Tuesday, October 1, 2013
One Month of Witches Day 1
And October is just the beginning. November will be about cooking and Kitchen Witchery. I've been wanting to do Kitchen Witch posts for some while. I thought November would be an excellent time because most people are busy stressing themselves out over Thanksgiving dinner. A little help might be welcomed. December will be about crafts and magick, namely how to do spells with things you've made yourself. December is when my needles practically burn from constant use. I am always making something for Christmas gifts. Every December I run out of time and I sadly hope my unfinished gift will be done in time for the recipient's birthday. Maybe if I get started earlier...
After today, most of October's posts will be just pictures. I won't have words unless the pictures invokes a strong response in me or unless I feel the picture is about a very important subject. Like today. Technically, this semi-nude lady isn't a Witch. She doesn't have a pointed hat, a broom, a cat, or a cauldron. But there is something mysterious about her. She has an air of knowing more than she shows. And that's because she was probably committed to an insane asylum.
The Victorian Era was the 'golden age' of pornography. That just means porn was at its realistic beginning. Previously nudity was only on public display in art- painting and sculpture. If anyone wanted to see a naked female they had to go behind closed doors. Photography meant for the first time men could see real naked women and they probably spent thousands of dollars mail-ordering pictures. But did you ever wonder who those models were?
In the earliest days of photography, cameras were owned by professional photographers. It probably wasn't until the 50's that cameras became household items in America. The reason why my mother has so many old pictures is because my grandmother was the only person in the neighborhood who owned a camera. Anytime anyone wanted a picture, they dressed up and came to my grandmother. She took a picture, maybe two, and saved the negatives. She had boxes and boxes of old film, negatives, and pictures. My mother spent years trying to identify people in photos.
So if people didn't have cameras at first, we can rule out men photographing their wives and girlfriends at the turn of the century. And we can rule out the middle and lower classes because film was expensive. That's why my grandmother rarely took more than one picture of a person. Plus, film had to be developed. It might take a week to get pictures back. There wasn't any taking shots until it was right, photographers set the subject, made the person adjust their position a dozen times and THEN took a picture during which they had to sit completely still. Studio portraits became popular but people had to pay for them thus they usually posed on special occasions.
Pictures were first printed on glass and tin then on cardboard. They weren't handled much for fear of damage. I've only seen one glass photo. Even tin wasn't handled much for fear of leaving finger prints on the photograph. From a business sense, it wouldn't be economical to pay the models because of the cost of printing. That means no nude photographs of famous people like actresses- they would want to be paid. When I was in high school my drama club went to a live performance and we were warned not to bring cameras because stage actors consider photos to be stealing their 'work.' They are the character on stage and if you take a picture of the play you are taking publicity from them. Other actors don't care, they want as many people to see them as possible in hopes of being discovered. What kind of debate would it have been when photography was new? If you had to pay for a ticket to the show, how dare you let someone who hadn't paid see part of the act?
So what kind of model was needed? Someone who didn't expect to get paid. Someone who could appear nude without a public outcry of vulgarity. In other words, people no one paid attention to. People who didn't have families or whose family ignored their existence. And who was shut away to be forgotten? The insane.
It didn't take much to be committed. You didn't have to be crazy, just unwanted or in trouble. Women with illegitimate children often wound up in asylums because their families were embarrassed by their sexuality. Any deviation from 'normal' sex could be a ticket to the nut house, so homosexuals were often locked up as well. There wasn't much of a distinction between physical and mental illness so an epilepsy patient could be in the asylum just as easily as a schizophrenic. Some of the 'patients' were petty thieves or orphans with nowhere to go. They'd have some minor brush with the law, maybe they started screaming in a panic, and were labeled crazy. Once in the asylum they were treated horribly. They were abused, neglected, tortured, experimented on, drugged, and often left to die. Anything could be done and no one said a word.
What does all this have to do with Witches? And why am I starting on such a dark note when this is supposed to be a celebration? Because no matter how much I love being a Witch, I can never forget that we are often the most hated people in society. And actually, people hate us so bad that we often live outside or on the fringe of society. Witches have been burned, hanged, stoned, put to the death, mocked, blamed, ridiculed, and accused, usually for no good reason. We have been feared all through history and still are to this day which is why Pagan Coming Out Day is a controversial issue. It would be nice if we didn't have to 'come out' but I fear we are a very long way from acceptance.
Enjoy the pictures. Just remember we Witches are People too.