Thursday, July 31, 2014

Three Forgotten Witch Archetypes

Once upon a time there were many dozens of types of witch archetypes, more than most writers today would ever imagine. At this time a witch was a person who worked with the fairies (spirits) in order to gain their powers.

The Possessed Warrior

Example: Germanic Berserkers

The beserker's berserk state comes from being possessed by a spirit known as the dyr-fylgja, which allows the berserker to enter battle with the ferocity of an animal, and supernatural strength, speed, and an immunity to damage. While other berserkers are able to send their souls from their bodies in the form of animals in order to engage in battle.

Both of these powers require an incredible amount of mental discipline, which comes from contemplative meditation. So while they were extremely brutal they were also highly meditative and mentally sharp.

Rather than being chaotic, as is so often depicted, these witches were often willing to follow their leader and their societies laws to the death. Yes they might lose control while possessed and in this berserker rage kill even their own comrades, but this isn't who they were, any more than any person is the being which has possessed them. Indeed the fact that they only occasionally lost control is a testament to their ability to control the spirit possessing them.

The Hardworking

Example" Blacksmiths in fairy tales that have magical powers, Girls who would herd sheep for the fairies, etc.

In fairyland it's often the hardest worker who survives, for fairies respect and even demand hard work. So those who stumble into fairyland and are willing to work hard are often given magical rewards.

Although patient with their work these witches easily lose their temper with those who don't follow the guidance of the spirits, or who are immoral. Celebrations, ceremonies, and tradition tend to have a great meaning for them, so they almost never forget important details in events or their friendships.

Wise Warrior

Examples: Odin, Diana, Artemis, male practitioners of Shamanistic magic in Germanic lore.

Wise warriors will suffer any agony in order to gain knowledge is more important that happiness, and many sacrifice their place in society in order to gain knowledge. For there were many spells that were limited to men or women alone but the wise warriors would ignore these rules. For example, Odin was banished for performing womanly magic as were many Germanic cross-dressing witches.

Despite the fact that they fail to follow social norms Wise Warriors do have strong convictions, and they seek to protect humanity, and the nation which often derides them from outside invaders, or at times to protect the weakest members of society. They have an overwhelming need to take action, and often get themselves into trouble for instigating war when others seek peace. This is because of their power to foresee the future, and their willingness to sacrifice anything to accomplish their goals.

Their spirit journeys are often filled with suffering, such as when Odin hung himself from the worlds tree, or gave up his eye to learn the use of ruins and divination.

Despite being strong warriors they are also very cunning and will use guile as often as they use their skill in combat to get their way.

Despite the fact that these witches seem like they should be serious their knowledge of the future, along with their constant struggle means that they need to cut loose more than most. Because of this they love wild parties and hunting difficult prey.

Learn more about the witches of fairy tales and the past in my book "A Writers Guide to Fairies, Witches and Vampires."