What makes a Discworld witch?

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Postby Dotsie » Wed May 27, 2009 8:53 am

swreader wrote:Lots of good points made here, but I think I can add some things. Witches, in the Discworld, occur only in Lancre (apparently)--although Hilta Goatfounder seems to have moved down to the plains, but she's from Lancre. Mrs. Gogol is not technically a witch--rather a Voodoo Priestess, although there seems to be little difference in their ideas and powers.


And of course Granny Aching, who Granny W says is a witch who made the sky her hat.

All witches have acquired some basic knowledge in the areas of medicine (both human and animal), and they are part social workers/part judges in making sure that the right things are done.


Which is exactly why Granny Aching is also a witch. The only difference is she didn't learn witching from anyone else, & her powers were strictly of the headology variety
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Postby swreader » Thu May 28, 2009 4:49 am

Dotsie- you're absolutely right about Granny Aching. She is definitely a witch.
However I have to disagree very slightly, with this statement--
Which is exactly why Granny Aching is also a witch. The only difference is she didn't learn witching from anyone else, & her powers were strictly of the headology variety.


Both Granny Aching and the Feegle keldas are witches (the Keldas are witches of a special kind). And that is why Granny A & the Kelda of Wee Free Men have been working together. They have been protecting the world against intrusions by those such as the Fairy Queen. And certainly Jeannie (Rob's wife) uses witchly magic when she performs the ritual which allows her to tap into all keldas.

And Granny Aching is an expert on doctoring sheep (and perhaps humans) mainly with turpentine. But we don't know where she learned her witch skills. Perhaps, as you said, she is self-taught, but I think more likely she learned from her Mother or her predecessor as Hag o' the Hills.

As Tiffany finds, trying to use witchcraft without proper training, can be very dangerous. And even Granny W went through a period of training before she knew more than her teachers.
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Postby Dotsie » Thu May 28, 2009 8:54 am

swreader wrote:As Tiffany finds, trying to use witchcraft without proper training, can be very dangerous. And even Granny W went through a period of training before she knew more than her teachers.


True, but both of these are exceptionally talented witches. I don't think Granny A could have done any powerful magic by accident (or design).

I had forgotten about the keldas. Witches are coming out of the woodwork!
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Postby raspberry » Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:27 pm

Lots of interesting stuff on this thread!

I can't remember which book- it might be Carpe Jugulum- gave me the idea that witches have to make the choices noone else dares to make. (or would admit wanting to make)
Witches are there for all the tricky bits- birth, death, judgement, danger. I wish there was a witch living near me!
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Postby Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit » Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:42 pm

Granny Weatherwax says it best... Living on the razors edge of things, making the tough decisions, i.e. take the child and not the mother, and tell the father not to kill the cow because it was the thorn making it edgy.
Aha! So, Bob's yer uncle... very clever.
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Postby Who's Wee Dug » Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:32 pm

<Witches are there for all the tricky bits- birth, death, judgement, danger. I wish there was a witch living near me!>

Why is that Raspberry. Image
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Postby raspberry » Thu Aug 20, 2009 9:21 am

Who's Wee Dug
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:32 pm Post subject:
<Witches are there for all the tricky bits- birth, death, judgement, danger. I wish there was a witch living near me!>

Why is that Raspberry.

Sometimes it would be nice to know there was a witch around to sort out some of the wrong 'uns we have to deal with from time to time! :)
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Postby Doughnut Jimmy » Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:19 pm

As far as the older witches not doing magic goes I think it reflects the level of expertise they have achieved, their understanding is good enough that they can achieve what needs doing with just a word or a swift knee in the back.

I think its true in most fields that while the young get all excited about new all singing all dancing bits of kit those with experience and a bit of common sense get more done faster without it. Why bother summoning demons etc when you don't have to?

They do guard the edges and take the tough decisions and responsibility for them but I can't help feeling that by doing that they take something away from everyone else - if someone isn't witch material they pretty much assume they're incompetent and its fine for the witches to run their lives for them, thereby ensuring they remain easily led.
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Postby GrannyWeatherwax » Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:43 pm

My take on the Discworld witches is that each one has a fairly defined character which in turn defines them in both their daily life avoiding the use of magic, and in those times when they have to use their magic.

Granny weatherwax avoids using magic by using headology, but when she uses magic it is often borrowing (extreme headology)

Magrat avoids using magic by using natural remedies, and when forced to use magic she uses nature ('growing' cellar doors and accidental pumpkins)

Tiffany's solution to the day to day stuff is to think logically and analytically, but her magical side comes through in her 'third thoughts' because when she uses those she can work out how to do thing that make granny Weatherwax sit back and take notice.

Nanny Ogg's approach is pragmatic and bawdy, and what she knows of human (sexual) nature enables her to avoid magic - unless she really needs a good love potion. knowing human nature so well also means she is the one person who realises when Granny is about to start cackling, so she looks after her old friend.

Miss Tick is a natural teacher so her magical side is her ability to 'detect' a growing witch

I can't go further without re-reading all the witch books and analysing them to death and that would just take the fun out of it all.

but them's me thoughts :)
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Postby Dotsie » Mon Feb 15, 2010 4:53 pm

Welcome to the site Granny :D If it doesn't seem to much like analysing it to death, there's a Wyrd Sisters discussion going on you might be interested in :wink:
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Postby Doughnut Jimmy » Mon Feb 15, 2010 8:48 pm

Welcome Granny!
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Postby unseenu » Sun Feb 21, 2010 12:38 pm

heres my opinions of some of the discworld witches:

Cleverest/most manipulative:Granny Weatherwax

Funniest/most entertaining:Nanny Ogg

Best at actual magic:Black Aliss

I love the discworld witches.When i learned the concept of headology I got much better at persuading people to do what I want :D. I think what makes a good discworld witch is one who can manipulate people whilst doing as little magic as possible,the prime example being Granny.
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Postby Draywoman » Mon Feb 22, 2010 1:36 pm

I've just read through this for the first time. Tony, what's not to like about Nanny? You wouldn't want to be on the wrong side of her but I can think of dozens like her back in the old East End and they were hilarious :D
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Postby Doughnut Jimmy » Mon Feb 22, 2010 1:48 pm

unseenu wrote:Best at actual magic:Black Aliss


Is she actually better than Granny though? I'm sure there's a comment somewhere that Granny is getting as good as her?


And welcome to the site Unseenu, hope you like it here :)
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Feb 22, 2010 2:02 pm

Draywoman wrote:I've just read through this for the first time. Tony, what's not to like about Nanny? You wouldn't want to be on the wrong side of her but I can think of dozens like her back in the old East End and they were hilarious :D
Unfortunately I know someone like her and it's not fun at all. :P
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