It’s April 30. Tonight is Witches’ Night!
Certain witches in San Diego haven’t gathered on a dark mountaintop or in a deep forest to work their magic, however. I know this because I spotted them this evening in Balboa Park’s Federal Building, future home of the Comic-Con Museum!
For an enjoyable hour and a half I listened to San Diego State University history professor Elizabeth Pollard and Beth Accomando of KPBS discuss the ancient belief in witchcraft, what distinguishes it from superstition, religion and science, and how witches have been characterized and dealt with by the people of different eras.
Fictional witches discussed ranged from Erichtho and Meroe of ancient Roman literature, to the three witches of Macbeth, to Circe as envisioned by the Pre-Raphaelites, right up to the Wicked Witch of the West, Maleficent, and others we readily recognize today in our popular culture.
Before sitting down in the Comic-Con Museum’s auditorium, those in attendance were able to look at some cultural artifacts, a chilling video loop of Häxan from 1922, and several rare books in the collection of the San Diego State University Library. The main attraction under glass was a scarce early edition of Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches) printed in 1494–only fifty years after the Gutenberg press!
Here are a few images from tonight. But please excuse me–I have to go make sure my door is locked, because it’s getting close to midnight!