Season of the Witch: Old School vs. New Age Witches

When it comes to what’s playing in my headphones, you can usually bet on it being a horror audiobook or at least something with a dark and chilling vibe. As my current audiobook comes to an end (Ninth House) and I queue up my next listen (The Remaking), I think it’s safe to say that I’m a little obsessed with witches.

Can you really blame me? There’s been a total uptick in the witch’s presence in pop culture as a whole. From TV series like The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, A Discovery of Witches, and the Charmed reboot to the remake of the 1977 film, Suspiria, and countless audiobooks focusing on these magical beings (The Furies, Toil & Trouble, Gideon the Ninth…etc) – witches are having a serious moment.

This got us thinking…what are the major differences between old school witches in classics like Macbeth and Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and new age witches in audiobooks today?

We’ve compared old school vs. new age vampires before, but we thought culturally, we had to pay our respects to the powerful witch – she’s been around forever, you know? Let’s compare…

Old School vs.

New Age

Physical looks
We all know those classic depictions of hag-like witches with hooked noses, warts, moles, and even beards (a la The Weird Sisters in Macbeth). And let’s not forget the most infamous characteristic of all – green skin, which was most famously depicted in the 1939 film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. Now-a-days the witches that are leading the charge for this resurgence of witchy content just look like regular, everyday people! They’re teenagers who just learned that they come from a long line of witches or they’re 11-year-olds whojust got their letter to Hogwarts!
Evil Motives
Double, double, toil, and trouble…witches are often associated with classic depictions of covens surrounding cauldrons and putting curses on unsuspecting townsfolk – usually curses that last through many generations. New age witches are real people and no person is 100% evil or 100% good, but most of the witches of today are fighting for what they think is right and using their magic to protect others.
All Black Garb & Pointy Hats
Every year around Halloween the image of the witch pops up and what is she wearing? A black cloak and a big pointy hat. The history of the witch’s hat seems to be a murky one, but I think it’s safe to say that we can attribute its popularity to The Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz as well. The “witchy aesthetic,” as some call it, can be seen in the covers of audiobooks that center around witches. Audiobooks like Basic Witches and The Babysitters Coven feature astrological symbols, plants, dreamy pastel colors, and even pentagrams.
For as long as there have been witches, there have been people who have been afraid of their powers. This would put them on the fringe of society. With hashtags like #witchesofinstagram amassing over three million posts, and countless brands marketing to millenials seeking that witchy aesthetic, I think it’s safe to say that witches have totally gone mainstream.
Flying on Broomsticks
This one has always been my favorite characteristic when it comes to witches because if I could just grab any old broom and get from point A to point B, that would be fantastic! For our #witchesofinstagram, broomsticks are a thing of the past. While they sometimes may levitate (shout out, A Discovery of Witches) I think new age witches will probably just take the bus.

In conclusion, the witch is an elusive character and always has been, but with their new age counterparts and their move to the mainstream I think that we will continue to see the morphing of what it means to be a witch as time goes on. They’ve already got me under their spell, what about you?

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