As we get closer and closer to Halloween, a witch’s broomstick is definitely what came to mind for today’s prompt. I’m not entirely sure what a true witch would prefer, but I assumed it would be something handcrafted, and since I don’t paint people, you’ll have to simply imagine the witch, just out of frame. The actual history of why broomsticks are associated with witches is fascinating, though potentially vulgar to some. It all started at a time, centuries ago, when people were just learning about ways to create hallucinogenic drugs. Using nefarious ingredients such as hemlock, nightshade, henbane, and mandrake they would create “potions” that when applied properly could give you the sensation of flying. If ingested, these potions caused nausea, so it was quickly discovered that a topical approach would work much better. Let’s just say that the potion worked best when applied to hard-to-reach areas and so something like a broom was helpful in the application. I’ll let you google the actual details yourself, but it provides the link to why broomsticks are still today associated with witchcraft.
By the time the 16th and early 17th centuries rolled around, you would find a preponderance of images that involved witches riding up out of chimneys. But it’s not hard to connect the dots with that one. In a stupidly patriarchal society, I would assume many women dreamed of hopping on a broom and flying up out a chimney. And perhaps this connection with rebellion is what makes a witch one of the most popular halloween costumes of all time. There’s something fun about Halloween that allows people to challenge the norm and express themselves in totally unique ways. It’s a spirit that I happily endorse and as artists, I think it’s one we should always embrace. Most of you who read these rambles know that I’m not a fan of rules that “shouldn’t be broken.” In truth, I rather love rules in general as they’re the guidepost one can use to know if you’re actually trying something different. Rules are great for that purpose, but when they become doctrine I tend to get a little antsy.
We live in a world that’s so ready to tell us what we should or shouldn’t do. Everyone around us has an opinion, and they’re always ready to offer it up as fact. I too have opinions I’ve now transformed into fact, but I know they’re only my personal facts of life. Things that I have decided to be true, simply because it feels true to me. I’ve spent a lifetime wading through ideas and ideals that come my way, and in the end, most of what I believe is almost silly in its simplicity. I think we’re all creative and wonderful beings, capable of magic. Not the kind that scared Puritans, but the real magic that can make the world a better place. The kind that isn’t so much about spells and potions as much as simply being good, honest, present, loving, and open to new ideas. It’s simple, I told you, but magical in practice. And in this Halloween season, the most creepy time of year, it’s as close I come to riding on a witch’s broomstick.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Da Vinci Yellow, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!