The Witches of Pratchett
by Kendra Pape-Green
I’d like to talk a little bit about an aspect of my practice of witchcraft which I often don’t think about consciously. As Jess and I have mentioned before, my practice comes down to selfism, energy work, and pop culture paganism. Largely pop culture paganism crops up with things like the importance of my own star (reflecting how important it was to Sakura Kinomoto in Card Captor Sakura) or my use of a Homestuck tarot card deck. But, in a very subconscious way, my practice has also been influenced by a series of novels (and movies and videos based off the novels) called Discworld.
Many of you are probably familiar with it. Written by Terry Pratchett, it’s a series that spans over 40 books, and I’ve read almost all of them. Characters like Sam Vimes, Granny Weatherwax, and Moist Lipwig are all old friends. And when it comes to considering myself a witch, it’s hard to divorce how I think of myself as one from how witches are handled in this series. From the stern and unbending Granny Weatherwax to the gossiping and fecund Nanny Ogg, these ladies are sensible, focused on the work they have in front of them, and wonderfully real. These witches speak to me, and I can see who I am reflected in them.
I’ve always been a bigger girl, so how could I not identify with Agnes Nitt and how sensible and friendly everyone told her she was? I was scared of doing things a lot but would psyche myself up and do them anyways, so of course Magrat Garlick had a special place in my heart. Tiffany Aching had my smart mouth with teachers and my distaste for sticky siblings. Euchenides Treason loved her villagers and loved giving them a good scare too, and my younger sister’s friends that I once convinced of my cannibalistic habits can attest to that personality trait in me.
Above all, though, there’s Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. Also known as Esme Weatherwax, Granny was a woman who would have preferred to be a bad person and have fun, but did the right things because someone had to. And Gytha “Nanny” Ogg, was a shameless woman with a house full of family, who flirted and baked inappropriate desserts and enjoyed every day of her life.
It took until writing this article, thinking about the subject more deeply than I had before, before I realized that while I love Granny Weatherwax’s character a lot, the character I’m most like, above all witches? Is Nanny Ogg. I might have to ask to be called Nanny when I’m old and have young people to boss around.
I like the idea of being Nanny. Nanny has a huge family and can trust literally any of them with anything. I might have a big family, but there’s fractures through a lot of relationships, and I find out about more the older I get. I can make dirty jokes, but when it comes to be candid about intimate stuff, well... Words are hard. I gotta get on Nanny’s level. And when it comes to her community, Nanny is known and trusted, and she can provide help and arrange things so people who need help can get it, and she’ll give it herself if needed.
Nanny is open to change, open to life, and lets herself enjoy it while she has it. Nanny makes dirty jokes to demons and threatens to clobber than with copper washing sticks. she’s the soul of improvising what seems right for magic and using it well. Nanny knows how the world works, and she works with it. She’s practical, knows how to handle her relationships with people, and keeps her best friend, Granny Weatherwax, from going further than she actually wants to go. Plus, Nanny loves her vicious cat with all her heart, and I have a track record of wanting to adopt inappropriate animals.
(The alligator in that gift shop looked so sad, guys. It wouldn’t have bit me, it wanted to be friends. :( )*
There’s a lot to draw from in how witchcraft is portrayed in these books. Use your common sense above all else. Do the job in front of you. Know your own value. Look at what’s actually there, and think things over more than once. There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of Boffo.
But do keep in mind: Terry Pratchett was writing a fictional series. He wasn’t writing pagan instructional books. Taking his witchcraft for our own is definitely pop culture paganism. I’ve seen people taking quotes from his books wholesale and not even clarify that it’s a work of fiction, just to quote him and behave as if they quoted from an instructional book on magic. That’s not really what his intent was. He was an atheist, and one that was very at peace with his worldview.
I’m sure he wouldn’t really have minded, but it’s just seems inappropriate because you’re stripping away a whole layer of meaning to these quotes by removing all the context.
I can’t speak for the man, but reportedly he was pretty thrilled and slightly creeped out when Morris Dancers brought his Dark Morris Dance to life. Creeped out in the way he should have been, not by the action of them performing that version. It seems to me to follow that he’d be just fine with people taking the lessons of his stories and characters to heart and incorporating them into witchcraft actually being performed. But quoting him as if from an authoritative text on magic as opposed to fictional inspiration is just… weird and inherently inaccurate.
Overall, while there’s many things you could take into your practice as specific rituals or things to do, most of what I take from the Discworld series is the ideas on witchcraft and some #goals for the future. What kind of crotchety old lady should I be? A fun one that has no regrets.
So, in that spirit, here’s a Discworld-inspired spell! Given that I’ve talked a lot about Nanny Ogg, let’s take one of the recipes out of her cookbook and interpret it as sex magic.
The Strawberry Wobbler
The Strawberry Wobbler is a recipe that she was once asked to make for the Seamstresses’ Guild of Ankh Morpork (the Ladies [and a few men!] of Negotiable Affection). In the series, it enhances people’s randiness, and we’re going to create this as a spell to increase sexual desire and lust.
Remember that Witch Plz has a firm stance on love and lust spells being done only with the informed and enthusiastic consent of the person you want to get it on with!
This recipe-spell will make 4-6 wobblers, depending on how large you make them.
You will need:
- 2-3 sachets of gelatine or vegetarian equivalent
- 300 ml of water, boiling
- 250 g of strawberries
- 150 ml of very thick double cream
- 2 tablespoons of caster sugar
- strawberry ice cream
- 4 large champagne flutes (Anything that’s got a similar shape will work; you just want the end product to have a rounder tip and a long cylindrical shape.)
- If there’s no penis involved in this relationship and neither of you are fans of phallic objects, you can try using two small bowls instead, or find molds that resemble breasts.
- A blender may help the process, but you can do this by hand.
Dissolve the gelatine into the boiling water, following any instructions on the packet, and let it cool for ten or fifteen minutes. While it does so, rinse and cut off the tops of the strawberries before chopping them in half. If you have a blender, toss them in, if not, put them in a bowl.
Add most of the cream into the bowl or blender, but keep enough for a little bit of topping at the end. Add the sugar - and feel free to add a bit more if you’ve a sweet tooth or you want your lover to be sweet with you. Then either use a potato masher and mash it until smooth, or blend it until it has a milkshake consistency.
Once the gelatine is cooled, mix it with the strawberry mixture and pour it into your flutes or whatever container you have found to use as a mould. Chill it for two hours or until it seems set.
Then do something that you would consider a little saucy before you remove the wobblers from the glasses. Give the outside of the glass a kiss, wink in it’s general direction, whisper something dirty to it! This is an important step to help infuse the dessert with your intentions and desires.
Then go ahead and ease the wobblers out of their cases, using something like a palette knife and set it onto a plate. Serve it upended with two scoops of ice cream, and you can add a drizzle of cream on the top.
The end result should look something like this (though this person just did two smaller wobblers instead of using ice cream.):
*No, it didn’t, and I still refuse to be arrested on vacation. － Jess