Which Witch?


It’s election time! Here is a slate of witches, hags, crones and harridans. Please pick which witch is your favorite she-devil. Of course there are 13 in the coven. Please place your vote in the comment section between October 26-31.


Witch by Vladimir Lebedev

Witch and Xantippe by John Harris

Baba Yaga by Ivan Bilibin

The Ghost Oiwa by Hokusai

La Bruja by A. Dempster

Witch with Demons by Vladimir Lebedev

The Witch of Hissing Hill by Janet McCaffery

Baba Yaga Lubok

Baba Yaga by Nicolai Demetryevsky

Mother Shipton- English Soothsayer

Okiku the Well Ghost by Hokusai

Witch on the mountain by Arthur Rackham

Strega Nona by Tomie DePaola

Vote Wisely and Vote Now! The victorious witch will be announced here on Halloween.

Baba Yaga by Nicolai Demetryevsky (9 votes) and the Witch of Hissing Hill by Janet McCaffery (9 votes). Close behind them were Strega Nona, Arthur Rackham’s witch and and Okiku the Well Ghost by Hokusai. Almost every witch got at least one vote.

Thank you all for casting your ballots and casting your spells.

As a bonus, here are two more images by the top vote getters. 

The Witch of Hissing Hill by Janet McCaffery

Nikita Kozhemyaka by Dmitryevsky

90 responses to “Which Witch?

  1. They are all worthy candidates, but my fave is La Bruja by A Dempster!

  2. Love this post! It’s a difficult choice—they’re all amazing, by my fav is Okiku the Well Ghost. Thanks for your creativity and cheer, Julie!

  3. I love them all but Strega Nona gets my vote!

  4. Strega Nana

  5. Witch on Hissing Hill ~ yet such wonderful range and character to each of these!

  6. The Witch of Hissing Hill. Always happy to vote for witches.

  7. Phyllis Hatfield

    Arthur Rackham.

  8. Love them all but the Hokusai witches get my vote!

  9. The Witch of Hissing Hill by Janet McCaffery. Very colorful! Love the hats!

    • I like the striped socks. She comes from the book The Witch of Hissing Hill written by Mary Calhoun and illustrated by Janet McCaffery.

  10. Strega Nona! A kind witch and she provided a Work Away opportunity to a young person!

  11. It’s hard to choose between the two by Hokusai, but The Ghost Oiwa gets my vote for sheer creepiness.

  12. Oooo! Lots of scary girls! I choose Strega Nona. I read every Strega Nona book to my students over my years of teaching.

  13. Monica Balwinski

    My favorite witch is Mother Shipton-English Soothsayer. I like the various pics of a witch’s business.

    • There is a long and fascinating article about Mother Shipton in the Public Domain Review.That’s where I found this image. Here’s a link.

  14. Marie Duckworth

    So hard to pick a favorite! But I am going with the Baba Yaga by Nicolai Demetryevskey.

  15. Strega Nona as she has always been a favorite witch of mine

  16. Can I vote for the Baba Yaga at the very top–the one that invites us to “Vote Now!”? If not, a tough choice indeed: I pick the one by Ivan Bilibin. With Arthur Rackham a close second (or third?). Thank you, Julie and now I have to go carve a pumpkin.

  17. I choose Baba Yaga by Nicolai Demetryevsky. So evocative!

  18. I vote for Baba Yaga. I like her colors and her spirited dancing.

  19. Marybeth Satterlee

    It’s Okiku the Well Ghost for me- she looks treacherous AND seems to have a good ol’ time of it.

  20. Well, it’s hard not to vote for the Rackham….but I think I’ll go with Demetryevsky’s Baba Yaga. Love the witch, love the three horsemen above her, and love the gate made of bones! What do you suppose that is in her left hand?

  21. Witch of Hissing Hill! Thanks for all of these — so interesting. 🙂

  22. Strega Nona dePaola

  23. OoooH! This was a challenge to choose! Although Okiku was very creepy, but because I used to tell Witch Sizzle’s story on a flannel board with felt figures to preschoolers, I select The Witch on Hissing Hill who accidentally drank a whole cupful of what she had intended to be hate medicine, and became loving instead like her witch cat Gold! Love the limited deep blue, black and gold palette!

  24. Baba Yaga by Nicolai Demetryevsky is my favorite because of the fabulous skeleton fence and gate!

  25. Baba Yaga by Nicolai Demetryevsky is my pick. I love the detail. But, my favorite witch is Bony-Legs, from the book of the same name by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Dirk Zimmer. Bony-Legs is another retelling of the Baba Yaga tale.

  26. I vote for the Lebedev Witch with Demons; I love the way she’s keeping those little devils in line! Also the beautiful use of both positive and negative space. And how about those truly frightening saggy tits?

  27. I seem to be drawn to the Russians. Demetryevskey is my favorite drawing, and both Lebedevs are scary. My favorite Witch portrait is perhaps the one on top. Never heard of Strega Nona, though I see from comments that she is beloved!

    • I’m a fan of the Russian illustrators too. And Baba Yaga is an interesting and complicated witch with a great name.

  28. Christopher likes Witch on the mountain by
    Arthur Rackham.

  29. Paula Prominski

    Witch on the Mountain by Arthur Rackham

  30. Alexandra Halsey

    As much as I love John Harris’s notion of a witch visiting her cousin, who is the man in the moon, Janet McCaffery’s “Witches of Hissing Hill” gets my vote for both artistry and general delight.

  31. I vote for Baba Yaga!

  32. queenofflatrate

    Baba Yaga by Ivan. Illustrations like the Russians. I’m cuckoo for Maude and Mishka Petersham.

  33. My choice is Baba Yaga by Ivan Bilibin. I read many versions of Baba Yaga in preparation for telling the story. Fascinating folklore. Glad to see her represented so many times.

    • There are so many Baba Yagas! I got several of these images from a book called “Baba Yaga: The Wild Witch of the East in Russian Fairy Tales”. It included 29 different stories about her.

  34. Adore them all– but voting for Witch of Hissing Hill (Janet McCaffery) due to enchanting blocks of color, kitties & arms in dance movements. Thanks Julie, for sharing such a diverse & fun selection of witches!

  35. Baba Yaga by Nicolai Demetryevsky is my favorite. I love the tale of Baba Yaga and her cottage on chicken legs.

  36. I like Witch on the Mountain by Arthur Rackham

  37. Thanks for this Halloween Treat! Hard to select just one but Vladimer Lebedev’s witch gets my vote.

  38. All so interesting in their differences. I am especially fond of Witch on the Mountain by Arthur Rackham so that one gets my vote!

  39. I like Janet McCaffery’s the best, but I think Hokusai’s Well Witch is the scariest.

  40. The Demetryevsky has my vote. I love the detail!

    • I think he carved either into metal or very hard wood. The lines are so precise but the image still feels lively.

  41. Okiku by Hokusai probably, but Strega Nona by Tomi is the sweetest one. And wow! I love all the examples you chose. There are so many great ones! Thank you!

  42. Baba Yaga by Ivan Bilibin! Love that she is both dancing and pigeon-toed!

  43. Witch of Hissing Hill.

  44. I love the Strega Nona because it reminds me of happy times reading aloud to my kids, and the Ghost Oiwa is excellently creepy, but I’m going to go with the Demetryevsky because I love the detail. My favourite is yours though – the Janus witch. It’s wonderfully atmospheric!

  45. This was difficult as I have always been a fan of Arthur Rackham, but I also like both of the Baba Yaga witches. Since I can only vote for one it will have to be the Nicolai Demetryevsky Baba Yaga. I like all the details of the scene. Thank you for the challenge.

  46. Julie, I loved this post and the wonderful review of witches in lit. I vote for the Witch of Hissing Hill. She looks so bamboozled by her witch-y-ness.

  47. Baba Yaga, the BIllbin one, for sure. All are great.

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