A Modern Craft Fairy Tale
by Mike Nichols
upon a time, there were two Witches. One was a Feminist Witch and the
other was a Traditionalist Witch. And, although both of them were
deeply religious, they had rather different ideas about what their
Feminist Witch tended to believe that Witchcraft was a religion
especially suited to women because the image of the Goddess was
empowering and a strong weapon against patriarchal tyranny. And there
was distrust in the heart of the Feminist Witch for the Traditionalist
Witch because, from the Feminist perspective, the Traditionalist Witch
seemed subversive and a threat to 'the Cause'.
Traditionalist Witch tended to believe that Witchcraft was a religion
for both men and women because anything less would be divisive. And
although the Goddess was worshipped, care was taken to give equal
stress to the God-force in nature, the Horned One. And there was
distrust in the heart of the Traditionalist Witch for the Feminist
Witch because, from the Traditionalist viewpoint, the Feminist Witch
seemed like a late-comer and a threat to 'Tradition'.
two Witches lived in the same community but each belonged to a
different Coven, so they did not often run into one another. Strange to
say, the few times they did meet, they felt an odd sort of mutual
attraction, at least on the physical level. But both recognized the
folly of this attraction, for their ideologies were worlds apart, and
nothing, it seemed, could ever bridge them.
one year the community decided to hold a Grand Coven, and all the
Covens in the area were invited to attend. After the rituals, the
singing, the magicks, the feasting, the poetry, and dancing were
concluded, all retired to their tents and sleeping bags. All but these
two. For they were troubled by their differences and couldn't sleep.
They alone remained sitting by the campfire while all others around
them dreamed. And before long, they began to talk about their differing
views of the Goddess. And, since they were both relatively
inexperienced Witches, they soon began to argue about what was the
'true' image of the Goddess.
'Describe your image of the Goddess to me,' challenged the Feminist Witch.
Traditionalist Witch smiled, sighed, and said in a rapt voice, 'She is
the embodiment of all loveliness. The quintessence of feminine beauty.
I picture her with silver-blond hair like moonlight, rich and thick,
falling down around her soft shoulders. She has the voluptuous young
body of a maiden in her prime, and her clothes are the most seductive,
gossamer thin and clinging to her willowy frame. I see her dancing like
a young elfin nymph in a moonlit glade, the dance of a temple
priestess. And she calls to her lover, the Horned One, in a voice that
is gentle and soft and sweet, and as musical as a silver bell frosted
with ice. She is Aphrodite, goddess of sensual love. And her lover
comes in answer to her call, for she is destined to become the Great
Mother. That is how I see the Goddess.'
Feminist Witch hooted with laughter and said, 'Your Goddess is a Cosmic
Barbie Doll! The Jungian archetype of a cheer-leader! She is all
glitter and no substance. Where is her strength? Her power? I see the
Goddess very differently. To me, she is the embodiment of strength and
courage and wisdom. A living symbol of the collective power of women
everywhere. I picture her with hair as black as a moonless night,
cropped short for ease of care on the field of battle. She has the
muscular body of a woman at the peak of health and fitness. And her
clothes are the most practical and sensible, not slinky cocktail
dresses. She does not paint her face or perfume her hair or shave her
legs to please men's vanities. Nor does she do pornographic dances to
attract a man to her. For when she calls to a male, in a voice that is
strong and defiant, it will be to do battle with the repressive
masculine ego. She is Artemis the huntress, and it is fatal for any man
to cast a leering glance in her direction. For, although she may be the
many-breasted Mother, she is also the dark Crone of wisdom, who
destroys the old order. That is how I see the Goddess.'
the Traditionalist Witch hooted with laughter and said, 'Your Goddess
is the antithesis of all that is feminine! She is Yahweh hiding behind
a feminine mask! Don't forget that it was his followers who burned
Witches at the stake for the 'sin' of having 'painted faces'. After
all, Witches with their knowledge of herbs were the ones who developed
the art of cosmetics. So what of beauty? What of love and desire?'
so the argument raged, until the sound of their voices awakened a Coven
Elder who was sleeping nearby. The Elder looked from the Feminist Witch
to the Traditionalist Witch and back again, saying nothing for a long
moment. Then the Elder suggested that both Witches go into the woods
apart from one another and there, by magick and meditation, that each
seek a 'true' vision of the Goddess. This they both agreed to do.
a time of invocations, there was a moment of perfect stillness. Then a
glimmer of light could be seen in the forest, a light shaded deepest
green by the dense foliage. Both Witches ran toward the source of the
radiance. To their wonder and amazement, they discovered the Goddess
had appeared in a clearing directly between them, so that neither Witch
could see the other. And the Traditionalist Witch yelled 'What did I
tell you!' at the same instant the Feminist Witch yelled 'You see, I
was right!' and so neither Witch heard the other.
the Feminist Witch, the Goddess seemed to be a shining matrix of power
and strength, with courage and energy flowing outward. The Goddess
seemed to be holding out her arms to embrace the Feminist Witch, as a
comrade in arms. To the Traditionalist Witch, the Goddess seemed to be
the zenith of feminine beauty, lightly playing a harp and singing a
siren song of seduction. Energy seemed to flow towards her. And she
seemed to hold out her arms to the Traditionalist Witch, invitingly.
opposite sides of the clearing, the Witches ran toward the figure of
the Goddess they both loved so well, desiring to be held in the ecstasy
of that divine embrace. But just before they reached her, the
And the two Witches were startled to find themselves embracing each other.
And then they both heard the voice of the Goddess. And, oddly enough, it sounded exactly the same to both of them.
It sounded like laughter.