James reconsiders his wishes for witches by Kate Garrett
‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.’
– Exodus 22:18, KJV
Too little and too late you made it your pride
and point to pardon and debunk – renounced
your own sorcerer-spotter’s guide, called ‘hoax’
on accusers. Here in the comfort of England
you had no hand in Pendle, Belvoir – but how
did shades of witches past feel when you changed
your mind? Weak of will, you called the women.
Most of them never served devils at all, knew their
power and their minds. The understandings missing
from your own: the petal and thorn of mother’s love,
wisdom of crones, secrets of hushed apothecaries.
You forget the goddess Diana, like you, was a hunter.
Or perhaps this is an envy green as rowan leaves:
her sure-footedness outpacing you, her desire to live
apart from men, her violent rejection of your lovers
and brothers an act of sedition against your sex.
And what of women who held Christ in their hearts,
stirred potions, spun cures for goodness alone? They
were still something strange, creatures alien as foxes
in the dark. But once you came to know your sparkling
queen, welcomed – and sometimes lost – your daughters,
a tender seed took root. Those pardoned must be grateful.
But your abandoned trail wound down to East Anglia, Salem
– and in your name, in God’s, they would not let them live.
Kate Garrett is a writer, editor, witch, mama, and folklore obsessive who sometimes haunts 465-year-old houses (as a heritage volunteer). Her work is widely published online and in print, and her next pamphlet A View from the Phantasmagoria will be published by Rhythm & Bones Press in October 2020. Born and raised in rural southern Ohio, Kate moved to England in 1999, where she still lives - currently halfway up a hillside in Sheffield. www.kategarrettwrites.co.uk