Wednesday, March 5, 2008
The Witch's Hat
I thought this interesting, from Barbara Walker's "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myth and Secrets," page 44, paperback edition: Apex Pointed conical cap worn by the Roman high priest, Flamen Dialis. When outdoors, he must always have the apex on his head.(1) It was a phallic symbol representing his continual union with the Queen of Heaven. It has been shown that "In the symbolism of dreams and of myths the hat is usually the phallus."(2) The Flamen's wife, the Flaminica, represented the Goddess. She was the more important dignitary of the two. If his marriage was terminated by her death, the Flamen immediately lost his sacred office and reverted to a private citizen. Such customs show that the powers of priests "in Rome as elsewhere, derived in the first instance from an older priesthood of magical women."(3) The same conical cap belonged to the Lord of the Underworld in Celtiberian pagan imagery. He was Helman: a man belonging to the Goddess Hel.(4) Sometimes he was said to be the god Frey, consort of Hel's heavely or lunar aspect, Freya.(5) The same conical cap evolved into the traditional headdress of sorcerers and witches; the Fool's Cap (or Dunce Cap) worn by the Carnival King; the bishop's miter; the pope's tiara; and before them all, the conical crown of Egyptian pharaohs, emblem of the king's union with the Sky-goddess. To the present day, the conical witch-hat is worn by tantric priests and sourcers in Tibet.(6) Notes: (1) Rose, 209. (2) Silberer, 87. (3) Briffault 3, 20-21. (4) Knight, D.W.P., 73. (5) H.R.E. Davidson, P.S., 134. (6) Waddell, 483. **************************************************************************** This information reminded me of something I'd read in "The Mummies of Urumchi" by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. From Subeshi (in the Turfan Basin, to the southeast of Turfan) a woman's mummy was recovered dating to the mid 1st millennium BCE. Among other accoutrements, "she wore a copious woolen skirt stripped horizontally in shades of red, yellow, and brown, with a dark felt hat rising high above her to two conical peaks like a twin-steepled church." (Pages 198-199) Another female body excavated also wore "a terrifically tall, conical hat just like those we depict on witches riding broomsticks at Halloween or on medieval wizards intent at their magical spells. "And that resemblance, strange to say, may be no accident. Our witches and wizards got their tall, pointy hats from just where we also got the words magician and magic, namely, Persia. The Persian or Iranian word magus (cognate with English might, mighty) denoted a priest or sage, of the Zoroastrian religion in particular. ... Magi distinguished themselves with high hats; ... In the conical hats of Subeshi we have yet more evidence sugesting Iranians in the area. But at this date, late in the first millennium BCE, their presence is nt surprising, since soon afterward we begin to get inscriptions along the south side of the Tarim Basis, some written in a provably Iranian dialect. "In addition to first drawing international attention to the unexpectedly western mummies in Urumchi, Victor Mair also surprised Orientalist circles by demonstrating that the Old Chinese word *m(y)ag(2) must come from the same source as magic: Persian magus. Ancient Chinese *m(y)ag denoted powerful individuals at the Chinese courts who, according to Mair's researches, 'were primarily responsible for divination, astrology prayer, and healing with medicines' - pretty much the same list of specialities that the magi had. Futhermore, the Chinese references to and representations of such round-eyed Western 'magicians' considerably antedate the Subeshi conical hats of the first millennium BCE. Some go back even to the Shang Dynasty (1500-1100 BCE)". (Pages 200-202) Interestingly, according to Wiki Classical Dictionary, the Apex (conical white hat) was "made out of the hide of a sacrificed animal, and having an olive branch and woolen thread at the top."