Some Scary History on Witches:
Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd. Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin'd! (Cackle!) In this Lens, we'll share some secrets on how to set-up a scary witch's pantry in your home for your Halloween celebration! You'll gather your witch pantry supplies, put it all together, and make a great display!
But first, a little history on where it all began...
The Witch...Before She Was The Witch
The History of Witches
It's no secret that witches have become synonymous with Halloween and all things spooky! Of course, witches weren't always seen as creepy, old hags, dressed in black with pointy hats, riding brooms around town at night and picking off small children and animals to toss in their witches brew!
Halloween was originally a Celtic holiday called Samhain. It was a celebration of the end of the harvest season and the renewal of life with new planting. The Celts were very in touch with nature, respecting it and all it had to offer. They saw fit to celebrate nature's bounty once a year with festivals that would last for days.
The Celts also believed that during this time of the year, because of the death and rebirth aspect of nature, the veil between the world of the living and that of the dead was at its thinnest. People enjoyed dressing up in costumes during the Samhain celebration in order to please the dead, whom they believed were present and thankful for the attention.
There were many cleansing ceremonies performed during this time. The Celts would use fire in their cleansing ceremonies, weaving in and out of bonfires with their livestock in tote, communicating with the dead and asking for their blessings. In addition, the bones of slaughtered livestock were offered up the the dead as sacrifices and gifts, usually being tossed into the fires.
Enter The Demonization Of The Witch
As time went by and Christianity began to become the dominant religion, the old ways were adapted and blended into the new ways. It wasn't until Christianity got a hold of Samhain that the element of evil was introduced. Within a short period of time, Samhain became All Hallows Eve (or Halloween), the Devil was behind it, and anyone practicing what was now called Witchcraft (Nature-Worship) was seen as a heretic.
The image of anyone practicing the old ways was demonized, painting witches as spooky old ladies, ugly to look at, who were only out to get you! They were thought to ride around on brooms, have familiars (such as a black cat), spend their time brewing concoctions in the cauldrons and casting evil spells on unsuspecting people.
We all know the stories of the "Witch Hunt Fever" that took over parts of Europe and early America. Many innocent men and women were imprisoned, tortured, and even killed because they were thought to be practicing witchcraft.
Fortunately, as time has gone by, the evilness associated with witches and Halloween has subsided. Today, most people think of witches as fun characters associated with Halloween, and Halloween itself is now fun holiday to celebrate. Amazing how fickle the human perception is...
And The End Result
The symbolism that has remained of the old ways is almost a caricature of the reality of what Samhain once was and what it became after Christianity was introduced into it. The natural aspect of the original people who celebrated the holiday has been replaced with the demonized visual aspects. Forgotten are the days of the nature-loving, almost hippie-like Earth worshiper.
The modern day image of a traditional witch now looks something like this: Long, black clothing, a pointy hat, ugly to look at because of greening skin and warts, long, scraggly black hair, claw-like fingernails, pointy black books, an old, beat-up broom, and a creepy black cat at her side.
This witch is known to use herbs and animal parts to create her witch's brew in a cauldron over a fire. She is in touch with the dead and has a special bond with the Devil; some call her his bride.
All things gross and spooky are associated with her, including bats, spiders, and creepy-crawly things. She lives a secluded life in darkness, only coming out at night to gather what she needs. Most of her time is spent casting spells and manipulating others to do her bidding.
And somehow, despite this image, the modern day witch is a favorite character among us. We enjoy dressing up as her for Halloween, watching movies and reading books with her character in them, and not taking this portrayed image too seriously. She is now a stable fixture in our minds of what Halloween is all about. She is fun, mysterious, and depending on just how you portray her, can even be sexy!
Let's Light The Fire Under The Cauldron!
Now that you know a bit of the history behind the witch, let's talk about how you can set-up a witch's kitchen in your home for your Halloween party. We'll go with the evil, scary, spooky theme, displaying lots of creepy and gross animal parts, shrunken heads, spiderwebs and mist. Are you ready?!
Gathering Your Witch's Pantry Supplies!
Whether you're setting your witch's pantry up in your kitchen, on your dining room table, or in some other area, you'll want to set the mood! There's nothing scary about jars of witch recipe ingredients sitting on your Formica counter tops, next to your refrigerator or oven!
Create A Scary Scene
Visit a fabric store to pick up some Halloween inspired fabric to drape over everything. Black fabric will work, but try to find something with a Halloween theme such as spiderwebs. If you want to add a little color, use a dark purple or blood red fabric.
Other Spooky Decor
Be sure to decorate with other creepy decorations like fake spiders, cobwebs, fake bones and skulls, drip candles in old looking holders, a crystal ball, pentagrams, and maybe a frog or two!
A spell book open to a crazy concoction filled with animal parts and herbs will let everyone know just what you've been brewing in your witch's pantry. A cauldron with dry ice in it is a must! Be creative and create an ambiance your guests can appreciate!
Gather your Containers
Visit flea markets, consignment stores, and garage sales to look for jars or containers to stick your witchy ingredients in. The older, the better, especially if the jars are stained, fogged or otherwise "ancient" looking.
Be sure to find containers with lids, as you'll have some biodegradable and stinky stuff inside of them. If the containers have labels, simply soak them in water and peel the labels off.
Then you'll want to create new labels to stick on the containers to let your guests know just what they're looking at. Soak printer paper in brewed coffee, staining the paper a light brown. Allow the paper to dry, rip off jagged pieces large enough to write on, and then write the names of the ingredients in a shaky, old lady hand-writing style. If you ever took a calligraphy course, now is the time to use it! Glue the labels to the jars and coat with clear nail polish or varnish.
Preparing Your Witch's Pantry Supplies!
What To Put In Your Jars
This is where you can get really creative. Here are some ideas of every day items you can place in your jars and some fun names for them:
- Frog Livers (raisins)
- Newt Eyeballs (skinned grapes)
- Werewolf Claws (cashew halves)
- Chicken Feet (Get these at your local grocery store or butcher's.)
- Animal Innards (You can also get these at your local grocery store or butcher's.)
- Animal Bones (Save some chicken bones from dinner and maybe some of the meat/skin.)
- Dried Herbs such as Mugwort, Vervain, and Wormwood (Pull different kinds of weeds and allow them to dry.)
- Snake Oil (Purchase fake snakes from a Halloween store and put them in water you've died with red food coloring.)
- Shrunken Heads (Check out this link on how to make them from apples: How to Make "Shrunken Heads" with Apples
- Black Death Remains (cranberry juice with thawed berry fruit from a bag, mashed up)
Once again, be creative! You'd be amazed what your twisted little mind can think-up! When ready, place the ingredients in their correspondingly labeled jars, decide whether you want them in liquid (if so, just add water or water died with red food coloring) and seal them up tight. After placing the ingredients in the jars, be sure to refrigerate if need be until just before your party begins. Remember, a lot of this stuff is perishable.
Putting Everything Together
The day of the party, begin by draping your fabrics all over the witch's pantry area. Next, start setting the mood by adding your creepy décor. A witch's pantry is usually pretty dingy, dark and crowded, so be sure to fill every space you can with your spooky decorations. Then you'll want to set your jars of ingredients up here and there throughout the decorations. Make sure the labels are facing outward and there's just enough light for your guests to be able to read the labels and see the contents inside.
You can also have dishes with some of these ingredients displayed. A bowl of newt eyeballs or frog livers is definitely safe to have out. Have cobwebs on everything and be sure your dry ice in your cauldron is adding smoky ambiance
Once you've completed your set-up, take a step back and ask yourself if there's anything else you can do to make it even scarier. Chances are, you'll come up with something! Have fun with it and don't limit your self to just the witch's pantry--add witch props all around your home--brooms, candles, and other mystic looking items. And if you have a black cat already, all the better!
For Some Additional Help Preparing For Your Witch Inspired Halloween, Check Out These Links!
- How to Craft a Witch's Kitchen
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the craftiest of them all? You are-with a few simple tips on creating a simply ghoulish witch's kitchen!
- How to Make "Shrunken Heads" with Apples
Shrunken heads are the stuff of myth, legend and Hollywood voodoo movies. This Halloween, bring an eerie tradition to life by creating apple "shrunken heads" for your diabolical display. Be as simple or as detailed as you'd like; they may look like t
- Head in a Jar Halloween Prop
Looking for a great new Halloween prop that hasn't been done to death? Don't lose your head - make this creepy decoration! Making a Head in a Jar prop is so easy, it's almost scary - and the project won't bust your Halloween budget. Read on to find o
- Halloween Theme Party - Witch's Cauldron Theme
A witch's cauldron theme party for Halloween is so much fun, it's almost scary. Stir up a bubbling brew of fun with these cackling party ideas.
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Chazz from New York on October 31, 2011:
Love this lens -- our kitchen actually has spice jars (that we use regularly) labeled "eye of newt" etc. Only we know what's really in them!
WhiteOak50 on October 31, 2011:
I love this lens, very creative and very well put together! Congratulations on being a finalist in the Happy Halloween SquidQuest! Leaving you with a ~Halloween Blessing~
Vicki from USA on October 31, 2011:
Creating a witch's kitchen is a unique and fun idea for a Squidoo Halloween lens! I love the vintage labels on the jars and bottles of herbs.
Treasures By Brenda from Canada on October 31, 2011:
Nicely done. Congratulations on being a finalist in the Happy Halloween SquidQuest.
KarenCookieJar on October 31, 2011:
I love witches.
emmaklarkins on October 31, 2011:
Man, what a great idea! I wish there was more time left before Halloween!
Vikk Simmons from Houston on October 31, 2011:
I love that photo of the old witches--and the bottles of "death remains." Congratulations on making it into the final 50 round of the Happy Halloween contest. Great lens.
themeaparty (author) on October 31, 2011:
Thank you, everybody, for voting!
JoyfulReviewer on October 31, 2011:
What a clever lens. Congratulations on being a Happy Halloween Contest finalist!
Kim from Yonkers, NY on October 31, 2011:
added to featured lenses on my Horrifically Everything Halloween
LouiseKirkpatrick from Lincolnshire, United Kingdom on October 18, 2011:
Awesomely scary!!!!! Blessed by a passing Squid Angel :)
AngryBaker on September 29, 2011:
Love this... maybe I'll do a little kitchen transformation in my house...
anonymous on September 28, 2011:
An amazing idea if a witch's kitchen with great tips, perfect for Halloween.
nuestraherencia on May 03, 2011:
great ideas...Halloween is my favorite time to decorate, although I'm sometimes at a loss of interesting decorations...love all your Halloween lenses! Thanks for sharing...