Do you remember the first time you heard about witches? From a children’s book, a movie, or a family member? Something else?
I don’t remember specifically, but most likely I learned about witches from the fairytales my father read to me. Perhaps the witch who locked Rapunzel in her tower. Or maybe from the Let’s Pretend records I had and the witch who tried to eat Hansel and Gretel.
I listened to these records endlessly. Often, I tried to copy the art on the covers.
And, of course, Dorothy Gale introduced me to Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the West. Maybe that was the first time I saw that a witch could be good.
Somewhere in all my childhood reading, I saw witches being good and evil and the range of in-between. And maybe it was when my mother gave me a Tarot card deck, I began to think I might not mind having more witchcraft in my own life. Who knows how I would have felt if I’d encountered Hermione Granger when I was young.
Now, I believe in science. I like the scientific method, research, studies, verifiable, repeatable experiments, well thought out theories, and all that. If I’m sick, I go to my doctor and take my medicine. For my cancer, I went through chemo and surgery. And I don’t pray to any god, goddess, or universe.
That doesn’t seem very witchy.
But I love witchy things–the stories, the art, the altars. It speaks to me. If you have something that speaks to you, you know what I mean.
The other day I was listening to The Witch Wave, a podcast by Pam Grossman. She was interviewing an artist I’ve recently learned about, Katy Horan. Grossman says something about the meaning of the word witch being fluid, and this really struck me.
Yes. It is. As witches as seen in fairytales aren’t actually real, the definition is, you could argue, up for grabs. Or rather, up to you.
For me, witchiness is independence and creativity. I feel magic is in creation. My inner witch comes out in the art and in the stories.
When Grossman and Horan talked about the book Horan had recently illustrated, Literary Witches (which I have and which is wonderful). They had to limit their list of literary witches to 30, meaning many writers on their initial list didn’t make it into the book. Horan talked about how they decided, and one of the deciding factors had to do with the feeling or vibe of that particular author. Some author had a witchy tone to her work and some didn’t. Harper Lee and Jane Austen didn’t. Sylvia Plath and Zora Neale Hurston did. Thinking about it, I agree.
But what gives an author a witchy feel?
Well, if I ever manage to have more books published, and if Horan and Taisia Kitaiskaia ever revisit the book and write and second volume, I hope I’m in it.
Casting spells! Making art. Thanks for reading.