It was hot and my thoughts were drowning in sweat. Listless, I decided to try resuscitating myself in the kiddie pool. Instead, I fell asleep and entered a densely populated dream world. That’s where I met Lolly Willows. Lolly was a middle-aged spinster who, tired of her controlling family, moves to a small village where she lives with her cat, Vinegar. No longer willing to do the duties expected of her as a woman, Lolly decides to become a witch. When she meets the devil, she tells him that women are like sticks of dynamite waiting to explode. The devil, “a kind of black knight, wandering about and succouring decayed gentlewomen,” tells Lolly that, in exchange for her soul, he will give her the sensation of freedom and a life of her own. Lolly has no fears of such an exchange because, she says, “Women have such vivid imaginations, and lead such dull lives. Their pleasure in life is so soon over; they are so dependent upon others, and their dependence so soon becomes a nuisance…”
Moral of the story: if it weren’t for men, witches wouldn’t exist.
Note: Lolly was a character invented by Sylvia Townsend Warner (1893-1978). A musicologist, Sylvia, anti-fascist and gay, used writing novels to promote female empowerment.
Bibliography: Lolly Willowes, or, The Loving Huntsman can be read via archive.org HERE.