The Witch Ways: The Hearth

Which Witch: The Hearth
To celebrate the season of the witch, we’ve gone straight to the source. The wonderful and whimsical Helen Slavin, author of Borrowed Moonlight, gives us the low down on the imagination, research, and inspiration for the Witch Ways series. This week, let’s dive in a little deeper with the eldest sister, Anna.

One of the most important aspects of Anna’s Strengths is her grief. Her loss, so vast and emotionally devastating, is like a fire that’s forged her Strength. There is no going back for Anna. The past is too harsh a place to live. She can only look back to the past she lived with her grandmother and sisters, always aware of the black hole of her grief revolving alongside. It has given her a rawness that lends a sharper edge to her Strength which will come more to the fore as they uncover the past and how Grandma Hettie died.

Of all of the Ways, Anna is the one who is closest to darkness. She has been to the edge of herself and survived it and, as far as she is concerned, all bets are off. This does not mean she is the most adventurous of the sisters. If anything, it has made her the opposite. She knows where and what danger is straight away. Where Charlie will push ahead, Anna is more thoughtful, looking at things from too many angles sometimes and also protective of her sisters. That said, when push comes to shove, Anna will see what needs to be done and do it, and that is also part of her Strength. Instinct. Gut reaction.

Part of the operation of Anna’s Strength is that she has closed herself off. That rawness is there, and she’s regrouped around it, which gives her great focus. Magic of any sort is all about focus.

Her main Strength is her ability to see a flickerbook of a person just by touching them. It is a similar vein of skill to Emz’s ‘real face radar’, in that she can hold back so that she is not bombarded at every bump and barge in the street by flickerbooks of passers by and their lives. The way I see the flickerbook is not simply as a fortune telling tool, it’s deeper than that. She sees right into people’s hearts and souls, too. She sees their real inner self revealed.

Anna inherits the Paper Prophets as an adjunct to this emotional Strength. She’s in touch with her emotions through her loss, so that’s opened up the sluice gate for that side of her Strengths. Anna does not know her way around the wood on a practical and geographical level. She knows the paths by repetition, obviously, but also by the emotional tags they carry. This is where we had that campfire. This is where Charlie twisted her ankle. This is where we always find mushrooms at the dag end of Autumn. The names of places in the wood mean more to Anna. Charlie recalls them all and likes them well enough, but they are not actually of the place themselves for her in the way they are for Anna. Charlie sees Top Hundred and it’s the burrows and fox tracks that tag it for her. Emz knows the place by both these methods because, in the end, she’s the all powerful one.

If you were picking out a card from the Paper Prophets for Anna it would automatically be The Hearth, the idea of home and keeping that home safe and warm, because that is what Anna is about. She is food and nourishment, a warm blanket and a cup of tea. Anna is refuge and sanctuary. But, she is also that other card, The Scorched Spoon, the useful and practical thing that has seen fire and danger and survived. A simple thing, scarred. Out of burnt wood comes charcoal. It is a thing transformed. That’s Anna.

Anna is the heart of Havoc Wood.

Come back next Wednesday for our final instalment of #WitchWednesday and a profile of Emz Way.

And, as always, thank you for reading, and be sure to tweet us @AgoraBooksLDN for all things #WitchWednesday related!