Today I would like to take the time to share with you a poem that I wrote primarily to tell the story of how a Lancashire Witch may have felt in the run up to trial- though I appreciate a lot of artistic licence is involved here, and this poem certainly has a neo-pagan flare to it (whereas if any of the accused were actually practicing witches, they would have practiced a more regional folk witch practice, free of our modern interpretations of witchery and folk ways).
As well as attempting to get the reader to see the more animistic, community serving, and even human, side of a witch, I also wrote this piece to be shared at the annual online Witches Walk which is organised by dear friends to remember all those, both past and present, who were harmed and persecuted due to accusations of witchcraft.
The poem received a phenomenally positive feedback and has been shared (with permission) by others, so I figure it is time for me to also send this out into the world too.
I hope you enjoy this piece, “Lament of a Pendle Witch”.
“I have sat and I have listened.
To the trees whose leaves whisper gently in the breeze,
To the creaking of the branches and hum of energy that flows with ease from earth channels, into roots, through branches and then out in to the air.
I have silently walked through Woodlands and forests, taking nothing and only observing,
Past goblin lair and faery fort,
‘Tween boggart lair, and Skrikers nest.
Keeping track of my feet, my effort, to ensure I do not misstep into Faery ring, or step too close to their dances and japes.
I have felt the hairs on the nape of my neck, stand on end when mysterious and otherworldly singing floated on the wind.
And when I returned home I have kept my secrets in my heart, and never boasted of who I have encountered or of what I have been part of.
And I have been part of midnight circles,
My voice, one of many to carry on the air.
To soar into flight, and carry our will to mystical planes of existence.
Our words, they have power.
To maim or to heal.
Whatever we feel we bring into existence by birthing our will through ritual and song.
We are Witches, the rebels and resistance.
The anarchists and lovers.
The takers and sharers of the powers that hide in the earth, in the trees, the wind and the embers that dance wildly in the hearth.
I have danced and jumped the broom.
I have made love under moonlight and felt by womb grow from that love.
I have birthed children whose souls feels as though they come from the heavens above.
And in whose faces I see at least 10 ancestors who came before them.
I have spoken softened words to the dying, held their hands and cleaned their bodies for the grave.
I have cured herds of cattle who worried the farmer.
And yet to find my payment in return was to be subjected to the gossip, the prattle of farmers’ wives at market.
This is what they gave me in return…
I have stood atop of Pendle hill and whispered prayers to the wind.
Some may pray in church, the ones who listen to the priest who waggles his tongue about sin.
But I pray to the ground beneath my feet.
To the stars in the sky.
To the fleets of crows that swoop and dive.
And to the Jackdaw who chatters and jibes.
I have stitched, and I have mended..
From torn skin to the hems of dresses and shirts.
I have listened to other peoples hurts, and offered them the comfort of my ears, my heart, and my arms
For years I have studied and collected all manner of herbs.
To curb illness and soothe restless sleepers.
But now here I sit.
In a cold damp gaol at his majesty’s pleasure.
Pleasure… what I treasure of a word and so subjective to the one who feels it.
Am I evil?
Am I what they say I am?
Is the politics that placed me in this cold dark cell worth all this upheaval?
Will I ever see the sun again?
Will I see Pendle, the forests, the dells, or feel the rain gently kiss my skin again.
Shall I ever see the Moor again?
That sleek expansive place of Heather and gorse.
Where the sheep lazily graze, and wild horses run free.
If I could, I would flee.
I would run free and take the form of a Hare.
I would sit beneath the moon and stare up at her beauty.
But these irons are tight.
And I won’t win this fight.
I know my fate, and the price I shall pay for the ignorance and hate of others.
Did you know hate was magick?
Hate is a curse.
Ironic isn’t it, that the ones who hate and imprison me and the worse sinners of all.
Yes hate is a curse and it will carry me off.
To hangman’s noose and then thrown in a hearse.
But where hate is a curse, love is a blessing.
Love is the best magick of all.
So practice it well.
Let it swell in your heart and spread like pollen floating in the breeze.
I have seen and I have heard.
I have listened and I have felt.
I have practiced and I have loved.
I am a Witch and shall always be.
~ By Zanna Buxton-Kelly, 2022. Living in hope that
one day, the victims of the Pendle trials will be
Alice Nutter Memorial statue marking the fourth centenary since the Pendle Witch Trials. Original photography by ZBK, 2022
Thank you for taking the time to read this poem today, and I hope you enjoyed it.
Through the time, mists, and distance between us, blessings from me to you.
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