Every Witch Way: Witches In Fantasy
Part of being raised by two mums in a tree-hugging, dirt-worshipper sort of household is growing up with an eye for magic. Ever since I was a wee thing, I’ve been obsessed with the unmundane, from Care Bears and their sparkling tummy rays to sorcerers and witches.
I used to sit with my NeeNee (short for a much longer Native American name — this is the woman I still think of as my second mum), and we would go through her animal cards. They were beautifully drawn in greens and blues and reds, patterned on the back, a centered animal totem on the front, encircled in a dreamcatcher. They came with a book, and books like that just breathe magic.
She would shuffle the cards together, moving one over another with a reverence far from the poker table, and sometimes she’d let me draw one. We would open the book with the card face up then, paging through each chapter until we came to the animal we’d drawn.
I loved reading the descriptions that highlighted each animal’s symbols and strengths. Those moments have stuck with me for almost twenty years.
When we first moved to Montana, we had twenty acres of land that we purchased for $30,000. Even then that was a steal. On our land, we had a small gully and a large thicket, with one tall Ponderosa that lent its branches quite often to a neighbourhood porcupine. The mound by that Ponderosa and the chokecherry thicket were our sacred places. They were places of quiet reflection. They were places where magic came alive.
I had a friend who lived just down the road about a half mile from where we lived. She and I were both hungry for magic. We loved the click of gemstones and the scent of Montana sage. We spent days and weeks roaming the gullies of our land together, climbing trees and each hoping to stumble upon something buzzing with power.
In fiction, I was drawn to anything supernatural, from horror to epic fantasy to urban fantasy and paranormal romance (though back then, paranormal romance didn’t have a name).
I quickly discovered many different types of witches.
1. Earth Magic
These witches drew their power from the earth itself. From the elements. Little was impossible when they mastered this power, because if anything is endless, it’s the power of nature. The Aes Sedai in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series are a good example. They drew power from the elements themselves, weaving together Earth, Air, Water, Fire, and Spirit to create, protect, move.
2. Talisman Magic
This type of witch drew power from the earth, but focused it through talismans. L.J. Smith’s witches were this sort — while they had some powers without aid, their best work came only with the focus provided by stones, herbs, and spells. Spells are the manifestation of a talisman, the product of power, will, focal points, and words. Heady stuff.
3. Self Magic
Some magic-users created it from within themselves, by a gathering of will and a focal point of a word. Harry Potter. David Eddings’s sorcerers. The word aimed the intent. Some used wands as well, but for others the word was enough. This magic came from within and could exhaust or easily backfire on the user if not careful.
4. Blood Magic
Sometimes the mage’s blood — often someone else’s. This type of magic is almost fully condemned as dark magic. In the Dragon Age universe, spilling blood is a sacrifice to demons, who then supply power if you can control them. In Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, blood is used as a focus and an activator with little moral implication unless taken by force. Blood magic is often portrayed as more powerful than earth or talisman magic — perhaps because it’s forbidden.
5. Gene Magic
In comic books and graphic novels, this gets called science (albeit futuristic, hold-on-to-your-breeches science). Mutations, reactions of certain blood types — all that manifest in supernatural powers of some kind. It’s still magic to me. This magic is interesting because it is unique to each person. One thing might affect two different people in completely disparate ways. One X-Man might be able to fly; another just has really sticky fingers.
One thing is sure, there’s enough magic out there for all of us.
Which witches did you like to read about most? Beyond all the different terminology (witches, sorcerers, warlocks, wizards, mutants, Aes Sedai), if you could choose a type of magic what would it be?
- What’s Your Fantasy? (emmiemears.com)
- Mark of the Witch Book Tour: Book Review (prettyopinionated.com)
Posted on September 24, 2012, in urban fantasy and tagged Aes Sedai, Care Bears, david eddings, emmie mears, fantasy, harry potter, Kim Harrison, magic, mutants, Robert Jordan, urban fantasy, Wheel of Time, Witchcraft, witches. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.