It’s the Season of the Witch, (B*tch)

There’s no mistaking the nights are drawing in and getting deliciously longer. Nature is having her usual way with us, ushering on the wind the perfect time for magic and mischievous mayhem. Hang on to that big black hat, and join us for to switch the usual witch story.

The harvest is in, the mood is changing and the perfect time for reflection and contemplation. Let’s gather round the fire and hear it for That Good Witch and wonder why we focus on the burning and not on those that were doing it. Basking in the glory of rewriting his/story, let’s have a little rethink about the way the witch hunting tales of yore were pitched to us before.

Going right back, let’s say there was a time when women *did* rule the world. In ancient history, how could we have not presented as the ultimate possessors of great and awesome powers. After all, imagine this in pre-historical times, we bled pretty much like clockwork each month, but somehow miraculously did not die. On top of that, we then magically brought forth human life all on our own, independently of anyone or anything, as sperm had no procreative relevance. In this case it’s no surprise why very ancient sculptures of women depict big fulsome childbearing hips with prodigious curves exaggerating the powers of femininity.

You’d have thought all of that would have been impressive enough, and yet, there is more to come. With all that gathering while the men were out hunting, we women were the healers, the source of all primordial wisdom. Having spent all that time on and with Mother Earth, women harnessed the secrets of nature to nurse our kind and sustain us in times of ill-health and discomfort.

It was no wonder that we were literally *awe* inspiring. We were seen both as arbiters of life and death as well as the locus of all things essential and divinely human. Despite all our powers though, existence was no doubt pretty tough as we scrabbled about co-existing with nature.

By the Middle Ages, women had a hand in almost everything: government, universities, teachers of trades, abbesses, writers and the sciences, concentrating on medicine. Given the role of the Church, makes sense the priests bolstered their power by medically attending the wealthy, ‘Wise Women’ were left to treat the poor. Herbal medicines were handed down from mother to daughter over generations and shared in marketplaces. Many of their discoveries still retain a place in pharmacology today. There are examples of natural healing agents that are still in use such as ergot derivatives used for labor pains, belladonna as an anti-spasmodic, and digitalis in treatments for heart ailments.

But it seems that feudal women were way too good at this healing business. Secular men in power wanted part of this action, as they started to ‘professionalise’ and dominate the field, thereby issuing in the era of fear mongering and witch burning that suppressed female healing powers.

Actual burning of women may have been a long time ago, but today’s giddying swing to the right continues to diminish our rights and body autonomy. We need to break with the more recent past and reclaim our ancient powers. It’s time to harness our collective magic and fight those bad faith operatives seeking to undermine us and our freedom of choice so hard fought for.

In the spirit of democracy, let’s take heed of what good uncle Socrates had to say:

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new” so let’s hear it for critical thinking and collective motivated action.