What could be the symbolic meaning of witches hat?
The conical witch hat is synonymous with witches and magic as the flying broom. Everyone has seen it, and nearly everyone recognizes it. But could there be another symbolic meaning for a witches hat? And could this symbolic meaning of witches hat run parallel to what modern witches or Wiccans see in their practice of witchcraft?
As you may know, the world has moved on from believing witches are old and terrifying hags that live deep in forests. However, that idea has been around for so long that it has lost all power and meaning.
We know now that the idea of the evil hag was an essentially religious invention and that Christianity frowned upon beliefs that could take away the interest and heart of the people. That was largely why ironically, there was so much persecution related to witches in the past.
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The Possible Symbolic Meaning of Witches Hat
They’re conical, often black, and are loaded with connotations in the western world. But they continue to capture people’s minds, which is why we must know the symbolic meaning of witches hat.
The tall, conical hat has been interpreted in numerous ways throughout history, serving as a sign of wisdom, freedom, otherness, deception, and shame.
This hat has been worn for thousands of years, with the earliest versions being discovered on mummies from western China’s desert dating back about 4,000 years. This ancient group, the “Witches of Subeshi,” was identified by the conical hats they were found to wear during mummification.
These hats may have been used in falconry, as one of the mummies was also wearing a thick leather glove on one hand, possibly to land a bird of prey.
In modern times, the hats have become most closely linked to witches and the celebration of Halloween/Samhain. While the history of these caps is shrouded in mystery, one thing is sure: they were designed to draw attention to the person who wore them.
The priests of the Bronze Age wore tall, conical hats made of gold and decorated with emblems of the stars and moon to show off their astronomical prowess. However, when these early astronomers used their knowledge to predict the weather, they were viewed as having magical and divinatory abilities.
Indicative of their elevated position, Mongolian warrior queens wore tall hats (boqtas) around 400 BC. Later, noblewomen in Western Europe refashioned them into the hennin, the forerunner to the modern princess cap.
The conical hat was once a badge of distinction, but it later became a symbol of disgrace. Those who disobeyed the law, committed heresy, or held religious ideas and practices at odds with the prevailing theology of the day were required to wear a conical hat throughout the Middle Ages. Those convicted of crimes were made to wear capirote, conical caps made of paper in various colors. In the 12th to 17th centuries, Jews were required to wear the pileus cornutus hat during the time of the Holy Roman Empire. Following this time, the conical hat continued to symbolize religious dissenters. In addition, the conical hat has long been associated with literary villains, such as heretics, sorcerers, ogres, and dwarves.
In the 19th century, public schools in England began using dunce hats as punishment and humiliation.
Dunce caps have been traced back to the disciples of a 13th-century magician, John Duns Scotus. Scotus held that humans serve as a “funnel” through which wisdom is dispersed. The tall, conical hat’s purpose would be to gather and concentrate knowledge. They are intentionally reducing force.
The Phrygian cap may be the inspiration for the witch’s hat with a bent or folded tip. Many countries’ national symbols or military badges, like the United States Army, still feature the cap.
Several famous magicians, such as the legendary alchemist King Midas, has been linked to the Phrygian cap throughout history. The Roman pileus hat, worn by formerly enslaved people to signify their new rank and by people shown as coming from the East, is pictured here.
These illustrations demonstrate that several people from various cultures and periods used conical hats. What hasn’t been recorded, however, is what role the witch’s cap may have had for the magicians of yore and now.
What About the Rest of Witches’ Garbs?
Now that we know more of the symbolic meaning of witches hat, what else do their garbs mean?
The first evidence of the widespread use of large, cone-shaped headwear comes from a long-lost Chinese city. A pointed hat was discovered with the mummified remains of the “witches” of Subeshi, sisters who were accused of witchcraft in Turfan during the fourth and second centuries BCE.
In the Middle Ages, people were often associated with Jews and Satan because of their penchant for wearing pointed hats. In the 1200s, Jews in Hungary were compelled to wear this particular hat type to identify their religion.
People believed that Jews possessed magical powers at the time due to forging a deal with the devil during Kabbalah rites. During the European Witch Hunts, the Judenhat (also known as a “Jewish hat” or “horned skullcap”) became a symbol of anti-Semitism and was required as a form of punishment for anyone suspected of preaching magic in Hungary.
Pointed hats are also frequently linked with the organization, even though Quakers from the mid-1600s through the 1800s did not wear them. The black hats with wide brims that the Quakers wore caused controversy among Puritans in America, who thought the sect practiced magic and danced with the devil at night.
Women who brewed beer at home in medieval Europe were often stigmatized as witches. Besides wearing headgear reminiscent of the stereotypical witch’s hat, these women were called “alewives” which led many to believe they practiced herbal medicine, a profession long linked with the dark arts. Women who worked in male-dominated fields in the 1700s and 1800s were looked down upon exceptionally because they were seen as Satan-worshipping sorceresses.
Despite the prevalence of cone-shaped hats throughout history, the style didn’t gain widespread acceptance as mandatory witch garb until The Wizard of Oz was published in 1900 and the subsequent film adaptation in 1939. Then, after seeing the Wicked Witch of the West always decked out in a tall, pointed hat, our society began to view such a style as fitting for a witch.
People who perform “tricks,” such as court jesters and elves, are often labeled “trickster,” and this shoe style is typically associated with them. However, pointy shoes were quite the rage from the 14th to the 16th centuries before they started causing controversy. The church began to see them negatively due to their phallic design, which they believed made it impossible for worshippers to kneel in prayer. As a result, the term “Satan’s Claws” was coined to describe them.
Is there a rationale for including witches in this equation? This could be because of the association with Satan and the fact that women predominantly wore them. Conversely, witches were stereotypically portrayed as shoe addicts. Some others even ‘concealed’ their footwear in their homes for safety reasons.
It is possible that the use of cloaks and capes, which were often worn during the Middle Ages, contributed to the stereotype of witches by providing an extra layer of protection. After the play Dracula premiered in England, capes were an integral feature of the supernatural costume. The play and the film version of the part required Bela Lugosi, who played the title character, to wear a dramatic cloak. The decision has since linked the layer with witchcraft, vampires, and the unbelievable.
So, why do witches choose to ride around on broomsticks? True story: brooms weren’t designed for flight, at least not in the traditional sense. In reality, they weren’t used in the way we’d expect.
Strangely enough, witches’ stockings have no real foundation in the past. So the reason we associate them with witches is pretty comical.
Ipswich Hosiery, formerly in Massachusetts, is mainly responsible for the stereotype that witches wear stockings.
The brand used a silhouette of an elderly witch in stockings as their symbol. In 1927, the company made a strategic shift in branding and advertising by including two witches with appealing poppy cartoon features in its emblem.
They portrayed women in their ads as either witchy old hags or sultry vixens, but we are so much more than that! However, there is no imperial proof of the importance of stockings in a witch’s outfit beyond the company’s marketing drive.
Conclusion: Toward a Better Understanding of the Real History of Magic and Witches
Most people’s mental image of a witch is of a grotesque old hag in a black pointy hat with a wide brim. It is unclear where this generalization first arose. Many witches in medieval woodcuts go bareheaded, their long locks blowing in the breeze, while others wear fashionable hats and scarves.
The witch’s hat may be an exaggeration of the tall, conical “dunce’s hat” used by courtiers in the 15th century or the tall, blunt-topped hats worn by Puritans and the Welsh. But, no matter how popular they became, the Church never approved of pointed hats because of the sinister connotations the Church attributed to them.
Wizards and male magicians have long been stereotyped as wearing brimless, conical hats. An artist may have added a brim to make the hats more gender-neutral and suitable for ladies. The towering, black, conical hat and the hideous crone became easily recognizable icons of wickedness in Victorian-era illustrations of children’s fairy tales.
The witch’s cap may have an even more ancient history, though. A head that appears on ancient Etruscan coins from the city of Luna may be the Goddess Diana, who is often depicted on such coins. The noggin’s topped with a conical hat, but it has no brim. Most modern Witches either don’t cover their heads or wear unique headbands decorated with religious symbols like crescent moons and other occult icons. At ceremonies honoring both the Goddess and the Horned God, the high priestess may don a headband crown, while the high priest dons a helmet with horns or antlers.
While the early Christian church strongly forbade the use of magic, medieval theologians often struggled to differentiate between religious and magical practices or between those that relied on the adoration of a higher power and those that suggested intervention by devils or other non-Godly supernatural forces. But, of course, all of this occurs in a universe governed by a higher power, where supernatural terrors like demons, fairies, and witches lurked and threatened illness, enchantment, and death alongside natural disasters such as starvation, war, and epidemic.
Moving forward to the beginnings of the modern enlightenment, we see that the quest for scientific and medical knowledge was not so readily compartmentalized from the practice of magic.
Natural scientists of the 16th century argued that magnets and other things with latent powers were part of the natural rather than divine universe. Still, popular belief held that such objects might protect their owners from the supernatural.
Sympathetic magic theories postulated that “like responds to like”; if two things (materials or images) are similar enough, their sympathetic connections will cause one another to have an impact.
In response, however, these concepts sparked new worries that speedy societal changes would wipe out customs like songs, dances, stories, and festivals. Hence, folklorists combed the countryside for traces of these events before they vanished forever.
An amulet of amber exemplifies the protective powers ascribed to semiprecious stones and minerals.
Iron’s resistance to enchantment made it a popular choice for household protection and wedding good luck charms, and the metal’s metaphorical characteristics of luck and protection have persisted to the present day.
These Ash twigs have inherent value, as they can be used to treat fits by boiling them in water and administering the resulting elixir.