The label appeared on a beer called Witch's Wit, produced by ale company The Lost Abbey. It shows buxom young witch being burnt at the stake while crowds of bleak-faced people watch the execution.
Wiccan astrologer Ms Noble found the picture offensive and considered it an attack on women and pagans. She wrote a letter of complaint to Lost Abbey and circulated an email among the pagan community saying: “Can we stop this brewer from their hate imagery?”
The brewery replied that the label was meant as gentle satire about Catholicism and was not meant to be an attack on witches, but has agreed to change the label. It is intending to run a competition to find a more appropriate picture.
On its website, Lost Abbey gives the text that appears on the back of Witch's Wit beer bottles:
"The Story on the Label
"Whether you’re a wonder healer, a caller of spirits or a lover of black magic, they will find you. And on that day, they will boil your blood, singe your skin and make a point to burn your soul to the ground. From that lonely stake, you’ll be left to contemplate your life of spell casting, obscure texts and a world operated between the shadows of night and day.
"Convicted of a dark art, the crowd will gather to watch as they raze your earthen existence. An intolerable pain is the cross you’ll bear that day as you are removed from this righteous world. No one will summon the courage to save you in fear of their life. It sucks. But such is the life of a witch. In honor of your fleeting existence, we brewed Witch’s Wit. A light and refreshing wheat beer, it’s exactly the sort of thing you might expect to find being passed around the center of town on witch burning day. Say hello to the Prince of Darkness for us."
What do you think? Is the label offensive to women and pagans or is it sympathetic to the plight of healers, witches and other spell casters who have been persecuted?
You can read the New York Times story at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/23/us/23witch.html?partner=rss&emc=rss
The Lost Abbey website has further details at http://www.lostabbey.com/