I did not become a witch to help people- to heal people, to fix other people’s love lives, to put curses on other people’s ex’s, to divine their future and tell them about tall, dark strangers.That is not the type of witch I am. If that is the reason you have come knocking on my door, you have found yourself in the wrong place. How did you get so hopelessly lost?
I am not bound by rules of charity and kindness. I am not here to beg for your affection or respect, nor to be begged.I am compassionate, deeply so, but not for mankind, who have collectively earned my disrespect. Your simpering cries about what is good and right will not change my decision to turn you out, into the cold, back into the thorny brambles, and the poisonous grips of the wild things.
You are not entitled to my time, my effort, my deepest passions. You do not have power here.
In my dreams, the bones speak so loudly. My newest companion, a little rat, has been particularly vocal. I dug up his skull and jaw bones after his incessant gnawing in my dreams and tarot readings. After the phantom noises in the house, I could wait no longer. It was time.
He is the only one of the buried rats that wanted to come out. Lady Rat will probably always stay where she is, she may never want to come out, she liked it in the dark, in the warm. I found her curled up in a crevice in my home, in a nest made of fantasy posters and newspaper. Her bones want to rest.
The Kraken, who is much like The Executioner in Ted Hughes Poem, devours everything. The other one was buried here, his bones long-gone back to the Bone Mother, devoured by the soil, the earth, and roots of The Kraken.
With each rat there was a tremendous amount of tears. None of them died from natural causes, all died from poison, something which not only causes the painful suffering of the rat, but also poisons and kills the natural predators and scavengers which rely on them for food. This is an act of cruelty, and one which makes me sick to my stomach. Humanity has a large debt to pay, these seemingly small acts of injustice, are only the icing on this rotten cake.
Did you think that I would ache for you, the way I ache for Them? Do you think that Black Rams and goats bow before sheep of your stripe? This is a Jackal den. You are neither kith, nor kin. I bleed for Them. I will never bleed for you.
Rats are so often considered dirty creatures. Humanity hates rats, and rodents. They conjure up feelings of disgust, fear, contamination and low-living. We call shady people and snitches rats. Rats are used for scientific experiments, and to test cosmetics and medication. Regardless of species, rats are treated to a large dose of cruelty, whether in the lab or in the city.
Rats are incredibly intelligent animals. Both lab rats and wild rats are cunning, feisty and quick. They are prolific, and thrive in both the wild and the city. Black and Brown rats have a particularly bad reputation as disease-bringers and ravagers of the land. Not surprisingly, rats and mice are commonly regarded as witches familiars. Their darkly, destructive, pestilent nature mirrors how witches have historically been seen as destructive agents of the devil, who curse, blight and bring disease.
“In their obscure origins and in their ability to inflict harm on the human population both directly and indirectly, rodents bear an analogous and even homologous relationship to witches who, as King James puts it in his Demonology, are ‘like the pest'”- Lucinda Cole (1)
Rats, and rodents in general, have an ambivalent nature in many cultures, being associated with luck, wealth, fertility, prophecy, lust, demons, contagion, and witchcraft.
Mice and rats were thought to represent the human soul, particularly the souls of the murdered, as in the case of the German tale of Bishop Hatto:
“They have whetted their teeth against the stonesAnd now they pick the Bishops bone;They gnaw’d the flesh from every limb,for they were sent to do judgement on him” (2)
In another German tale, a little girl fell asleep while her companions were shelling nuts. They observed a little, red mouse escape from her mouth and climb out of the window. They were unable to wake the girl and moved her body, but when the mouse came back and could not find her body, the mouse disappeared and the girl died.(3)
The above tale, recounts the practice of spirit or soul flight also known as hedge-riding. Witches would often take the shape of rats, cats, dogs, flies, goats and other animals in order to travel to the Sabbat.
Rats and witches shared one other sinful quality, Lust. Rats were believed to have a toxic sexuality in that their sexually charged bodily fluids were thought to corrupt human flesh. Their ability to reproduce rapidly only added to their destructive nature during times of scarcity. (1) Witches, have a reputation for having power over human sexuality and appetite, causing sterility and barrenness, as well as libidinous feelings in otherwise faithful men. Their corrupt sexuality was both written and painted as orgiastic, bestial rituals where The Devil was the master.
This is Devil country. You best be careful where you step. You might just land yourself in the talons or jaws of one of my familiars. Your impassioned cries about what witches are meant to be are only met with laughter. I am not your mocking-bird.
This land is black with hell blood, and I lap it up like a Jackal. This land is veined with poison and thorn, and when my gods tore me into pieces, they bound me up with that venom.
Did you think that you would find the answers that you wanted here? The only answers are down, dark, deep, in the twisted centre of yourself where you are unwilling to look.
Did you think I was nice? I am not nice. Wild, Angry, Venomous things are not nice.
Come back to me when you are a wild thing, that has been carved from the blood, suffering, and poison of the land.
Witchcraft has a dark history which should not be ignored for a more pleasant and unambiguous past. The fact that religious and political organisations viewed witches as evil, destructive agents of the devil, and worked grand propaganda against all leftwards, crooked and wild things, does not necessarily imply that witches never danced with the devil and his horde, that they never conjured demons, or cast curses or blighted the land. Like Rats, Witches have an ambivalent history and nature.
This is a witchcraft carved from tears, bone, blood, and venom. I dance with the devil, and the hounds, and the dead. I serve the spirits and not mankind. This is a crooked path and I walk it with passion and fury.
Fair is Foul and Foul is FairI travel through the Pitch black airI speak with rats and cats and dogsIn the veil of ghostly fogFoul is fair, and Fair is foulI whistle, cackle, gnaw and howlI dance with the devil in the pale moonlightto be a witch is my delight- Nightshade Purplebroom
Resources and further Reading:
(1) Of Mice and Moisture: Rats Witches, Miasma and Early Modern Theories of Contagion- Lucinda Cole
(2)God’s Judgement on a wicked bishop-Robert Southey
(3) A Natural Genesis – Gerald Massey
(*)Charms, Charmers and Charming: International Research on Verbal Magic-ed Jonathan Roper(
(*)Curious Myths of the Middle Ages-Rev Sabine Baring-Gould
(*)The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents- Terry Pratchett
(*)Animal Speak- Ted Andrews
(*) Invoking Animal Magic: a guide for the pagan priestess-Hearth Moon Rising
(*) Macbeth- Shakespeare
Copyright 2016 of Nightshade Purplebroom