unseen forces

March 16, 2019

Witchcraft is the art of obtaining power through growth of self and the understanding of where self intersects with unseen forces.

Devin Hunter
The Witch’s Book of Spirits

no diabolical power

February 16, 2019

I need not mention the universally known fact, that no diabolical power can pursue you beyond the middle of a running stream.

Lucky it was for the poor farmer [ he’d witnessed a witches’ dance in the haunted kirk ] that the river Doon was so near, for notwithstanding the speed of his horse, which was a good one, against he reached the middle of the arch of the bridge and consequently the middle of the stream, the pursuing, vengeful hags were so close at his heels, that one of them actually sprung to seize him: but it was too late; nothing was on her side of the stream but the horse’s tail, which immediately gave way to her infernal grip, as if blasted by a stroke of lightning; but the farmer was beyond her reach.

Robert Burns
Letter to Francis Grose, 1790

It is a well-known fact that witches, or any evil spirits, have no power to follow a poor wight any further than the middle of the next running stream. It may be proper likewise to mention to the benighted traveller, that when he falls in with bogles, whatever danger may be in his going forward, there is much more hazard in turning back.

Robert Burns
Footnote to Tam O’Shanter

Domination

January 27, 2019

Domination, I have argued, is a twisting of the bonds of love. Domination does not repress the desire for recognition; rather, it enlists and transforms it. Beginning in the breakdown of the tension between self and other, domination proceeds through the alternate paths of identifying with or submitting to powerful others who personify the fantasy of omnipotence. For the person who takes this route to establishing his own power, there is an absence where the other should be. This void is filled with fantasy material in which the other appears so dangerous or so weak – or both – that he threatens the self and must be controlled. A vicious cycle begins: the more the other is subjugated, the less he is experienced as a human subject and the more distance or violence the self must deploy against him.

Jessica Benjamin
The Bonds of Love: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, & the Problem of Domination

The poem is a body and the body a poem. This is not something I can prove, nor even something that is necessarily true, but it does have the ring of truth about it. This is a more intuitive relationship but one I think we are all fairly conversant with and one with which most poetry lovers will agree. The one true topography of self we can chart, navigate, and map is the body. The visible self leads to the more ethereal and ineffable parts of self, the parts that poetry tries to give symbolic meaning to, to invoke that presence. And if we look closer, we see that it’s not just that language gives the body presence, shape, resistance, love, affirmation, and intervention. And it is not just that the bodies of particular poets give their language a certain shape and definition, but rather that in the end, our particular idiosyncratic languages are our bodies. We exist only in the space of that language, and we use it to move a craft forward, to draw and redraw the limits of the self, both internal and external. We can argue that this is poetry’s true power, to shape reality — and that is truly what power is: the choice and ability to redraw and recast our personal narratives.

Chris Abani
Introduction to: New Generation of African Poets

Unique Opportunity

December 26, 2018

profound hurt

December 20, 2018

A profound love between two people involves, after all, the power and chance of doing profound hurt.

Ursula K. Le Guin
The Left Hand of Darkness

The archetype of the witch is long overdue for celebration. Daughters, mothers, queens, virgins, wives, et al. derive meaning from their relation to another person. Witches, on the other hand, have power on their own terms. They have agency. They create. They praise. They commune with nature/ Spirit / God / Goddess / Choose-your-own-semantics, freely, and free of any mediator. But most importantly: they make things happen. The best definition of magic I’ve been able to come up with is “symbolic action with intent” — “action” being the operative word. Witches are midwives to metamorphosis. They are magical women, and they, quite literally, change the world.

Pamela J Grossman
the year of the witch

magic

October 18, 2018

witch at seaside

Yet magic is no more than the art of employing consciously invisible means to produce visible effects. Will, love, and imagination are magic powers that everyone possesses; and whoever knows how to develop them to their fullest extent is a magician. Magic has but one dogma, namely, that the seen is the measure of the unseen.

W. Somerset Maugham
The Magician

Lions at rest

A poem comes from the heart of the poet’s experience, but it can go to the heart of any of our experiences. The underground connections that poetry makes come not merely from the way language is formed and shaped on the page and through the spoken voice, but also from the heart of human experience, which I believe is translatable –sometimes with difficulty but often with power.

Herbert Kohl
A Grain of Poetry

a witch should not kiss

October 2, 2018

Zdzislaw Beksinski

On the whole I am inclined to think that a witch should not kiss. Perhaps it is the not being kissed that makes her a witch; perhaps the source of her power is the breath of loneliness around her. She who takes a kiss can also die of it, can wake into something unimaginable, having turned herself into some new species.

Emma Donoghue
The Tale of the Kiss
Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins