Witchlight: let not the terrible title prevent you from reading Susan Fletcher’s beautiful book…

I’ve got nothing personal against witches but I think they’re very much something I left behind in my youth when I stopped reading “The Worst Witch” books. With this in mind, I wouldn’t naturally be drawn to a book with “witch” in its title, just as I wasn’t particularly drawn to the Twilight series with its vampires. However, thanks to the book group, “Witch Light” by Susan Fletcher was chosen and there I was travelling to work reading a book about witches with a particularly cringe-worthy cover to boot. I began to see the benefit in buying a Kindle. “Witch Light” was initially released under the more sensible title: “Corrag” and if only they’d kept that, because as everyone at the book group agreed, the title is probably preventing a lot of people from discovering the beautiful and touching work of Susan Fletcher’s.

Fletcher transports us to the remotest part of Scotland in the harshest of times, and then not only proceeded to educate me on what was happening in the UK in the 1680s but also put me back in touch with my nature loving side that I so often lose sight of in London. As we follow Corrag, a young lady accused of being a witch, on her journey through life with most of it being lived in the wild outdoors, I was reminded of the healing and soothing energy to be found in the natural world and just how important it is to connect with this as often as we can. Maybe this is why I’ve become marginally obsessed with escaping the confines of London as often as I can and have taken up surfing with unhealthy enthusiasm; it gives me the connection I crave to nature.

As my thoughts wandered along this track, I realised with humour how modern day companies make a small fortune from selling us natural remedies and natural skin care creams, and yet, if some of these herbalists had been around in the 1600s they’d have been locked away or killed for being witches. There was even a popular BBC show aired showing us how to grow our own drugs. It now appears that as the populace of London tries to nourish a relationship with nature by doing such things as growing their own vegetables or drugs, purchasing skin and hair products that are made up of natural products or bravely making their own and spending hours on a yoga mat trying to connect with their spiritual side; aren’t we all now trying to get in touch with our inner witch?

Fine, in the traditional sense of the world witches should cast spells, perform magic tricks, but as I saw in the book, perhaps their only true gift is to have an undeniably acute sixth sense which we could all probably nurture in ourselves. Apparently a good dose of meditation everyday could help with this. Corrag wouldn’t call it her sixth sense but she would call it her ability to listen to the heart’s voice:

“…the heart’s voice is a strong one. Always is. Listen to it, is my advice… Your heart’s voice is your true voice. It is easy to ignore it, for sometimes it says what we’d rather it did not- and it’s so hard to risk the things we have. But what life are we living, if we don’t live by our hearts? Not a true one. And the person living it is not the true you.”

So Susan Fletcher’s beautiful and thought nurturing novel enhanced my life in more than one way, it encouraged my almost demented passion for getting out into the countryside and to the sea at every possible opportunity, and it also made me stop and wonder just what it is my heart’s voice might be telling me now…

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