My Favourite Witches : Maidens, Mothers and Crones

The witches of my childhood were my Disney princesses. They were the people I admired and wanted to be like.  I had many favourites, mostly from books (I read a lot as a child), and these are only some of them.  As the Maiden, Mother, Crone triad is one of the cornerstones of witch stories, I’ve divided my favourite witches into these three categories.

Maidens

Hermione Granger

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Obviously. I was a nerdy, clever bookworm who cared deeply about her grades and derived great satisfaction from always knowing the answer. Hermione felt like my soulmate. By the time I reached high school, my obsession with being the smartest and my enthusiasm for learning had faded somewhat, with both positive and negative results. On the one hand I was much less stressed about my grades and was less of an annoying know-it-all, but on the other hand…I lost something that once meant a great deal to me. I had learnt from my classmates and from society that enthusiasm was not cool, that school was something to be tolerated, not enjoyed. I rarely spoke out in class, even though I usually knew the answer. I hid my cleverness, because I didn’t want to stand out.  Hermione never hides. She’s proud of her intelligence, and she doesn’t let other people bring her down about it. For this, she has always inspired me.

Morwen

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If Hermione was the witch I was most like as a child, Morwen of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede was the witch I most wanted to be like. She was sensible, down-to-earth, capable and extremely independent. She lived alone in a little cottage in a magical forest with a lot of cats, which sounded like paradise to me. She was petite and red-haired, which I desperately wanted to be, rather than tall, chubby, and dark-haired, as I was. No one ever questioned that she could take care of herself, and I absolutely loved her.

Mildred Hubble

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Mildred Hubble, the main character of The Worst Witch TV series based on the books by Jill Murphy, was not someone I particularly wanted to be like. I did, however, want to be her friend. I wanted to go to Miss Cackles Academy for Witches and cast spells, brew potions, and get into trouble with Mildred and the other young witches. It was a good, silly, fun show that I adored, and hearing the school theme of “Onward, ever striving onward, proudly on our brooms we fly…” instantly takes me back to my childhood.

Mothers

Nanny Ogg

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Nanny Ogg, the Mother in the Maiden, Mother, Crone triad of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, is hilarious. Always cheerful, always comfortable, Nanny Ogg can make herself at home anywhere and get along with anyone. She doesn’t seem to understand even the concept of being embarrassed. While I may not want to be exactly like her, I sure enjoy reading about her.

Sophie Hatter

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Sophie Hatter, from Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle, Castle in the Air, and House of Many Ways, could really fit into any of the three categories : She is a maiden at the beginning of the first book, who is then turned into a crone by another witch, and in the second and third books she is a mother.  I’ve chosen to place her in the mother category because in all her incarnations she’s always taking care of people – mainly her husband, the wizard Howl. Ever practical, Sophie is always ready to make the best of a bad situation.  She’s clever. kind, and determined. Plus, she’s another red-head.

Crones

Granny Weatherwax

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If Morwen was the witch I most admired as a child, Granny Weatherwax is probably the one I most admire as an adult, even though she can be a little scary. The crone from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, Granny Weatherwax is one of my favourite characters in all of fiction. She is not to be trifled with. She is always in control of the situation and has unshakable faith in her abilities. She knows she could be evil – and that she’d be very good at it – but she chooses to be good.  And I’m pretty sure it’s mentioned at some point that she had red hair in her youth.

Professor Minerva McGonagall

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I feel quite guilty calling Professor McGonagall a crone. I don’t think she’d be amused. In fact, I think she’d definitely give me detention. I notice I’ve been describing a lot of my favourite witches as “sensible”, “down-to-earth” and “capable”. These are obviously qualities I admire, perhaps because I tend to be more of a wishy-washy, daydreamer type myself. Professor McGonagall certainly has all these qualities, and she can turn into a cat.

Happy Dreaming,

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