Happy birthday, The Art of the Occult! You, my first published book, are now officially a year old!

Is there anything horror-related within its pages? Well…not really. Not in a spooky, Halloween season way. We could argue that esoteric knowledge and arcane philosophies form the backbone of quite a few horror stories. Ceremonial magics gone wrong, demons conjured and gone amuck. That sort of thing. And of course witches and witchcraft–you can’t have 31 Days of Halloween with at least one witchy film, right? I mean, as far as I am concerned, you can barely have a story of any sort without a witchy character moving things along.

Here’s what I write in the Potions, Persecution, and Power portion of The Art of the Occult, wherein I begin by quoting another favorite and famous witch that you may know….

‘Witches have always walked among us, populating societies and storyscapes across the globe for thousands of years,’ writes Pam Grossman in Waking the Witch, a reflection on women, magic, and power. And it’s true – can you conjure forth a single folk or fairytale, myth or legend worth its salt circle that doesn’t contain a witch or some witchy archetype stirring up trouble and sowing supersensory seeds of discontent? The witch provides the element that surprises, startles, and scares, provides struggle and strife, a snag in the story, a shift in the narrative.

This fascination for witches has long gripped artists, both of the classical and contemporary ilk– the witchly archetype being an evocative canvas onto which some of the greatest artists have projected their most intensely bizarre imaginings. Many continue to draw inspiration from the dark and cruel origins of the classic image of the witch, and the tragic history of the witch continues to instill fear and provoke anxieties in contemporary creators today.

Here’s a handful of my favorite witches on canvas, inspiring and powerful artworks steeped in magic and superstition. What are some of your favorite visual representations of the witch?

And sneaking this in here, which means you had to read this whole post in order get to this point: wouldst thou like to win a delicious, signed copy of The Art of the Occult in celebration of its one-year anniversary inhabiting our earthly realm? If so, leave a comment! Tell me about your favorite witches! Artful, literary, cinematic or otherwise. A winner will be chosen and contact one week from today!

The Witch Barry Windsor-Smith, 1978.


Circe Invidiosa John William Waterhouse 1892


Les Sorcières Leonor Fini, 1959


La Sorcière, Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer, 1897


Morgan-le-Fay Frederick Sandys, 1863


Witches Sabbath Rik Garrett, from Earth Magic (Fulgur Press, 2014).


From Songs For The Witch Woman, Marjorie Cameron, undated


Harrison says

Favorite witch? Let me choose two! Stevie Nicks’ crystal visions have had a real impact on me, spellcasting through the airwaves. And I’m honor of 31 Days if Horror - Isabella Adjanj as Anna in Possession, conjuring the ultimate darkness.

DetroitMarta says

I love Samantha from “Bewitched”. She was hilarious, practical, smart and gorgeous. I wished I could wiggle my nose my entire childhood, even without magic. Still do. As a bonus, the witchy graphics on that show were stellar.

Sunshine Simeone says

I’m enjoying the spotlight the universe has been putting on witches as of recent. It’s great to show the power and the beauty of witches old and new. I look forward to keep continuing to learn more by adding your book my collection,

Alexandra York says

Does Hecate count? I'm going with Hecate 😎 I'm reading a modern fantasy novel about Hades and Persephone, and Hecate is such a scary, wholesome character in it!

Violet says

I have trouble picking favourites, but was talking about The Witches of Eastwick yesterday. I think it’ll be fun to re-watch it.

rio says

How fun and generous! Happy 1st book birthday, Art of the Occult! <3 My favorite witch at present is Baba Yaga, who reminds me of the innate monstrosity that dwells within the feminine, and that it's more important to be interesting than attractive.

Dianna says

First off, happy 1st birthday to your 1st published book! It must be a pleasure to see your own paper baby placed on your shelves! My favourite witch has to be Circe, she ranks as one of the greatest witches of mythology. A beautiful enchantress - she likes nothing better than to turn men into pigs. (Some have seen her as a bit of a feminist). And that's exactly what intrigues me and inspires me about her.

Diane says

Happy Book Birthday! So many to choose from, but this time of year I dream of Alice Hoffman's witch tales of the Owens family. When Practical Magic came out (book and then movie) I related so much to Sally and Gillian. Now I'm older than the aunts! Maiden, Mother, or Crone, it's a wonderful series! Thank you for a chance to win!

Jane says

You’re my favorite witch!
Happy Birthday to your book!

Gabriel Baker says

I remember my gran had a painting, pride of place over her fireplace, a woman in red, black hair, holding a dagger, with a chalice and skulls around her. I don't know if she was a witch, but I was captivated by her

Niki says

My favorite movie representation of witches is Dario Argento’s Three Mother’s Trilogy. Suspiria, Inferno, and The Mother of Tears are top tier giallo. My favorite literary witch is Mariketa the Awaited from Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series. Love me a good smutty, supernatural read.

S. Elizabeth says

Hello! Congrats to you! You are the winner for this giveaway! Gonna shoot you an email about it, too :)

Kesha says

Congratulations and Happy Birthday/Anniversary to you and your book! My favorite witches were the ones in Shakespeare’s Macbeth! I loved the original Charmed and am also loving the remake.

April Gray says

Alison from The Active-Enzyme Lemon-Freshened Junior High School Witch by E.W. Hildick. It's about a girl who finds a "how to be a witch" type book, and spends her summer trying to become a witch while avoiding her little sister. She's very creative in her work-arounds for spell ingredients she doesn't have, and it made an impression on me- I could be a witch too!

emmylou says

happy birthday to your lovely book!! i don’t know if she counts, but the oracle from the matrix!

Angie Venturi says

Happy book birthday!! I've always loved stories with witches! Sophie Hatter from Howl's Moving Castle is one of my favorite witches! She speaks things into existence and doesn't take any nonsense. She's brave and daring, she's a little scared but faces it anyway. She builds a family and a life for herself and learns to trust and I think she's wonderful!

Elizabeth Burton says

There are so many great witches from pop culture and history, but the ones that really stick with me, even though they're silly, are the Hex Girls from the Scooby-Doo movies. When I was a wee little girl, I thought they were the coolest things in the world, because they were witches AND were also in a girl band, which I think is just the pinnacle of character design. They were massively formative to me as a kid, and I still think of them really fondly.

Bianca Nunez says

Feliz cumpleanos to your precious creation. My favorite witch would have to be Hecate. She embodies everything I'd ever want to be in life.

Victoria says

First of all, happy anniversary to you and your book!
My favorite witches are known by many names, and are depicted in many different ways. In Macbeth, disney's Hercules, even in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. I know them by The Fates, AKA the Moirai. Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. Three is a magic number after all... ;)

Branden says

What do we do with witches? We LOVE witches!!!

Kamila says

Bon anniversaire to your book! I love Tilda Swinton as the white witch in narnia, I remember seeing the movie as a child and being absolutely obssessed.

John Young says

Wow, I’ve always loved that Barry Windsor-Smith drawing! There’s an artist I love named Amy Abshier that will work some fun and charming witches into her work, especially in her daily October drawings. In the non-art-subject world, would Joan of Arc count? She was certainly seen as practicing some kind of witchcraft by some. Congratulations on your baby’s one year birthday!

The joey Zone says

Bonsoir Mlle Ghoul...
Ye collection has been on my wantlist for awhile.
i just finished a review for DEAD RECKONINGS of a new tpb published as part of the British Library Tales of The Weird series, I AM STONE, which collects the works of Robert Murray Gilchrist whose tale (attach'd) has...similarities to the recent film THE VVITCH [See: Philip, Black].
Regodless-- here's a treat for any & all on this list who savors a Fin de Siecle creep to light up THE Season:
R. Murray Gilchrist's "Witch In-Grain"

i remain, The joey Zone

V says

Congratulations and happy 1 year anniversary to your book. The witches which made an impact upon me when I was younger are the Stygian Witches in the movie Clash of the Titans. Doreen Edith Dominy Valiente fascinates me.

Sara D Gore says

One book that has stuck with me, if I remember the name correctly, is Jennifer, Hecate, and Me by EL Koinsburg. A little girl befriends a girl in her class who says she is a witch.

P says

Oh, who else? Rosaleen ficking Norton, my friends.

michael helsem says

my favorite witch is mary poppins. best thing about it is they never use the word 'witch'.

Jon says

I thought the witch in Gretel & Hansel, the 2020 movie starring Alice Krige in the role, was so effectively scary. The imagery had an amazing folk horror vibe that really sold it for me. There was something very primordial in her depiction and performance.

Mal says

Terry Pratchett's Discworld books were an early favourite of mine and his character Tiffany Aching - a teenage witch-in-training - is one of my favourite fictional witches. Stubborn and logically minded, she is nonetheless called to be a witch due to her determination to protect her family and community, and her time-bending connection to the land she lives in and its history. When it comes to real-life witches it's more difficult to pick. Instead, I'll tell you a story. Something like witchcraft was practiced until very recently in Ireland - both practical folk medicine and the darker, stranger kind of thing. My mother, who worked in County Meath in the 80s, remembers walking to work and overhearing a woman who was standing in her back garden, chanting. She was casting a spell against her enemy so that if her enemy became pregnant the child would wither in the womb.

JB says

I love all types of witches in history, art, folklore, & film. My favorite is the Headmistress from Suspiria (1977)

Alan says

Biddy Early.

Steve says

My fave witch would have to be my mum. She has a book of "recipes" passed down from her grandmother with whom she lived in the late 40s. I'm not allowed to see it, and haven't asked. But I already have your wonderful book, so don't choose me.

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