February 27, 2011 at 1:22 pm (Faery tales, Musicals) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

My favourite musical is Wicked. I am a big fan of re-imaginings. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Wicked is a prequel to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and tells what was going on in Oz before Dorothy arrived.

These are the witches’ stories; mainly Elphaba (the wicked witch of the west) and Glinda (the good witch of the north).In the Oz books, there are four witches, one for each of the compass directions – north, east, south and west.

I have an affinity for witches, the misunderstood miscreants of fairy tales. Every fairy tale needs a villain and all too often, that villain is a witch. Witches are an easy way out to show the listener/reader what evil should look like.

Every mill town, pipe shop town, or coal town had a fortune-teller, widow women, usually … [her customers] never wondered why, if that eye really does see all, these women did not move out of an asbestos house. (p. 169) (The Prince of Frogtown by Rick Bragg. N.Y.: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008)

I’ve written here before about my views on witches, most recently in October 2010. As I said, I have an affinity, a feeling of kinship with these women. They are my fairy godmothers, my kin and my heart’s soul. They wove a protective web around my quietness and let me be who I was, who I am. They introduced me to life and books; see the post on my first library.

Another favourite portrayal of the witch is by Bernadette Peters, in the musical, Into the Woods. Into the Woods compresses four tales (Jack & the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Red Riding Hood with brief references to other tales) into the same woods/space where the witch dwells.

There had to be witches, too, in a forest like that. (p. 80)

(The Prince of Frogtown by Rick Bragg. N.Y.: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008)

For half a century, society has been telling me what I couldn’t be or do. I have let society dictate who I can be and what I can do. The older I get the less I care about society’s norms.

I want to be – I would have been in those times, those fairy tale worlds – an independent woman, an outcast, a solitary creature keeping her own counsel. This has not been and never will be easy.

This independence I crave and cultivate is both a blessing and a curse.

I envy my sisters their grandchildren. I never envied them for their children. I always felt that I have raised up many a child, working as I did in childcare; my nieces and nephews were mine as well as theirs. But there is continuity, a joy, in grandchildren that escapes me. I’m not quite sure why, what it is, this difference between child and grandchild.

To sum up, the witch in Into the Woods, does it best. During the song, Last Midnight, she sings:

Told a little lie, stole a little gold, broke a little vow,
Had to get your Prince, had to get your cow,
Have to get your wish, doesn’t matter how..
Anyway, it doesn’t matter now.

No, of course, what really matters is the blame.
Somebody to blame.
Fine, if that’s the thing you enjoy, placing the blame,
If that’s the aim, give me the blame.

I’m not good, I’m not nice,
I’m just right.
I’m the witch.
You’re the world.
I’m the hitch, I’m what no one believes.
I’m the witch.

P.S. February 2011 is my Fairy Tale month. This is the last post, in this series, dealing with Fairy Tales.

P.S.S. For additional enjoyment, search for Fairy Tales at your local library; ask for them at your local bookstore or do a web search. A quick google search got me about 12,000,000 results. You’ll be amazed at the variety there is out there. I could give you names and links to follow but I believe you’ll enjoy the resources more if you do the search yourself.

P.S.S.S. Here is a final recommendation for you. Snow White: A Tale of Terror is a TV movie from 1997. Sigourney Weaver plays the stepmother/witch and is absolutely brilliant. It is another dark tale and definitely not for the squeamish. I would re-watch it tonight but the Oscars are on.


  1. Suzanne said,

    I love the classic fairy tale witches. And re-imagined stories. I always want to discover the “other side” to their story. I’m really hoping to get to see Wicked on a trip to New York this summer.

    • solitaryspinster said,

      I’m lucky. Wicked will be here in my city in August. I’m impatiently waiting for tickets to become available. Oh, but to see it on Broadway – that would be amazing!


  2. Analysis Of The Wiccan Rede said,

    […] Witches « Solitary Spinster […]

  3. Marion said,

    What a superb post! You’ve described so well how I’ve felt, it seems like forever. I’ve often described myself as a solitary hedge witch and I feel comfortable with it still, even though solitary is no longer what I am.

    I spent three years studying the Wiccan way…and I have discovered I work better alone, without all the ceremony. I loved the snippet from Last Midnight…it sums it up very nicely. Thank you for all the links!

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