Feb 2, 2016

Posted by in Occult Studies, Paranormal, Terry Pratchett's Discworld, Witchcraft | 0 Comments

Terry Pratchett’s Witches Get It Right

Granny Weatherwax as she appears in The Pratch...

Granny Weatherwax as she appears in The Pratchett Portfolio, illustrated by Paul Kidby (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I ever have the temerity to take on occult students, on their list of required reading will be Sir Terry Pratchett’s witch books. The more I study and practice the occult, the more I realize that Terry Pratchett really “gets” witchcraft. This is funny, when you consider that most, if not all of his books make fun of, well, everything!

The witch books are part of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. The Discworld is round, like a plate, held up by four giant elephants, all carried on the back of an enormous sea turtle, swimming through space. As one might expect from such a world, magic is the principal force holding it together. Throughout this series, Pratchett makes fun of pretty much every fantasy trope there is, but he also makes fun of just about every other trope as well. For example, fans of police dramas will find much that is familiar in any of the Discworld novels that feature the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, while anyone who is tired of religious conflict will find a great deal to appreciate – and laugh at – in Small Gods.

The principal witch in the Discworld novels is Granny Weatherwax, a taciturn, grumpy, no-nonsense, intense, and thoroughly intimidating woman, whose official territory is the village of Bad Ass in the tiny, mountainous kingdom of Lancre, but whose sphere of influence is considerably larger. If there were a Head of the Witches, Granny Weatherwax would be it – though of course there’s no such person as the Head of the Witches, because Granny Weatherwax would never allow it!

Granny’s best friend is Nanny Ogg, a garrulous, cheerful, playful, easygoing, and thoroughly approachable witch, whose official territory is the town of Lancre, but who is considered by Time itself to be the best midwife on the Disc.

If Granny Weatherwax is the Crone (she refers to it as “the other one”), and Nanny Ogg is the Mother, then Magrat Garlick is the Maiden. Magrat is a shy, kind, idealistic, vague, occult-jewelry-wearing hippy whose official witch territory is the village of Mad Stoat, but who ends up being the best herbalist on the Disc – and the Queen of Lancre.

A scene in which Granny, Nanny, and Magrat conjure a demon to tell them what is ailing their land illustrates what I love about these books. Magrat protests that it must be done properly, in the correct phase of the moon, with the correct herbs, and the correct ceremonial language. However, there is no time for that, the need is overwhelming, and neither Granny nor Nanny think that such frippery is strictly necessary anyway – so they make do with a large washtub, a copper stick, and some old laundry soap.

To be continued…

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