Witches Affirmation

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Witches Affirmation

A witch is…

One who has power over her/his own life
One who makes his/her own rules, but can abide by the rules of Nature
One who refuses to submit to self-denial
One who recognizes no authority with greater esteem than her/his own, who is loyal to self
One who is untamed and tamed
One who transforms energy for the good of all
One who can be passionate about her/his ideals and values as they are changing
One who is explosive, whose intensity is like volcanoes, floods, winds, and fire
One who is disorderly and orderly
One who is ecstatic
One who alters reality
One who says, “I am a witch” aloud three times

“I am a witch”
“I am a witch”
“I am a witch”


Famous Witches Throughout History: Morgan Le Fay

Morgan Le Fay

Morgan Le Fay (alternatively known as Morgaine le Fey, Morgane, Morgain, Morgana, Fata Morgana and other variants) is a powerful sorceress and antagonist of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere in Arthurian legend. Although always depicted as a practitioner of magic, over time her character became more and more evil until she began to be portrayed as a witch who was taught the black arts by Merlin.

The early works featuring Morgan do not elaborate her character beyond her role as a fay (fairy) or magician, although she became much more prominent in the later Old French cyclical prose works such as “Lancelot-Grail” and the Post-Vulgate Cycle. In these works, she is said to be Arthur’s half-sister, daughter of Arthur’s mother, Lady Igraine, and her first husband, Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall. She has at least two older sisters, Elaine and Morgause, the latter being the mother of Sir Gawain, the Green Knight, and the traitor, Mordred. As a fairy later transformed into a woman and King Arthur’s half sister, she became an enchantress to continue her powers.

Inspiration for her character may have come from earlier Welsh mythology and literature, and she has often been compared with the goddess Modron, a figure derived from the continental Dea Matrona, who is featured with some frequency in medieval Welsh literature. She is also sometimes connected with the Irish goddess Morrígan who was associated with prophecy, war and death on the battlefield.

Morgan first appears by name in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “Vita Merlini”, an account written in about 1150 of the wizard Merlin’s later adventures, elaborating on some episodes from Geoffrey’s more famous earlier work, “Historia Regum Britanniae”. In the “Vita Merlini”, Geoffrey describes Avalon, the Isle of Apples, where Arthur is taken to be healed after being seriously wounded at the Battle of Camlann, and specifically names “Morgen” as the chief of nine magical sisters who dwell there (a role as Arthur’s otherworldly healer Morgan retains in much later literature, such as that of Chrétien de Troyes).

Medieval Christianity, however, had a difficult time assimilating a benevolent enchantress. She gradually became more and more sinister, until eventually she was portrayed as a witch who was taught the black arts by Merlin, and who was a bedevilment to Arthur and his knights, with a special hatred towards Queen Guinevere.

Morgan’s role is greatly expanded in the 13th Century French “Lancelot-Grail” (also known as the Vulgate Cycle) and the subsequent works inspired by it. In these stories, she is sent to a convent when Uther Pendragon (Arthur’s father) kills her father and marries her mother, Igraine. She begins her study of magic there, but is married by Uther to his ally Urien. She is unhappy with her husband and takes a string of lovers until she is caught by a young Guinevere, who expels her from court in disgust. Morgan continues her magical studies under Merlin, all the while plotting against Guinevere.

In his book, “Le Morte d’Arthur”, published in 1485, Thomas Malory mostly follows the portrayal of Morgan in the Vulgate and Post-Vulgate Cycles, although he expands her role in some cases. Through both magic and mortal means, she tries to arrange Arthur’s downfall, most famously when she arranges for her lover Sir Accolon to obtain the sword Excalibur and use it against Arthur in single combat. When this ploy fails, Morgan throws Excalibur’s protective scabbard into a lake.

The modern image of Morgan is often that of a villain, a seductive, megalomaniacal sorceress who wishes to overthrow Arthur, sometimes assigning to Morgan the role of seducing Arthur and giving birth to the wicked Mordred, although traditionally Mordred’s mother was Morgan’s sister, Morgause. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “The Mists of Avalon” presents a different view of Morgaine’s opposition to Arthur, depicting her actions as stemming from her fight to preserve the native Pagan religion against what she sees as the treachery and oppression of Christianity. She has also been widely portrayed in comic books and other more or less speculative novels and movies.


Morgan le Fae


Morgan le Fae alternatively known as Morgan le Faye, Morgen, Morgaine, Morgain, Morgana, Morganna, Morgant, Morgane, Morgne and other names, is a powerful enchantress in the Arthurian legend. Early works featuring Morgan do not elaborate her character beyond her role as a fay or sorceress. She became both more prominent and morally ambivalent in later texts, in particular in cyclical prose works such as the Lancelot-Grail and the Post-Vulgate Cycle, in which she turns into a dangerous enemy of King Arthur and is an unpredictable antihero and antagonist of some tales.

The earliest accounts of Geoffrey of Monmouth in Vita Merlini and Gerald of Wales refer to Morgan in conjunction with the Isle of Apples (Avalon) to which the fatally wounded Arthur was carried off after the Battle of Camlann. To the former, in early chivalric romances by Chrétien de Troyes, she also figures as a great healer. Her character may be partially derived from that of the Welsh figure of Modron and other myths. She is often said to be the daughter of Arthur’s mother, Lady Igraine, and her first husband, Gorlois, so that Arthur, the son of Igraine and Uther Pendragon, is her half-brother.

In Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur and in many other later versions of the legend, she is unhappily married to King Urien, with whom she has the son Ywain, and her sisters include Morgause. She becomes an apprentice of Merlin and a vindictive adversary of Arthur and the knights of the Round Table, with a special hatred for his wife Queen Guinevere. She is also wanton and sexually aggressive, with many lovers including Merlin and Accolon, and an unrequited love for Lancelot. Morgan is an indirect instrument of Arthur’s death, though she eventually reconciles with him and retains her original role, serving as one of the magical queens who take him on his final journey to Avalon.

After centuries of being mostly absent in post-medieval European culture, Morgan became very popular in the 20th and 21st century. Her character and role in the modern works varies greatly, but usually she is portrayed as a villainess, often associated with Mordred as either being his mother or in different aspect.

The earliest spelling of the name (found in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Vita Merlini, written c. 1150) is Morgen, which is likely derived from Old Welsh or Old Breton Morgen, meaning “Sea-born” (from Common Brittonic *Mori-genā, the masculine form of which, *Mori-genos, survived in Middle Welsh as Moryen or Morien; a cognate form in Old Irish is Muirgein, the name of a Christian, shape-shifting female saint who was associated with the sea). The name is not to be confused with the Modern Welsh masculine name Morgan (spelled Morcant in the Old Welsh period). As her epithet “le Fay” (from the French la fée, “the fairy”) and some traits indicates, the figure of Morgan appears to have been a remnant of supernatural female figures from Celtic mythology, and her main name could be connected to the myths of Morgens (or Morgans), which are Welsh and Breton water-spirits. While later works usually make her specifically human, she retains her magical powers.

Inspiration for her character likely came from earlier Welsh mythology and literature. Additional speculation sometimes connects Morgan with the Irish goddess Morrígan, though there are few similarities between the two beyond the spelling of their names. Morgan has been more substantially linked with the supernatural mother figure of Modron, a figure derived from the continental Dea Matrona and featured with some frequency in medieval Welsh literature. Modron appears in Welsh Triad 70, in which her children by Urien, Owain and Morfydd, are called the “Three Blessed Womb-Burdens of the Island of Britain,” and a later folktale preserved in the manuscript known as Peniarth 147 records the story behind these conceptions more fully. Arthurian legend’s version of Urien is Morgan le Fay’s husband in the continental romances, while Owain mab Urien is the historical figure behind their son Ywain. The historical Urien had a treacherous ally named Morcant Bulc who plotted to assassinate him, similar to how Morgan attempts to kill Urien in the later version of Arthurian myth.[8] Additionally, Modron is called “daughter of Avallach,” a Welsh ancestor deity whose name can also be interpreted as a noun meaning “a place of apples”; in fact, in the tale of Owain and Morfydd’s conception in Peniarth 147, Modron is called the “daughter of the king of Avallach”. This is similar to Avalon, the “Isle of Apples” with which Morgan le Fay has been associated since her earliest appearances.

According to the chronicler Gerald of Wales, Morganis was a noblewoman close relative of King Arthur who carried him to her island of Avalon (identified by him as Glastonbury), where Arthur was buried. Writing about 1216 in De instructione principis, Gerald claimed that “as a result, the credulous Britons and their bards invented the legend that a fantastic sorceress had removed Arthur’s body to the Isle of Avalon, so that she might cure his wounds there,” for the purpose of creating the possibility of King Arthur’s messianic return. Writing in his Latin encyclopedic work Otia Imperialia, around the same time and with similar derision for this belief, Gervase of Tilbury calls that mythical enchantress Morgan the Fairy (Morganda Fatata).

Early appearances
Morgan first appears by name in Vita Merlini, written by Norman-Welsh cleric Geoffrey of Monmouth. Purportedly an account of the wizard Merlin’s later adventures, it elaborates some episodes from Geoffrey’s more famous earlier work, Historia Regum Britanniae (1136). In Historia, Geoffrey relates how King Arthur, seriously wounded by Mordred at the Battle of Camlann, is taken off to the blessed Isle of Apple Trees (Latin Insula Pomorum), Avalon, to be healed. In Vita Merlini, he describes this island in more detail and names Morgen as the chief of nine magical queen sisters who dwell there, capable of shapeshifting and flying, and using their powers only for good. Her sisters’ names are Moronoe, Mazoe, Gliten, Glitonea, Gliton, Tyronoe, Thiten and Thiton. Morgan retains this role as Arthur’s other-worldly healer in much later literature, and Geoffrey might have been inspired by the 1st-century Roman cartographer Pomponius Mela, who described an oracle at the Île de Sein off the coast of Brittany and its nine virgin priestesses believed by the Gauls to have the powers of curing disease and performing various other marvelous magic, such as controlling the sea through incantations, foretelling future, and changing themselves into any animal. In Lanzelet, written by the end of the 12th century by Ulrich von Zatzikhoven, the infant Lancelot is spirited away by a water fairy (merfeine in Old High German) and raised in her paradise island country of Meidelant (“Land of Maidens”); his water fairy queen might be related to Geoffrey’s Morgen of Avalon.

Prior to the cyclical Old French prose, the appearances of Morgan are few. The 12th-century French poet Chrétien de Troyes mentions her in his first romance Erec and Enide, completed around 1170. In it, a love of Morgan is Guinguemar, the Lord of the Isle of Avalon and a nephew of King Arthur, a derivative of the legendary Breton hero Guingamor. Guingamor’s own tale by Marie de France has him in relation to the beautiful magical entity known only as the “fairy mistress”, who was later identified by Thomas Chestre’s Sir Launfal as Dame Tryamour, the daughter of the King of the Celtic Otherworld, and who shares many characteristics with Chrétien’s Morgan. It was noted that even Chrétien’ earliest mention of Morgan already shows an enmity between her and Queen Guinevere, and although Morgan is represented only in benign role by Chrétien, she resides in a mysterious place known as the Vale Perilous (which some later authors say she has created as a place of punishment for unfaithful knights). She is later mentioned in the same poem when Arthur provides the wounded hero Erec with a healing balm made by his sister Morgan. This episode both affirms her early role as a healer and provides the first mention of Morgan as Arthur’s sister; healing is Morgan’s chief ability, but Chrétien also hints at her potential to harm. Chrétien again refers to Morgan as a great healer in his later romance Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, in an episode in which the Lady of Norison restores the maddened hero to his senses with a magical potion provided by Morgan the Wise. While Modron is the mother of Owain mab Urien in Welsh literature, and Morgan would be assigned this role in later French literature, this first continental association between Sir Ywain and Morgan does not imply they are son and mother; she is first mentioned as Ywain’s mother in the early 13th-century Breton lai Tyolet.

The Arthurian tale Geraint son of Erbin, based on Chrétien’s Erec and Enide, mentions King Arthur’s chief physician, Morgan Tud; it is believed that this character, though considered a male in Gereint, may be derived from Morgan le Fay, though this has been a matter of debate among Arthurian scholars since the 19th century (the epithet Tud may be a Welsh or Breton cognate or borrowing of Old Irish tuath, “north, left”, “sinister, wicked”, also “fairy (fay), elf”). In Layamon’s The Chronicle of Britain, written c. 1215, Arthur was taken to Avalon to be healed there by its most beautiful elfen queen named Argante; it is possible her name has been originally Margant(e) before it was changed in manuscript transmission.

In his version of Erec, the 12th-century German knight and poet Hartmann von Aue describes the sorceress Famurgan (Feimurgan, Fairy Murgan) as a deceased mistress of dark magic who has lived her life “in defiance of God” and was capable of raising the dead and turning people to animals at will, commanding wild beasts, evil spirits and dragons, and having the devil in Hell as a trusted companion. Hartmann has Erec healed by Guinevere with a special plaster that Famurgan has given to her brother Arthur before she died and all of her wondrous knowledge was lost with her. In the 13th-century romance Parzival, another German knight-poet Wolfram von Eschenbach inverted her name to create that of Arthur’s fairy ancestor named Terdelaschoye de Feimurgan, the wife of Mazadan, where the part “Terdelaschoye” comes from Terre de la Joie, or Land of Joy. A great sorceress Morgaine also appears in the few surviving verses of the poem Merlin written ac. 1200 by French knight-poet Robert de Boron who described her as an illegitimate daughter of Lady Igraine and an unnamed Duke of Tintagel;[30] it was the first known work linking Morgan to Igraine and mentioning her learning sorcery after having been sent away for an education.

A recently discovered moralistic manuscript written in Anglo-Norman French is the only text in medieval Arthurian literature presented as being composed by Morgan herself. This late 12th-century text is purportedly addressed to Morgan’s court official and tells of the story of a knight Piers the Fierce (it is likely that the author’s motive was to draw a satirical moral from the downfall of the English knight Piers Gaveston, 1st Earl of Cornwall); Morgan (Morgayne) is titled in it as “empress of the wilderness, queen of the damsels, lady of the isles, and governor of the waves of the great sea.” She is also mentioned in the Draco Normannicus, a Latin chronicle written by Stephen of Rouen, which contains a fictional letter from King Arthur to Henry II of England, written around the same time for political propaganda purposes, in which ‘Arthur’ criticizes Henry for invading Brittany and claims that he has been healed of his wounds and made immortal by his “deathless nymph” sister Morgan on Avalon.

Morgan’s role was greatly expanded in the 13th-century Old French romances of Lancelot-Grail (the Vulgate Cycle) and the subsequent works inspired by it (the Post-Vulgate Cycle) that make her ways and deeds much more sinister than she was presented by Geoffrey and Chrétien, as she becomes an antiheroine in many texts.Morgan is now an ambitious nemesis of Arthur and Guinevere, a malicious and cruel sorceress and temptress, “the most ardent and most lecherous woman in all Britain” causing subversive mischief at the royal courts of both Arthur and Mark of Cornwall and having few positive values. The youngest of the daughters of Igraine and Gorlois, the Duke of Cornwall, Morgan has at least two elder sisters: Elaine of Garlot and Morgause, the latter of whom is the mother of Arthur’s knights Gawain, Gaheris, Gareth, and Agravain by King Lot of Lothian, and the traitor Sir Mordred by Arthur (in some romances the wife King Lot is called Morcades, a name that R. S. Loomis argued was another variant of Morgan).

The young Morgan is sent to a nun convent after Arthur’s father Uther Pendragon, aided by Merlin, kills Gorlois and rapes and marries her mother, who later gives him a son, Arthur (which makes him Morgan’s younger half-brother). There, Morgan begins her study of magic arts, mastering seven arts and goes on to specialize in astronomie (astronomy and astrology) and healing. She later continues her studies under Merlin, but is interrupted when Uther betroths her to his ally King Urien of Gore (possibly Rheged). Unhappy with her husband, she takes a string of lovers until she is caught by King Arthur’s newly married wife, Queen Guinevere to whom Morgan has served as a lady-in-waiting, with Guiomar (Chrétien’s Guinguemar), and Guinevere intervenes to break their relationship to prevent the loss of honor. This incident (introduced in the Prose Merlin and expanded in the Vulgate Lancelot) begins a feud between Guinevere and Morgan, who leaves the court of Camelot to seek out Merlin and greater powers. The pregnant Morgan later gives a birth to Guiomar’s son, who is said to grow up to become a great knight but is not named.

Morgan then continues her studies of magic under Merlin, whom she enamours and later scorns, all the while plotting her vengeance against the hated Guinevere and King Arthur. Through magic and mortal means, Morgan tries to undermine virtue, destroy Arthur’s rule and achieve Guinevere’s downfall whenever she can, most famously in the Post-Vulgate Suite du Merlin where she arranges (in conspiracy with Sir Damas) for her devoted lover Sir Accolon of Gaul to obtain the enchanted sword Excalibur and use it against Arthur in single combat. Failing in this, Morgan steals Excalibur’s protective scabbard (which has been previously confided to Morgan by Arthur himself as he had trusted her most, even more than his wife) from the sleeping Arthur and, pursued by him, throws it into a lake, before escaping by temporarily turning herself and her entourage to stone (the sight of which makes Arthur think they have been already punished by God). This action ultimately causes the death of Arthur, who would otherwise be protected in his final battle. Morgan also attempts to murder her sleeping husband Urien with his own sword, but is stopped in act by their son Ywain (Uwayne), who pardons her when she protests she has been under the devil’s power and promises to abandon her wicked ways. Later, Morgan saves Arthur’s knight named Manassen (Manessen, Manasses) from a certain death and enables him to kill his captor when she learns Accolon was Manessen’s cousin.

Failing to avenge Accolon’s death, Morgan retires to her lands in Gore and then to her castle near the stronghold of Tauroc (possibly in North Wales), and Malory mentions Arthur’s attempts to conquer at least one of her castles, which was originally his gift to her. She also plots an elaborate ambush in “The Book of Sir Tristram de Lyons”, after learning of the death of one of her favourites in a tournament, but Tristan ends up killing or routing thirty of her knights when the ambush ends in a disaster. Her attempts to bring about Arthur’s demise after being banished from Camelot by Guinevere in the Suite du Merlin are repeatedly frustrated by the king’s new sorcerous advisor Nimue (the Lady of the Lake), such as when Morgan sends Arthur a supposed offering of peace in the form of a rich mantle cloak (Morgan’s messenger maiden is made put on the gift first and its curse burns her to cinders); it is possible that this motif was inspired by Greek mythology motifs such as how Medea killed her rival for Jason’s affection, or how Deianira sent a poisoned tunic to Hercules. In the aftermath of one of her treacherous schemes, Merlin saves her from Arthur’s wrath and enables her to escape.

Morgan uses her skills to foil the Knights of the Round Table, especially Sir Lancelot, whom she alternately tries to seduce and to expose as Guinevere’s adulterous lover. Some sources have King Nentres of Garlot as a suitor of young Morgan before marrying her sister Elaine. Her many lovers include Corrant, Gui of Carmelide (Cameliard), Guyanor, Helians of Gomeret, and Kaz of Gomeret, as well as Sir Huneson the Bald (also known as Hemison or Onesun). Huneson is mortally wounded when he attacks Tristan out of his jealously for Morgan’s attention and dies after returning to her, and the anguished Morgan buries him in a tomb. In one version, she then takes possession of the lance that was used to kill Huneson, enchants it, and sends it Mark, who years later uses it to slay Tristan. In one of her castles, Tugan in Garlot, Morgan hid a magic book given to her by Merlin and that prophesied the deaths of Arthur and Gawain and who would kill them, but no one could read this passage without dying instantly. In the Prose Tristan, Morgan delivers by Sir Lamorak to Arthur’s court a magical drinking horn from which no unfaithful lady can drink without spilling, hoping to reveal the infidelity and disgrace Guinevere. With same intent, she also gives Sir Tristan (Tristam) a shield depicting Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot.

Lancelot is Morgan’s prime object of sexual desire but he consistently refuses her obsessive advances due to his great love of Guinevere, even as Morgan either courts, drugs, enchants and imprisons the knight on several occasions. One tale has Lancelot captured in Cart Castle (Charyot) by her and two other lustful enchantress, Queen Sebile (Sedile) and the unnamed Queen of Sorestan, each of whom wants to make him her lover, but he refuses to choose and escapes with a help of one of their maidservants, Rocedon.[25] Sebile and Morgan are close companions, working their magic together, but they tend to fall into petty squabbles due to their rivalries and bad tempers, including a conflict between them when they both seduce Lancelot’s brother Sir Hector de Maris in the late 13th-century Prophesies de Merlin; a resulting contest between them is won by Nimue with a help from Merlin. Their friendship is further tested when a quarrel over a handsome widower named Berengier (captured by Sebile after Morgan kidnapped his child) ends in a violent attack by Sebile that leaves Morgan half-dead; Morgan swears revenge, but their relationship is later restored as usual. Morgan’s other allies in Prophecies include the opponents of chivalry such as Mark and Claudas, and she enlists the help of the latter in her failed attempt to eliminate the Lady of the Lake. Sometimes she is successful, such as when she sends Lucifer in the guise of a dragon against Sir Segurant.

Her realm becomes known as the Val sans Retour (the Vale of No Return). Morgan’s fancied good knights besides Lancelot include the rescued-but-abducted young Sir Alexander the Orphan (Alisaunder le Orphelin, a cousin of Tristan and Mark’s enemy), whom she promises to heal, but he vows to rather castrate himself than to pleasure her, but promises her to defend the castle of Fair Guard (Belle Garde), where he has been held for a year, and then continues to guard it even when the castle was burnt down. In the Val sans Retour, Lancelot frees the many knights entrapped by Morgan from her power, including Morgan’s own son Ywain and her former lover Guiomars who has been turned to stone by her for his unfaithfulness. Morgan captures Lancelot under her spell and keeps him prisoner in the hope Guinevere would go mad or die of sorrow, and otherwise torments the queen, causing her a great distress and making her miserable until the Lady of the Lake gives her a ring of protection from any power of Morgan. On one occasion, she lets the captive Lancelot go to rescue Sir Gawain when he promises to come back, and he keeps his word and does return; she eventually releases him when his health falters and he is near death.

The Death of King Arthur by James Archer (1860)
Morgan concentrates on witchcraft to such degree that she goes to live in seclusion in the exile of far-away forests. She learns more spells than any other woman, gains an ability to transform herself into any animal, and people begin to call her Morgan the Goddess. Lancelot has a vision of Hell where Morgan still will be able to control demons even in afterlife as they torture Guinevere. After Mordred spots the images of Lancelot’s passionate love for Guinevere that Lancelot painted on her castle’s walls while he was imprisoned there, Morgan shows them to Gawain and his brothers, encouraging them to take action in the name of loyalty to their king, but they do not do this. In the Vulgate La Mort le Roi Artu (The Death of King Arthur, also known as just Mort Artu), Morgan vanishes for a long time and stops troubling Arthur, who assumes her to be dead. One day, he wanders into Morgan’s remote castle while on a hunting trip, and they instantly reconcile with each other. Morgan welcomes him warmly and the king is overjoyed of their reunion and allows her to return to Camelot, but she refuses and declares her plan to move to the Isle of Avalon to live there with other sorceresses. However, the sight of Lancelot’s frescoes and Morgan’s confession finally convinces Arthur about the truth to the rumours of the two’s secret love affair (about which he has been already warned by his nephew Sir Agravain). This leads to a great conflict between Arthur and Lancelot, which brings down the fellowship of the Round Table. The goddess Fortune, who appears to Arthur to foretell his death towards the end the Vulgate Cycle, is regarded by some as a double for Morgan. At the end of Mort Artu, Morgan is the first among the black-hooded ladies who take the dying Arthur to his final rest in Avalon.

English writer Thomas Malory follows much of that portrayal of Morgan in his seminal 1485 compilation book Le Morte d’Arthur (The Death of Arthur), though he expands her role in some cases. Malory scholar Elizabeth Sklar described her as “an essentially sociopathic personality, respecting no boundaries and acknowledging no rules save those dictated by her own ambitions, envy, and lust.” Malory’s Morgan too has studied astrology as well as nigremancie (meaning black magic, sometimes mistaken with “necromancy”) in the nunnery where she was raised, before being married to Urien as a young teenager. In Malory’s version, Morgan is the leader of the four (not three) witch queens who capture Lancelot (the others being the Queen of the Northgales, the Queen of Eastland, and the Queen of the Outer Isles), who also rescues the young Elaine of Corbenic (Galahad’s mother) when she is trapped in an enchanted boiling bath by Morgan and the Queen of the Northgales, both envious of Elaine’s great beauty (also in Prose Lancelot). Despite all of their prior hostility towards each other and her numerous designs to destroy Arthur, Morgan eventually redeems and ends up being one of the four grieving enchantress queens (the others being Nimue and two of Morgan’s allies, the Queen of the Northgales and the Queen of the Wasteland) who arrive in a black boat to transport the wounded king to Avalon. Arthur is last seen in Morgan’s lap, with her lament of sorrow referring to him as her “dear brother” (dere brothir).

Other later appearances
Morgan turns up throughout the High and Late Middle Ages in a variety of roles, generally in works related to the cycles of Arthur or Charlemagne. They often feature Morgan as a lover and benefactor of various heroes, sometimes also introducing her additional offspring or alternate siblings, or connecting her closer with the figure of the Lady of the Lake. The Middle English romance Arthour and Merlin, written in 1270, casts Morgan herself in the role of the Lady of the Lake and gives her a brother named Morganor as an illegitimate son of King Urien. The Italian manuscript Tavola ritonda (The Round Table) makes Morgan a daughter of Uther Pendragon and a sister of the Lady of the Lake. The 14th-century Italian romance Pulzella Gaia (Merry Maiden) features the titular and otherwise unnamed beautiful young daughter of Morgan by Hemison. She is kidnapped by the knight Burletta of the Desert (Burletta della Diserta) and rescued by Lancelot, and later defeats Gawain (Galvan) in her giant serpent form before becoming his lover; she and her fairy army save Gawain from the jealous Guinevere (who wants Gawain dead after having been rejected by him) but she gets herself captured in her mother’s castle Palaus (as Morgan wants to marry her to Tristan), until Gawain in turn frees her from a cursed dungeon.

In some texts, Avalon is often described as an other-worldy place ruled by Morgan. In the Catalan poem La Faula, Guillem de Torroella claims to have visited the Enchanted Isle and met Arthur who has been brought back to life by Morgan and they both of them are now forever young, sustained by the Holy Grail. In the 15th-century Spanish romance Tirant lo Blanch, the noble Queen Morgan searches the world for her missing brother and finds him as an entranced prisoner in Constantinople; Morgan brings Arthur back to his senses by removing Excalibur from his hands, and after great celebrations they depart together back to Avalon. In the legends of Charlemagne, she is most famous for her association with the Danish legendary hero Ogier the Dane, whom she takes to her mystical island palace in Avalon (where Arthur and Gawain are also still alive) to be her lover for 200 years, and later protects him during his adventures in the mortal world as he defends France from Muslim invasion before his eventual return to Avalon; in some accounts, Ogier begets her two sons, including Marlyn. In the 13th-century chanson de geste of Huon of Bordeaux, she is a protector of the eponymous hero and the mother of the fairy king Oberon by none other than Julius Caesar, while Ogier le Danois calls Oberon a brother of Morgan. In another chanson de geste, La Bataille Loquifer, Morgan and her sister Marsion (Marrion) bring the hero Renoart to Avalon, where Arthur is the king, and Renoart and Morgan’s union gives him an illegitimate son named Corbon (Corbans).

Her enchanted realm would be placed elsewhere in the mythological landscape of medieval Europe. Morgan le Fay, or Fata Morgana in Italian, has been in particular associated with Sicily at least since the Norman conquest of southern Italy,[53] and European folklore describes her as living in a magical castle located at or floating over Mount Etna. As such she gave her name to the form of mirage common off the shores of Sicily, the Fata Morgana. References linking Avalon to Sicily can be found in Gervase’s Ottia Imperialia (c. 1211) and in Torroella’s La Faula, as well as in Breton and Provençal literature, for example in Jaufre (an Occitan language Arthurian romance from c. 1180), and in La Bataille Loquifer (c. 1170). The 13th-century romance Floriant et Florete places Morgan’s secret mountain castle of Mongibel (Montgibel, Montegibel; derived from the Arabic name for Etna), where, in the role of a fairy godmother, she spirits away and raises Floriant, the son of a murdered Sicilian king and the hero of the story; Floriant, with the help of her magic ship, eventually reunites with Morgan at her castle when he returns there with his wife Florete. The 15th-century French romance La Chevalier du Papegau (The Knight of the Parrot) gives Morgaine the Fairy of Montgibel (Morgaine, la fée de Montgibel, as she is also known in Floriant et Florete) a sister known as the Lady Without Pride (la Dame sans Orgueil), whom Arthur rescues from the Knight of the Wasteland.

At the end of the 14th-century Middle English romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, one of the best known Arthurian tales, it is revealed that the entire Green Knight plot has been instigated by Gawain’s aunt, the goddess Morgan (Morgue la Faye), who takes an appearance of an elderly woman (contrasting from the beautiful Lady Bertilak in the role evoking the loathly lady tradition), as a test for Arthur and his knights and to frighten Guinevere to death. Morgan’s importance to this particular narrative has been disputed and called a deus ex machina and simply an artistic device to further connect Gawain’s episode to the Arthurian legend.

In modern culture

Morgan le Fay has been featured in many works of popular culture, spanning fantasy and historical fiction across various mediums including literature, comics, film, television, and video games. As Elizabeth S. Sklar of Wayne State University noted in 1992: “Currently a cornerstone of the new Arthurian mythos, [she] occupies a secure position in the contemporary Arthurian pantheon, as familiar a figure to modern enthusiasts as Merlin, Lancelot, or King Arthur himself.”Additionally, she has become an archetype serving as a source of tropes for many characters in various other modern works, some of them borrowing her name in the modernized English form Morgana.

Prior to her 20th-century resurgence, however, Morgan has been largely absent in post-medieval Arthurian writings, sometimes replaced by inspired characters such as Queen Argante (using Layamon’s name for Morgan) in Edmund Spenser’s epic poem The Faerie Queene (1590). The relatively few exceptions of an actual Morgan character include William Morris’s epic poem The Earthly Paradise (1870) where he retells the story of Morgan (Morgane) and Ogier the Dane; in his satirical novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889), Mark Twain cast her as Arthur’s antagonistic sister, a deceptively charmful sorceress who is also capable of the most vicious behavior.

Since the early 20th century, most modern works feature Morgan as a sorceress and sometimes a priestess, and usually a half-sister of Arthur and sometimes a femme fatale, but some also have her in other roles, including as a fairy or an otherwise non-human character. Many authors effectively merge Morgan with Morgause (traditionally a sister of Morgan and the mother of both Mordred and Gawain) and combine her with the less savory aspects of the Lady of the Lake (this is further positioning a modern Morgan as a nemesis for Merlin, who has never been truly her foe in the medieval Arthurian lore); such a composite character is then often turned into Mordred’s mother or partner.

Modern authors’ versions of Morgan have her usually appear in conventionally villainous roles of a witchlike and irreconcilable enemy of Arthur, recurrently in league with Arthur’s bastard son Mordred; be it in the time of the legend or still continuing her feud in the modern era, where she also may be just ruthlessly questing for power or even represent motiveless malevolence. Such Morgan is often merely a one-dimensional caricature, examples of which include the portrayals of her in several television films such as Merlin and the Sword (1985) (played by Candice Bergen), A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1995) (played by Theresa Russell) and Arthur’s Quest (1999) (played by Catherine Oxenberg). Sklar described a modern stereotype of Morgan as “the very embodiment of evil dedicated to the subversion of all forms of governance, express[ing] the fears that inevitably accompany the sort of radical cultural change represented by the social realities and ideological imperatives of escalating female empowerment during this (20th) century…a composite of all the patriarchal nightmare-women of literary tradition: Eve, Circe, Medea and Lady Macbeth compressed into a single, infinitely menacing package,” and whose “sexuality exceeds even that of her prototype and serves as the chief vehicle for her manipulation of others.” Notable examples of this pattern are two comic book supervillainesses, Morgan le Fay (created by Stan Lee and Joe Maneely in 1955) in the Marvel Universe and Morgaine le Fey (created by Jack Kirby in 1972) in the DC Universe. A modern Morgan is often an antagonist character for Arthur, Merlin and their followers to overcome and save Camelot, Avalon, or even the world; even in Excalibur (1981), John Boorman’s film adaptation of Le Morte d’Arthur, the evil Morgana le Fay (played by Helen Mirren) meets her end at the hands of Mordred, her son in the film, instead of accompanying Arthur to Avalon as she did in the source material.

Nevertheless, other modern versions of Morgan’s character can be more sympathic or ambiguous, or even present her as in an entirely positive light, and some also feature her as a protagonist of a story. Alan Lupack of the University of Rochester noted in 2007 that a modern Morgan has evolved to become “a woman whose own values and concerns [have] become central in some retellings of the Arthurian story;” in 2012, Fiona Tolhurst of the Florida Gulf Coast University pointed out how “some contemporary novelists sanitize or justify” Morgan’s origins as “the oversexed counter-hero in most medieval Arthurian texts.”[66] One notable example of this trend is Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon (1983), an influential novel that was later adapted into a television miniseries;other such positions in modern literature, sometimes told in first person from her point of view, include Mary Pope Osborne’s series Magic Tree House, Welwyn Wilton Katz’s The Third Magic (1988), Fay Sampson’s Daughter of Tintagel (1992), Nancy Springer’s I Am Morgan le Fay (2001), J. Robert King’s Le Morte D’Avalon (2003), and Felicity Pulman’s I, Morgana (2014). California State Library consultant Cindy Mediavilla praised two still antagonistic but in her opinion non-stereotypical portrayals of Morgan in the 21st-century television series Merlin (2008) (played by Katie McGrath) and Camelot (2011) (played by Eva Green) “as being among the most fully realized versions of her character in any medium.”

Furthermore, since the late 20th century, some feminists have also adopted Morgan as a representation of female power or of a fading form of feminine spirituality supposedly practised by the Celts or earlier peoples. These interpretations draw upon the original portrayal of Morgan as a benevolent figure with extraordinary healing powers. According to Leila K. Norako of the University of Rochester, “in addition to her appearances in literature, television, and film, Morgan le Fay is also frequently mentioned in the context of neo-pagan religious groups. She is alternately worshipped as a goddess, hailed as a symbol of feminine power, and adopted as a spiritual name.” This development was attributed to the influence of The Mists of Avalon, a revisionist retelling of the legend from a feminist and pro-pagan perspective. People who have been named or named themselves specifically after Arthurian figure of Morgan include Morgana Le Fay O’Reilly and Elizabeth Le Fey. Norako wrote:

Like many characters in the Arthurian legends, Morgan le Fay has been consistently transformed and interpreted by authors and artists for nearly a millennium. [S]he is alternately cast as a healer, villain, enchantress, seductress, or some combination thereof, depending on the needs of the work in question. This versatility has no doubt played a part in the continued cultural relevance that this character has enjoyed across the centuries and continues to hold in contemporary culture as well.



Famous Witches Throughout History: Scott Cunningham

Scott Cunningham


Scott Douglas Cunningham (June 27, 1956 – March 28, 1993) was a U.S. writer. Cunningham is the author of several books on Wicca and various other alternative religious subjects.


His work Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, is one of the most successful books on Wicca ever published; he was a friend of notable occultists and Wiccans such as Raymond Buckland, and was a member of the Serpent Stone Family, and received his Third Degree Initiation as a member of that coven.


Early life
Scott Cunningham was born at the William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, USA, the second son of Chester Grant Cunningham and Rose Marie Wilhoit Cunningham. The family moved to San Diego, California in the fall of 1959 due to Rose Marie’s health problems. The doctors in Royal Oak declared the mild climate in San Diego ideal for her. Outside of many trips to Hawaii, Cunningham lived in San Diego all his life.


Cunningham had one older brother, Greg, and a younger sister, Christine.


He studied creative writing at San Diego State University, where he enrolled in 1978. After two years in the program, however, he had more published works than several of his professors, and dropped out of the university to write full-time. During this period he had as a roommate, magical author Donald Michael Kraig and often socialized with witchcraft author Raymond Buckland, who was also living in San Diego at the time.


In 1980 Cunningham began initiate training under Raven Grimassi and remained as a first-degree initiate until 1982 when he left the tradition to pursue a solo practice of witchcraft.


Cunningham practiced a fairly basic interpretation of Wicca, often worshipping alone, though his book series for solitaries describes several instances in which he worshipped with friends and teachers.


He also believed that Wicca, which had been a closed tradition since the 1950s, should become more open to newcomers.


Cunningham was also drawn to Huna and a range of new age movements and concepts that influenced and coloured his spirituality.


In 1983, Scott Cunningham was diagnosed with lymphoma, which he successfully overcame. In 1990, while on a speaking tour in Massachusetts, he suddenly fell ill and was diagnosed with AIDS-related cryptococcal meningitis. He suffered from several infections and died in March 1993. He was 36.


Published works
1980 – Shadow of Love (fiction)
1982 – Magical Herbalism: The Secret Craft of the Wise (ISBN 0-87542-120-2)
1983 – Earth Power: Techniques of Natural Magic (ISBN 0-87542-121-0)
1985 – Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs (ISBN 0-87542-122-9)
1987 – The Magical Household: Spells and Rituals for the Home (with David Harrington) (ISBN 0-87542-124-5)
1987 – Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem, and Metal Magic (ISBN 0-87542-126-1)
1988 – The Truth About Witchcraft Today (ISBN 0-87542-127-X)
1988 – Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner (ISBN 0-87542-118-0)
1989 – The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews (ISBN 0-87542-128-8)
1989 – Magical Aromatherapy: The Power of Scent (ISBN 0-87542-129-6)
1991 – Earth, Air, Fire, and Water: More Techniques of Natural Magic (ISBN 0-87542-131-8)
1991 – The Magic in Food (ISBN 0-87542-130-X)
1993 – Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen (ISBN 0-7387-0226-9)
1993 – Divination For Beginners (ISBN 0-7387-0384-2)
1993 – Living Wicca: A Further Guide for the Solitary Practitioner (ISBN 0-87542-184-9)
1993 – Spell Crafts: Creating Magical Objects (with David Harrington) (ISBN 0-87542-185-7)
1993 – The Truth About Herb Magic (ISBN 0-87542-132-6)
1994 – The Truth About Witchcraft (ISBN 0-87542-357-4)
1995 – Hawaiian Magic and Spirituality (ISBN 1-56718-199-6)
1997 – Pocket Guide to Fortune Telling (ISBN 0-89594-875-3)
1999 – Dreaming the Divine: Techniques for Sacred Sleep (ISBN 1-56718-192-9)
2009 – Cunningham’s Book of Shadows: The Path of An American Traditionalist (ISBN 0-73871-914-5) – A rediscovered manuscript written by Cunningham in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

Scott Cunningham

Scott Douglas Cunningham was a popular Wiccan author of more than thirty books on both fiction and non-fiction topics. More than fifteen of his books were written on Wicca and its related subjects, he also wrote scripts for occult videos. Scott was a key player in opening up Wicca to solitary practice, and by making a great deal of information available to the public, he helped influence many newcomers entering the craft.


Scott was born on the 27th June 1956 at the William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, USA. His parents Chester Grant Cunningham and Rose Marie Wilhoit Cunningham had two other children, an older brother Greg and a younger sister Christine. In 1959 due to his mothers recurring health problems, the family moved to San Diego, California, were the doctors declared the mild climate would be more beneficial for her. Aside from his many trips to Hawaii, Scott continued to live in San Diego until his death in 1993.


His introduction to the craft came through a book he read in 1971, one purchased by his mother (The Supernatural, by Douglas Hill and Pat Williams). Scott had always shown an interest in plants, minerals and other natural earth products, and this book furthered his interest. It also showed diagrams of Italian hand gestures used to ward of the evil eye, and these particularly fascinated him. Later in high school he used these gestures to attract the attention of a female classmate he knew to be involved with the occult and a working coven. She introduced Scott into Wicca, which further intensified his interest in the powers of nature. Over the next few years he took initiation into several covens of varying traditions gaining experience, but really he preferred to practice as a solitary practitioner.


In 1974 he enrolled at San Diego State University were he studied creative writing, inspired to do so by his father. His father was a professional writer who had authored some 170 non-fiction and fiction books. Scott started writing truck and automobile articles for trade publications, he also wrote advertising copy on a freelance basis. His roommate during this period was the author Donald Michael Kraig, he also made the acquaintance of Raymond Buckland, who was living in San Diego at the time. After only two years of his University course, Scott had collected more published credits than most of his professors, and so decided to drop out from the rest of the course and began to write full-time. The first book he had published was an Egyptian romance novel, Shadow of Love (1980).


Scott’s writing style was easy to understand being simple and direct, his teachings focused on encouraging people to employ whatever works for them in their religious, spiritual, and magickal endeavours. He was a fine herbalist and produced several books dealing with herbs, including Magickal Herbalism (Llewellyn Publications, 1982), and Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magickal Herbs (Llewellyn Publications, 1985). His books on Wicca led to a steady rise in its popularity, and he soon became one of the best-read Wiccan authors of his time. Sales of his most popular book Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner (Llewellyn, 1988), reached over 400,000 copies by the year 2000.


His prominence was instrumental in influencing the changes that took place in the Wicca movement during the eighties. Due to his influence, the Wiccan religion shifted primarily from the hands of initiates into the public arena, and many eclectic traditions were formed as a result. While essentially a self-styled Wiccan and a solitary practitioner, he was initiated into several established Craft Traditions. In 1980 he entered into the Aridian Tradition, where he undertook a course of study on Witchcraft and Magick from Raven Grimassi. Then in 1981 he entered the Reorganized Traditional Gwyddonic Order of Wicca, and the Ancient Pictish Gaelic Tradition. Additionally, he was an initiate of the American Traditionalist Wicca.


Scott traveled around the country giving lectures and occasionally making media appearances on behalf of the craft. He viewed the craft as a modern religion created in the 20th century, and thought that Wicca, while containing pagan folk magic derived of ancient times, should be stripped of it’s quasi-historical and mythological trappings and represented to the public as a modern religion utilizing ancient concepts. He also believed that Wicca, which had been a closed and secretive tradition since the 1950s, should become more open to newcomers.


A sudden onset of health issues began to affect his public appearances, then later his writing. In 1983 he was diagnosed with Lymphoma, a form of cancer. To make matters worse in 1990, he also contracted Cryptococcal Meningitis. His health continued to decline as he suffered opportunistic infections related to his primary disease. Finally on the 28th March 1993, he succumbed, and Scott passed from this world and into the next. As an ambassador of the pagan way of life, his books today continue to influence us all.



Work Complied by George Knowles, Published on Controverscial.com

Famous Witches Throughout History – Circe



In Greek mythology, flame-haired Circe is a minor goddess (or sometimes a nymph, witch, enchantress or sorceress) living on the island of Aeaea. She was reputed to transform her enemies, or those who offended her, into animals through the use of magical potions and was renowned for her knowledge of drugs and herbs.

Circe’s father was Helios, the god of the sun, and her mother was Perse, an Oceanid and daughter of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. She was also the sister of two kings of Colchis, Aeëtes and Perses, and of Pasiphaë, the mother of the Minotaur.

In Homer’s “Odyssey”, Odysseus’ crew stumbled onto Circe’s island and her “water mansion” in a clearing in a dense wood, around which prowled harmless lions and wolves, the drugged victims of her magic. She invited the sailors to a feast, but the food was laced with one of her magical potions, and she turned them all into pigs with a wand after they had gorged themselves on it (modern interpretations suggest this may have been a hallucinogenic intoxication or drugged delusion rather than shapeshifting).

Odysseus set out to rescue his men, using the holy herb “moly” given to him by Hermes to protect himself from Circe’s potion, and following Hermes’ advice as to how to avoid Circe’s magic and seductions. Having freed his fellows, Odysseus and Circe became lovers, and he and his men remained on the island for a year feasting and drinking wine, after which Circe assisted him in his quest to reach his home.

Later poets extended the story, one version being that Telegonus, Circe’s son by Odysseus was sent by Circe to find Odysseus, who had long since returned to his home on Ithaca, but on arrival Telegonus accidentally killed his father. He brought the body back to Aeaea, taking Odysseus’ widow Penelope and their son Telemachus with him, and Circe made them immortal and married Telemachus, while Telegonus made Penelope his wife.

According to legend, Jason and the Argonauts also visited Circe’s island while they were escaping the Colchian fleet, (possibly at the request of Circe’s niece Medea, who was with them, or possibly instructed by the magical ship “Argo” itself) in order to be purified and cleansed by Circe for the assassination of Medea’s brother Apsyrtus.

In some stories, Circe was also attributed the ability to darken the heavens by hiding the moon or the sun behind clouds, and destroy her enemies with poisonous juices, calling to her aid Nyx (Night), Chaos or Hecate, the goddess of the crossroads. In her presence, and because of her enchantments, the woods would move, the ground rumble and the trees around her turn white. At night, uncontrolled visions filled her house, the walls and chambers of her palace could seem to be bathed in blood, and fire could seem to devour her magic herbs.

She is also credited with converting, in a fit of jealousy, the beautiful young woman Scylla into a monster with the face and breast of a woman, but having in her flanks six heads and twelve feet of dogs, who ever after presented a danger for ships passing the strait of Messina between Sicily and Italy. She is also supposed to have turned the handsome young magician Picus into a woodpecker after he refused her advances.


The Spellbinding Story of Circe, Goddess of Magic


Circe was a goddess of magic and she continues to be one of the most enchanting deities of ancient Greek mythology. This daughter of Helios and patron of ancient Greek witches still fascinates people even today.

She appeared in many of the most famous ancient Greek texts, such as The Odyssey by Homer, The Theogony by Hesiod, Description of Greece by Pausanias, Geography by Strabo, and The Library of History by Diodorus Siculus. She was also mentioned by famous Roman writers like Virgil, Cicero, Ovid, Hyginus, Valerius Flaccus, Statius, and Propertius. Why did Circe become so popular for these and other writers? She was just one of many characters in Greek mythology, but people saw something in her which fascinated them more than the others.

The Magic of Circe
Witchcraft has always been important. Since the beginning of humanity, people have searched for solutions through magical practices. Therefore, Circe (or Kirke) became one of the most magnetic women in Ancient Greece.

In most texts, she is described as a daughter of Perse the Oceanid and the Titan of the Sun – Helios. She had several siblings, including Pasiphae (who married King Minos and bore the famous Minotaur.) Aeetes, known as the keeper of the Golden Fleece, was said to be her brother. However, some ancient texts suggest that she was actually the powerful goddess Hecate’s daughter instead.

Her personality and attributes encompass all of the key ideas related to witchcraft. It is written that she was a specialist in herbs and knew how to use them for magic and healing. She created many recipes for ancient potions to use in magic rituals. Circe is often depicted with a wand or a staff. One of the most famous of her accomplishments was transforming her enemies into animals.
The most popular account of Circe comes from the Odyssey 10. 135 – 12. 156:

“[Odysseus sailed forth from the land of the Laistrygones (Laestrygones) and came next to the island of Kirke (Circe):] Then we came to the island of Aiaia (Aeaea); here Kirke (Circe) dwelt, a goddess with braided hair, with human speech and with strange powers; the magician Aeetes was her brother, and both were radiant Helios the sun-god’s children; their mother was Perse, Okeanos’ (Oceanus’) daughter. We brought the ship noiselessly to shore, and with some divinity for guide we put in at the sheltering harbour. We disembarked, and for two days and two nights we lay there, eating out our hearts with sorrow and weariness.

But when Eos the Dawn of the braided hair brought the third day at last, I took my spear and my sharp sword and hastened up to a vantage-point, hoping to see some human handiwork or to catch the sound of some human speech. I climbed a commanding crag, and from where I stood had a glimpse of smoke rising from the ground. There were gleams of fire through the smoke, and at sight of this I wondered inwardly whether to go and look. But as I pondered, it seemed a wiser thing to return first to my vessel on the beach, give my men a meal and then send them out to spy. I was on my way back and near the ship when some divinity pities me in my loneliness and sent a great antlered stag right across my path [perhaps a man that Kirke had transformed into an animal].”


Her role is quite large in the Odyssey, where it shows many things about morality and understanding the power of magic and the fear of deities in ancient Greece. Homer’s description of her also led to Circe being considered as one of the most attractive female figures in ancient mythology.

A Heroine of Science and Literature
Stories from ancient literature fascinated many scientists so much that they started to search for scientific explanations in them. For example, the plants which are believed to be the ones Circe used to put a spell on Odysseus’ companions were called Circaea. That name was given during the late 16th century.

Circe’s fame didn’t die with the end of ancient beliefs. During medieval times, she became an important symbol in moral stories created by Giovanni Boccaccio. In ”Famous women” ( De mulieribus claris ), he wrote that she lived in Italy and commented on her actions. She also appeared in the monumental 600-page text written by Georg Rollenhagen in 1595, titled ”The frogs and mice” ( Froschmeulseler). In that book, Rollenhagen described the story of Odysseus or Ulysses and Circe.

In 1624, Spanish writer Lope de Vega also presented her in his text titled La Circe – con otras rimas y prosas , where he wrote another version of the Greek myth. She was a popular motif during the 19th century in books related to mystical and mythical topics as well.

Circe Today
Circe is now one of the most popular figures from ancient witchcraft and mythology. Her character appears in TV series, movies, games, and fantasy books. She still casts her magic and terrifies men, who have no idea what to do – should they escape or admire her beauty? Circe is a symbol of female power for women and vanity for men. Regardless of how she is interpreted, she is still one of the most magnetic women from ancient Greek myth.


By Natalia Klimczak, Ancient Origins 

Zygmunt Kubiak, Mitologia Greków i Rzymian, 1997.

Pierre Grimal, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology, 1996.

Homer, Odyssey, available at:

Kirke, available at:

Famous Witches Throughout History: Mother Shipton

Mother Shipton

(c.1488 – 1561)

Mother Shipton was a 16th Century English soothsayer, prophetess and supposed witch who is said to have made dozens of unusually accurate predictions, including the Great Plague of London, the Spanish Armada and the Great Fire of London. Many of the more colourful details of her life (such as her birth in a cave in Knaresborough and her hideous appearance) were later admitted to have been fabricated by Richard Head, the editor of a book of her prophecies published forty years after her death.


Mother Shipton was born Ursula Southeil (or possibly Sontheil) the daughter of the 16-year old suspected witch Agatha Southeil (or Sontheil) in 1488 (or possibly 1486). She was reputedly born grotesquely deformed and hideously ugly, but was nevertheless taken in by a kindly townswoman. Her head was too large, her “goggling” eyes glowed like embers, her cheeks were sunken, her limbs were twisted and ill-formed, and she was born with a full set of teeth which protruded like the tusks of a boar. According to local accounts was referred to as “Hag-Face” and “Devils Bastard” as she grew up, and it was believed by many that the father of such an ugly child must be the Devil himself. Some of the accounts of “strange and terrible noises” or a great crack of thunder and a pungent smell of brimstone at the moment of Ursula’s birth are probably later fabrications to fit in with the fanciful notion that the Devil had been the child’s father.


Fanciful tales grew up around her of strange events which were said to have plagued the cottage as she grew up. The furniture would mysteriously rearrange itself, plates be flung about, and food vanish before the eyes of astonished mealtime guests. It is said that when pushed beyond the limits of her notoriously limited patience, she would send goblins (or even dragons) to put some of her tormentors to flight. On one occasion, warned that her activities might lead to her being burnt as a witch, she supposedly put her wooden staff in the fire and, when the flames had no effect on it, said: “If this had been burned, I might have too’.


However, neither her growing reputation as a witch nor her appearance (which apparently worsened as she grew up) deterred a York carpenter and builder Toby Shipton from marrying her in 1512 (the inevitable tale developed that she had used a love-potion to bewitch her hapless suitor). Although they remained childless, their relationship was described as “very comfortable”.


Mother Shipton was credited with powers of clairvoyance and through the centuries her predictions, originally passed down by word of mouth, were held in the same high regard as those of her near contemporary, Nostradamus. Her early forecasts were to do with local people and events, and people travelled to Knaresborough from some distance around to consult her. She was particularly successful in solving the sort of commonplace interpersonal disputes, and it was recorded that thieves would publicly return stolen goods (apologizing to the astonished owners for their sin), wandering husbands would beg forgiveness and mend their ways, and corrupt officials would make spontaneous acts of restitution.


But, as time passed, her prophecies became more ambitious and began to relate to the country as a whole, including prominent figures at the court of Henry VIII. For example, she predicted that Cardinal Wolsey (the “Mitred Peacock”) would see York, but never reach it, and in 1530, after falling out of favour with the King, Wolsey set out to find refuge in the north and was within sight of York when Lord Percy arrived with a Royal Summons demanding he return to London to face a charge of high treason.


Her reputation has been kept alive by her foretelling of events in the more distant future: the execution of Mary Queen of Scots, the accession of Lady Jane Grey, Drake’s defeat of the Spanish Armada, the Great Plague of 1665 and, perhaps most famously, the Great Fire of London of 1666. It is claimed that some of her prophetical verses foretold iron ships, motor transport, submarines, aircraft and perhaps even the Internet (‘around the world thoughts shall fly in the twinkling of an eye’). One of the most famous examples of Mother Shipton’s prophecies, which apparently foretells many aspects common to modern civilization and predicts the end of the world in 1881, is now known to be a 19th Century forgery, which did not appear in print until 1862.


Many people now accept that the figure of Mother Shipton is largely a myth, and that the majority of her prophecies were composed by others in retrospect, after her death. The most notable book of her prophecies, edited by Richard Head, was first published in 1684, and Head later admitted to having invented almost all of Shipton’s biographical details.


Mother Shipton died in 1561 (or 1567), and is said to have been buried in unconsecrated ground somewhere on the outskirts of York, possibly at Clifton. Despite the disproofs of many of her prophesies, she was both feared and revered in her own time, and has been remembered by many over the centuries as England’s greatest prophetess.



Mother Shipton Prophecy


Are these the End Times?
A Woman’s Uncanny Prophecy (500 Years Old)

A witch? A satanist? Possessed? Gifted? Used of God? Whatever you say, the evidence certainly suggests Mother Shipton was the closest thing to a prophetess that England had for unnumbered generations. Of her lfe we know some, not much. Mother Shipton, sometimes called “the Yorkshire Sybil” was reputedly born Ursula Sontheil (or Southill) in 1488 in Norfolk, England (supposedly in the cave of Knaresborough), and died in 1561, burnt, we are told, at the stake. Her mother Agatha was well known for her exceptional powers. Ursula, too, exhibited prophetic and psychic abilities from an early age. At 24, married to one Toby Shipton, she eventually became known as Mother Shipton. Many of her visions came true within her own lifetime and in subsequent centuries. I first learned of her through an old time holy roller preacher, Bishop Whitlock, in Lewiston, California. But with all the Y2K hoopla, her fame seems enigmatically to be spreading. These rare verses from Mother Shipton seem to have prophetic indications for our times, and while open to interpretation, they show this woman to have been uncannily prescient.

“This was given to Laurent under the Tree in Athens, Georgia by Tim Mills in October, 1944. From an article in the Banner-Herald, Athens, GA Monday, May 23, 1938:

We are in receipt of an alleged prophecy written five hundred years ago by Mother Shipton and vouched for by J.H. Phillips, of Ashdown, Arkansas.
Many of the prophecies have come true and on the suggestion of the owner of the copy of the prophecy, we are giving space to its publication.”

A Prophecy from half a millenium ago –


So timely it’s almost spooky.
Some people seem to believe the prophetic age passed with the Age of the Apostles (only to return with the Age of Aquarius?) Here is a prophecy written 500 years ago by a woman. Read and see if you can suggest how she could have improved it if she had written it this month. Before reading it, please undertake to transport yourself back across five centuries and live when there were no steamships, no steam railways, no sewing machines, no cook stoves, no radios, no automobiles, no flying machines, no submarines, and none of the many other inventions so common today.
Now, you back there, sitting alone in your quaint old fashioned dwelling, READ this poem AND SEE if you do not think she had a real vision of the future happenings of the world. – J.H. Phillips, Ashdown AR.


[Bob Shepherd notes] Mother Shipton was born in [not Norfolk, but north Yorkshire) England and died in Clifton, Yorkshire, apparently in 1561. If true, her death was by execution — burnt (as a `Witch`) — at the stake.


Phillip Coppens attempts to revise (or update a revision or an earlier revision) of the canonical “received” view of the Shipton (witch) story. To separate history from legend is still a daunting task, or even to decipher the whys and hows of so many unexplained (and uncannily accurate) predictions. Were her powers from the devil? Alas, she paid a price, first in ostracism and official threats and persecutions. Those days were still the era of the infamous Malleus Maleficarum, the hammer of witches. (more) Inquisitions, both official and otherwise, or sometimes just local zealots … did not hesitate to burn non-conformists (or even just trouble-maker women) at the stake — as Mother Shipton apparently learned first-hand. Is there a moral to the story? For one thing, Well-behaved Women Seldom Make History.

Mother Shipton Prophecy

(Versified ::: exactly as originally)
[Archaic spelling has been modernized]
A carriage without horse shall go;
Disasters fill the world with woe.
In London, Primrose Hill shall be,
Its centre hold a Bishop’s See.
Around the world men’s thoughts shall fly
Quick as the twinkling of an eye
And waters shall great wonders do,
How strange, and yet it shall come true.


Then upside down the world shall be,
And gold found at the root of tree;
Through towering hill proud men shall ride,
No horse nor ass move at his side.
Beneath the waters men shall walk;
Shall ride, shall sleep and even talk.
And in the air men shall be seen,
In white and black and even green.
A great man then shall come and go,
For prophecy declares it so.


In water iron then shall float
As easy as a wooden boat,
Gold shall be found in stream or stone,
In land that is as yet unknown.
Water and fire shall wonders do,
And England shall admit a Jew.


The Jew that once was held in scorn,
Shall of a Christian then be born. [borne?]
A house of glass shall come to pass
In ENGLAND – but alas!
A war will follow with the work,
Where dwells the pagan and the Turk.
The states will lock in fiercest strife
And seek to take each other’s life.
When North shall thus divide South
The eagle build in lion’s mouth.
Then tax and blood and cruel war
Shall come to every humble door.


Three times shall lovely sunny France
Be lead to play a lovely dance,
Before the people shall be free.
The tyrant rulers shall she see.
Three rulers in succession be,
Each sprang from different dynasty.


Then, when fiercest fight is done
England and France shall be as one.
The British olive next shall twine
In marriage with the German vine.
Men walk beneath and over streams
Fulfilled shall be our strangest dreams.


All England’s sons that plough the land –
Shall oft be seen with Book in hand.
The poor shall then True Wisdom know
And waters, wind, where corn did grow.
Great houses stand in farflung vale,
All covered o’er with snow and hail.


And now a word in uncouth rhyme
Of what shall be in future time,
For in the wondrous far off days,
The women shall adopt a craze
To dress like men and trousers wear
And cut off their lovely locks of hair.
They’ll ride astride with brazen brow
As witches on a broomstick now
Then love shall die and marriage cease,
And nations wane as births decrease.
The wives shall fondle cats and dogs
And men live much the same as hogs.


In nineteen-hundred twentysix
Build houses light of straw and sticks,


And roaring monsters with man atop
Do seem to eat the verdant crop.
And men shall fly as birds do now,
And give away the horse and plough.
When pictures live with movements free,
When boats like fishes swim the sea,
When men like birds shall scour the sky
Then half the world, blood drenched shall die.


For then shall mighty war be planned
And fire and sword sweep the land.
But those who live the century through
In fear and trembling this will do;
Flee to the mountains and the dens
To bog and forest and wild fens
For storms shall rage and oceans roar,
When Gabriel stands on sea and shore
And when he blows his horn
Old worlds shall die and new be born.


Thirteen fulfilled prophecies:

~Great Fire of London [1666]
~Readmission of Jews to England
~Radio, telephone, the internet?
~Submarine vehicles and [cities?]
~Trains, Cars and Motorised vehicles
~Iron ships and ocean-going vessels
~Mechanized [“crop-eating”] agriculture
~Aeroplanes, and [perhaps] space travel
~Tunnels right through the “towering hills”
~Widespread diffusion of literacy, learning
~An inversion of time-honoured sexual rôles
~An apparent untethering of mores and morals
~A degradation of relations within the family.