Monday, February 23, 2015

Writing About: Witches

I love witches in literature and real life, and I love creating witch characters.The witches I’ve known are the kindest, brightest people. The witches I’ve written about run the gambit of my imagination from the fanciful witches you’ll find in books/movies (including dark witches) to modern-day witches who worship nature, beauty, and life.

If you want to write a book about a witch character, you can use these tips:


Modern-Day Witch:

1.    Research

Witches are not evil people who worship the devil and are part of a cult. They are kind-spirited people who believe in a creed (known as the Wiccan Rede) that says, “An' ye harm non, do what ye will.” Witchcraft centers around expanding ones knowledge and understanding of nature (trees, animals, lunar phases, seasons, etc.). It never involves harmful spells or potions. The spells witches may cast are for healing, love, wisdom and creativity, and the “potions” they brew are tonics and other healing remedies. Witches believe in the Law of Three that states whatever you send out returns to you threefold, so they only do good things with their craft.

2.    Appearances

Witches don’t have a distinct look. You could pass a witch or two in the grocery store. But if you want to give your female character a look that could be for a witch, she can dress in long, flowing skirts and cotton sundresses, lace, and crocheted wraps.
Did you know? The Defense Department recognizes Wicca as an official religion and allows Wiccan soldiers to state their belief on their dog tags. As of 2006, an estimated 1,800 Wiccans served in the United States military. 
Image from Pixabay

3.    Know the 8 Sabbats

If you’re going to follow a witch character for any given period of time in your story, you should know what the eight Sabbats are because they are all significant, especially for magic.
· Yule, Winter Solstice- marks the longest night of the year and the start of the sun’s return. 
· Imbolc, Feast of the Candles- celebrates the beginning of spring and the sprouting of seeds. 
· Spring Equinox- when earth awakens. Wiccans color eggs and plant seeds. 
· Beltane, May Day (May1st)- a celebration of the fertility of spring. 
· Midsummer- the longest day of the year. 
· Lugnasadh (August 1st)- the first harvest. 
·  Autumn Equinox- earth prepares to die and Wiccans give thanks for the harvest they have received. 
·   Samhain, October 31st- the Wiccan New Year that honors rebirth.
4.    Ceremonies

Ceremonies are very important to witches. Each one is done for a specific reason. I’ll highlight two that have the most meaning to Wiccans and can be great additions to any story:
· Initiation: When a witch is welcomed into a coven or, more to the point, becomes a witch for the first time in their life. 
Read this article for more information on initiations into covens. 
Read this article for information on a solitary witches self dedication ritual. 
· Handfasting- This is a Wiccan marriage where the couple’s joined hands are bound with a rope they created from three strands that represent the bride, groom, and their relationship. As they braid these strands, they discuss their lives and futures together.
5.    Magick

Modern day witches cast spells with the energy of natural things and their deities. They use candles, oils, incense, and herbs as well as these tools:

·         Athame (double-edged knife)- directs power and energy out of the witches body and into the world.

·         Chalice (cup)- holds water or wine for ritual use.

·         Broom- used to cleanse the ritual space before and after magickal work.

·         Cauldron (pot)- can be filled with water, fire, flowers or other items at a ceremony.

Witches don’t wield power with their hands. They don’t vanquish demons like on Charmed (my all-time favorite show) with potions. But they do have a...

·         Book of Shadows- a witch’s personal journal where they document spells, rituals, and magickal lore.

·         Altar- a space (table or shelf) where spell and ritual tools can be kept.

·         Pentagram/Pentacle- an encircled five pointed star used as a symbol of the Wicca faith. Having your witch wear jewelry with a pentagram on it would be a nice touch.

Image from Pixabay

Again, do your research. I recommend reading “The Everything Wicca and Witchcraft Book” by Skye Alexander.

Supernatural Witch:

1.    Appearance

If you want to create a supernatural witch, you have the freedom to get creative with his/her appearance. In my short story, Witch of Death, my heroine, Liberty Sawyer, looks like your classic evil witch with jet-black hair, ice-blue eyes, and moon-white skin.

2.    Powers

A supernatural witch can have any power you can imagine. Piper on Charmed could blow things up with her hands. Your witch could also harness power in his/her hands.
Here is a list of Supernatural Powers and Abilities

3.    Name

A witch in a fantasy or paranormal story can have any name from Sabrina (Sabrina the Teenage Witch) to Bellatrix (Harry Potter). Whatever name speaks to you for your witch character should be the one you choose.


4.    Magick

When a supernatural witch does magick, anything can happen. Lightning can strike around him/her, the four elements (water, fire, earth and wind) can flow like streams
and spin around your witch, and flames can burst from the ground like geysers. In Witch of Death, my witches can form burning orbs of energy with their hands that they used as weapons against each other.

5.    Blend fantasy with real life.

You can have supernatural witches in your story, even evil witches who dabble in black magick, and still include some of the things I mentioned before in the modern-day witch category.



QUESTIONS: Do you like reading books with witches as the main characters? If so, do you have a favorite book?



AUTHOR NOTE: This is not a post for people to leave hateful comments about witches/Wicca. If you do, it will be deleted immediately and not responded to. Thanks!


64 comments:

  1. I'll have to come back and read this post more thoroughly. It's fantastic, and jam packed with loads of info. Who doesn't love a good (or bad) witch??? ;)

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    1. Awesome! Thanks SA! I sure love a good (or bad) witch. ;)

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  2. I'd probably stick more to the supernatural ones.

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    1. I tend to do the same, Alex, but blending the two is fun. :)

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  3. love your posts, you give such great info! I've never read a witch book but that's only because I pretty much only read YA contemp! But I'd def never rule it out!

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    1. You should read one, Beth. I know there's quite a lot of YA books about witches. :)

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  4. Never knew that about the defense department. Only thing I've seen witches on is Hocus Pocus and Supernatural and Charmed haha

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    1. Oh, but I love all three of those! :D

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  5. I have done some research on Wicca for a contemporary, but now abandoned, novel I started. I did know that about the military acceptance of the religion.

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    1. I think it's fabulous that the military is accepting Wicca. :)

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  6. Very interesting, Chrys! You sure do know a lot about witches.
    I had no idea that so many people who follow the Wiccan religion served in the military, that's amazing.
    One of the children's books I wrote a few weeks ago has a witch in it=)

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    1. I've done a TON of research, Gina.

      I adore witches even in children's books. :)

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  7. I did learn some new things here today.

    betty

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  8. Fascinating! I'll readily admit, I didn't know most of this. Romeo & Juliet includes a reference to Lammastide, a harvest festival, also August 1st. There must be a connection.

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    1. And I'll readily admit that I don't know much about Romeo & Juliet. lol

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  9. So glad to see us so clearly and accurately presented. Thank you Chrys! My favorite witch related book in recent memory is "A Discovery of Witches" by Deborah Harkness.

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    1. That makes me so happy, Stephanie. You're welcome! "A Discovery of Witches" is on my list to read. :)

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  10. I learned something, too. Although I'd heard Wicca was an accepted religion.

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    1. I'm glad I could share something new for everyone today. :)

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  11. I love witches, too. In Alligators Overhead they're rather bumbling with good hearted intentions. And I agree about researching them before you write them.

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    1. Research is always important, but I feel for witches it's even more important because you don't want to get something wrong or paint them in the wrong light.

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  12. Love these suggestions, Chrys. I had no idea Wicca was a recognized religion or that they call themselves witches. I love stories with witches. Some of my favorites are from author Alice Hoffman. I think Nora Roberts writes about witch characters, too. I will check out the links.

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    1. Yes, Nora writes about witches a lot. She recently finished a series about Irish witches. It was enjoyable, but because I've read many of her other books about witches, I could see the similarities and couldn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to. I recommend them, though. The first book is called Dark Witch.

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  13. I've always loved witch books, and I've been fascinated by Wicca since I first learnt about it at thirteen, courtesy of my father's book by Scott Cunningham. I have a few Wiccan characters in my Atlantic City books, as well as some future Jewitch characters, the children of an interfaith Jewish and Wiccan couple. A Jewitch person, for example, would change the language of the Hebrew blessings, so they're addressed to a female deity. There's an interesting article about Jewitchery at http://forward.com/articles/6981/nice-jewitch-girls-leave-their-brooms-in-the-close/.

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    1. Again, we have a lot in common. I've been fascinated by Wicca since I was thirteen, too! Jewitch...hmm...that sounds interesting. Thanks for the article!

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  14. From the first time I saw the Wizard o Oz... I knew... Oz was not the one.
    Great post here. Thank you for the links. (smile)

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    1. Hehe! You're welcome for the links Dixie.

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  15. I live near The New Forest here in the UK, there are so many witch craft shops it's unbelievable. Wonderful and interesting post.

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    1. I wish I lived there. I would love to browse those shops.

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  16. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. There is so much misinformation about witches, I'm so glad you wrote this post. I also agree with you that there must be an amount of realism and accurate representation no matter what kind of fiction you are writing.

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    1. There is a ton of incorrect information about witches out there, which makes me sad, because none of it is true.

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  17. Now you know your witches!!! Impressive. :)

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  18. Oh Chrys, you just made my day. I have supernatural WIP I plan to finish as I've just joined BuNoWriMo. This will come in handy for the witch world building. And for my research, I went to the library, studied and checked out several wicca spellbooks, a magical almanac, a book about familiars and a numerology book. Also, I loved Charmed (Pru was my favorite).

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    1. I'm glad to make your day, Lidy! :) Good luck with your book! I'd love to read it. :)

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  19. I probably wouldn't try. I think this is one of those- write what you know times. :)

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    1. Oh, but you can write about anything if you do research. :)

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  20. My grandma was Wiccan and she brought me to my first seance when I was 11 years old. That was a long time ago. I considered myself Wiccan for a long time and still have many of the books that I read. These days I consider myself Agnostic though but I still like the Wiccan ways and people.

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    1. That is neat! When I was little, I wished I had a witch in my family. :)

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  21. Great post! Witches have always interested me. I love Anne Rice's The Witching Hour. And, of course, I'm a huge Harry Potter fan. :)

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    1. I've read some of Anne Rice, but not The Witching Hour. I need to add that to my list!

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  22. Witches also like to color their hair very bold colors. I've noticed that! They tend to dress differently from most of the people around them... But there are a TON of people who do that and aren't witches, so it's definitely not a telltale sign.

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    1. Some witches like to dress differently because it's their personality, but some like like you and me. :)

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    2. That is true, most of my fellow witches where I live have very distinctive styles ranging from goth to princess, and 90% of them has blue/red/yellow hair. Mine is purple. ahahhaha. Very nice article, by the way.

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    3. Thanks for the comment, Raven. Witches are all so different, just like women/people are. :)

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  23. Intriguing and interesting post. I've always been fascinated by witches. Thanks for your detailed post!

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    1. I'm so thrilled to find out that so many others are as fascinated by witches as I am. :)

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  24. I suppose I always imagine a witch through the eyes of Shakespeare... The three old women around a boiling cauldron in Macbeth. Good insights.

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  25. What interesting information. I guess a lot of people, like me, think of the evil witches we've seen in movies or read about in books. Thanks for telling us the real story. Writing about a witch might be fun.

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    1. A lot of people commonly do think that.

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  26. As usual, you have a great informative post! I'm Wiccan and I'll point one thing out that many don't know. Being Wiccan doesn't not mean automatically that you are also a witch. Wicca is the spirituality, the religion and where the Wiccan crede comes in and the Rule of Three and Do no harm, etc.

    Witchcraft is the craft aspect, the spellwork, rituals, candles, herbs or tarot, etc. of being a witch.

    A person can be Wiccan and not consider themselves a witch and not engage in spells or ritual work. At the same time, a person who calls themselves a witch does not necessarily follow the Wiccan beliefs, including the do no harm. They are more involved with the craft of being a witch, the spells, rituals, even the outer trappings and showmanship that can be a part of rituals.

    For many who follow the pagan paths, maybe even most, the two go hand in hand. For me, Wicca is the spirituality, the internal aspect of what I believe and feel and the relationship I have with the Goddess and the world at large (big emphasis on nature). Witchcraft is the outward aspect, or the physical aspect, a way to show my beliefs and merge my internal with the external.

    And then there are those who want to play at being a witch, or dabble in it for reasons of their own.

    It took me a long time to admit I was a witch. I embraced Wicca but not the Witch until I finally had to admit that I was in fact a witch.

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    1. Your absolutely right,. Susan! And thanks for explaining it so wonderfully to anyone who may read the comments. There are many witches who consider themselves Pagan. And many people who are of the Wicca religion who aren't witches. You said it better than I ever could have. Thanks for telling me you're a witch. :)

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  27. I've included witches in my short stories, both nice and not so nice ones. I've not gone very deeply into the subject though. Not yet, anyway.

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    1. In my short story, there's a nice witch and a bad witch. :)

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  28. Witches have evolved a great deal since the "Bubble Bubble toil and trouble" days.

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  29. I love everything about Witches and Wicca. I also have Scott Cunningham's book: Wicca - A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. I haven't gotten around to reading it yet though. On fiction novels, I've enjoyed Hex Hall, by Rachel Hawkins, and the Sweep series, by Cate Tiernan, and I'm sure there are others I'm just not remembering. :)

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    1. I just checked out that book by Scott Cunningham for additional research! :)

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  30. Another truly informative post, Chrys! My first book about witches (not totally on them though) is Macbeth, and then there's Something Wicked This Way Comes. Different sorts of witchery but still very frightening.

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    1. I have to admit to not having read either of those. :\

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  31. Hello!!!! I just found this blog post. As per usual for me...I found it a way late. ;) As a witch who is not a wiccan and a writer I thought you did a great job. Will be sharing this in my crit groups and pagan groups as well. Have a good one. Peace out. BB.

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    1. It's never too late to find an interesting post. :) Thank you so much!

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