Bideford witches


Three Bideford women
hung for witchcraft
(the last recorded in England).

Bideford has raised me,
but will not hold me much longer.
At school, a local Parish priest
gently warns me:
“You’re too strong willed
for your own good”.

Somedays, I feel it –
my feminine intensity,
ruling, dividing my energy
from rational risk aversion
to passionate impulsivity.

Somedays, I almost understand
how people came to believe
that women,
like me,
were witches.


40 thoughts on “Bideford witches

  1. Frightening, isn’t it? How feminine intensity might have been a quality that people thought of in determining who was a witch. Your poem was thought-provoking for me tonight.

  2. Fear for the woman’s power and passionate intensity, that’s why they were burned and labeled “witches” ~

    We are lucky that our voices and strong willed character are accepted in our countries/cultures ~ Good one Rowan (the link for reading is not playing for meL 😦 )


  3. Oh yes… brilliant. Thank goodness times have changed… well these days a strong women may not be burned as a witch though…I think there’s still a little way to go. Great write!

  4. those in power are threatened by those that would take it…i would rather we have strong women…or even some strong men willing to stand and make a diffence instead of passively following the herd….as to equality, i think we do still have a ways to go…

    • I read the other day that if a woman wants to succeed in senior leadership, she needs to be careful not to smile too much….I’m probably not going to get much further in my career, if that’s the case, as I just won’t stop smiling : )

  5. One can impose one’s will and right things that are wrong. It’s the way it’s done! Others appreciate it! As long as it was not done with malice that prompts someone to lament ‘the witch did it! Nicely Rowan!


  6. The empowerment of women globally will probably be the gamechanger (I hope anyway) of the 21st century. We’ll see. Your poem presages something important. k.

  7. ha – i think there’s a witch in each of us – but can only be controlled from inside not from outside…really getting angry when they think that everything that is a bit outside the norm has to be burned..literally or in a subtle way..well penned

    • Thanks, Claudia. With women there’s often an over reaction to deviance, becoming double deviance (the original deviant behaviour plus the fact it is a woman doing it).

  8. Yes.. intelligent and strong women are a threat to most men…that is why historically they have been demonised like Eve being responsible for the downfall of man.

    • Ha! He was also a teacher at the school and knew me well…I considered him a friend, so it was worth a second thought…but my will just leads me on…

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