The Witch’s Bed Table


Is it true that you can poke the fire with a stick of dynamite in perfect safety?  I used to take my nieces to scientific lectures, and I believe I heard it then.  Anyhow, even if it isn’t true of dynamite, it’s true of women.  But they know they are dynamite, and long for the concussion that may justify them.  Some may get religion, then they’re all right, I expect.  But for the others, for so many, what can there be but witchcraft?  That strikes them real.  Even if other people still find them quite safe and usual, and go on poking with them, they know in their hearts how dangerous, how incalculable, how extraordinary they are.  Even if they never do anything with their witchcraft, they know it’s there — ready!  Respectable countrywomen keep their grave-clothes in a corner of their chest of drawers, hidden away, and when they want a little comfort they go and look at them, and think that once more, at any rate, they will be worth dressing with care.  But the witch keeps her cloak of darkness, her dress embroidered with signs and planets; that’s better worth looking at it.

~ Lolly Willowes: Or the Loving Huntsman by Sylvia Townsend Warner

What’s on your bed table these days?

Picture found here.

2 responses to “The Witch’s Bed Table

  1. I should reread Lolly Willowes! I’m currently developing a script for a musical play set on Martha’s Vineyard (where I live) in 1854. It centers around slavery, abolition, and the right to petition the government. So my current reading includes a book of local history, Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life, Solomon Northup’s 12 Years a Slave, and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The last three would have been very much in the air in 1854, and I want more insight into how some of my characters think and talk about slavery.

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