I bought a witch’s cottage in Southwest, France. A wooden sign with the inscription “La Sorciere” hangs on the door.
The previous owner, a lovely lady named Renee, came from a family of wise women who lived in rural French villages. As her mother and grandmothers did before her, Renee treated those in need with her herbal remedies when transport to a local town doctor was limited.
She was the village witch. The doctor, the nurse, the pharmacist, and the mentor.
She held the healing potion,
The medicinal lotion,
She kept the village
The witch, wise woman, or La Sorciere, as she was known in France, held alternative answers to the questions of ailments. She knew how, when, and where to source her herbs amongst the hedgerows, tree groves, and their own gardens.
A witch’s cottage was never closed.
These days, when we are ill or need advice, we have more options available to us than the witches of old, yet the archetypal wise woman lives on.
Inspired by my cottage’s roots, I have selected four wise women to share who have shaped who I am today:
This English writer introduced me to the world of metaphysics and how negative thought patterns contribute to our physical illnesses. Gill’s shamanic journey of self-discovery developed into a unique concept that we either “create or allow’” things to happen on our life paths. It makes perfect sense. This has been my mantra for over 15 years. Her positive work helped me through a six month period of depression in my 20s. I now know this period was the beginning of my awakening.
Gill Edwards is sadly no longer alive, but I did have the opportunity to meet her, albeit briefly. I use my favorite book of hers, Stepping into the Magic, or easy reference about illnesses and their spiritual metaphors. Her work allowed me to step boldly into womanhood and create foundations within myself for a life without fear of failure.
A knowledgeable and varied author of many books on esoteric subjects, Eason’s book, The Modern-Day Druidess, is my “bible.” I consult it on an almost weekly basis. This is the perfect spiritual reference guide, with listings of herbs, crystals, animals, and tree lore for use during Celtic seasonal rituals. As a solitary druidess, I find Eason’s no-nonsense approach to teaching easy to work with. Druidism isn’t meant to be complex, serious, or controlled. It is a way of life rather than a religion. Every six weeks, the Celtic calendar takes us through the flow of our existence on Earth.
This particular book has been a main influence on my latter years: I always have it at hand. Eason’s extensive guides helped me create my own stone circles. The writings have taught me how to visualize and sense our seasonal changes as companions rather than merely external factors.
A German authority in the world of biodynamic agriculture, and major contributor to its development, Thun is my latest mentor. I am inspired by her integration of masculine practicalities with an undeniably feminine approach. Her teachings compliment my regular practices of planting by the moon, but her work has introduced me to a deeper scientific viewpoint, such as identifying Ph levels in the soil, along with other interesting methods to try that I hadn’t considered previously.
Maria died in 2012, but her work lives on. Her text, The Biodynamic Year, is an introduction to her studies and an insight into her extraordinary knowledge. I plan to use this book as a practical aid when my volunteer arrives to assist me with allotment this summer.
Juliette de Bairacli Levy:
This amazing woman has contributed enormously to the world of herbalism. Sadly, she is no longer with us, and many of her books are now out of print and highly sought after. A rare 1974 hardback edition of The Illustrated Herbal Handbook sits proudly on my kitchen shelf.
Her knowledge and hands-on experience with plant life helped me spot how many medicinal and edible herbs exist within the hedgerows near my home in France. Ribwort Plantain covers my garden abundantly in spring and I discovered that it is: “A favorite of the American Indian as a general cure all, and the young leaves can be eaten as a salad herb.”
Levy’s work has helped me understand not only how to identify plants and herbs, but what to do with the leaves, stems, and roots once they have been collected. I am in awe of her, she is a true self-taught wise woman.
It is important to have wise women in our lives.
They act as personal mentors and guide us further down our paths. They shape what we already feel deep within us and encourage our progress with hand-held support.
We already know what we love and yearn for. By seeking the perfect wise woman/mentor figure, we further develop our own unique wisdom that we too can share with others.
These four incredible women have inspired me, excited me, moulded my interests, opened up my awareness, and educated me in unbelievable ways. I am a wiser woman due to their teachings because they shared their passion with the world.
As I live in the witch’s cottage, I feel that her work continues through me. Our mentors may not be archetypal witches down the lane, yet each passes on her learned ways to those who appreciate them. She shares her craft and enriches the lives of all who know her.
This wise woman lives within each and every one of us.
This wise woman is you.
Author: Shelley Dootson-Greenland
Image: Rondell Melling / Pixabay
Editor: Danielle Beutell