I recently released my historical fantasy Witch of the Cards.
(For those who are curious, it's 99 cents, free on KU until July 20)
For fun, I've compiled some fun factoids about witches!
Before people had hospitals and surgeons to fix people, they had midwives and herbalists. When babies or moms died in childbirth, or the herbal fix was insufficient to cure what we would now know was a fatal disease, who do you think was blamed? The same women who delivered babies and gave expert herbal remedies! In a fearful world, they were labeled as witches, or agents of the devil.
|A fave "baddie" in Oz|
Bruno Bettelheim was a famous psychiatrist who worked with troubled children and believed fully in the power of myth and fairytales, which include witch stories! In his words: "...the imagery of fairy tales helps children better than anything else in their most difficult and yet most important and satisfying task: achieving a more mature consciousness to civilize the chaotic pressures of their unconscious." Fairytales are spiritual explorations. In the fairy tale we see life divined from the inside.
Ironically, in ancient Rome even though women were housebound with zero political power, the most revered, influential people were the high priestesses presiding over the oracles, such as the one at Delphi. These women were said to be able to predict the future, wield supernatural powers and have innate knowledge of the divine realms. Greek citizens would go on pilgrimages to seek out their womanly wisdom. Now, that’s what I call some bad@ss white witches!
|Fortuna & her wheel|
In Chaucer’s and Boccaccio’s European middle ages (mid 1300s) people were expected to be devout in their Christianity. Many believed literally in the devil and the power of witches. Interestingly, as devout as they were to the going religion, they also prayed to the sprites and night nymphs of their recently dropped Pagan beliefs. They also believed in Fortuna, or the wheel of Fortune—that fortunes rose and fell by the whirl of a wheel, often portrayed by a beautiful woman, Fortuna. How’s that for supernatural female power!
During the Victorian Era in 1899 Charles Godfrey Leland published a
|1899, Aradia cover|
Tamsin Blight 1798-1856 was a famous English witch healer, able to remove curses or spells from a person. She was also said to have put spells on those who displeased her. She was also known as Tammy Blee and Tamson.
|Houdini & Doyle in friendlier times|
The Tarot fascinates me. I collect cards for their variety, beauty and amazing images. They are thought to have originated all the way back in ancient Egypt, as a cosmic source of wisdom and divination of the future. The Egyptian word tar means royal and ro means royal – thus the royal road to wisdom. Later, in northern Italy, a complete deck for card playing and gambling was devised. In France in the 1700s, a “cartomancer” named Jean Baptiste-Alliette created the imagery in the decks we often see today. There are cups, swords, wands, and pentacles. And the Major Arcana cards that hold great symbolism, such as the hermit, the world and the death card (which can also mean rebirth!).
|Tarot name origin|
In my novel, Witch of the Cards Peter Dune has a Tarot and Séance shop on the boardwalk, where he holds readings and séances. In walks Fiera, who not only has a mysterious and electric connection to Peter, she can do more outrageous and unexpected things with the Tarot than simply reading them! I won’t give away the surprise here. She’s also a sea witch so her supernatural powers are twofold.
Do you know how to read the Tarot? What’s your favorite card?
|new nonfiction on witchery|
Mar traveled across the USA to interview a diverse bunch of self-described witches. Here’s a quote from her intro: “There may be hundreds of strands of Paganism, but these super-esoteric paths share a clear core. They are polytheistic and nature worshipping, and believe that female and male forces have equal sway in the universe. They teach that the divine can be found within us and all around us, and that we can communicate regularly with the dead and the gods without a priestly go-between.”
Makes sense to me. Does it to you?
A fascinating post, Catherine! They had a show on FOX this summer called Houdini and Doyle, and it was pretty awesome.ReplyDelete
Cherie, yes, I heard about that show. I have to watch it sometime.ReplyDelete
This is where a lot of our superstitions come from. So fascinating! I knew Doyle was a spiritualist. He kind of lost his reputation after the fairy photos were uncovered as fakes. Still, they make for fun stories!ReplyDelete
Yes, I think Doyle went over the edge after the death of his son. Another amazing historical fantasy is the Hangman's Daughter, for evidence of intense superstition, leading to calamity and false blame.ReplyDelete
So many people have hedged their bets throughout history. Religion, with more than a little placating of the spirits.ReplyDelete
Still true today, though fortunately witches (who too often got the rough end of the stick) are not in favour.
Tarot cards? I am intrigued by them, but know very little.
It's interesting to know where myths originate. What you posted makes sense. Great article!ReplyDelete
Fascinating post about witches...some of which I knew but some was new. Thanks Catherine. (I've saved this).ReplyDelete
Sure! Glad you got a kick out of it.Delete
Elephants Child and all, here is my TAROT page on Pinterest... obssessed. Why, yes, thank you very much! https://www.pinterest.com/kitsy84557/cool-tarot-decks/ReplyDelete
Fascinating stuff! I love all the witch history. I recently watched a show where there were people who believe that the Tarot are pages from the Egyptian God Thoth's Book of Wisdom. Maybe they are!ReplyDelete