Then it happened.

At the touch of the purple juice the little broomstick gave a leap, a violent twist, a kick like the kick of a pony. Instinctively Mary clung to it, but it had twisted between her legs, and she fell.

But she never reached the ground.

For as she tipped forward, clinging along the handle of the little besom, with the head of twigs between her knees, the broomstick reared, shook itself violently, and then soared up towards the treetops with a swish like the rustle of a little wind.

And as it tore past the upper boughs, with Mary clinging for dear life to the handle, there was a scream and a crackle of twigs, and, with paws stretched like a flying squirrel, Tib flung himself out of the lime tree and on to the back of the besom. The broomstick jerked slightly under the impact, and then tore on, up, straight as a spear, towards the sagging clouds.

Mary Stewart
The Little Broomstick

The witch approached it and pared its edges with a sword that she drew from her thigh. Then she sat down beside it on the earth and sang to it while it cooled. Not like the runes that enraged the flames was the song she sang to the sword: she whose curses had blasted the fire till it shrivelled big logs of oak crooned now a melody like a wind in summer blowing from wild wood gardens that no man tended, down valleys loved once by children, now lost to them but for dreams, a song of such memories as lurk and hide along the edges of oblivion, now flashing from beautiful years of glimpse of some golden moment, now passing swiftly out of remembrance again, to go back to the shades of oblivion, and leaving on the mind those faintest traces of little shining feet which when dimly perceived by us are called regrets. She sang of old Summer noons in the time of harebells: she sang on that high dark heath a song that seemed so full of mornings and evenings preserved with all their dews by her magical craft from days that had else been lost, that Alveric wondered of each small wandering wing, that her fire had lured from the dusk, if this were the ghost of some day lost to man, called up by the force of her song from times that were fairer.

Lord Dunsany
The King of Elfland’s Daughter

a deadly thing

March 24, 2020

If a witch needs something, another witch will give it to her. If there is war to be fought, we don’t consider cost one of the factors in deciding whether or not it is right to fight. Nor do we have any notion of honour. An insult to a bear is a deadly thing. To us…inconceivable. How could you insult a witch? What would it matter if you did?

Philip Pullman
The Golden Compass

Witch-Love

March 12, 2020

When the witch married the sea,
she slept on beds of kelp
and barked in otter-tongue.
She wove capes of tender weeds
and danced widdershins
in the foamy wakes of whales.
Pearls were as common as pennies;
if she wanted to feel rich
she counted all the ocean’s greens,
her tongue a clapper in the bell
of the world, chiming their names.

When the witch married the stone
she learned it is no sin to be hard.
If she craved softness,
she gloved herself in velvet lichens,
coaxed a sparrow to brush its wing
against her bulk.
She studied the fine art of time and tarry.
She tasted weather, suffering nothing
from sleet and snow
except the subtle shiftings of the earth
beneath her form.
Erosion barely pained her till
one winter’s contraction
cracked her.

When the witch married the wind,
she broke free of the field and fled
to woods and wilds, revisited the sea.
She toured the cities,
every tower and alley.
For kicks she became a thief of hats,
a gambler betting on the races
between tumbling newspaper rivals.
She was an artist then:
all through the winter nights
she practiced her singing;
in the summers she danced
dust-storms and tornadoes.

When the witch married the night,
she rose above day’s fret and fever,
tuned herself to hear the planets’
subtle harmonies beyond the silence.
She sculpted faces in the moon.
She began to forget the world below,
which she had loved in many forms.
When star-fire called to her,
she came,
became pure flame,
a passion that never knew
surcease of burning.

Sandi Leibowitz

Sensible Question –

February 8, 2020

The witch has powers

February 4, 2020

Among the archetypes, the witch is a fascinating figure. When someone calls another “a witch,” we know exactly what they mean. The witch has powers. She is uncanny and unholy. She lives outside the borders of civilization and has been ostracized because her ways stand in opposition to accepted values, thus challenging our own impulse to conform. To not conform, especially as women, puts us at risk of being called a witch (or the rhyming word that begins with a B).

Ann and Barry Ulanov wrote in The Witch and the Clown: Two Archetypes of Human Sexuality:

“The witch figure presents an awesome image of the primordial feminine concern with herself. Maternal life spends itself like life’s blood flowing outward to nourish the sounds and bodies of loved ones. In the witch figure, life flows inward and downward to fuel the dark recesses of a woman’s psyche or a man’s anima.”

The witch reminds us there may well be unnamable and untamable aspects of ourselves where passions stagnate and fester. What parts of us don’t fit into the conventional idealized feminine? Do we harbour an urge that wishes to transgress and to cross borders? Historically, innocent women have been tortured and killed because the prevailing masculine rule feared female sexuality.

Dale M. Kushner
Mothers, Witches, and the Power of Archetypes

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

Nature of a witch

December 1, 2019

A witch is, actually, a successful (in the sense of surviving) deviant. You have a cultural, ideological, social, what-not pattern which is, for that society in question, normal (and, importantly, this is understood as a synonym for natural). Most people survive because they conform to these patterns, because they behave normally. […] But then suddenly you get a deviant which survives, and since it does not draw its support from the normal pattern, […] that deviant is understood as drawing its support from “unknown,” “supernatural” sources. […] If we cannot survive without our order, how can she [the witch] survive in solitude? Hers must be indeed a very powerful order to exist so independently, without all the inter cooperation and individual compromise which we have to go through to survive. And if it is so powerful, then it could destroy us. We must try to destroy it first.

Maya Deren
the Notebook of Maya Deren – October 1947, vol. 14: pages 21–45.

It’s all in a name –

November 30, 2019