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The S0und of L0ve {Part I]

Tiffany Aching, the witches' witch in Terry Pratchett's Discworld, though having no truck with soppy romance novels, describes Love like no other I have come across. But first let's talk about how she embodies Love.

Tiffany is the epitome of composure. It was our Tiff who, at nine years old, used her infant brother to lure green JennyGreenteeth (a demon) into the open to check if her eyes really were the size of saucepans, as described in her Fairie tale book; she's an inquisitive soul, our Tiff. On confirmation, Tiffany dealt a swift crack around Jenny's bonce with a terrifying cast-iron saucepan. But what is it that makes the "Big Wee Hag" so cool and collected in the face of The Wintersmith himself, or worse still - The Cunning Man? Her name gives us some clues.

'Tiffany' is phonetically closely related to Tiphareth, the sixth Sephiroth of the Tree of Life and synonymous with Heart intelligence - i.e. the balanced knowing/kenning that comes once the two dimensions of emotion and intellect are balanced (the left and right hemispheres of the brain). This is true Science. When taken in combination with her surname 'Aching', it isn't hard to see 'Aching Heart'.

Pratchett's witches 'do' for their communities. To the best of their ability, working long hours and always on call, these intuitive healers mend the broken legs, clip the ancient toenails, prepare the recently departed for their walk across the sands with the enigmatic Death... But Tiffany's heart doesn't ache in the same way as your modern day social justice warrior/ virtue signaler. Her heart is capable of real Care for those in her day to day world, because she doesn't only care with her emotions. Her intellect and reason act as the guidance for her emotion, channeling care into practical, creative ways, that actually help the individual - I have met many nurses who do the same every day.

A good example of inauthentic care - the polar opposite to the witches - is the modern day social justice warriors. Tiffany, rather than projecting her own sense of inferiority/ failures out onto another group, or a remote cause, has enough knowledge of psychology, to ken that the crowd can be easily manipulated by Machiavellian interests. Indeed, In the tongue of the Nac Mac Feegle (6 inch tall, fearsome, Sovereign warriors) Tiffany's name is 'Tir-far-thóinn' which translates as 'Land Under Wave'. Here we see the two feminine elements Earth and Water, suggesting that Tiffany is both grounded, but also fluid. She doesn't repress her emotions, but is so rooted in herself that they do not rule her. Her empathy (water) is not easily eroded by Power.

This awareness of the allure of Power is Rule numero uno for the witches. Though they have to be intelligent, creative and act as leaders (competence brings response-ability), they carefully watch themselves (and each other) to ensure that they do not place themselves above others. Indeed, the first thing one learns as a witch is that to begin to feel "better than", or that "it's my way or the highway", is a fast descent to cackling - i.e. the Sage becomes the Psychopath. The witches know that the power to heal another is dependent on that being's will and individuality remaining intact. With the cackler, whose empathy declines the more grandiose she gets, the will of the individual becomes subservient to the one living in the gingerbread cottage with roomy ovens.

The psychopath, and the institutions they create, lack empathy, and so cannot value the will of another and so the patient (and here I'm pointing a big finger at allopathic "medicine") is consumed by inauthentic care. So, living with this Power, this kenning of the secrets, means that these are the wise women who live on the edges of reality, enough to know that there are dark forces in the world, not all of them physical. Much like the Dunedain, who act as guardians and protectors of the naive and innocent, childlike Hobbits, the witches do not run from danger, they run towards it. Or they at least hide behind a tree and then... CLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANGGGGGGggg!

"What’s magic, eh? Just wavin’ a stick an’ sayin’ a few wee magical words. An’ what’s so clever aboot that, eh? But lookin’ at things, really lookin’ at ‘em, and then workin’ 'em oout, now, that’s a real skill."

~ Rob Anybody, Big Man of the Chalk Hill Clan [Nac Mac Feegle]

~ A.J. Dunbar


Art: Tiffany and Granny Aching by Mari.o

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