Archived Discussion

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Working Title: Science is Masculine, Nature is Feminine: From YKTTW

  • In Discworld, wizards generally act like physicists (particularly the Department of Inadvisably Applied Magic, which strives for ever more elegant solutions, such as the streamlined Rite of AshkEnte), while witches tend to be more nature-oriented. In fact, witch magic mostly involves acting like you can do "real magic".
    • Although she might not look it, Granny Weatherwax must in the end be pretty sensitive to get 'headology' to work right. But then, from the witches' perspective, wizardry isn't streamlined at all and filled with petty one-up-manship like who gets to be Arch-this and Supreme High-that and needless 'jommetry' just because they think it looks cool. Witches just get on with it.
    • Not that the witches don't have plenty of bickering, too; as a result, according to Pratchett, "the natural size of a coven is one"; the only exception is that trios of "maiden, matron, crone" work well (but not comfortably) together — thus harking back to a popular image of prehistoric goddess worship.
      • Note also that the "Three Faces of Eve"-esque coven was the idea of Magrat, who is a parody of the whole "Mother Nature" wiccan version of witchcraft.
    • you guys are forgetting that Pratchett wrote Equal Rites with a mind to subvert the nature/culture divide in fantasy magic systems. the talk is Here if you're interested.
      • These days he seems to almost be going too far to the other extreme, frequently depicting witches as level-headed, intelligent, and quick-witted, capable of dealing with pretty much anything thrown in their way despite of their lack of formal education, while the wizards are bumbling, pompous academics who spend most of their time writing pointless studies and eating big lunches, and couldn't find their own arse with both hands. Even the cleverest wizards rely on Obfuscating Stupidity, while the witches make very straightforwardly clear who's in command. In Pratchett's world both witches and wizards know how to do real magic in abundance, but spend most of their time learning alternatives due to its unpredictable nature.
      • Do recall that the most prominent witch in our view of the Discworld is Granny Weatherwax, who may be atypical. Nanny Ogg demonstrates Obfuscating Stupidity, or at least "Obfuscating Ordinariness", Magrat Garlick is a bit dippy, and many of the minor witches mentioned are just as much pompous windbags as wizards. Conversely, despite being a pompous windbag, Mustrum Ridcully is actually pretty canny.
      • Wizardly is also not really practiced all that often as the Wizard system is mostly a way to keep wizards occupied and not doing magic albeit dynamically not using magic rather like nuclear weapons. Because witches can't produce Sourcerors by breeding, it's also a lot safer keeping them in the world. Granny Weatherwax is shown often to be a Distaff Counterpart to Mustrum Ridcully, but keeping Mustrum too busy to have a personal life as ... exciting... as Nanny Oggs is rather important for the Disc to keep existing while Granny's own singleness is more of a matter of personal choice and her own fate. Mustrum is als quite a nature lover which is how he stabilized the current ranking system by surviving all the assassination attempts by being Made of Iron.
    • It gets more interesting when you remember how magic is applied- witches lean heavily towards headology and manipulation, even when they're getting overt- remember in Wyrd Systers, Magrat didn't simply blow up the door as any self-respecting wizard would have done- she reminded the wood of when it was alive, and let it grow out of control. To put it in City of Heroes terms, Wizards are Blasters while Witches are Controllers.