Perhaps a poem is a spell spelt out to test how much reality we can bear. Not much, as we know. Language offers itself as a gleaming shield against the overwhelms and the anguish. Death and loss are hard to bear. Our dead look at us when we’re not expecting that look, we’re never prepared, and that look feels like a disconnect and a connection. All these things are bewildering and not simple. The poem recounts them to the poet in us and through its alchemical mingling of truth and lie, mystery and illumination, makes our anguish into a story, a song. Among the mad noise of the world, it offers its still small voice, as some kind of compensation for things too awful for anyone to think about for too long.

Penelope Shuttle
language as a gleaming shield

they have no fear

January 21, 2020

Witches, like saints, are solitary stars that shine with a light of their own; they depend on nothing and no one, which is why they have no fear and plunge blindly into the abyss with the assurance that instead of crashing to earth, they will fly back out. They can change into birds and see the world from above, or worms to see it from within, they can inhabit other dimensions and travel to other galaxies, they are navigators on an infinite ocean of consciousness and cognition.

Isabel Allende
Paula

run round being harmful

December 11, 2019

That’s why we become witches: to show our scorn of pretending life’s a safe business, to satisfy our passion for adventure. . . . One doesn’t become a witch to run round being harmful, or to run round being helpful either, a district visitor on a broomstick. It’s to escape all that — to have a life of one’s own.

Sylvia Townsend Warner
Lolly Willowes or The Loving Huntsman

The Power of the Witch

November 10, 2019

Becoming a Witch

October 26, 2019

Fuck your karma, I don’t need it! I’ve descended the dark chasm of self, glimpsed the chaos of ego, and returned to the light. I’ve reached for the moon and stars, whispering the secret words I learned from them. My chaos is now controlled. My self is a spear of pure power. I own the darkness. I’ve become the dream you never want to meet, and I wear each of my scars like badges of honour. Yes, I have changed – mutated, if you will. Become a living, breathing manifestation of the Goddess. Hathor, Isis, Aphrodite are one with me. I am volcanic. I have power and I’m not afraid to use that power – so beware. For I am the fertility of the Earth and of the Goddess, celebrating the cycles of seasons. I am Alpha and Omega: woman and witch, overflowing with holy rage. So, again, Beware, I say.

P

THE SPIRAL’S AT HAND

October 18, 2019

My sisters, we’re burning — but not in that fire!
The spiral’s at hand where we love, rule, and flower
Our world into life. It’s our time to inspire,
My sisters! We’re burning! But not in that fire —
Our witchy souls fly home to truth and desire —
We’re turning at last — in our own sacred power —
My sisters. We’re burning. But not in that fire!
The spiral’s at hand, where we love, rule, and flower.

Annie Finch

I’m probably going to die
at midnight.

Don’t worry—
I’ll set the timer on the coffee pot
before I go.

The crows will be up with me
and the witches.
I’ll watch them through the window
and they’ll watch me back.

I’ll crack the window
so I can smell
stew simmering in cauldrons.
I’ll give some thought
to how it might taste—
boiled lizard eyes
& toad brains
& fingernails of newt.

You’ll be asleep
but that’s okay.
The crows will bob their heads
in time to your snoring.

This morning, a witch came to our door.
She didn’t seem gloating or gleeful
or even wicked.
Not much.

She had a card with my name on it.
She gave it to me.
She tipped her black hat
and went back down the drive.

We thought you might want to know,
the card said.
Don’t worry too much.
It happens to everyone.

Maybe the witch had cast
a calming spell on the card
because I’m not concerned
about dying.

I’m ready to settle in with the crows
and smell the boiling hummingbird’s feet.
I’m ready to leave you with a clean oven
and coffee ready in the pot.

I’ll miss you
but I suspect the crows
will keep us up to date.
They talk to the dead, I think.
They must be watching something
with those keen, staring eyes.

Rachel Swirsky

The truth is that the witch is a descendant of ancient goddesses who embodied both birth and death, nurturing and destruction, so it is not surprising that she has both aspects. But when religions decay and gods are replaced, there is a consistent dynamic: the gods of the old religion inevitably become the devils of the new. If serpents were once worshipped as symbols of magic power, they will later be despised as symbols of evil. If women were once seen as all-powerful, they will become relegated to obedience to men and feeling pain in childbirth. The symbols remain but their values are reversed. The snake in Genesis is now the devil. The first female, Eve, has gone from being a life-giver to a death-bringer. Good and evil are reversed. This is the way the politics of religion work.

The contemporary image of the witch incorporates detritus from many religious sects over many millennia. Like the wall of a Crusader castle in the Middle East, it rests upon a foundation of remnants from a variety of periods. Like Hecate and Diana, the witch is associated with the moon and lunar power. Like Aphrodite and Venus, she can make love potions and fly through the air. Each attribute of the witch once belonged to a goddess.

Erica Jong

Witches   

eaten alive by longing

December 23, 2018

Most people are blind to magic. They move through a blank and empty world. They’re bored with their lives, and there’s nothing they can do about it. They’re eaten alive by longing, and they’re dead before they die.

Lev Grossman
The Magicians

witchery

October 13, 2018

Maidens stand still, they are lovely statues and all admire them. Witches do not stand still. I was neither, but better that I err on the side of witchery, witchery that unlocks towers and empties ships.

Catherynne M. Valente
In the Night Garden