The History of the Witch's Hat
There is a stereotypical image of a Witch. She is an ugly old hag, sporting a large wart on her elongated crooked nose, dressed in long black flowing clothes and always topped with a broad brimmed tall pointed black hat. Where did the image of the Witch’s hat come from?
The trade mark Witch’s hat does not come from the Medieval times as art from that time period shows Witch’s wearing a variety of hats and head scarves appropriate to the time period. None of the art shows a Witch wearing the stereotypical hat we see today.
It probably comes from the 15th Century when tall pointed hats were used as dunce caps and similar hats were popular fashion in London. As happens today, new fashion trends start in the big cities and slowly make their way to the smaller towns and county sides. By the time that the farmers and country dwellers started wearing the tall pointed hats, they were far out of fashion in the big metropolitan cities. During the 15th Century, the City folk referred to those who lived in the country as “pagani”.
Pointed hats soon became something only a country dweller or pagani would wear. These women were often wise to the way of the Earth and used herbs in their daily lives for healing and so the hats became associated with the wise women or healers that lived in the country.
Once the Witch trials started, any woman who was considered a wise woman or healer fell suspect to using the “black arts” and hence the pointed hat became a symbol of a witch and was considered evil. During this time, the hat became associated with the horns of the devil and anyone wearing one was considered a follower of Satan.
By the Victorian times, artists had made the image of the old Crone wearing the Witch’s hat a common thing. Witch’s wearing the tall black broad brimmed hat were seen flying upon their brooms wreaking evil in the dead of night in many a Fairy Tale. The image stuck and today is still used in the same context.
Contemporary witches of today do not wear the stereotypical black hat, preferring to go bareheaded or wear a circlet of flowers upon their head during Rituals. Yet, they still honour the Witch’s hat. For them, it is a way to honour those who suffered unfairly during the Witch trials and a way to honour all the wise women in the world who sought to heal not hurt with their knowledge. Halloween, is a special time for them, it is when they honour their ancestors and those who have passed on. What a perfect time to honour the Witch’s hat.