Chapter 11: Daughters of the Powers of Fire
Brooke is interviewing Emma Clare and Julia for a book of oral history
she will write about their family history and tradition. When their Scottish
ancestors were burned as witches, two women escaped and came to the New
World, first to the Appalachian Mountains, then to the Ozarks. Mammy Annis,
Emma Clare’s grandmother, was a fearsome Ozarkian witchwoman who worked
dark magic for her people.
As Julia tells Brooke about her visit to southeast Missouri, we learn
about Alice, Julia’s granddaughter, who will come to Long Beach in chapter
26. I earned my B.S. and M.A. at Southeast Missouri State College (now
a university) in Cape Girardeau. For no particular reason, I have renamed
it Sagamore College. Julia’s description of Cape Girardeau is accurate.
Circle Sanctuary in Wisconsin was founded in 1974 by Selena Fox. I
first met Selena at a Harvest Moon Festival in 1988 or 89. In 2005, she
gave me permission to use material from the Circle website in
Pagan Every Day. The
Fellowship of Isis (FOI) was founded in 1976 at Clonegal Castle, Ireland,
by Lady Olivia Robertson and her brother, Lawrence Durdin-Robertson and
his wife Pamela. I joined FOI in 1978 and am honored to have met Lady Olivia
The story about the Volkswagen is true. It happened to me in 1967.
Although she’s talking for a book to be published after her death, Emma
Clare is still very worried about public exposure. As we learn more of
her family history—and see Mammy Annis in action—we come to understand
her feelings. We also understand her determination and courage in the weather
Cherokee. Let us remember that the original home of the Cherokee was in
Appalachians. The land was stolen from them, leading to the infamous
Trail of Tears. In the 1830s, the Cherokee and other tribes were driven
out of their ancestral lands in Georgia and North Carolina. Ethnic cleansing
was not invented in the Balkan wars of the 1990s. The Cherokee removal
was a death march.
Lotteries were popular around those parts. See the famous (and terrifying)
short story, “
The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. It’s available online. Be sure to
“Be here now.” The title of a book by Ram Dass (Richard Alpert, Ph.D.)
published in 1971. His quasi-Hindu teachings were extremely popular at
the time. The Beatles famously went to India to seek spiritual teachings,
and Werner Erhard offered his training from 1971 to 1984. (I once escaped
from a room full of est graduates.)
In the tiny ritual, the women select symbolic colors. We’re familiar with
the colors assigned to the chakra system. A seminal work about color magic
Real Magic (1971) by Isaac Bonewits.
The history, customs, and dialect of the Ozarks of the late 19th and early
to mid-20th centuries are accurate. Emma Clare’s ever-variable Ozark twang
is also accurate. (I did real library research. See the work of
Vance Randolph. I’ve also traveled in the Ozarks and had friends who
spoke like Emma Clare does.
Geneva bands and black robes. This tells us that the Scottish preachers
were Protestants. The bands, or tabs, are two long rectangles of white
cloth that hang down from the collar. Geneva was the home of John Calvin,
the 16th-century French Reformer. It was John Knox, Scottish clergyman
and Protestant Reformer, who wrote
The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women
in 1558. His influence lasted for a couple hundred years.
Minor Romantic poet. Well, not Wordsworth, Shelley, Byron, Blake, or Keats.
Possibly Leigh Hunt, who wrote "
Jenny kissed me," which I memorized in high school. Silly little poem.
Is Mammy Annis mad? It’s hard to know, but easy to imagine. She did what
she thought was best for her people.
The strawman is an obvious allusion to the movie,
The Wicker Man (1973). There’s no way, of course, to know if
this kind of thing ever actually happened, but it makes a good story. A
conjurewoman like Mammy Annis would have done almost anything to restore
or increase the fertility of her land. Likewise, we don’t know if these
flashbacks are “true” stories or family mythology.
The idea of the “powers of fire” perhaps rises from the burned Scottish
witches and from the burning of the strawman. As an elemental power, fire
signifies creativity and passion.
Who do you know who is a famtrad? Do they work in ways that seem unusual
or unexpected to you?
What kinds of archetypes do you see in this story? What archetypes have
you encountered in “real life”?
What do you think about so-called black and white magic? Black and white
witches? What does a green witch do? A blue or yellow or purple witch?
How would you classify yourself?
Copyright © 2011 by Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. All rights reserved. Permission
granted to print this page of the
Secret Lives Reader’s Guide for personal use only.