Welcome to Beth’s Pop Culture Homework Assignment: WITCHES!
Witches seem to be having a cultural moment right now (which is great), so this felt timely. It also felt timely because Beth and I are going to a good friend’s wedding this summer in England, and then while we’re in Ol’ Blighty we’re going to visit Pendle Hill, the site of a 1612 witch trial. (Well, really, THE 1612 Witch trial.) We gotta go pay our respects. This year there are five picks…because when I floated the idea of one short non-fiction piece and one set of selections of a historical text, Beth didn’t say no! (She also didn’t say yes, so I am expecting to receive some flack for this.) So, here we go!
1. Selections from the Malleus Maleficarum by discredited member of the clergy Heinrich Kramer
The Malleus Maleficarum is maybe the best known treatise on witches. It was written in the 15th century and provides legal and theological reasons to execute witches. It laid the ground work for a lot of terrible things that happened to a lot of people. I thought it would be nice to provide some context before diving into the next selection.
2. The Familiars by Stacey Halls
This is a brand new novel (out in February!) that’s also a debut novel AND is written by a Lancashire local! It is set during the Pendle Hill trials! It’s like the universe wanted us to have this homework assignment!
3. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
It’s about witches! It’s about sisters! It’s about women’s relationships! It’s a classic! I honestly can’t believe this book is as old as it is, but I also often can’t believe I’m as old as I am, so here we are, surprised by inexorable march of time.
4. These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling
So, this also came out this year, this past Tuesday, in fact. It was on my to-read list and as I was looking for a third novel, I got an email saying that this was coming out. You have to love that timing. It is about Hannah, a real witch who lives in Salem, Mass and who has to keep her real-deal magic a secret, because if she gets caught using it, she could lose it. I believe it also has an LGBTQIA relationship in it. I think it looks great and I really hope Beth loves it.
5. Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English
This clocks in at just over 100 pages and is a brief history of women healers. It discusses midwifery, witching, nursing and how traditionally feminine practices have been delegitimized and outlawed as a tactic of the patriarchy to control women. At least, that’s what I remember it being about? I read it while a family member was in the emergency room and we were waiting for test results, so my memories of the book aren’t maybe the best? So, I really look forward to hearing Beth’s thoughts on it and discussing it with her.
So, that’s it. There we go. I hope Beth enjoys these books! If you are reading along with Beth, leave a comment below or hit us up on twitter or the faceyb!
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