Tempest in a Pointy Hat

Organizers of this year’s Pagan Pride Day in Denver, Colorado, want to set a Guinness World Record for the largest number of people dressed as pointy-hat witches.  One of the organizers posted to a statewide mailing list,

I think that we should let witches in non-black hats participate, too…I was thinking we would have the black hat witches as requested per the Guinness guidelines for our official count, but then in the front row we can have witches wearing other colors of hats—holding a banner that says “Real Witches Come in All Colors”. This way, we would be combatting the stereoptype rather than supporting it, and maybe we can persuade the Guinness folks into dropping or renaming the “dressed as witches” category—as a wise witchy lady pointed out, this is really just as offensive as having a “largest number of people dressed like Native Americans” or “largest number of people dressed like Jewish people” category…Definitely NOT what we’re going for with the Pagan Pride message! So please spread the word that the hat does not have to be black after all. We all know of course that not all witches even wear pointy hats, but let’s ease the Guinness folks into it slowly and start this year with our hats in many colors to help get the point across.

I am a little confused here, because I searched the Guinness site and cannot find anything about witches in an existing category—please let me know if I overlooked it.

Of course, someone else immediately replied,

I still think this is offensive.    The last thing I would think we want to do is to promote the stereotypical image of the classic wicked “witch” in an event that is trying to promote us to the public. . . .  My spiritual path is far more sacred to me than trying to break a world record for pointy hats.   I don’t see where that is honoring the Lady and Lord at all.

So will witches-in-pointy-hats end up in Guinness next to the “world’s fastest toilet“?  We have a long way to go to catch up with “Sikhs in turbans” or “Orthodox Jew with sidelocks,” after all. Is it worth the bother?

7 Comments

  1. MomaFauna says:

    Today is “catch up on Chas’s blogs day.” Be concerned, you may find comments on posts already gathering dust! ;)

    I have to ask — & please forgive my naivete — do you know where the pointy hat’s association with witches originates? No, this is not a rhetorical question. I really do not know & when I look at older depictions of witches in art, they are never wearing them. It seems like it must be a more recent association.

  2. Chas Clifton says:

    Off the top of my head, I think the pointy hat was a common (rural?) style in the late 16th to early 17th century in Britain. Possibly the depiction of “hags” in pointy hats was a way of showing how marginal and slightly out-of-date they were.

    But I would really need a historian of costume to weigh on that to be more certain.

    • MomaFauna says:

      “slightly out-of-date” I like that.
      One must never be out of date if one wishes to remain mainstream.

    • Rombald says:

      I think you’re right. The Welsh women’s “national dress” is pretty similar, for the same sort of reason, although the tall black hat is flat-topped.

  3. Apparently, the organizers have never been to Salem MA in October. Don’t know who said it first, but it’s true that pointy hats in Salem are like mouse ears at Disneyland.

  4. Pitch313 says:

    Obviously, the best way to fight against Pagan dissing stereotypes like “Witches wear pointy black hats” is to gather together a record setting groups of witches wearing pointy black hats on a Pagan Pride Day…

    I gotta say that PR things like this run counter to what drew me into Craft and what thoroughly enchants me about practicing Craft…MAGIC WORKING ON EARTH AND WITHIN ME!!!

  5. Rummah says:

    I’m sure you can find a marginal scholar somewhere to claim pointy hats were handed down in secret.