldn’t help but think that the misogynistic views of early Christianity had made their ugly way into this richly sensual land that birthed the kama-sutra"

    Sounds more like an Islamic influence if anything. None of the Indian Christians I know cover their hair.

  16. honeyryder512 says:

    love this, I guess I'm [good] witch too :)

  17. I can see why you love witches Katarina. You were and are one! ; )

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and perspective of the ancient and modern witch. It struck me deeply as I used to call my mom a "witch" (but a 'good witch) when I was younger. And it takes one to know one! ; )

  18. […] friends even told me this: “You could have done this to any one of our husbands!” As if I had cast a spell on the poor, helpless guy and was fully responsible for his […]

  19. Man says:

    "More than one third of us have been sexually abused before we turn eighteen, and the child pornography industry is the highest grossing business on the internet?"

    – Really?

    The rest of the article was very good but I dont believe 1 in 3 suffer sexual abuse. A little exaggerared I think.

  20. wandering dervish says:

    I really enjoyed this article and how you interwound your personal experience with mysticism and history. I have also always had long hair and never go to a salon to have it trimmed. I let it grow naturally where it kind of comes to a point at the longest part in the middle of my back, where it meets my butt. I've been accused of being a witch simply because of my hair and not having it cropped and chopped off in straight lines. Now closing in at 50, I was told recently by a man my age that I needed to cut my hair because women my age should not have long hair. I found it strange he'd suggest such a thing. Maybe from his point of view he sees women with long hair as sexual beings like you've suggested in your article and he can't fathom that women in their late 40's and 50's having that same kind of sensual energy exuding from them as younger women do. Well, his thinking and projecting is his problem not mine. I'll never cut my hair it will be long till it goes grey and follows me into the casket.

  21. calhy says:

    what a beautiful article1 Oddly, I just hung up frommaking an appointment for getting my hair cut! For me, with a longish face and solemn eyes, long straight hair makes me look horsey.. And I am sick of using curlers!

  22. aparna says:

    Powerful article. Thanks so much. In ancient India long hair was considered great because it was symbol of vigor and strength, not to mention beauty. I can't imagine cutting my long hair.

  23. I have yet to meet a self-proclaimed western witch who could handle the etymology of 'Pagan'.

  24. This is a great tip especially to those new to the blogosphere.
    Short but very precise information… Thanks for sharing this one.
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  25. susie says:

    Thanks so much. In ancient India long hair was considered great because it was symbol of vigor and strength, not to mention beauty. I can't imagine cutting my long hair.

  26. Spence says:

    You've got ME under your spell….Good article, Jung and (Joseph) Campbell would be proud..(as would Stevie Nicks)..The "bad" witch is a projection of the "bad"/harmful anima…Angels, fairy god-mothers,etc., are projections of the good/helpful amima….In our "modern" stories, we have the femme fatale vs. the ingenue characters…
    Sexuality IS scary..It brings forth emotions that are hard to control…Religion doesn't like this…

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  29. Frankie says:

    The fourth picture down is one of my all time favourites but I can never remember the artists name! Does anyone know who the artist is f

  30. anastomoses2013 says:

    Love this article. I am of indian heritage, and I find it frustrating that there are such strong fears around people being true to themselves, all in the name of 'purity'. Slowly things are changing, and some are going backwards, but to break down our thinking and elucidate the meaning behind things, in the manner of this article and what it represents, brings empowerment. Thank you. :)

  31. Kate Stockford says:

    Fabulous article and I agree with everything you have said, you speak to the 'witch' in every woman!

  32. Heather says:

    beautifully written!!!

  33. I enjoyed this, and agree that 'wild and free' is what scares the mainstream about both women and witches, regardless of culture.

    However, misogyny and witch-fear are by no means the sole preserve of Christianity. Witchcraft accusations were and are a common means of social control around the world, both before and after colonialism.

  34. Hannah says:

    Excellent, thank you.

  35. Genevieve Little says:

    I LOVED your article! What a fascinating read and your pictures illustrated the article perfectly. It is a tragedy that people feel threatened by or fear and seek to condemn what is beautiful and sensuous and natural in a woman, rather than to celebrate it – and worse even to use religion as an excuse for their actions. Your explanation of magic also put into words what I have been trying to put into words myself. I believe there IS magic all around us but we need to look at the world with wonder to see all of its splendour. Children see magic everywhere simply because they naturally look at the world in wonder. Thank you again for a thoroughly enjoyable article. I will definitely be reading it again and posting a link to your article on my Facebook page. Blessed be xx )O(

  36. Solomon Paul says:

    Katarina, your post is beautifully written! I love it! It explored my mind to some concepts. But please, are the long hair and the seductive attitudes the only traits of witches??

  37. Emily says:

    Men have been killed for witchcraft, too.

  38. Mahara says:

    Love this so much! Thank you!!

  39. Megan says:

    Oh the irony and projection. Thank you for expressing the pure sweet truth of what it really means to be a witch and bringing light to standing in the face of injustice and judgement. I don’t believe being a witch belongs to any specific religion or gender. Really I think being a witch means being a woman who knows herself, has a good heart and is entirely in touch with nature. The label itself has such a bad stigma, but I believe it’s just a generalized description for a woman who stands apart from others, and who is unapologetically themselves. I think the religions who have rejected witchcraft, do so because they may see it as purely egotistical to think one should create their own destiny within their power, when they teach that one must die to self. A witch knows that she ultimately has manifesting power but it comes from the Great Spirit who lives in many forms. What’s funny, and I’m stati g the obvious, but Christianity assumed Pagan practices to make the new way easier to swallow. Fundamentally, many religions teach the same. Christianity mentions eternal life. Who’s to say that is not reincarnation. Sexuality is creative energy. It was a bad idea for the state of the human race to be completely celibate, hence marriage was created. There are many ways to express sexual energy, entirely in a non sexual way. I believe that is also where a witch’s power comes from. It’s just focused intensity. A prayer, a chant, meditating, exercising in nature… It’s all ways we connect with our higher selves and with God. I know there are many Wiccans who will vehemently disagree with me, but I feel being a which is a natural process that comes from within and above and around; and not because of textbook spells or years of occult practice. I’m just rambling. Great article. Thank you for sharing.

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