Tag Archives: witches

Sorcerers, Magicians, and Warlocks – What’s the Difference?

We are a bit spoiled for choice, in the English language. When we need a word, and another language has one that’ll do the job, we’re quite happy to appropriate it – words like schadenfreude, or (my personal favourite) l’espirit de escalier (“the spirit of the staircase”, which is the French term for that moment that you come up with a cunning riposte, moments (or hours) after it’s too late.


But, crucially for the discussion I’m about to have with myself, and that you can see right here, right now, on the screen of the device of your choice, is about synonyms. And then we’ll get into the cool stuff people should put into their fantasy novels bit. That’s coming, I promise. And this little bit about synonyms leads directly into it.

It’s not much of a tangent.

Now, the synonym group that I want to talk about in particular are words that are related to practitioners of magic.  Continue reading

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Which Witch

Sunday Sketch - Terry Whidborne

Sunday Sketch – Terry Whidborne

“Now, now, deary…it’s not that bad, now, is it?”

He sniffled, wiping his arm on his sleeve. The witch didn’t loom, as such. She looked too much like his grandmother for that, with her hair in rollers and a babushka handkerchief pulled tight against the cold. He could sense the glamour rising off her though, in shimmering waves.

“So, you’ve a touch of the gift yourself, lad?” Her voice wavered and cracked as she stared, her eyes watering and milky with floating cataracts behind the spectacles that rode on her crooked nose. “I don’t need to see to see, if you follow me, boy-o. Although maybe I shouldnae have said that, now, should I?”

He refused to meet her eye, he didn’t want her to bewitch him. He stood, trying to regain control of the conversation, trying to impose himself on the room. She clucked her tongue, and turned her back to him, tottering off toward the kitchen. “You’ll not be intimidating me, young fellow-me-lad,” she was muttering to herself as she clanked and clanged through the kitchen, accompanied by the shrill whistle of the kettle. “Now, hows about that cuppa tea, before we do what must be done, eh?”

Inside his pocket were the tools of his trade, the book, the pin, and the fire. She came out of the kitchen, wards lowered and charms up, holding the tea-cup in hand, her familiar dunking the teabag, overly familiar.

He glowered at her – the effect was only a little ruined by the snot still running from his nose and the low ceiling of the witch’s cottage. “I shall bring you into the Kingdom of God, madam,” his voice boomed out, echoing in the rafters.

She shrugged, and waved her fingers, writing invisible pictograms on the air.

Her little familiar shrieked, and dove forward snatching the grasshopper from the pile of stinking leather and cotton.

She’d get some grief from the law, for this one, but they hated the Inquisition almost as much as she. And she’d given the Shire-reeve a son last year, or so he imagined.

 

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Flames

Terry Whidborne, for Witch Week

Terry Whidborne, for Witch Week

“So. Do we have a deal, little witch?”

Little witch? Arsehole.

The problem with summoning an elemental is that they always feel they’re better than you. I am the essence of the universe – the words pop into being, into your consciousness. You become aware of them, like they always existed, and it was just that you couldn’t parse their meaning. This one managed to insinuate a slickness into his tone, like a snake-oil baron, like dripping oil or hanging pitch.

They had a deal, of course. Elementals could be so naive. Thought they were getting the upper-hand.

She turned, and with her new-found power confined him, a shadow of his former self.

“Now, little demon. We do have a deal.”

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Revenge

Sue Wright, for Witch Week

Sue Wright, for Witch Week

Revenge, they say, is a dish best served cold.

She muttered incantations around her beak, drawing strength

from her anger and coiling it back on itself.

She relished the rising wave, of calm rage and

a bubbling, frothing sense of vindication.

Elsie, that bitch. Elsie was going to pay for this.

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Skin of Toad

Terry Whidborne, for Witch Week

Terry Whidborne, for Witch Week

Eye of newt, skin of toad.

It was getting harder to get ingredients. Sure, she could just pop into town and down to Jenkin’s Alchemy & Apocrathereum, but the Mistress wouldn’t approve.

Nothing but the best. Organics only.

So here she was, knee-deep in mud and muck and frog-juices.

What’s the difference between a frog and a toad? Or a newt and a salamander, for that matter? They’re all bloody amphibians! She couldn’t tell, but the Mistress could, on sight.

Better grab a bucket-full.

And she had thought witchcraft would be glamorous.

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Which Witch

 

Sue Wright, for Witch Week

Sue Wright, for Witch Week

She swung it ’round again, hobbled to the doorway. Subtly she shifted her weight. Grip the staff higher, straighten your back. The cold brass of the doorknob stung her hand as she turned it; she pointed back over her shoulder and the room shuffled, rearranged itself behind her. The stuffed, mouldy crocodile snapped its jaws lazily and her cat hurrumphed, the spheres that hovered near the ceiling swirled into their proper arrangement and the acrid bite of chemistry overpowered the smell of burning herbs. The fire quietened – people like to think a wizard can’t care for himself, but a witch’s warren needs to be homey.

 

People see what they want to see, the wizard thought to himself, as the last tendrils of magic stroked his face and finished the transformation. People let their prejudices overwhelm them, and they let that prejudice change their worlds.

The heavy wood groaned as she dragged it across the flagstones and barked gruffly into the twirling flakes of snow. His door always warned him of who approached – an old woman, her rhuemetism aching; a farmer, needing help birthing a calf. A princeling, seeking a curse against his rival or a curse against his father. The art was knowing how to change, how to react.

The woman at the door apologised for disturbing him. She hurriedly backed away. The art was knowing what people wanted, witch or wizard, potions or lotions, spells or devices. And then making sure she seemed the exact opposite. That way she could get back to what she loved.

She settled back down in her easy chair, and the crocodile waddled over. She leant over and scratched behind its scutes, and had a conversation with the voices in her head. They were the only ones who were sane, or at least worth talking to.

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The Claw

Terry Whidborne, for Witch Week

Terry Whidborne, for Witch Week

“You see, none of that heebidy-jibbidy, mumbo-jumbo stuff is gonna work on me, love.”

He sneered at her, from beneath his bushy brows and his bailiff’s hat.

 

Fine, she thought. Some men refuse to bow to superstition.

 

That was why she kept her nails sharpened.

 

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Accusations

19th Century, artist unknown

They lit the kindling, the flames burst around her like an opening rose – orange-red-black.

They burnt her herbs and her knowledge too

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