Pertaining to the Craft Tarot Death Contact Home

An Excerpt from
The Triumph of the Moon
by Ronald Hutton [Oxford University Press, 1999].

(pp. 367-368)

Let's look at Lesley in 1983, getting onto a bus with her life packed into two shopping bags.   Her hair is in plaits, she is overweight (or so she insists), and she is walking out on a conventional existence which has made her feel trapped, disempowered, and unhappy to the point of desperation.   One of the worst aspects of her misery is that it is so isolated and inarticulate; she knows that there must be a better world out there but has no real idea of how to find it, or even why it has been that normal living has failed so utterly to provide her with the contentment and fulfilment which it had traditionally promised.   What is driving her into flight is an incoherent, but irresistible, instinct.   The bus actually takes her to France, where she finds work harvesting crops, and meets and joins people with socially and politically radical ideas.   Through them she enters activist politics, encounters the ideas of feminist witchcraft, and reads The Mists of Avalon.   Now, Lesley doesn't know much about the history of witchcraft, but she has a very shrewd suspicion that witches weren't women who got kicked around by men, imprisoned in hopelessly dreary and self-denying domestic labour, and allowed no opinions, no adventures, no true existence of their own; and that is enough for her.   She becomes one.   In this process, and that of working with other witches, she develops self-confidence, a self-knowledge, and a range of practical abilities which she has before only sensed and hoped to be latent within herself.   Above all, she discovers words, words that "fly like arrows" (Lesley is a Sagittarian), that truly express her thoughts and emotions and that have the power to sweep up others.   She discovers a new sense of kinship with the world around her   —   natural and human   —   and a true sense of place in it.   She has come home.

That, at any rate, is Lesley's story, as she told it to me sitting in a Somerset meadow in August 1994; a happy, freckled, red-haired woman with a vulpine smile of mischief, an irrepressible sense of humour, and (as the account suggests) a genuine power to infuse and use words.   It is not an unusual story, and that is the point of it.   I have heard the like from hundreds of other women in the late 1980s and 1990s.   In this sense Lesley is quite ordinary; she is a reminder, like so much else in the history of modern pagan witchcraft, of how wildly, fantastically, marvellously extraordinary, ordinary people can be.   If this is magic, then so be it.