Monday, July 5, 2021

Three Ounces Of The Red-Haired Wench ..

This is another little piece of information I found courtesy of the Jacky Harvey Colliss book Red. In it she references an article concerning additions made to Shakespeare's Macbeth by the playwright Thomas Middleton.

That article can be found here, and is titled Red Hair as a Sign of Jewry in Middleton's Additions to Macbeth.

Middleton added a song to Macbeth called "Black Spirits", which contains a list of ingredients to be added to a witch's brew. Amongst the usual ghoulish ingredients is listed "three ounces of the red-haired wench".

The song also appears in Middleton's play The Witch. In that it's stated that the "three ounces" is from a red-haired girl that had been murdered the previous night.
HECATE: Into the vessel;
And fetch three ounces of the red-hair'd girl
I kill'd last midnight.

I haven't read the full play (I'll have to add that to my to do list), but my immediate thought is that it's three ounces of fat; and that it's in reference to the idea that the fat of redheads was used in the making of poison. [We've noted some of these strange notions before on this blog. It was said that the blood from a red-haired man was needed to turn copper into gold, and that the urine from red-haired boys was utilised in the making of both swords and stained glass windows o_O ].

Returning to the above referenced article though I'll quote the following passage.

"[A]ccoring to Elizabethan theater scholars, actors playing Jewish roles wore red wigs as a visual shorthand of Jewry and its supposed cultural and religious associations with Satanic practice. Red hair is, therefore, an appropriate ingredient in a witches' cauldron. Moreover, seeing red hair as essentially "Jewish" would fit in well with the accepted reading that red hair was associated with lechery, one of the Seven Deadly Sins associated with Jews."

These overlapping themes are always odd and interesting. Hopefully we'll find more as we dig further.

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