Witches and Wizards reveals the real-life stories of the most notorious and powerful occult personalities of all time. Within its pages you'll discover the amazing stories behind the legends: from King Arthur's Merlin, the infamous Aleister Crowley, right through to the modern icons of Witchcraft, including Australian local Rosaleen Norton. Shining light on the Salem witch trials, the Burning Times, the Magickal Battle of Britain and beyond, Witches and Wizards is written by internationally renowned Witch and Author Lucy Cavendish as she gives a thrilling read for anyone who loves the mysterious, the true and the strange.
Witches and Wizards
Author: Lucy Cavendish
Question: What inspired you to write Witches and Wizards?
Lucy Cavendish: Since I was really little I've been fascinated with magick and myth and legends - and even when I was a kid, I'd be wondering who is Merlin? Are Witches real? Why are people so frightened of Witches and Wizards? I started researching these folk in earnest in the early 90s when I started a magazine called Witchcraft, and I discovered that their lives were so beautiful and broken and fragile and all-too-human. I was inspired because they were so very courageous, too, living in times when it was extremely dangerous, life-threatening to be a magickal person who was open about their path and beliefs. So, I finally wanted to put it all together in a book that covered some of their amazing, notorious lives, full of magick and strangeness, and share their humanity, which often gets overlooked in favour of legend and hype.
Question: Can you tell us about the real-life personalities who feature in Witches and Wizards?
Lucy Cavendish: Of course, I'd love to. Well, some of the most heart-rending stories of real-life people were those whose names appear in the court records of the towns during what we call the Burning Times. I read the transcripts and would read the lists of executions for a day - it's fascinating and so terribly sad - so, when I would read 'a maid of nineteen, the prettiest girl in town" I wanted to find out who she was. What happened in the town, and how did this hysteria take hold? I found, for example in the Salem court documents a reference to a tiny little pair of shackles being commissioned froma blacksmith - that led me to a little girl call Dorothy Goode, who was four, and imprisoned for Witchcraft. She was so little they had to make special chains for her. I I wanted to find out who she was, and why this has happened. There's no denying many people used folk magick - they always ahve, they always will - but the kind of hysteria, and psychosis that took hold of these communities was, to me, the very evil they were claiming to see in the Accused. They became the Devil, in a sense. It is sad, fascinating, and a great lesson, too.
Question: What did you learn about Rosaleen Norton whilst writing Witches and Wizards?
Lucy Cavendish: Well, I knew a fair bit about Rosaleen - but something that fascinated me was that she was expelled from her school at the age of fourteen for drawing 'depraved" subjects. And that instead of confirming, and apologising, and feeling guilt and shame, she just went straight to Kings Cross, got herself various jobs, but trained at East Sydney tech in fine arts. I think that shows just composure and gumption, two qualities she had in abundance. I also wish I could time travel back to one of her infamous gatherings, where she would host the Rites to Pan! And of course, to see her paint… what a sight that would be! I just love people who have this kind of conviction, where they know they are going to be very disadvantaged, socially, for living their life their own way, and yet they go ahead and they do it. She was a brilliant woman, and one day, we'll come to realise what a treasure we had in her. I think that day is coming very soon.
Interview by Brooke Hunter