Under Witchwood

Adam Thorpe

  • Power of the Witch: A Witch’s Guide to her Craft by Laurie Cabot, with Tom Cowan
    Arkana/Penguin, 294 pp, June 1992, ISBN 0 14 019368 5
  • Malefice by Leslie Wilson
    Picador, 168 pp, £15.99, August 1992, ISBN 0 330 32427 6

A modern witch is a Witch. The upper case denotes a self-consciousness born of safer times: Witchcraft is now a minority faith to be taken seriously (at least in the States), and there is even a Witches’ League for Public Awareness. They need it. For the broomsticks, black cats, green-hued hags with pointy hats – all the paraphernalia people remember from childhood – have been joined by rumours about something deeply sinister and very adult going on in the suburbs. Blurred, amateur videos; husky-voiced silhouettes under bright webs of cigarette smoke; thumb-smudging headlines… new props, old show. There are certainly unbalanced people in our midst who do horrible things to each other and possibly to children in the name of the Occult, but to suggest a massive web of organised evil is to prey upon the same paranoid territory as the patriarchs of what might be termed the first Holocaust: between the 12th and 17th centuries between six and nine million people were tortured and executed for ‘practising Witchcraft’. Witchcraft and Satanism have nothing in common. This is straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were: Power of the Witch is written by a cloaked and pentangled inhabitant of Salem, keen to add her faith to the long list of politically correct minority causes.

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