Lately I’ve been thinking about becoming a witch.
After the overwhelming male mortality of WWI, England had a big problem—too many women and not enough men. Women were obligated to fiercely compete for the men still around. If you weren’t rich or pretty, your chances of getting a man were practically zero. Which was a problem because women at that time had little possibility of becoming, on their own, economically independent so a husband was often essential to their livelihood. Otherwise a woman could only hope to have relatives willing to take her in.
Laura Willowes lost her mom as a small child. But her father was very present in her life and the two lived tranquilly together in the country where Lolly was free to explore the nature around her. Then her dad died. Although he’d left her a small income, she was expected, as was the custom of the time, to go live with relatives. That’s how she wound up in London with her brother and sister-in-law. Here Laura became “Aunt Lolly” and was moved into the small spare room. She was expected to help raise her brother’s kids as well as occupy herself with “shopping, letter-writing, arranging the flowers, cleaning the canary-cage…” in other words, she was a spinster relative who was meant to be obliging, useful, and negligible.
One day Lolly went into a flower shop where she sees wonderful chrysanthemums in a brown jar. Suddenly she has a vision of that autumn countryside that once was so much a part of her—a part of her core being that was obliterated by being forced to live in London. So, after 20 years of subservience, Lolly decides to move back to nature. Her family is not happy about her decision (especially as it comes out that her brother has lost most of her inheritance in speculation). But Lolly insists and moves to the village of Great Mop in the Chiltern Hills. Here she rents a room from Mrs. Leak and begins reconnecting with her core. She makes friends with the trees, learns about the magic of plants, and feels the air that lets her breath again. All is wonderful until her nephew, Titus, decides to move to Great Mop, too. His presence flashes her back to all those years she was living a life not her own. With the anger of a freed slave who’s about to be captured again, she stands in a field and yells out “No! You shan’t get me. I won’t go back. I won’t….Oh! Is there no help?”
Lolly, with no answer to her plea, walks towards the wood and hears the woods say “No! We will not let you go.” Once back home, she is surprised by the presence of a small white kitten. Lolly doesn’t like cats but the cat is so tiny that she decided to caress it. The little kitten immediately claws and bites her. It bites her so hard that Lolly is left bleeding. It’s then that Lolly realizes she’s made a pact with the Devil.
The Prince of Darkness had heard her plea and sent the kitten as his emissary. Not having previous experiences with the Devil, Lolly doesn’t know what price she has to pay. All she knows is that the pact has liberated her from Titus and other family members trying to enslave her spirit. If she has to choose between being a servile aunt or being a witch, she chooses being a witch.
Lolly now understands that it is not the Devil who searches for you but you who search for the Devil. Nevertheless, he’d been watching her. He’d seen her discomfort when the others had not. And once she cried out for help, he was there more than ready to give it to her.
So why do women become witches? Not for malice or for wickedness. One doesn’t become a witch to run around being harmful or to ride a broomstick. One becomes a witch to escape an existence doled out to them by others. One becomes a witch simply to have a life of their own.
Witches were invented by men. German churchman and inquisitor, Heinrich Kramer, insecure about his masculinity, felt surrounded by witches. He began making life difficult for women by accusing them of being witches and having them put on trial. Helena Scheuberin was a no nonsense woman who’d had her fill of witch-phobic inquisitors doing their best to make women’s lives miserable. Helena tried to avoid Kramer and his witch crazed sermons. But one day, passing him on the street, she spit in his face and called him an evil monk. Obviously Kramer had her tried as a witch. Luckily she got off but Kramer, his ego battered, decided to get back at Helena and other women like her and, in 1486, wrote Malleus Maleficarum, a manual on how to hunt, torture, and exterminate witches.
A witch hunter, like a serial killer, is a sadist. Once accused of being a witch, the woman was first stripped down then tortured for a confession. Various torture methods were used to get this confession. Dislodging a shoulder, cutting off an ear, being tied and pulled on a rack, waterboarding, flogging and gouging out the eyes were some of the methods used. And when a woman finally confessed just to stop the torture, she was burned alive at the stake.
One would like to think that witch hunters no longer exist. Unfortunately they do but just dress differently. Some are dressed as Fake Christians who, for the most part, seem to be illiterate because, although they claim their beliefs are based on the Bible, it’s apparent they haven’t read it. Take abortion, for example. Melanie A. Howard, a professor of Biblical studies, states that “the Bible was written in a world in which abortion was practiced and viewed with nuance. Yet the Hebrew and Greek equivalents of the word ‘abortion’ do not appear in either the Old or New Testament of the Bible. That is, the topic simply is not directly mentioned.” But this doesn’t matter to the Fake Christians who’ve illegalized abortions condemning women to pregnancies that can endanger their health causing them much physical as well as psychological pain. Because these Fake Christians are insecure women-hating sadists.
So if we women continue to be treated as witches, maybe we need to conjure up a devil of our own.
Related: Lolly Willowes is a character in a book by Sylvia Townsend Warner published in 1926 + “Lolly Willowes “ is available online HERE +The Sylvia Townsend Warner Society + Of Cats and Elfins by Sylvia Townsend Warner review – charming fantasies + Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Lolly Willowes is ‘a great shout of life’ +They Were Not Witches, They Were Women + Salem witch trials +