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The mystery woman on the cover of Black Sabbath’s debut remains just that—a mystery. Her green-tinted skin, witchy frock, and (super)naturally radiant air of high spookery all serve brilliantly to make her stand out against the already sufficiently creepy 15th century Mapledurham Watermill. She may or may not also be holding a black cat. From the photo’s overall look, though, it seems just as likely this sorceress had suddenly just shape-shifted herself from being a black cat.
Rumors have abounded through the years as to the woman’s identity. For a time, it was thought to be drummer Bill Ward’s wife. Others believe it to be Ozzy Osbourne in drag! A one-time popular legend states that there was no model at all; that the shot was just taken of the building and the woman appeared in the foreground during development. The strongest reports, however, identify her as a model named Louise who was hired for the day, played her role quietly and professionally, then disappeared.
Of course, it’s in Black Sabbath’s—and our—best interests for this vision to remain shadowy and unknowable. Piling heaviness on top of heaviness is what that band has always done better than any other entity in our particular cosmic realm.