In Sweden, the witch is a major symbol of Easter.

I kid you not. Swedish Easter cards feature pictures of witches flying off to the sabbat. Kids—these days it's mostly little girls—dressed as witches (with babushkas and painted-on rosy cheeks) trick-or-treat from door-to-door, collecting their goodies in, not sacks, but coffee-pots.

It's an interesting chapter in the long, twisted story of relations between the old ways and the new. Pull up a stump.

In Swedish witch-lore, Good Friday is the biggest sabbat of the year because, of course, "God" is dead and the powers of evil reign supreme. So keep those brooms, pitchforks, and billy goats locked up, or some old crone may nab one for her evening jaunt to the big shindig at the Blåkulla, the “Blue Mountain.” Keep a fire burning on the hearth and the windows shut tight, or the mirk-riders may steal your aquavit, cheese, and coffee (!) for their celebration.

Why coffee, you ask? Come on, everybody knows that witches love coffee, strong as the Devil and black as sin. (Well, that much, at least, is true.) I suppose it helps keep us awake for the wild revels.

 

In fact, hilltop bonfires once burnt throughout Scandinavia and the Germanies on Good Friday. In some places—I saw several a few years back in Bavaria—they still do. Why bonfires on Good Friday? Keeps the witches away, of course.

So they say. Or you could call it protective coloration: hiding in plain sight.

So, Christ is dead, eh? Yeah, and the war's over in Troy, too.

Pass me the coffee, would you?

Everything they say we are, we are.”

Sparky T. Rabbit 

 

For a contemporary look at the Easter Witch, strongly influenced by Carlo Ginzburg's studies on the Benandanti, see Swedish novelist Majgull Axelsson's striking and controversial April Witch (Aprilhäxan) (1997), Random House. Linda Schenck's translation is so good, you could almost swear the book had been written in English.