For centuries, people have shown “witches” as old hags with stringy gray hair, brooms, cauldrons bubbling, and a black cat on even doorstop. Back in the day, they thought witches were the first to cook children, do “black magick”, or even hex someone, hence the Salem Witch Trials.
If you search for vintage witch postcards, you will see a reoccurring theme of witches- they are all wearing black hats, riding a broom, and about 86% of the women depicted are wearing either black or red dresses (which I assume was because they thought witchcraft was partaking with the Devils’ whims).
For a long time, I was offended because I personally had the idea that it would make people think witches are bad, and that they all have green, crooked noses. I would get upset when I saw someone post a picture like the one above and say “You don’t know the history behind witches! It’s adding the falling Pagan-acceptance!”. I think I was a little obsessive about protecting the TRUE identity of Pagans. But as I got older, I began to realize that even Pagans (or witches, like me) were using these old images and weren’t offended at all by what was illustrated. If they weren’t mad, why should I be? So I took an oath right then and there to just relax and let go of the old century thought.
Now as more and more people start dabbling in Paganism or witchcraft, they find themselves becoming offended at those same images I once was. But they shouldn’t be offended, because while some Christians and other religions believe witches are evil, many are accepting us as people with different ideology and beliefs. Witches are no longer being “hunted” on a macro level (Some areas still do witch hunts, though I’m sure where.), and you are starting to see more Halloween witch costumes than ghost costumes, and more and more book stores are shelving what I call “witchy” books.
If you are still nervous and uncomfortable about “coming out of the broom closet”, you don’t have to announce that you are Pagan or a witch. But don’t be offended by old depictions of witches. We have fought long and hard to denounce old stereotypes and superstitions to go back.