Corcoran, Rosemary (2020) Wise Woman/Mad Woman. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

In this essay, I will discuss how my research into witchcraft, feminism, and the tarot informed
my poetry sequence, Wise Woman/ Mad Woman. I will discuss form, technique, and
structure, using contemporary poetry that alludes to witchcraft and related themes to show
how my work both fits into and is distinctive in context. I will then reflect on the success of
my collection overall.

Wise Woman/ Mad Woman explores, in part, women reclaiming the name ‘Witch’, and how
this coincides with the rise of feminism. I am a witch and a feminist, and many people of my
generation have claimed both labels. I believe that calling yourself ‘Witch’ reclaims female
narratives that were once used to belittle women. I have chosen to explore these narratives
in my collection, taking inspiration from mythology, folklore, and fairy tales from around the

Wise Woman/ Mad Woman also draws on historical and modern ideas of witchcraft, from
the 17th Century witch trials to the recent revival of folk magic in the form of herbalism,
moon magic, and divination. My discussion will draw on The Black Goddess and The Sixth
Sense by Peter Redgrove (1989), The Wise Wound by Penelope Shuttle and Peter Redgrove
(1978), The White Goddess by Robert Graves (1948), Reinventing Eve by Kim Chernin
(1994), The Witch by Ronald Hutton (2017) and Women Who Run With The Wolves by
Clarissa Pinkola Estes (2003), as well as canonical first-wave feminist authors such as Simone
De Beauvoir and Germaine Greer.1

I endeavoured to explore themes that have affected me personally as a woman, feminist, and
witch. This means that, although my collection speaks to other witches, it is also deeply
personal and often confessional in tone. This is most evident in poems such as ‘The Stars’,
with the line ‘one of us will have to bury the other’ which is a confession of deep fear, so is
ultimately personal but it also speaks to a fear that many people possess, so it would still be
relatable to many readers.

1 Some of my sources are non-academic. For example, Kim Huggen’s (2010) Tarot 101. I used these books
because they have informed and shaped my collection immeasurably and influenced who I am as a witchcraft
practitioner, however, they have not informed my critical commentary.

FINAL THESIS - Corcoran.pdf - Accepted Version
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