Monday, December 2, 2019

Lolly Willowes: A Great Book for Witches

I recently discovered Laura aka Lolly Willowes and if you like witches or being an independent woman I suggest reading about her! Lolly Willowes is a character from the book Lolly Willowes or The Loving Huntsmen written in 1926 by Sylvia Townsend Warner, but the story takes place at the turn of the century and follows her discovering the witch life.


A little background is that Lolly's in her mid twenties, unmarried and living with her father. Her hobbies include studying herbs and plants. When he dies, her world is pushed in an unexpected direction. She goes to live with her brothers family, as was the norm of a spinster. In her new abode the family is religious, conservative, and quite boring. Always trying to set her up with various suitors, she has obligations, and duties to be "Aunt Lolly", but she couldn't be less interested. Lolly finds the daily monotony draining and one day while out on a walk decides to move to the country by herself to escape the drudgery. (The book was written by a woman and her characters feelings still resonate today with many women ~ myself included.)


Page one. The type is small, the book is small and short at 250 pages, and it doesn't have chapters, so you can really stop and start anywhere when taking a break from reading. This makes it great for travel.

Lolly moves in with another woman, truly enjoys her solitude and the countryside. She makes friends with the towns folk and feels like this is where she belongs. Meanwhile her family visits and can't relate to her and how she could ever be happy there. I think they secretly resent her for doing what she wants to do with her life and not being confined to societal norms.

One day while out on a walk she thinks she may have summoned a force ~ possibly the Devil ~ and she makes a pact with him. When she gets back to her room there's a kitten waiting for her. She has no idea how it got in, but it scratches her and now it's official she made a blood pact with the Devil. She names him Vinegar and he sounds like the cutest thing in the world.


Her housemate takes her out for a walk when neither of them can sleep and they end up in a field where the other towns folk are dancing and carousing. They are celebrating the Sabbath. Lolly is put off and uncomfortable. This was all so unexpected. Her inner witch has been awakened but she's scared by it.

Her nephew marries a girl from her countryside town, Lolly sees them off via taxi and ends up waiting for a late train to get home. While taking a walk to find a place to rest while the train comes, she stumbles upon a grassy area with a groundskeeper. He introduces himself as the Devil and he knows her. He tells her "women are sticks of dynamite" and "all women are witches even if they never do anything with their witchcraft". I feel that this is an empowering statement that women need to hear more often. Lolly finally has her freedom, but the cost is forever tied to Vinegar and the Devil.

I know that not all witches make pacts with the devil, but as of late that seems to be a common theme with the popularity of witchcraft and witch style. Take for example Sabrina. This book doesn't portray the devil as "bad", but just an alternative option for your lifestyle, after all he IS the "Loving Huntsmen". I like that. 






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