In days of yore it was rumoured that ‘ugly old hags sold themselves to Satan’ merely to get some spiteful revenge on their neighbours. But really there was a lot more to being a witch than cursing, though of course this was a perk of the job.
For example, the buzz of riding on a broomstick, three legged stool or even a piece of yellow-flowered ragwort and getting blind drunk on medicinal brews whilst having a right old knees up (which if you are ugly and old beats sitting hunched up in a damp cottage darning stockings). Magicking away some of the stingy squire’s favourite rum and making yourself invisible through use of ‘fairy ointment’ to do a bit of shoplifting down the local market also rank high on the list of a witch's must-dos.
If the local devil deigned to join in the coven’s full moon festivities then all the better because even more fun could be had leaping over the golden flames of the bonfire hand in hand with his devilish lordship the Bucca Boo (to give him his Cornish name), singeing hems and heels in the process, and diving for a quick snog in the bushes for good luck and prosperity.
Madgy Figgy was a witch who lived in the Land’s End area of Cornwall and her reputation has stood the test of time. She even has a pile of rocks named after her, ‘Madgy Figgy’s Chair,’ high up on the granite cliffs edging the turquoise Atlantic Ocean. Figgy sat there whilst calling up the spirits of the winds and was wont to swing herself from side to side when a storm was brewing to lure the vessels, struggling against the winds to reach the safety of the harbour, onto the jagged rocks beneath. Many a shriek echoed around the cliff tops as the witches croaked their miserable delight over the perishing crews whom they were about to rob of the treasures they were bringing home from distant lands.
From the Chair Figgy poured forth all manner of curses and none could escape her noxious spells. She would take flight like some terrifying bird, mounted on a stem of ragwort. Figgy headed a band of witches who flew to Wales or Spain where they partied, stole milk from cows and plundered veg from the land. On their return each one alighted with all her goodies in some convenient spot near her cottage, hopefully avoiding the brambles.
No one can say for how long the Chair has been the midnight rendezvous for witches. Many a person now sleeping quietly in the nearby churchyard could attest to having seen the witches flying by on moonlit nights carrying with them the things necessary to make their charms and potions. And to this day Madgy Figgy, some say, can still be seen flying high over the windswept cliffs like a bird of prey, her cackle the sound of drowned sailor’s cries.