Posted by Nancy Lee Badger at Mar 30, 2017 1:30 am in On Writing Romance, Paranormal, Scotland, Sorchia Dubois, witches, writing about witches
by Sorchia Dubois
I write about witches. My witches come in all colors and flavors. They live –well, anywhere they want—they’re witches! I try very hard to keep my witches fresh—that is no green skin (except perhaps on St. Patrick’s Day), very few warts, and the absolute minimum of toddler roasting.
But writing about witches is more than writing fairy tales. Witches represent wild, untamed Nature. Even scarier, a witch is that creature most feared in some quarters—a self-aware and powerful woman. She can cure you, but she can just as easily kill you. Male witches aren’t to be trifled with either, but that’s a topic for an entirely different post.
A modern witch is simply more aware of herself and her place in the Universe than many. She may have to learn how to wield the power this awareness gives her, just as we all have to learn how to reach our potential. And that’s what witches really stand for—a woman (or man) who strives to find his or her purpose. So witch stories have the potential to be about that struggle we all have to find our way—to learn what we do well and to let go of our fear and just do it! This universal hook keeps witch stories relevant, no matter the time period.
Witches in song and story have not always lived up to that goal but a few literary and movie witches bear note.
Endora and, to a lesser extent, Samantha in Bewitched
Endora is the wild witch—happy to be what she is. Samantha isn’t actually denying her true self, but she is tempering it because it makes the one she loves uncomfortable. What a great set-up for a story. While there were moments when the series almost touched on a truth, too often it wandered back into sitcom banality. And poor Darren never grew to anything more than a caricature of a man who demands his wife be less than what she is to salve his own ego.
Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz
I always cheered for WW of the W. I mean Dorothy dropped a house on her sister and then danced and sang a rousing chorus of “Ding, Dong, The Witch is Dead.” No matter how turbulent your relationship with your sister may have been, this kind of behavior is bound to rub you the wrong way. Fortunately, someone did fix this. Wicked by Gregory Maguire tells the story from the WW of the W’s perspective and made a truckload of money in the bargain.
The Weird sisters in Macbeth
I have a soft spot for anything Scottish and the Scottish play is no exception. In Macbeth, the weird sisters predict the events of the play—may even hurry them along a bit—but they aren’t the villains of the piece. That spot is reserved for solid mortal Macbeth. The point being that no amount of magic can do more harm than a greedy, self-serving, narcissistic human.
For more conversation about witches, stop by my website at http://www.sorchiadubois.com or visit with me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SorchiaD or on Twitter @SorchiaDuBois
Excerpt from Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones
“Magic isn’t all fairies in roses. Sometimes it’s more like a lightning strike. It’ll burn you to cinders.” Granny told me this in shrill tones when I was six just after my abortive attempt to transform lead into gold.
I thought I knew all there was to know about magic until I heard her old crone friends whispering. Their theory was that Granny could change lead into gold. I had no doubt she could, and I wanted in on that action. I’d just started kindergarten, and I could use the cash for bubblegum and Barbie dolls—two things Granny hated and would never let me have.
“You look like a cow chewing her cud,” she’d say when I chewed gum.
If I blew a bubble, she’d snatch it out of my mouth. “Throw that in the fire. If a critter eats it, it’ll knot up their insides until they die.”
That didn’t stop me from chewing gum when she wasn’t around, but I always burned it when I finished. I didn’t understand her prejudice against Barbie until I was in junior high and realized Barbie had been setting me up for failure.
Granny never taught me the trick of transmutation, if she knew it.
“There ain’t no short cuts, Zoraida. Even with magic. You have to learn the rules afor you can break ’em.”
Sorchia Dubois writes paranormal romance and mysteries from her upstairs office overlooking a piney Ozarks woods. She holds an M.A. in English and taught English at high school and college levels. Her books delve into the occult—Karma, reincarnation, psychic powers, mysticism, ancient cultures, and good old fashioned “ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night.” A proud member of the Ross clan, Sorchia incorporates all things Celtic (especially Scottish) into her works. She can often be found at swilling Scotch and watching kilted men toss heavy objects at Scottish events.