Archive for the Real Witch Category

The Witch of Tremont Row, 1900

Posted in 00s, Photograph, Real Witch, SFW on 2 July 2011 by redwitch1

As you can see, this is a cabinet card photograph of “Zoe Stouadenewich, Witch of Tremont Row. L. B. Walker, Manager.” The photograph is by Elmer Chickering (fl. 1885–1915; see his Wikipedia page here).

As you can see below, on the back of the card we are told that “Duplicates of the picture [are available] at any time” from “The Original Chickering Photographic Studio”: “Elmer Chickering, 21 West Street, Boston, Mass.” So, when you are in Boston, just pop down to West Street if you want one.

I have not been able to discover much at all about Zoe Stouadenewich. Another photograph of her appears in the McGown collection of 2540 theatrical photographs of circus and vaudeville acts, where it is catalogued here) as “Stouadenewich, Miss Zoe, The Kindergarden Co., 12.23.1889” [i.e., 23 December 1889]. (Her photo is in Box 45, folder 11 of this collection.)

I have found a couple of newspaper references to “The Kindergarden Co.” in action giving “theatrical entertainments” in 1886 thanks to The first reference, recorded in The Fulton Times, was “at the opera house … before small audiences … The actresses were each good in their respective parts, while the songs and duets were mostly new and well rendered.” The second, in The New York Dramatic Mirror, simply records that the company was in Buffalo NY.

A bit of digging online reveals that L. B. Walker was manager of the Nickelodeon, aka the Nickelodeon Musee and Parlor Theatre, 51–53 Hanover Street, Boston (which was established 1894). In 1900 the City Council granted a licence to “LB Walker (referred July 17), for a license for the Nickelodeon, for vaudeville entertainments and exhibition of freaks, at 51–53 Hanover St.” Also, The New York Clipper (8 May 1901): 239, informs us that Walker was presenting “The Fat Woman’s Bicycle Race … including six of the most ponderous riders in the world.” So, Walker was a vaudeville manager of freaks, fat ladies, and witches!

Tremont Row had been the home of photographers (in the 1840s Josiah Johnson Hawes opened Boston’s first photography studio there) and artists (the New England Art Union had its home at No. 38 in the 1850s, and Charles Hubbard kept a studio there from 1848 to 1856). By the late nineteenth century, through to the early twentieth century, numerous vaudeville and burlesque theaters made their home in the area—which (according to this site) eventually attracted the attention of Boston’s vice squad and after WW2 the whole area was flattened and redeveloped into a series of municipal government buildings!

Bringing this meagre amount of information together: it seems likely that Zoe was—from a young age—an actress, singer and vaudeville entertainer; that she was a member of a small theatre company that toured upstate NY in the late 1880s and a decade later had settled in an area of Boston thick with vaudeville theatres and entertainers.

We can assume that she adopted the moniker “The Witch of Tremont Row” for much the same reason as “la Sorcière Isoline”—”Le Voyante Musicienne” [The Witch Isoline—The Musical Visionary], who sang and told fortunes, or, as one of her promotional cards put it, she would reveal one’s “Destinée; Consils sur Héritages, Procès, Successions, Mariages, etc.” [Destiny; Inheritance, Lawsuits, Successions, Marriages, etc.]. For my two posts on Isoline see here and here.

The photograph does not contain the sort of witchy paraphernalia that we might expect today, but neither do the photographs of la sorcière Isoline. My attention was, however, captured by the above wishbone brooch.

* * * * *

The wishbone is symbolic of good luck and has been popular since the Victorian period. I have seen many silver and gold wishbone brooches, but they also came in gilded brass, either plain, or covered in seed-pearls, garnet, obsidian and other semi-precious stones, set with a large central stone, or combined other symbols or motifs. Below are a handful of examples from the Victorian/Edwardian period onwards (NB, below right, wishbone with citrine, seed-pearls, etc). Unfortunately, it is not clear what symbol or stone has been added to Zöe’s wishbone. (Shape-wise, the closest match is the brass and citrine brooch—available for only USD34.00 here.)

Wishbone brooches were popular as memento or Mizpah jewellery. As this site says, “Since [the Victorian/Edwardian period] was an era of great exploration and travel over vast distances, many pieces of Mizpah jewellery was made”: so we find examples with national symbols attached, as above left (clover-leaf for Ireland, map of Australia and Koala for Australia, thistle for Scotland).

The message is, then, good luck from/in Ireland/Scotland/Australia etc. Like convict love tokens (see here), these pieces of jewelry carry a message of affection for or from loved ones who have been left behind. In more recent times, below, we get cheap tourist memento pins which carry a similar but uch more superficial message, and usually in a more literal way “[good luck from] Plymouth” or “Edinburgh”. Others (as above, bottom left) have unrelated symbols, such as a banjo, which may mean something like “good luck playing the banjo”!

* * * * *

Returning to Zöe, it is quite possible that she is wearing a good luck charm from her homeland. With a name like Stouadenewich she could be from many places in Europe: Germany, Norway or Sweden: Stauden being “perennial” in German and Staden being “town” or “city” in Norwegian and Swedish. Then again, it could be a more general good luck charm—appropriate for a witch—or it could just be decorative. Certainly, Zöe herself is quite attractive and the wishbone looks lovely on her.

[And if anyone claims—as they have previously about Isoline—that Zöe is a man in drag, I will scream. Although this site is called sexy witch, not every woman on it who is not eye-poppingly gorgeous is a man in drag!]

Nude Witches of Sydney! 2007

Posted in 2000+, NSFW, Real Witch, Video on 13 March 2010 by redwitch1
(And, for the record, the exclamation is ironic.)

If you Google “nude witch”—well, someone has to do it—one of the top hits will lead you to a discussion of an episode of TV documentary series on the National Geographic Channel called Taboo. There have been sixty-five episodes of this series, over five seasons, since 2002 (see here for the full list of episodes). Nudity was the season opener in 2008 (Season 4, episode 1, aired 5 September 2008).

It is quite difficult to find much information about this episode, but the shout for it runs as follows:

Premieres Wednesday, September 5,
at 10:00 PM ET/PT (World Premiere)

It’s possibly the most natural thing in the world, but for many the naked human body remains a taboo. In this episode, NGC travels the globe to examine the cultural significances of nudity. In Sydney, Australia, a coven of Wiccan witches perform rituals in the nude to express their truest form and bring themselves closer to the natural world. In America, some devout Christians worship together naked, believing that is the way God intended them to. And in central Japan, watch a centuries-old chaotic event called the Hadaka Matsuri: “The Festival of the Naked Man.” Each year one man is chosen to be the “Spirit Man.” He is shaven, stripped naked and must walk from one end of a street to the shrine at the other end. Along the way, thousands of seminaked men struggle to touch his bare body for luck.

Imdb offers a runtime of sixty minutes (with commercials), so the five minutes of this segment that is available on YouTube is unlikely to be complete. Still, it is worth a look (NB, even though the naughty bits are digitised away you will still have to sign in to watch this on YouTube).

If you look on the National Geographic Channel site you will (eventually) find that you can download the episode via Video On Demand until 31 March (here); more details are available here, including the image at the top of this page which has the caption: “In Sydney, Australia, Brad, Rachel, and Kael stand around a table laden with Wicca implements”).

In one of the few discussions of this segment by local Wiccans (here) Mama Kelly writes

I cringed at the sexual undertones in coven members undressing one another. My first (and only) coven worked skyclad at esbat rites. I can promise you that at no time did any of us undress one another … I winced at a few wordings that I felt were poorly chosen. One example was when the narrator made mention of stripping in front of strangers. In my own experience skyclad rituals were not open to the public. You did not work skyclad with a group unless you were an initiate which implied having known them and worked with them for a year and a day …. hardly strangers. But I shuddered at the end when the narrator referred to Wicca as … a CULT … as opposed to just referring to it as a religion. I was one very angry witch last night I can tell you that.

Since the narrator of the section on YouTube video does not refer to Wicca as a cult I am assuming that this bit has been snipped off. Without it the segment is not too bad, certainly not as bad as you’d expect. I acknowledge the mutual stripping in front of strangers would be very unusual and unlikely to really occur, but Alex and Maxine Sandars did a great deal for the cameras that was “very unusual and unlikely to really occur.”

More on la Sorcière Isoline, ca. 1910

Posted in 00s, Real Witch, SFW on 11 September 2009 by redwitch1

Last week my post was on the beautiful Isoline, who I described as “a real-life French Sorceress or Witch.” Lightdragon and Robin left feedback questioning whether Isoline is really a witch. Have a good look at the above image, because it will take a few paragraphs to answer this objection before we can get back to the postcards!

Obviously I have included on this blog a lot of images of women who are not really witches, in fact most of them are not really witches! But the French word for “witch” is “sorcière”—the French title for “I Married a Witch” is “Ma Femme est une Sorcière”—and this is the word Isoline uses to describe herself: “Porte-Bonheur de la Sorcière ‘Isoline’” [Talisman of the Witch “Isoline”].

In the past I have said that I define my terms—”sexy” and “witch”—reasonably loosely. So I include on this blog images that are clearly of witches, or images that are described as being of a witch, as long as they are not clearly intended to be images of hag-witches. Of course, my focus is on the obviously sexy witches, but I have included boarder-line cases before (such as some of the Easter Witch postcards).

I think the problem here is that I have included Isoline among “real” witches like Marina Baker and Fiona Horne. In answer to this I will only say that Isoline seems to have a great deal in common with Charles Leland’s Maddalena, that many witches would recognise her as a sister of the art, and that many purists would not consider Marina Baker or Fiona Horne witches either! In fact, if you look over the feedback to my many posts on “real witches” you will see that many people believe they have a monopoly on identifying “real” witches, and that every single person seems equally open to the charge that they are not “real” witches.

In the absence of any consensus on what constitutes a real witch I can only continue to use the method I have adopted thus far: if a figure has the traditional accoutrements of a witch (esp. a broom or a pointy hat) or is described as a “witch” (in any language) then the only question remaining for me is whether they can be considered a positive image in aesthetic terms. Are they not-hags: pretty, young etc? I obviously considered this question before buying the first of these cards, and I would not have bought the rest of them, and spent so much time looking for them, if I was not satisfied that Isoline was a “witch.”

So, having settled the first question—at least to my satisfaction—let us consider the second. Well, can I say open your eyes ladies and gentlemen because this is one saucy sorcière: look at that amazing waist! And the dress, and feather boa, the perfect “do” and the jewels: Isoline is one successful sorcière too!

As you can see, in these later cards, Isoline explains that “Partout où je pénètrerai, j’y apporterai le Bonheur et la Prosperite” [Everywhere where I go, I bring Happiness and Prosperity]. I am sure she did.

She also explains that “Pour recevoir votre horoscope graphologique, écrire à Isoline …” [to receive your graphological horoscope, write to Isoline…] and that she can tell you all about your “Destinée; Consils sur Héritages, Procès, Successions, Mariages, etc.” [destiny; Inheritance, Lawsuits, Successions, Marriages, etc].

As you can see, these last two cards are very similar to the previous two, but that in each image she seems to be getting a little bit older. I have seen a few cards in which Isoline is a little older again, but haven’t managed to get a hold of any.

How long she was at 42B on the Avenue de Suffren in Paris is not clear, but it must have been at least a decade. The postcards themselves are rarely postmarked (i.e. date-stamped). The few that are are dated 1905 and 1906, so I would guess she was there from about 1900 to the outbreak of WWI. But afterwards? Well I hope she led a “charmed life”!

BTW Jill Preston, you are a genius! If “Isoline” is a french opera of ca. 1888, featuring magical elements and curses, then “Isoline” would have been a perfect stage name for our sorcière. And, of course, the thing about a stage name—like a magical name—is that it hides your mundane identity. Drop it, and you vanish…

Isoline, the Sensational, Musical Sorceress, ca. 1900

Posted in 00s, Postcard, Real Witch, SFW on 4 September 2009 by redwitch1

I have six postcards of the beautiful Isoline, a real-life French Sorceress or Witch. I have looked everywhere I can think of for more information about Isoline and can find nothing. So, as usual, I can do nothing but describe what I have.

The series of postcards seems to start with this one, in which Isoline is among the “Sensational Act[s]” at a carnival or circus. As you can see above, the card has no less than four captions. The main one is: “Isoline Le Voyante Musicienne” [Isoline The Musical Visionary]. Isoline is depicted in a stunning pearl choker. In the background are two scenes from her act.

The first scene shows a blindfolded Isoline on stage, playing the guitar and singing (she is surrounded by a cloud of musical notes), while a presenter stands in the isle, hailing her and interacting with the audience.

It seems that Isoline’s “sensational act” involved her singing and telling fortunes (or, as one of her later cards puts it, revealing one’s “Destinée; Consils sur Héritages, Procès, Successions, Mariages, etc.” [Destiny; Inheritance, Lawsuits, Successions, Marriages, etc.]). Another possibility is that she relayed the visions that she had by singing them to the audience.

The second scene shows Isoline, still blindfolded, meeting individuals from the audience on stage. She takes each man’s hand in turn, relating her visions.

The presenter stands in the background in the isle. Having called members of the audience up on stage, I presume he is now offering a running commentary for the benefit of the audience.

Remember folks, this is in the days before microphones. Isoline’s singing may be heard by the whole audience, but it required a strong, loud—a stentorian—speaking voice to be heard throughout such a large auditorium. Thus the man among the audience. It is not hard to imaging his patter in the first scene: “Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you (pause and flourish; pointing dramatically at the stage, where a singing Isoline is revealed by the rising curtain) the SENSATIONAL ISOLINE!” Cue wild applause etc.

Anyway, the rest of the captions read:

Porte-Bonheur de la Sorcière ‘Isoline’ … Isoline, 42 bis, Avenue de Suffren, Paris … Partout où je pénètrerai, j’y apporterai le Bonheur et la Prosperite.

[Talisman of the Witch ‘Isoline’ … Isoline, 42B, Avenue de Suffren, Paris … Everywhere where I go, I will bring Happiness and Prosperity.]

This talismanic postcard was “Imp.” (i.e., printed by) “G. Dervois, 91, rue Ganterie, Rouen”; it has an undivided back and probably dates to about 1900. The mustachioed men on stage and Isoline’s choker look slightly earlier, so it is possible that the card is as early as 1895, but until I find one that has been posted I can only guess.

The address on the card, 42B Avenue de Suffren in Paris, is the place where Isoline could be privately consulted. Next week I will post the rest of these cards and you will see that Isoline must have been very successful, because she continued to advertise her rooms on the Avenue de Suffren for some time.

Real Witches

Posted in index, Real Witch, SFW on 13 September 2008 by redwitch1

These are all of my posts on real (i.e. practicing) Witches and Wiccans. Individual posts follow index pages:

Maxine Sanders Pages

  • Maxine Sanders
  • My first post explains why Sanders is featured on this blog; it is illustrated with five pictures from the 1969 and 1970. [NSFW]

  • Maxine Sanders, January 1966
  • This post features eleven images of the famous Alderley Edge ritual, which catapulted Sanders to fame. [NSFW]

  • Maxine and Co., again, 1966
  • The twelve photos in this post were taken at a ritual held in Paul King’s flat. [NSFW]

  • Maxine Sanders, Dawn Ritual, 1969
  • The sixteen photos in this post were taken in winter on the Yorkshire Moors. [NSFW]

  • Fire Child by Maxine Sanders, 2008
  • A review of Sanders’ autobiography. [SFW]

  • Janet Owen
  • My first post explains why Janet Owen (later Janet Farrar) is featured on this blog; it is illustrated with three pictures from her 1970 initiation of into the Sanders’ coven. [NSFW]

  • Initiation of Janet Owen, 1970
  • This post contains full details, and fifteen pictures, documenting the Owen’s initiation of into the Sanders’ coven. [NSFW]

    Marina Baker Pages

  • Marina Baker
  • My first post explains why Baker is featured on this blog; it is illustrated with a dozen pictures from the 1987 Playboy centrefold photo shoot. [NSFW]

  • Marina Baker Again
  • This post features photos from Baker’s appearance in the March 1987 issue of Playboy. [NSFW]

  • Marina Baker in Casanova (1987)
  • This post is about Baker’s appearance in Casanova; with photos from the April 1987 issue of Playboy. [NSFW]

    Fiona Horne Pages

  • Fiona Horne
  • My first post explains why Horne is featured on this blog; it is illustrated with pictures from her 1998 and 2005 photshoots for Playboy. [NSFW]

  • Fiona Horne in Black+White
  • This post features photos from Horne’s appearance in the October 1994 issue of Black+White. [NSFW]

  • Fiona Horne in Celebrity Survivor
  • This post features images from Horne’s appearance in the August 2006 episodes of Celebrity Survivor. [NSFW]

  • Fiona Horne in Black+White (again)
  • This post features photos from Horne’s appearance in the November 2006 issue of Black+White and an updated list of publications. [NSFW]

    Other Real Witches

  • Nude Witches of Sydney! 2007
  • This post discusses a short documentary shown on the National Geographic Channel about witches in Sydney. [NSFW]

    How to Become a Sensuous Witch, 1971

    Posted in 70s, Book, Photograph, Real Witch, SFW on 12 September 2008 by redwitch1

    “Two of New York’s most successful witches”, Abragail and Valaria, “reveal their occult (and culinary) secrets for a livelier love life!” in How to Become a Sensuous Witch: Spells, Rituals, and Recipes for a Livelier Love Life (New York: Paperback Library, [November] 1971). The shout on the rear cover continues:

    Finding a new love, or getting rid of an old one, is simple when you use magic. Keeping the right man is eisier too.

    How to be a Sensuous Witch is a combination of time-tested rituals and up to the minute recipes guaranteed to satisfy you and your love.

    There are spells to attract both men and money (poverty is counter-sensuous), to arouse passion, to assure fidelity, or (if you get bored) to separate your lover from you. The recipes range from elegant dinners to restorative breakfasts—and there is a whole chapter on festive Sabbats for your whole Coven!

    [NB: this witch is a model (in a very silly pose). See below for Abragail and Valaria.]

    This books has an Introduction by no less a man that Dr. Raymond Buckland, eponymous director of the Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, Long Island, New York. Unfortunately, it says absolutely nothing about the identity, or reason for the fame, of “two of New York’s most successful witches” (and note, “two of”: this could mean two of the two thousand most successful witches).

    Abragail’s Preface is a little more informative. It tells us that “Valaria is a practicing witch. She does not belong to a coven, as she prefers to practice alone and on her own … Val has always had an interest in the occult sciences and was psychic as a child” (15). Val has a great “grandmother story” (every witch had one in the 60s and 70s): ten years ago she found an old letter, in an old truck, addressed to her from her long dead grandmother (a witch from Bohemia) directing her to “certain [hidden] books of magic” (16) which she duly finds and which now direct her occult studies.

    Abragail is a sorceress “who has become adept in the arts of seduction and love through the study of herbology and the making of philtres and potions”. Abragail & Val are introduced by their astrologer, formed a company “The Witches Cauldron, a metaphysical supply company” and “Bob’s your Uncle”, or Agent, or something (i.e. and so the book is made).

    The spells are pretty much what you’d expect. A few have been reused by more recent writers (Robin Skelton uses the “Sensuous Witch Spell” (19) in Spellcraft: A Manual of Verbal Magic (1978) and Migene González-Wippler uses “Divorce Insurance Spell”, “Black Candle Separation Spell” and “Separation Powder” (100) in The Complete Book of Spells, Ceremonies and Magic (1988)) but the names are the best bit; lots of alliteration, but also a lot of fun:

    Salem Sausage (26), Scallops Satan (28), White Goddess Dressing (37), Moon Mushrooms (40), Apples Aradia (52), Banana Bacchus (60), Pan Pudding (61), Beltane Biscuits (80), Carrots Cernunos (82), Sex Soup (106) etc

    (All of which is a lot like Lionel Harris Braun and William Adams’ Fanny Hill’s Cook Book (London: Odyssey Press, 1970), with magnificent illustrations—see here—by Brian Forbes.)

    Maxine Sanders Pages

    Posted in index, Real Witch, SFW on 19 April 2008 by redwitch1

    In order to make it easier for you to find all of my Maxine Sanders posts I have created this Maxine Sanders index page. The following are all of my posts to date:

  • Maxine Sanders
  • My first post explains why Sanders is featured on this blog; it is illustrated with five pictures from the 1969 and 1970. [NSFW]

  • Maxine Sanders, January 1966
  • This post features eleven images of the famous Alderley Edge ritual, which catapulted Sanders to fame. [NSFW]

  • Maxine and Co., again, 1966
  • The twelve photos in this post were taken at a ritual held in Paul King’s flat. [NSFW]

  • Maxine Sanders, Dawn Ritual, 1969
  • The sixteen photos in this post were taken in winter on the Yorkshire Moors. [NSFW]

  • Fire Child by Maxine Sanders, 2008
  • A review of Sanders’ autobiography. [SFW]


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