Mary came over to my house a while ago for what I thought was the second time, but turns out it was the first. That’s one thing I like about this house–it always feels to me like people have already been here.
Anyway, I was showing her around and she asked, “Are you a witch?”
And I didn’t answer her because… I don’t know… what do you say to that?
But today, man, today I had a moment or two I felt like I had totally slipped off the path and into the wild, the kind of moment where a woman doesn’t answer the question of whether she’s a witch not because she doesn’t know how to answer it, but because it’s not a question you do answer.
I am really, really enjoying the Taves book. I promise, I’m over half-way done, so you’re about done with hearing about it. But I just feel like someone has plopped down in front of me and explained how all the things I enjoy fit together.
And man, do I feel like the Bell Witch story now, more than ever, is not an anomaly, but fits in quite well with all the rest of these types of phenomenon, once you’re aware that these phenomenon are there. Same with the Watseka Wonder. And reading this book, it makes sense that the Bell Witch would be a kind of exterior phenomenon (with Betsy Bell acting as the medium in the 1850s meaning of the word) with the Watseka Wonder being a more interior phenomenon and with Lurancy Vennum acting as a medium in the 1870s sense of the word.
Which is actually interesting–medium means the actual medium through which the spirits can manifest. It makes sense, but I didn’t know that. And it used to be that a medium didn’t need to have any more psychic powers than the power to attract spirits. She could then travel with a clairvoyant whose job it was to interpret the noises of the spirits. But then, by the latter half of the 1800s, those two roles had been combined into one.
It’s funny, when I was in grad school, I went to church once with one of my roommates and they spoke in tongues, which I had never seen before, and then someone else would interpret. And I thought that was the weirdest thing ever. But my roommate had a Biblical explanation for it (which, of course, I did not buy, but listened to respectfully), but now! Now I see too, how that set-up has one parent in the… what we might call “Trance History of America.”
That’s what delights me. Things like that.