A tribe that tries to stop a typhoid epidemic by organising a large scale witch hunt operates on the supposition that witches cause typhoid. When we try to avoid typhoid by inoculations and boiling water we believe we understand that disease is often caused by bacteria and poor hygiene.
Eleven plus parents who try to help their child pass the eleven plus by encouraging daily doses of full eleven plus papers may not be helping as much as they hope. What may be happening is that their precious child is just learning over and over again that he or she can not obtain full marks on a paper.
Very few of us can claim that we have actually made contact with a witch – and I have never heard of an eleven plus witch! In medieval times witches were generally women who were more knowledgeable than others. The witches could foretell the future. (Today’s witch would be able to answer: “Will my much loved child pass the eleven plus?”)
Witches were able to practice white magic – where they gathered herbs to cure people. (A bit like some of today’s well-informed eleven plus parents who hope that lots and lots of eleven plus papers will cure all eleven plus ills.)
A witch would chant a benison – and often used this blessing to calm and cure the patient. (“Just do your best dear. It does not matter if you pass. We will still love you.”)
Witches usually had a `familiar’ – as in a dog or a cat or even a toad.
Witches and witchcraft were put down during the fifteenth century – but this did not stop Shakespeare writing about them in Act 1 of `Macbeth’.
Enter three WITCHES.
When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
When the hurlyburly's done, When the battle's lost and won.
That will be ere the set of sun.
Where the place?
Upon the heath.
There to meet with Macbeth.
I come, Graymalkin!
Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air.
Common or garden English witches usually practised their rites in February, May, August and November. Sacrifices were made to pagan gods and there was often dancing, excitement and a full range of emotions. As the eleven plus examinations approach this year – in just a few months time - some parents may be advised to warn their children not to take too much notice if they (the parents) suddenly paint their faces green and dance around a foot high pile of eleven plus papers.
Enter Two Parents
(The parents are dressed in robes with green painted faces. They are carrying the family cats under their arms and each is holding a bottle of Martini.)
First Parent chants
My child will pass the eleven plus – with our help.
But do not put on too much pressure.
Nonsense – our child thrives on pressure.
Don’t you think that we are overdoing it a bit?
It is not long to go now.
Can I go and wash my face now?