‘Miss. Miss. Miss…can I tell you something?’ an excited three year old girl at my son’s nursery ran to me and started off. ‘There was a woman. She wanted to eat up all the pet animals. She was so scary. She was a witch. She was so evil….’ she went on breathlessly… and then quickly ran away to play with my son. The kids had just been subject to an hour long pantomine that told the wicked tale of the supposed evil that lurks as witches in the world.
Now what can I say to a small kid of her age? In my book ‘Yes, You Are A Witch!‘ explains in a fun way, to older kids and young adults, how being a Witch is great and positive and how witchcraft is simply wise-craft, a positive application of a spiritual power that all of us are naturally endowed with, to improve our life. Yet instead of books like these, libraries have been stocked with children’s books such as ‘Witches’ by Roald Dahl, that bring forth images of horrible women who turn innocent kids to mice. I am glad that at least JK Rowling and Sir Terry Pratchett brought some kind of balance to this situation by depicting at least a few good witches their legendary fiction books. Yet the amount of misunderstanding that little ones have been subject to, in the name of ‘witchcraft’ and ‘witches’ through fiction and fairytales over the years of growing up right from babyhood is absolutley incredible.
The other day I was reading a book called ‘Meg and Mog’ to my son which is about a witch who lives with her cat Mog. Turns out predictably that she dresses up in black cloak and a tall hat to fly on a broom up the chimney after midnight with her cauldron brewing bats, spiders, worms, beetles and frogs with her witchy friends at her ‘spell party’ gathering on the hill, where her friends get turned into, guess what – mice.
Funny? Enjoyable? Yes for sure! But such stories while fictional also strengthen the mis-perception of witches being crazy weirdos having strange super-powers who are upto no good.
Have you ever heard of any such negative images regarding any other real-life, very much existing, thriving community or sub-culture made of real people being spread amongst kids and adults alike in such a widespread way across centuries? Have you heard of books that have cartooned up any other social, professional, religious, or cultural group in this manner through fiction and non-fiction alike, brainwashing us right from the time we were little? What if we depicted any other professional skill in similar derogatory ways commonly in literature – lets say carpenters as men who sawed kids up, beauticians as ladies who skinned people alive, or religious priests as horrible men who abused little boys? Doesn’t sound fair now, does it?
The last thing I want my son to grow up thinking is that witches are pure evil, kind of weird, whacko loonies or in any way ‘not normal’ people. Not because I am a Witch, but because I believe in sharing only truth.
So when can we have some positive stories written about witches for little kids? Any of you writers listening out there? Coz if you don’t do it I surely will!