I remember the day the witchling arrived, Autumn had painted the moor,
and a whispering breeze sang a song through the trees, as the mist drifted down from the tor.
None but I saw the witchling run wild in the wood, and chant under starry lit sky,
none but I heard her croak with the ravens above, and her magic entranced none but I.
Dragonflies landed so soft on her palm, the corvids fed straight from her hand,
and the starlings’ display seemed to mimic her moves, as she circled the sky with her wand.
We danced with our shadows, the witchling and I, weaving magic deep into the night,
now in tune with spirits of land, sea and sky, embracing the dark with the light.
We ran with the wolves and howled at the moon, we sang out our hearts to the streams.
we communed with the trees and foraged for herbs and flew to the stars in our dreams.
We stirred up the clouds to bring and quell rain, ee cast runes on the shore and we scried,
barefoot and free, and wild and untamed, I embraced all that had been denied.
She healed and protected with spells and with charms, and rode through the fields on her stang,
encouraging crops to flourish and thrive, magic shimmered whenever she sang.
Yet some village folk still averted their gaze, For she mirrored their fear and their guilt,
with their frozen hearts cold, to the magic of old, like a flower, they willed her to wilt.
Fuelling their gossip with bittersweet lies a scapegoat my witchling became,
and together they prayed for her timely demise, as the autumn sun started to wane.
Old Mrs. Jones said the aches in her bones were much worse since the witchling appeared,
and Farmer Treen said that his old mare was dead, “It must be the witchling!” they jeered.
Their prejudice grew as the nights became long, and as winter frost painted the moor,
my witchling, no more to the village did come and fear kept me far from her door.
Yet still she communed with the spirits of old, of river and spring, rock and tree,
for so rooted was she to this ancestral land, that true to herself she would be.
‘Twas a chilly spring morn when the witchfinder came, like a bloodhound to sniff out his prey,
in league with the Church and to fill up his purse, He brought hate to our village that day.
The church bells did toll, and his flock gathered fast, to hear tales of the witch’s misdeeds,
And their frenzy grew strong as the day became long, In their cold hearts he planted dark seeds,
“This cannot go on, there is evil afoot, we must drive out this witch!” said their priest.
“She defies our true God with this magic of old, Casting spells, turning man into beast!
She’s the bane of our village and blights all our crops, and hexes our cattle and sheep.
She cavorts with the Devil and suckles his spawn, and haunts us at night when we sleep!
When the full moon doth glow, a hare she becomes, running wild in a circle of stone,
and when the moon’s dark, she’s been spied in the woods, making charms in the guise of a crone!
For this is the way of a witch, my good friends, and ‘tis God’s will we cast out this ill,
so fire up your torches and bring your pitchforks and let’s drive out this witch on the hill!”
And the frenzied crowd roared, “Burn this foul Devil’s spawn!” as they made their way up to the tor,
and as they drew near, my witchling awoke, to the sound of their venomous roars.
As the lynch mob marched on, with flickering flames, fear struck a chord in her heart,
and my witchling fled fast through the spiralling mist, and soon vanished into the dark.
Long did they search but found not a trace, ‘til the wrath of a storm forced them home,
Then the sound of her screams haunted much of their dreams and I knew that my witchling had flown.
Twas the very next morn, as the dawn chorus sang, that I found her so still and so pale,
and out through the mist came a white graceful deer to guide her back safe through the veil.
None but I heard the ravens lament for their loss, none but I saw her spirit dance high,
none but I placed a red rose on her fair skin, and her death seemed to touch none but I.
As her body decayed, her flesh became roots, and up sprang a willow tree wild,
and my tears became pooled at the base of her trunk, keeping her memory alive.
When folk wandered by, the willow would weep, and her whispers would blow through the leaves,
and people felt drawn to sit ‘neath this tree, to help them to deal with their grief.
From her branches birthed wreaths to honour their dead, from her bark came relief from their pain,
and ribbons of wishes were tied to her boughs as her reverence began to return.
And under her pendulous branches I’d sit to scry to the moon in the water,
and one night her face did appear to portend the birth of my daughter.
I remember the day my witchling arrived, Autumn had painted the moor,
and a whispering breeze sang a song through the trees, as I cradled my child so pure.
And as seasons turned and the winds of change blew, through the hearts of the folk on the moor,
they once again warmed to the magical charms, of the new witch who lived by the tor.
Each day she would sit ‘neath the willow that weeps, and leave a red rose in the water,
for my witchling lives on in its roots and its shoots, and within the pure heart of my daughter.
And now they seek out my daughter Idunn, a wyse woman and healer she be,
for now they revere what they once used to fear and my willow tree witch is now free.
Free to run with the wolves and howl at the moon, free to link with the ancestors past,
free to ride through the fields and protect all the yields, free to charm, free to chant, free to cast!
Free to dowse with the dragons below and above, free to dance with the shadows at night,
free to speak with the spirits of shore and of wood, free to honour our Goddess of light.
For the Church they did LIE, they did HANG, DUNK and BURN, but their terror and fear had no roots,
And now my good friends, the OLD WAYS ARE BACK! like the willow we’re sprouting new shoots!
The magic of nature shines out to a witch, we embrace our Mother with love,
and love is a magic so strong it endures, even the greatest of floods...
Dedicated to all witches, past and present - May the heinous crimes of the Burning Ties NEVER be allowed to happen again - So it is!
An original poem by Michelle Mari Elliott. ©2013, revised 2021.