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The Witching Hour
The Witching Hour
Why is midnight called "the witching hour"?
Now you may ask why this has been a topic of contemplation for me for a bit lately. Well I work until midnight and, as I live in BFE, its a nice little drive home. Past all the stretching, reaching suburbia that is straining into rural areas, bringing front porch lights, garage spot lights, high pole lights to brighten the country darkness.
And yet, the houses are dark in the witching hour. Occupants asleep and dreaming, snuggled down warm and oblivious to the night life passing. Black windows hiding behind brilliant bulbs shining in the dark.
Rarely do I see a light on, a room illuminated and bright. Occassional, passing one of the older properties, you will see a dim illumination, a single lamp or a night light, the light left on over the stove to brighten the darkness dimly.
So why, since midevel times has it been called the witching hour? Why was it thought that women of evil intent waited to such a late hour to sneak away to meet with familiars, dance with demons, give birth to pestilence and havoc and chaos, curse the cow to dryness, curdle the milk, smite the babe in its cradle and the old man on his mat by the glowing embers of a banked fire, and comport herself with Old Nick himself.
So...why couldnt this be done in the middle of the day? Why was midnight chosen as the witching hour?
Hamlet Act II scene III
"Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood, And do such bitter business as the day
Would quake to look on."
Perhaps its because fevers begin to rise around this time or that those who are to die will begin to decline rapidly to pass beyond the veil in the wee hours of the morning.
"Two pairs of eyes are watching me now, from the couch and the ledge by the window. Faerieland shines in those eyes. And I must leave you, for it's the witching hour and a full moon is rising. . . ." writing of Washington Irving, 1835.
Perhaps its when the house is quiet and asleep and only one is awake that those things that hide from so many appear to one.
And so I drive home past dark pastures and grazing deer. And since it is the Holiday season, little electric candles burn in windows of the homes I pass, sometimes only 1, other times every window has a single taper. A bit a shining light in the witching hour.
This is playing on my mind, as I guess it should for a wiccan. Perhaps a bit more contemplation and some insight from others would help.