When talking about witches in fictional stories, the lay person would assume we were referring to the Harry Potter style witches, or wizards, in Harry’s case. They would assume we were talking about stories of glitzy spellcasting, glamours and wands. They would assume we were talking about the mythical type of magic that permeates those mainstreamed stories of witches. Most think of the theatrics and the glittery tools and props.
There are, however, a few witches when dealing with fiction writing that aren’t of that same cloth and the writing style doesn’t focus on the same issues. There are also witches who are written with a much more mundane approach to their craft than one would expect to see; Tiffany Aching is one of those witches.
Tiffany, as a very young witch, or “hag” as they’re referred to in the Discworld books, takes a more down to Earth approach to what her destiny in life is. Tiffany isn’t a witch who is learning witchcraft because her book plot says she must; she’s learning her craft because that’s who she is as a person. She is not a witch who was born as some superhero type, a famous prodigy; she’s a witch who was born of a line of other “hags”. She’s simply good at what she does and has a natural affinity toward things that would make witchcraft a natural path for her.
Tiffany takes a very serious tone to her work, seeing what must be done and doing all things to climb toward the goal. Tiffany’s character is a mundane witch. There’s an emphasis on everyday tasks with her training, most people would assume that there is no magic in the mundane. Not so in these stories. We see that witchcraft is portrayed as less glamour laden and glitter sticken, and more about the tasks that others refuse to perform or acknowledge.
We see here the pain involved in being in Tiffany’s position, the loneliness that can saturate a person in her shoes and we see how pragmatic she is about that. We see her grace in the face of the public distancing themselves more and more from witches, and her bravery to face obstacles that no one else will face or deal with head-on.
Tiffany is a hard working witch, one eager to learn. Also, she is extremely willing to venture out and learn things on her own, adapt her own methods, understanding that in witchcraft, it’s not all about books and learning from others. It’s about attuning yourself to your surroundings. Using what is near you, learning what you need to about what you have and using it to make your craft happen. Tiffany understands the craft in everyday life.
Tiffany is one of those witches in books that I would try to be more like. Obviously, not trying to recreate craft from the book, but taking a stronger interest in where I’m from; my connection to my area, how I can protect that and the people who live in it; taking a more serious approach to my craft; seeing it from a very real and necessary point of view. Tiffany takes on her training with an attitude that says, “I have to do this, it’s what I'm supposed to do in life.” We see so much of her struggle with trying to balance her personal life with her responsibilities as a witch, and the consequences of that life.
This witch paints a real life picture of what witchcraft is all about for a great many, but makes a greatly entertaining story out of it to take the edge off. In a sometimes lonely world, suddenly we aren’t so lonely.
LJ is the Wicked Darling writer of A Racing Mind. She is a “wife, mother, gamer, musician, misanthrope, celiac, lover of Halloween, horror and horror movies, witchy, nature honoring type, hearth witch.” And she has “flying monkeys and [she is] not afraid to use them!”