Black Magic Women

Witches were pioneers of feminism, and they burned them. Honour and remember them. [author’s translation]

– Rosa Montero, El País Semanal

Yesterday was just a regular Monday for me. I went out, had my coffee (black), skimmed the front page of a local newspaper and, even then, I still failed to realise that it was not just a regular Monday. I forgot.

In the afternoon, after a few hours of keyboard tapping and mouse dragging before the screen, I noticed the girl working at the cafe where I was sitting came to the front door and locked it from the inside. Still nothing. I forgot. It was only until she explained to a worried group of guests that she was locking down for half an hour due to the protest, that I jumped off my seat and asked her if I could get out. I had forgotten!

On my way towards the Main Square, while looking down at the wet cobblestones I noticed I was dressed all in black. Had I forgotten? Yes, I did. Still, I crossed the Cloth Hall, and in an act of solidarity blended into the blackness.

This morning I grabbed an issue of EL PAÍS SEMANAL and read a piece that reminded me about one of the darkest episodes in European history during the XV and beginning of the XVI century: the witch hunts. The author suggests that the persecutions were perhaps a response to the “humanist and liberal effervescence of the Renaissance” [author’s translation]. She also points out that 85% of the prisoners burnt alive for witchcraft were women of all ages, including children. I won’t dwell in parallelisms.

I believe in and appreciate coincidences. I like to think that my subconscious did not betray me and made me wear black yesterday. That I grabbed the forgotten magazine this morning for a reason and therefore I’m now typing away. I will never forget what happened yesterday, and will not neglect what is happening today. I also find it interesting that black is the colour chosen to manifest against the planned abortion law in Poland, a colour still ascribed to witches and witchcraft.

Back in the day, women faced ludicrous accusations such as “having sexual relations with the devil” and were ‘guilty’ of sins such as “administering contraceptive to other women, having or performing abortions or providing drugs to kill birth pains. In other words, for taking control of their own lives” [author’s translation]. The “black-magic-women” of today have casted a spell to the chant of ‘Myślę, czuję, decyduję’ (‘I think, I feel, I decide’). Remember and don’t turn your back on them.

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