Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble! Something wicked this way comes! Witches have been a part of horror culture across the world for as long as anyone can remember. Although they’re popular characters for Halloween costumes, witches have been thought to be very, very real in many different circumstances, which has led to terrifying consequences.
To celebrate the wart-covered and broom-riding creatures of history, and the tales of these witches around the world, Costume SuperCenter put together this infographic to better acquaint you with some of the more famous witches in history, from all across the globe. Do you recognize any of them?
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- Witch of Endor: After King Saul of Israel banned all witchcraft, he was punished by a witch. Saul sought advice on how to handle the advancing Philistine army, and resorted to seeing a witch in secret. The Witch of Endor conjured the ghost of the prophet Samuel for him, but the spirit offered no advice. Instead, it predicted Saul’s demise as king. The next day, Saul and all of his sons fell in battle. It is said the witch did not actually summon Samuel, but a demon disguised as the ancient prophet.
- Merga Bien: The most famous witch in the Fulda Witch Trials in Germany in the early 1600s, Merga Bien was said to have used witchcraft to kill her first two of three husbands, of whom she was heiress to, and their children. She also supposedly practiced Satanism. She’d been married to her third husband for 14 years at the time of her trial, and although they had no children, it was discovered that she was pregnant during the trial. The court claimed she carried the devil’s child, and she was burned at the stake in 1603.
- Medea: An ancient Greek witch who aided Jason in his conquests, but sought revenge against him when he left her for the Princess of Corinth. Medea was known for slaughtering children, including her own, and poisoning many. She was gifted with clairvoyance, and often used her magic to trick others into hurting her enemies. She could restore the old to youth and could brew potions, and was remembered for the brutality of her magical practices.
- Mary Webster: A woman from Massachusetts who lived in the late 1600s. Mary was accused of bewitching cattle and horses, and cursing her neighbors’ crop growth. She was known to be ill-tempered and was seen as spiteful. She became notorious when she was accused of murdering Philip Smith by cursing him. She was hanged by her neighboring townspeople, and although she hung from a tree for more than 12 hours, when they cut her down in the morning, she was still alive, and she lived for 14 more years.
- Baba Yaga: In Slavic lore, Baba Yaga is an old hag who lives in the forest and flies on a mortar. She is known for her immense wisdom, and her terrifying appearance and appetite. She was said to have iron teeth, a large nose, and thin, skeleton-like legs. She supposedly kidnapped and ate young children, taking them to her home in the forest. The home was surrounded by a fence made of human bones, and contains her three servants: three bodiless and menacing hands. She is said to be unable to harm those who are pure of spirit.
- Morgan Le Fay: A witch who lived at the time of King Arthur, and is portrayed as his nemesis, always plotting his demise or downfall. She was an enemy of Queen Guinevere, and was banished by the queen for her practicing of magic and the dark arts. She was supposedly taught by Merlin, and used her powers to attempt to exact her revenge against Guinevere and the Knights of the Round Table.
- Jenny Greenteeth: A river hag who is said to live in the woods by rivers and streams, with green skin and razor-sharp teeth. She supposedly would drown innocent children and the elderly for the fun of it, and is said to enjoy watching her victims experience pain. She is said to sit upon rocks in the river, combing her hair and awaiting intruders that dare to approach the river.