Friday, April 07, 2006

When Shall We Three Meet Again

Today’s entry on my Forgotten English desk calendar states that today is the Witches’ Sabbath. (Note: To all who Google and reach my blog by searching for that phrase, this is not a blog devoted to witches.) I just got to thinking after reading this:

"For centuries, Scottish witches were believed to convene annually on the first Friday in April. Friday was undoubtedly chosen because in pagan Nordic cultures the ancient fertility goddess Frigga was, with the advent of Christianity, branded a witch and removed from local pantheons. In revenge, she conjured up bad luck for mortals on her namesake Friday."

What I was thinking was about Macbeth, specifically of the Macbeth characterized in Shakespeare’s play of the same name. Did he, by any chance, run into the three weird sisters (and the play says sisters, not witches, although it is understood that they are witches), on the first Friday in April? Would that explain their presence there? I’ve seen “Macbeth” on stage and on DVD, plus I’ve read it several times, and every time you get a different presentation of the setting on the heath when Macbeth runs into the sisters. So I know everyone has a different visualization of these characters – and what I wouldn’t give to play one (are you with me Bean?). Their impact upon the play is so powerful – and it also leads me to wonder if Macbeth had ignored these women and not listened to them, would the entire play have turned out differently? Or would he have come up with his own ideas without any predictions about the future? But don’t blame the sisters; they were just minding their own business when Macbeth rode along. I recently read an Agatha Christie book (Nemesis) and in it Miss Marple speculated that perhaps the best casting for the three weird sisters would have been three women who, rather than being overtly dressed as witches, were instead just normal women who cast sly looks at one another and their witchiness would be more implicit than explicit. I think that would be an interesting characterization, and I know I have considered many different ways of portraying them. This doesn’t answer my original thought, however, of whether or not the sisters were meeting on the first Friday in April. But I do know that even though it is the wrong season, perhaps it is time to put some holly over the doors, windows and on the mantel (for protection from the Dark) and maybe put on Roman Polanski’s version of “Macbeth” and consider how his future might have been different had he continued on his way instead of stopping.

"Touch not a catt bot a targe."


Kat said...

I think most witches are like those in Sabrina the Teenage Witch. They are pretty and hip and wholesome and kooky (like some bloggers I know). So if you factor back a few decades, then of course they are "normal"-ish. In their own way. My favorite witches are the ones in The Witches of Eastwick. Sort of dysfunctional, real. Witches are people too. Who would want to be a with if it meant hairy moles and big dark cloaks anyhow?

Justine said...

Oh i'm so totally with you on playing a witch...hell i already do! hahahaha zing!

and you know what, agatha christie has it right. its much more menacing to see only sly looks passed intermittently between women, rather than have them be overtly "odd".

i think that macbeth would not have been the same if he had not met the three weird sisters. it is possible to speculate that yes he may have come up with on his own, for it was obvious that his facade was one of dignity and loyalty, but to be turned so quickly by promises of good tidings by three strange women, shows that he was always capable of being turned quickly. So yes, I concur.

Right on Hecate...