Bent, Jacqi and Gavin, Helen (2010) The Maids, Mother and “The Other One” of the Discworld: Exploring the magical aspect of Terry Pratchett's Witches. In: 1st Global Conference: Magic and the Supernatural, 15 - 17 March 2010, Salzburg, Austria.

Fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett’s Discworld is inhabited by a very diverse group of characters ranging from Death and his horse Binky, Cut-Me-Own-Throat-Dibbler, purveyor of the ‘pork pie’, the Wizard faculty of the Unseen University and an unofficial ‘coven’ of three witches. ‘Because three was the right number for witches…providing they are the right sort of type’, according to Nanny Ogg.1 Magic features prominently on the Discworld; so much so that there are a host of long term side effects the inhabitants of the Discworld have come to expect from being in proximity to this powerful force. Phenomena that to others might seem strange or unusual are typical, even expected on the Discworld. The use of magic, for good or ill, is often a prominent theme in Pratchett’s Discworld novels. This paper focuses on the Pratchett’s portrayal of magic as used by resident witches Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Magrat Garlick and eventually Agnes Nitt who replaces Magrat when she assumes the title of queen. This will include the role each witch assumes as the Maiden, Mother and Crone, as well as the unique relationship each witch has forged with magic. The witches’ use of ‘headology’, which bears a striking similarity to the magic we know as psychology, will similarly be explored. Finally, the consequences of magic use are discussed.

WARNING: As there are competing views on what magic is on the Discworld, and it is wise to avoid getting on the wrong side of a witch in selecting a particular position that may lack a certain ‘rightness’ to it, we will leave it to the prudence of the reader to make a sound judgment on the basis of what follows. If your morphic field suddenly resonates with that of a duck however, you must realise you have run “afoul” of some magical influence and the writers are not responsible in any way.

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