Witches' Magic

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Wizards like to live in the same huge building (e.g. the Unseen University), eat big dinners together, and occupy positions in an intricate hierarchy. Almost entirely opposite, witches don't have "official" ranks, and don't gather except for a potluck during a necessary meeting to discuss boundaries. These are boundaries not of power but of duty, for a witch is generally the midwife, doctor, life adviser, and moral policeman of a village. These duties are more properly fulfilled using headology, which is a close relative of psychology, herbal medicine, chiropractic and other physical therapy techniques, and simple persuasion (or, in some cases, simple bossing.) Witches rarely do magic of the type that people usually think of when they hear that word: the fireball, transmutation, personal-gravity-upset sort of specific spells that wizards can do through their staffs.

"It's up to each individual witch to take on a girl to hand the area over to when she dies. Witches are not by nature gregarious, at least with other witches, and they certainly don't have leaders" (Wyrd Sisters).

"Your average witch is not, by nature, a social animal as far as other witches are concerned. There's a conflict of dominant personalities. There's a group of ringleaders without a ring. There's a basic unwritten rule of witchcraft which is 'Don't do what you will, do what I say'. The natural size of a coven is one. Witches only get together when they can't avoid it" (Witches Abroad).

A group of witches is normally referred to as an argument but some covens have stayed together such as the Lancre Coven and the Apprentices' Coven. Other witches do come together for other more specific events such as going away parties and the Witch Trials.

Many wizards and witches come from the Ramtops, because life is relatively difficult in the rural mountains and so people tend to be very practical before they think of doing anything fantastic, and a practical turn of mind is very necessary for the successful practice of magic. Most wizards stay in Unseen University or practice in towns wealthy enough to support their fees, whereas most witches get a position in a village in remote rural areas like the Ramtops. One can consider a witch's cottage as the permanent free hospital in a village, and the witch the doctor who's serving a term there (Though of course, the word "free" is used loosely in this context. Money may not change hands, but respect is a sort of social currency, and a debt of responsibility to take care of ones witch is also at least implied without being specified). Generally, a girl gets picked as a successor by a senior witch, gets training from that witch, and then inherits the cottage and the duties to the village.

Most witches wear long black dresses and a black pointy hat. The younger witches tend to wear shiny black while the more traditional witches tend to wear drab black, described by some as looking like a bedraggled crow. Traditional witches, being village witches, like to use ordinary household items for magic purposes for two reasons: they do not have the money to buy magical accessories nor anyone to buy them from, and once upon a time rulers and ignorant villagers attacked witches and it was not a good idea to advertise. So, a saucer of water with ink can be used to see the world, bits of random things can be used to construct a shamble, used to detect and focus magic, and a bread knife is much better than a knife with mystical runes. Some of the younger witches, including Magrat Garlick, tend to wear a lot of unmagical occult jewelry and buy a large collection of knives with mystical runes.

For magical witch's magic, see borrowing and fairy-godmothering. In both magical and non-magical ways, witches watch the edge between good and bad, right and wrong, and so on, and the boundaries between dimensions.

Styles of Witchcraft

Some different kinds of witch can be seen in Lancre and region.

An acknowledged danger for witches is 'going to the bad' which ends up in cackling. Down that road lies gingerbread cottages, ovens, etc. e.g. Black Alice

Witches are a recognized part of society in Lancre, where the hat counts for a lot.

Male witches?

Technically speaking, witches are female, as wizards are male, however, the events in Equal Rites have shown this to be not entirely true. There are female wizards and there are said to be male witches, however they are passed off as nothing more then funny old men calling themselves Warlocks. Male characters who possess magical abilities like witches, such as smiths and beekeepers are mentioned in Lords and Ladies. Their magic is like a witch's as it is based more on intuition, not ritual and geometry, and provides a service to the people of their village. Some of these are specialists who resemble those witch-like women who don't wear the hat or use conventional witchcraft or headology, like Granny Aching on the Chalk or Mrs. Cake in Ankh-Morpork.(The smith of Lancre is given the ability to shoe anything, in exchange he must shoe anything that is brought to him, from an ant to a unicorn).
The Shepherd's Crown introduces Geoffrey Swivel as an actual male witch.

Matrix Sagarum

Formula Incantatricarum et Catalogus Praecantricarum

Being a Directory of All the Witches of the Discworld

...of whatever manner or Tradition, be they Great or humble, as record is made of them in any Book.
If Anyone knows another Sister of their Calling, let him append here her Name and Place, in their proper order.

Salé Gadula! ...Miché Gabula! ...Bibi Te! ...Bobi Te! ...Bu!


Aspiring Witches, apprentices, uncommitted:

1 As of I Shall Wear Midnight the apprentice Witches of the Tiffany series are grown and mistresses of their own precincts, but most of their stories are of their childhood.




This list is incomplete. Please add to it.