We all love ’em, we all know ’em, we all want to be ’em. Witches. Just the word itself has me throwing on pendants and bobbles and vying to make earthy concoctions and spells. Please tell me I’m not the only one.
Why is it that we love witches so much? Their knowledge, power, strength, and otherworldly aura create something so mystifying that we can only daydream of being one. Especially the ones everybody loves. Below are six literary witches that we wish we could be. I’d like to believe I’ll become one in another life, but anyway. Enjoy, mere humans.
1. Elphaba Thropp from Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire.
Image Via Wicked Wiki Fandom
In the musical adaptation, Elphaba is the witch that we all relate to. When I first saw the show on Broadway I fell in love with the play and her character as soon as the curtains drew open. I was the fool who cried at ‘Defying Gravity.’ Her musical character is a bit different from the book in that she’s not as skeptical and distrustful and she never truly gives in to those trying to bring her down. I think that’s why I like her a tad more. She stays true to who she is yet she gives Glinda a chance to show her a different side of life. Her powers are incredible, she fights for what she loves, and she’s stronger than I could ever be. Yes, Elphaba is the green queen.
2. Hermione Granger, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
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You know this witch, right? Because if you don’t, you’re missing out. Hermione is a soul and spirit all her own. Her wit, intelligence, strength, and loyalty are something we all want in a friend and damn it if we don’t want Hermione Granger as our bff. Despite being born to muggle parents her magic skills are out of this world and we often find ourselves reading the books or watching the movies just to watch her find the answers we need. Although she does come across as an overconfident know-it-all by many of her classmates, she simply has a fear of failing. We’ve seen time and time again that vulnerability is usually masked by her self-assurance. Often seen as a feminist icon, Hermione has the courage to stick to her convictions no matter what. For this, we want to be in her house.
3. Strega Nona, Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
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This beautifully illustrated children’s book is the stuff of cozy reading and innocent imagination. Strega Nona, meaning Grandma Witch in Italian, is the old tale of the local witch woman who is known for her cures, remedies, and even helping the single women of the small Italian village find husbands. What a nice little lady. When she calls upon her young assistant to help her make pasta for the village he makes a mistake and cooks too much. It overflows into the streets and, as a result, he has to eat it all. Strega Nona is known for her compassionate, loving, and nurturing nature for those around her. She is the motherly figure we all need and she just wants to teach us the consequences of our actions and the life lessons we can learn from them. Thankfully, I sort of have my own Strega Nona and her pasta is the best I know.
4. Circe, The Odyssey by Homer
Image Via MrPsMythopedia
This witch, goddess, and sorceress of Greek mythology is often given a bad rap, but I tend to see the good in people and I think it’s necessary here. Circe in The Odyssey is quite controversial, especially because she often casts spells on other characters, including Odysseus’ men. After turning them into pigs she explained that their exterior then matched their interior. Ouch. However, she was nice enough to turn them back in time and she treated them kindly while in animal form. She even helps Odysseus find his way back home and remains true to her promise to absolve from casting spells on him. Honestly, I think Circe is as human as she is a witch and a goddess. She has a temper, she wants company, she wants to use her powers while being understood. I think we should all be vulnerable and make mistakes like Circe has; it shows we can remain true and bounce back from a poor choice. Plus, I really just love Greek mythology. That is all.
5. Rhiannon, The Mabinogi and Other Medieval Welsh Tales translated by Patrick K. Ford
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Ah, yes, the beautiful and mystical Rhiannon that has inspired generations through spoken tales, myths, and songs. This Welsh Horse Goddess is a healing witch with powers beyond measure. She has several parts in the collection of tales within Mabinogi, but I can recall one of her being chased by the Prince’s men on her pure white horse. Her gold cloak glitters behind her as her horse leisurely glides along the ground, yet the men on horseback trailing her never catch up. She’s unreachable, but nearly in grasp. The three birds she has at her shoulder symbolize the sweetest of songs that can heal anyone. Her patience, courage, and beauty that shine from the inside out are qualities we should all strive for. The wonder that comes with being kind to all you come in contact with creates a marvel that is timeless. That’s Rhiannon. Plus, if for some strange reason you haven’t heard Fleetwood Mac’s song ‘Rhiannon’, then please just go do that. It is very loosely tied to the witch, but you will surely feel connected to the sky.
6. Alexandra Spofford, Jane Smart, and Sukie Rougemont, The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
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This story is a bonus because it gives us three witches in one story and each of them is as strong as the next! This is the feminist tale that could be plugged into many contemporary situations so for that, I must include it. These three witches cast magic together in peace until Darryl Van Horne deceives them. After seducing each of the women and pushing their powers to the edge of evil, they take revenge. I don’t want to give much away, but these witches are pure powerhouses. Despite their magical status, they’re still vulnerable and I appreciate that. But their revenge is fierce (maybe even a bit much). However, at the time when this novel was created it was seen as breaking the chains of male oppression and patriarchal expectation. The end is left to interpretation, but I still consider these women to be totally badasses. Also, if you’re looking for an adaptation, check out the lighter film of the same name, which stars Cher. Glorious.
To me, these witches embody something we can all use. Gone are the days of green skin and horrid cackles. Patience, courage, power, beauty, kindness, and pure magic are qualities we could apply to everyday life from these timeless women. Sometimes I feel like we’ve lost many of those traits, like they’ve been left somewhere between the pages of a dusty book. That’s why these women inspire me in ways beyond spells and potions. Take their fictional lessons and make them real. Will you ever win? Yes.
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