What image does the word witch conjure? Do you see a green-skinned, hooked nose Margaret Hamilton with her black dress, black hat and too white teeth? Do you see the pink-festooned ball gown with her too tall crown ala Glenda? Do you see a blonde woman in a mini-skirt dress and apron who wiggles her nose? These witches are all valid images harvested from our popular culture. I am a huge fan of witches in all their many colors, adjectives and spell books from San Francisco’s Charmed trio to the Salem witch trials version of Gossip Girl.
East Coast Witches
In my soon-to-be-released urban fantasy: Prime Evil, I introduce another image of the witch to the pop culture lexicon. Chance Monroe is a hedge witch. I use the term hedge because she is not a witch in the sense of owning a grimoire, casting spells in a cauldron or brewing potions. Though arguably, Chance does have the family almanacs (much like a farmer’s almanac) that details weather history, growth cycles and various supernatural phenomena that can be a problem.
Chance lives in Leesburg, Virginia. Leesburg is located in the northern portion of the state. It is the perfect combination of rural majesty and urban sprawl. Just thirty-five minutes from D.C. (on the Greenway) and closer still to West Virginia, it is mystic and modern, provincial and polished, and rusty and recent. Nature can border your portion with the National capitol just a few minutes away.
Virginia is both East Coast sophisticate and southern belle charm, combining revolutionary and civil war history with the corridors of technology. I chose Virginia as the setting because it is one of the first states to be settled, it does have that southern charm and numerous battlefields and because I know and love the state very much.
Prime Evil features two prominent and distinctively different witches. Chance, the hedge witch, works with the Earth, helping clients who have fairies in their gardens, grafters in their fields and even imps in their homes. She works in concert with the Earth, submersing her consciousness with it, pulling energy and restoring balance. Her magic very much tethered to the earth, a tether that binds her to the area of Northern Virginia. She cannot travel from it without going mad with the need to return.
She is a hereditary witch as are most of the witches portrayed in this world. She inherited her abilities and her responsibilities from her grandmother, who in turn inherited it from her mother and so on. The gifts are Druidic in nature, tied very much to the family’s origins in Western Europe prior to settling in the colonies and marrying the natives. When druid married shaman, they produced the first hedge witch and forged the symbiotic relationship family and land.
Her best friend, Sydney is a witch of an entirely different sort. Her family possesses clairvoyance, uncanny psychic clarity of the future. She is capable of brewing up a mean potion and hexing a man’s balls blue, but like Chance – she has rules and family traditions that curb her powers. The women complement each other, but Sydney has a large and sprawling family where’s Chance’s family seems to have dwindled with the spreading urbanization.
Here is a taste of Sydney and Chance from Prime Evil:
I stole another long drink of coffee while the phone rang and was not at all surprised when Sydney answered the phone with an exasperated tone. “It’s about time you called me back.”
“Good morning to you, too, Syd.”
“Oh, sorry, Chance. I thought it was John. He was supposed to call me back this morning to make a date, and I haven’t heard from him,”
“Well, I’m sure your charming ways will bring him around,” I teased her. John was the current flavor of the month. Sydney’s on-again, off-again romantic woes were often a topic of conversation over a pair of chai lattes when we’d get together. John just seemed more stubborn than the rest, sometimes on for six months, but often off for longer, and in the five years of their tempestuous relationship, I’d never heard Sydney threaten to find someone else.
“Don’t be a nit.” Sydney laughed over the phone. “And it’s about time you called me. I’ve been worried for days. I heard from Millie who talked to Jenna and she heard from Betty that Jack was back in town.”
“Been and gone,” I quipped, flopping back in the chair and propping my foot on the desk.
“Really? Well that’s a bummer. I was thinking I’d ask the two of you over for dinner. It’s been years, but I think Jack liked the quesadillas I used to make.” Sydney’s voice held an undercurrent of coyness, and I imagined the thoughts running rampant through her head were the wild and dirty variety.
“Syd, I’m pretty sure you didn’t leave me the ominous mojo message because you wanted to invite me and Jack to dinner.” I couldn't keep the smile. Only Sydney. She could crack a mime.
Elemental Nature of Witches
As you can see, the two women are great friends and very different. For me, the best part of witches is not their spells, their black hats, or their leather jackets – it is their elemental connection and sisterhood beneath the skin. What do you love about witches?
This blog originally appeared on Fantasy Dreamer's Ramblers as a guest blog in November, 2009.