Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wicca & Granny Weatherwax

Over the years, I have come to believe that the writer who best understands witchcraft is Terry Pratchett, the author of the Discworld series. Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg are two witches who live in a remote village in a small kingdom on Discworld. Over a number of years, they fight vampires, voodoo curses, deranged fairy tale characters, fairies, sorcerers, Death, and other witches. They also help to train a young witch, Tiffany Aching.

Tiffany realizes that what makes a good witch is what Granny Weatherwax refers to as "headology." A witch must be able to outthink her fellow villagers (for their own good). In one book, Granny Weatherwax uses an unexpected chiropractic throw to fix a man's back problem, but also gives him an herbal medicine to take; the throw fixed his back, but she knows he won't believe it but needs the herbs to convince him that he is cured. Granny and Nanny make sarcastic comments about witches who dance around in the nude (just asking for pneumonia) and who clank around in pentacle necklaces and magic stones.

A number of the witches invest in items from the "Boffo" catalog. These are showy cauldrons, scary warts, spider webs, showy wands, etc. They use them as a sort of Dumbo's magic feather - to give themselves confidence and to get the villagers to trust in their power.  Granny Weatherwax is such a headology master that she doesn't need such props.

Tiffany learns that being a witch is hard and unrewarding; a true witch exists to serve others. The villagers rarely give you credit for your hard work. You see little actual cash. When times get tough, anti-witch hysteria begins, often feuled by a wandering holy man, and you get drowned or burned.

The compensation comes in moments of connection with the natural world. Granny Weatherwax is able to get into the minds of animals, and fly, swim, and otherwise explore the natural world. Tiffany is connected to the chalk downs where she was born, and draws upon them in times of trouble. They experience a connection with nature that is worth more than money. It is this connection with the natural world that Wiccans seek.

1 comment:

literal-alchemy said...

Stumbled across this while googling Pratchett quotes and I completely agree with you. Esmerelda Weatherwax is my role model as a witch. Her notion of ritual seems to *right*. Cool to run across another practitioner that thinks Prachett is on to something, too. :)