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Horror/Scary: September 16, 2020 Issue [#10367]

 This week: Which witch?
  Edited by: Arakun the Twisted Raccoon
                             More Newsletters By This Editor  

Table of Contents

1. About this Newsletter
2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
7. Removal instructions

About This Newsletter

Quote for the week: "A witch ought never be frightened in the dark forest, because she should be sure in her soul that the most frightening thing in the forest was her."
~ Granny Weatherwax, in "Wintersmith" by Terry Pratchett

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Letter from the editor

Wicked witches are a common inhabitant of horror and folk tales. Some are horribly ugly like Baba Yaga of Russian and Slavic folk tales, while others are coldly beautiful, such as the wicked queen who tormented Snow White.

Mythologies of every culture have some witchlike characters. A witch might be called other names such as sorceress, enchantress, hag, strega, hex, or harridan. A male practitioner of magic might be called a wizard, sorcerer, or magician. In some stories, a male practitioner is called a warlock, but this is actually based on an old word meaning "liar" or "oathbreaker" and may have been used by the church to refer to anyone who had "broken" their baptismal vows.

Witches in folklore may be helpful as well as evil. Frau Holle of German fairy tales was said to reward those who worked hard and punish the lazy. Russian children feared being captured and eaten by Baba Yaga, but in one story she helped a man find his missing wife. Characters such as these may have been invented to frighten children into working hard and being "good" and also to keep them from going to dangerous places, such as deep in the forest, alone.

Good witches and wizards in popular culture and literature include Harry Potter and his friends, Willow in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", the Halliwell sisters in "Charmed" and Granny Weatherwax in Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" series.

While Granny Weatherwax is a stern and frightening woman, she is actually a helpful witch. She refers to her practical form of magic as "headology" which usually involves mind over matter and manipulating people into helping themselves. Ironically, her sister, Lily Weatherwax, a fairy godmother, is actually evil. While good witches like Granny give people what they need, a fairy godmother like Lily gives them what they want, which is often not in their best interests. For example, the fairy godmother might give children all the candy they want, which would result in a bellyache. An adult who gets an unlimited supply of gold from his fairy godmother might grow lazy and selfish.

Actual women who were called witches in real life were usually midwives and practitioners of folk medicine. They may have been referred to as wise or cunning women because they possessed knowledge of things the average person didn't understand or possibly feared. Many of the those who were persecuted and executed as witches in the old days were actually single women who owned property that their neighbors wanted, or just people who kept to themselves or were "different" in some way.

Practitioners of some modern forms of paganism refer to themselves as witches, and for that reason are misunderstood by some people who associate witchcraft with evil or Satanism. It is beyond the scope of this newsletter to discuss all the tenets of modern paganism and witchcraft, but many do not even believe in the devil as personified by Christianity and simply describe themselves as following a spiritual path that is at one with nature.

Something to try: Write a horror story in which a character who might normally be suspected of being an evil witch is actually good.

Editor's Picks

A Walk in the Woods  (13+)
Brothers discuss Halloween on a walk through an evening wood
#2169639 by Emily

Computer Vampire  (13+)
Where would Count Dracula be now? He might be on the internet.
#1100272 by Kotaro

Bootsy  (18+)
A grave encounter.
#2186764 by Bilal Latif

The Spinster Of Claiborne Parish, LA.  (13+)
A lawyer and an intuitive old woman have a chance meeting in a Louisiana town.
#2139270 by Donkey Hoetay

Stone and Mortar  (13+)
Old passages are tempting to explore, aren't they?
#2225478 by Rustika

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