Posts Tagged ‘witches’
April 29, 2015 | by Dan Piepenbring
- When he was in his early seventies and gravely ill, Goya began a series of private drawings, full of piss and vinegar and intended to amuse his friends—among them were pictures of naked witches, newborn babies tied to poles, and a procuress fingering her rosary and slugging some rotgut. “The captions are minimal: ‘Monk,’ ‘Nothing is known of this,’ ‘I can hear snoring’ … Goya’s drawings may leave us up in the air, filled with a disquieting unease. Yet in the end, the witches and old people are tokens of life, not death—even the tired, ancient man shuffling on his sticks, mockingly captioned Just can’t go on at the age of 98.”
- By piecing together years of letters, diaries, and newspapers, one scholar believes she’s discovered the man who inspired Pride and Prejudice’s Mr. Darcy. She noted, for instance, “that the physical similarities between the Earl and the description of Darcy are ‘obvious,’ with the former looking ‘very intense.’ ” An airtight case.
- In Park Slope, Brooklyn, for thirty-five years, a gated storefront hid an artist’s studio. “Behind the black gate was a world of color, hundreds of abstract works created and hidden away by Mr. [Leo] Bates, who had a promising start as a painter in the 1970s before renouncing the art world and retreating to his storefront to paint.”
- Eight rare books, including one by Benjamin Franklin, had long-ago disappeared from the New York Public Library. A woman who recently tried to sell them to an auction house “said the books have been in her family for decades, and there’s no proof that her late parents obtained the books illegally.”
- Everyone loves a good sentence—and clauses, subordinate or not, are beloved throughout the land—but what of the paragraph, that other indispensible unit of prose? Why do we speak so often of “a great writer of sentences” and so rarely of “a great writer of paragraphs”?
November 23, 2012 | by Pamela Petro
The story so far: the author visits a fortune-teller whose prediction that she will become a poet changes the course of her destiny.
In the U.S. there are two groups concerned with the conduct of tarot readers. The Tarot Certification Board of America, which posts a Client Bill of Rights, and the American Tarot Association, which promotes a Code of Ethics. The TCBA’s Bill of Rights states, among other things, that as a client you are entitled to confidentiality; that readers are not qualified to give medical, financial, or legal advice (except if they’re doctors, financial advisors, or attorneys); that readers are not qualified to predict the future; and that they’re not qualified to make decisions for you.
The ATA believes that “Ethical Tarot readers are people who help others better hear their own inner guides.” And they reiterate the TCBA’s Bill of Rights, making the additional point that if readers happen to be doctors, financial advisors, or attorneys, they will “clearly differentiate between the tarot reading and any professional advice additionally provided.”
While there was an extant Association of Tarot Readers in 1964, the TCBA wasn’t formed until 2002. In any case, I doubt the witch in Galilee was a member of any professional group. She was probably a rogue reader, in that she didn’t charge for her services and only read for friends and guests in her home. I’m not sure if she offered our futures as a politeness, the way you’d offer an extra piece of coffee cake, or if she wanted to mess with us. Clearly she overstepped her bounds with Wendy on the “predicting the future” issue. If I were Wendy, I’d start watching for falling pianos on my 84th birthday.
The witch was on target with me in the “helping others better hear their own inner guides” category. But what are the repercussions of telling a 19 year-old she is one thing or another? Most tarot sessions start with a question: the seeker, or client, winnows away her world until the yearning is laid bare. Will I be happy in romance? Is my career on the right track? Should I get a puppy?
November 22, 2012 | by Pamela Petro
The story so far: the author and a friend visit a local witch for an assignment and, unexpectedly, the witch informs Pamela that her destiny is to be a poet.
Things went downhill pretty quickly after our visit to the witch. I wrote the story for our college paper and naively sent it to the witch for verification. Trying to imitate the brutal truthiness of the New Journalists I was reading, I’d described her as “somewhere between middle aged plump and any age fat.” I didn’t expect she’d be pleased, but I did believe that Truth was inescapable and we all had to accept it, in print or in the mirror. The witch didn’t see it that way. Eschewing magic, she threatened to call down a different but equally powerful set of spells on me—the legal kind. She said she’d sue my ass if I ever printed a word of it.
I regret calling her fat. What a churlish thing to do. (How often does that word come up? It’s a good one, and a rare one, especially in memoir—especially if you use it about yourself.) I thought I needed to tell the truth as I saw it. It never occurred to me I could edit out the bits that might be hurtful.
I often wonder about the witch: what did she edit? Did she see the train wreck that would almost kill me seven years later, but think better of bringing it up and ruining my night? Maybe the cards aren’t that specific. Surely, though, a massive Amtrak wreck with sixteen dead and hundreds injured, a crushed jaw, broken ribs, and slashed lung and spleen would contribute to one of the “down” times ahead?
Did she see that I was gay? Again, alternative sexuality certainly brings its share of ups and downs, as she put it. But if that’s what she intuited, the witch didn’t call a spade a spade. Would she, like me, not have had the vocabulary to identify something she might have glimpsed in my future or in my soul? Or would she just call me a “poet,” in the way people used to say Oscar Wilde and his set were “artistic?” How far outside our own experience can we—dare we—tread when mapping the lives of others? Or did she exercise the judgment I lacked and edit out information that might have been too deterministic? Or too negative? Who can say how the witch’s socio-political belief system broke on the issue of homosexuality.
November 21, 2012 | by Pamela Petro
Toward the end of February, 1980, a witch told me I was a poet. This happened in the town of Galilee, in Rhode Island. Like the other Galilee, it was on the coast, and also like that Galilee, it was as good a place as any for a creation myth.
I had to interview the witch for a newspaper my friend Allen edited at Brown. I don’t know where he found the witch or why he lent me his car to go interview her. I was nineteen and hadn’t written anything, though I claimed to “write,” as if writing were more a state of being than a practice. I got the assignment, I think, because Allen wanted to date me, even though I had no intention, ever, of going out with him. (Okay, I went once: a very cold winter picnic in a park at midnight, with blankets and a blindfold, but that was it. I suspected then that I wasn’t just uninterested in Allen—I was uninterested in picnicking with men in general—but hadn’t yet learned the vocabulary to explain what that meant, even to myself). When I went to see the witch I made my roommate Wendy go with me. No way was I going to see a witch alone at night.
April 10, 2012 | by Sadie Stein