Stories of witches have been around since biblical times. These were women who had mystical powers to seduce, heal or cast spells. But most of these stories were just that, stories, or myths, passed down over the centuries. But real women were considered witches and it was for a completely innocent reason. They were earning a living.

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Before the Spanish Inquisition of the 14th and 15th century, women held the duties of the home. Caring for children, cooking, etc., while the men were away to fight or hunt. One of those responsibilities became brewing ale. These women were known as alewives. They could have been married or widowed.

These alewives would wear tall, pointed, black hats so they would stand out in a crowd and let people know they were selling ale. They also kept cats around their home to keep rodents from eating their grain. They would brew their ale in black cauldrons and placed a broom outside their home to also let people know they had ale.

I think you see the connection to what we see on Halloween.

But, as men did in that time, they saw the money these alewives made by selling their ale. Men began taking the practice from women. You have to remember that in those days, knowledge of how things work was nowhere near what we have today. Men would get drunk and become uncontrollable. But in those days, that meant they had consumed some kind of potion, or witches brew.

So, as men took over the brewing process, women who still did it were considered some kind of witch.


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