Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Trick or Treat! (Halloween 2013)

Trick or Treat!

Ask a child: who rides a broom on Halloween night? Of course, she’ll

Then ask: but why are witches associated with Halloween? You’ll get a

Because she’d have to look back thousands of years... to when on Yule
night in Norway, goddess Reisarova and her witch hordes mounted their
black steeds with eyes of shining ember, and during the wild ride would
cast down saddles onto roofs, foretelling death for the occupant.

Or when the troll witch giantess Hyrrokin rode through her Swedish
skies on a wolf bridled with snakes.

Or when on Lithuania’s midsummer night, all magicians and witches
flew to the top of Mt. Szatria to revel with their mighty sorceress

Or when in the Scottish highlands at summer’s end, with a wand of
power in her hand, grey-cloaked crone Nicnevin led her witch fairies and
goblins astride animal spirits in a great celebratory Parade. Or when in
Ireland, the beings and souls of the Otherworld—some of them human
who’d been turned into cats for evil deeds—assembled at the sacrificial
bonfire of the Druids among the people to honor the dying natural world
in the presence of the aged Crone, the Hag, the Cailleach... all knew
would re-emerge in spring as a beautiful, powerful maiden. For it was on
Samhain night that the barrier between the worlds was so thin, spirits who
were homesick could re-enter this mortal world and commune with and
visit their loved ones.

In the German-speaking countries of Eastern Europe,
the Old Goddess might appear at harvest’s end as an ugly, long-nosed
spinster. On this Ember Night, she’d bring treats or play tricks: spindles
of finished thread for industrious girls, dirtying or tangling the unspun
flax of lazy spinners. Sometimes she’d sport a tooth or nose of iron, or
carry live coals in her pitcher for burning their distaffs. Her job was to
reward and punish children. Often she took the form of a pig.

In time, she became a myth... as did her namesakes.

“At the end of the middle ages an international myth of the Old Goddess
stretched from the Slavic east to the Celtic west and from Italy to
Scandanavia. People said that a vibrant, powerful crone flew in the midst
of a cavalcade of spirits dead and unborn, joined by witches of all lands.
On the eves of pagan holy days the spirit hosts set out for high
mountaintops or other sacred places. At these animist sanctuaries the
witches dance, play music and games, feast and celebrate their mysteries.
The divine “Mistress of the Night” presides over the gathering, giving
cures and revealing the future. Often she miraculously revives the
animals the witches have been feasting on.” (The Tregenda of the Old
Goddess, Witches, and Spirits; Max Dashu (2000))

In these seemingly unrelated populations of pre-Roman, pre-Christian
times, the Old Goddess’ names and manifestations were many. She was
secure in her recurring reverence... until in the 1st Century B.C, the
Romans invaded Northern Europe and brought their own festivals and
goddesses with them.

Over the next four centuries, old and new customs merged, until by the
4th Century A.D., Roman Emperor Constantine declared Christianity
everyone’s lawful religion and launched a holy war against Paganism and
its symbols. The old practices were “Christianized,” and the old names,
rites, meanings, symbols were recast.

By the 8th Century A.D., the Pagan holy day of Samhaim was celebrated
as Hallowmas: a triple Christian holiday comprised of All Hallow’s Eve
or Hallowe’en (October 31), All Saints Day or All Hallows Day
(November 1), and All Souls Day (November 2). This was still the time of
year to remember the dead... but now the dead included martyrs and
saints, and all faithful departed Christians.

As for the rest of us, it is the night when witches ride brooms, ghosts
come a’haunting, and skeletons rise from graves... to shout in every
doorway: “Trick or treat!”

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Review of THE AFFLICTED GIRLS (8/2/12)

Sunday, January 10, 2010


THE AFFLICTED GIRLS is receiving excellent reviews on Amazon from their top reviewers:

The Afflicted Girls said...

5.0 out of 5 stars *A believable retelling of an old story - with a new twist*, December 26, 2009
By Bobbie - "Andromeda's Gramma" (United States) - See all my reviews

My first introduction to the Salem Witch Trials was in High School when we read Arthur Miller's The Crucible (Penguin Classics). Even at that time I wondered, what could have made people act in that fashion.

We discussed many theories (including ergot) that could have caused the hysteria and consequent behavior.

In reading through "The Afflicted Girls," I found myself looking at this time in our history in a whole new light. Suzy Witten has done incredible research - not only into the trials but also into the history of that era. As I read the story, I found myself seeing each of the characters in a new light and believing the possibility that Witten proposes through the story.

While the book is historical fiction - based on an actual event - it is also a wonderful story in its own right. From the first page to the last, the story pulls you in, demanding your attention and belief in the characters.

The presentation of facts (and conjecture) in the novel left me with enough questions that I couldn't resist revisiting some of the internet-based information and ended up agreeing that Witten's conclusions concerning the source are well-conceived. Both social and physical events contributed to the hysteria that would blight Salem for more than 300 years.

I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who enjoys colonial history and novels. You will not be disappointed.

The Afflicted Girls said...

4.0 out of 5 stars *A new author fortunate to have such a compelling story of which to write.*, December 27, 2009
By Mahlers2nd "Mommy of Many Interests"

I've always been fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials so when I was offered the opportunity to read this book, I thought it would be a great read. I must confess that Suzy Witten -- the author provided me with a copy of the book to review which is how I obtained the book.

This appears to be Ms Witten's first novel but she has picked a fascinating subject for it. For the most part, the prose and the writing and dialogue are very well done and not plagued with overly-pretentious wordiness that some authors feel the need to engage in. The language and the voice of the story is readable but sometimes the mixture of more modern colloquialisms combined with the puritanical period were a bit jarring and made it difficult to follow the continuity of the story.

The set up to the "famous events" surrounding the Salem Trials is very extensive in this book -- some might say a bit plodding. At points, I found myself thinking 'get on with it already'. However, overall, the author is excruciatingly thorough in her character development and setting the place and tone. Plus, in order to set up for the main events, I think most of that development is necessary and I would be hard-pressed to give advice as to what to eliminate.

The overwhelming thought was that it was a miracle that our country survived its early days given all the requirements for physical survival combined with the constant political and mind-games that the villagers employed with each other.

There are definitely surprises in the book that will keep you wanting to read more. It isn't just a story of "mean girls gone awry" as Miller and the Crucible would have you believe. As with all good historical fiction -- and this qualifies! -- you are left wanting to learn more about what which parts were historical versus fiction... you wind up learning more about the subject. This is what Ms. Witten has accomplished and therefore, deserves a great deal of praise for bringing her readers to that point!

Overall, I really enjoyed the story despite the flow and organization being a bit distracting. The author does a great job building suspense and developing the "backstory" (how I despise that word) for how the Salem Witch debacle comes together. There is so much more insight into the period of events than you would get from your regulation Arthur Miller "The Crucible". You definitely come away after reading the book feeling like you were much more part of the action rather than just an observer. And you also wind up feeling like you understand what took place much much better.

This is a solid first effort from Ms. Witten and would highly recommend to anyone who has an interest in early American Historical Fiction or the Salem Witch Trials.

The Afflicted Girls said...


Nan Hawthorne, Shield-wall Books said...
I want to start the ball rolling by saying that esily the best new book I read in 2009 was Suzy Witten's "The Afflicted Girls". It is destined to go down in literary history as the best novel about the Salem Witch Trials. Wiien captures not only the psychology of the place and time but the very sound of it. I know it is available at and no doubt by special order everywhere.
January 4, 2010 8:24 PM


THE AFFLICTED GIRLS is available now free-of-charge to vision-impaired readers via Bookshare. (Contact Bookshare for information)

Friday, October 23, 2009

THE AFFLICTED GIRLS A Novel of Salem by Suzy Witten

For all readers interested in Historical Fiction, the Salem Witch-Hunts, American Colonial History, THE AFFLICTED GIRLS A Novel of Salem by Suzy Witten, solves the 300 year old mystery. Something terrible happened in Salem in 1692 . . . but it isn't what you think.

Available for purchase now on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online, from Powells Books and Lulu for the eBook version, and through the Ingram Catalogue at bookstores everywhere.

The author was a Walt Disney Studios Fellowship Finalist for this story.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: THE AFFLICTED GIRLS A Novel of Salem by author-researcher Suzy Witten presents a startling new theory of the Salem Village witch-hunts, which is certain to put this 300-year-old unsettled mystery to rest . . . by expertly guiding readers through The Historical Record to revelation. Part parable, part star-crossed romance, and part supernatural venture, this is an intuitive human history—and inhuman—spun with a modern twist. A Controversial debut by a new Historical storyteller . . . a Walt Disney Studios Fellowship Finalist. ISBN: 978-0-615-32313-8

Historical Fiction, 456 pages, A Paperback Original from Dreamwand

(also available as an eBook) (for ages 16 and older)