I don’t have time to do justice to the mountains of myths about women who have positions of some status and authority amongst other women as advisors, counsellors and healers. Any such woman who also had authority amongst men had even more tales told of them, especially if they did, or even if they didn’t, claim to have any sort of shamanic or other supernatural powers. Suffice to say, a more vilified group of women throughout history would be difficult to find.There’s been a trend in fantasy fiction bubbling quietly away for a few decades now, where old stories of evil hags and harpies are re-imagined to show why those woman are in fact making hard and necessary decisions for the survival of others, and why the traditional hero/heroine is in fact the real villain of the tale. Sheri S. Tepper’s Beauty strings together a series of such fairy tales.
At the same time, a sentimentalisation and cutesification of witches has taken place, with the TV show Bewitched! in the vanguard. There’s also the sexy kickarse witches of Buffy, Charmed et al appropriating the mythology.
So, who’s your favourite witch, wisewoman or female shaman?