The Twitching Hour was conceived in a pink enameled bath tub.
I was thinking about a kind of woman that’s easiest to call witch but has so many names. Priestess, goddess, Dear Abby. They share a quality. Before I name it, let me tell you about some of its facets, the breadcrumbs you might collect to find her within a dark wood.
Her talismans are perversions of the hearth: brooms, cauldrons, spindles. The banshee’s and the siren’s lullaby. Baba Yaga’s chicken-legged hut and Medea’s infanticide. She is an apple-eater and virtuous baby bearer. Often lascivious or hyper-fertile, like the many-breasted Artemis of Ephesus.
I call it domestic mutation. And her imperfection had an insidious purpose. She is an emblem of an ancient attempt to usurp power from the small sphere where women held it: home.
Sometimes the mutation seems to be built around her desire to commune with other women, and disinterest in male camaraderie. I think of Anjelica Houston’s infanticide convention in the 1990 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches and her male-devoid island/cult in the made-for-TV movie The Mists of Avalon. The most ambivalent archetypal ladies are those that govern traditional female sectors of community. The moon and her tides ticked by the metronome of menstrual cycles, seem to have co
This a power too consistently attributed to female purview to contradict.
Not all are painted as fallen angels. There are mystic females who connote strength and virtue. Usually because they are patriots (from Latin: patriota fellow countryman> Greek patriōtēs, ‘of one’s fathers’> patris ‘fatherland’). Athena is the guardian of Athens. The Statue of Liberty is an amalgamation of Columbia and Marianne, female personifications of the United States and France. Indonesian goddess Hainuwele supported her people by defecating valuable objects, like ceramic bowls and knives. They later buried her alive and danced on her grave, though.
Particularly fascinating is Betty Crocker: the United States chimera built from collective feminine “ideals.” Her face was a composite portrait of female employees at General Mills (then called Washburn-Crosby). A few actresses played her in marketing campaigns, but the company eventually decided that “no real woman could possibly embody all [her] perfections” (Tisdale, The Best Thing I Ever Tasted). James Grey called her “a high priestess who presides over a cult of excellence.” In Betty we see a contradiction in nature as fascinating as immaculate conception: she is too perfect to exist and yet she reincarnates (as more youthful, professional and “ethnic”) to placate the needs of every generation.
An interesting exception is time > moon cycles > Kali > Moirae
poland/amber twitching witching hour
The witching hour has waned. We are itching to leave behind the dark archetypes that castigate powerful women. The Twitching Hour is a gallery space hosting art, music and writing exploring magic, female archetypal figures. It is slated for quarterly print publication is 2014.
The Cottingley Fairies appear in a series of five photographs taken by Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, pulled off a hoax for the duration of their lives. It’s hard to argue against their right to do so. Isn’t it time for little girls to write stories about magic women? Rather than fear witches in woods? Shouldn’t they know their enemy?
Kate Bush as Wuthering Height’s Kathy
She rings like a bell through the night
and wouldn’t you love to love her?
She rules her life like a bird in flight
and who will be her lover?
All your life you’ve never seen
woman taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised you heaven?
How could you leave me
When I needed to possess you?
I hated you, I loved you too