Monster. Mother. Helper.
She gathers lavender and thyme, hangs them in bundles in her windows. She wears shredded black silk or neat houndstooth suits or jeans with quiet confidence and a wicked smile. She lives on the margins, in cottages at the forest’s edge, in tiny apartments papered with Morris vines. She beguiles, she enchants, and she makes your life pulse and sparkle when you need her most.
The witch is a polarizing figure, inspiring fear, fascination, and curiosity with the invocation of her name. At the heart of these responses is the simple recognition of her power: she represents freedom from everyday rules and knowledge of the forbidden. She (or he or they!) is loved and hated, a shadowy presence on the margins of society, and yet she also possesses the ability to hold communities together, to speak to those of us who long for something more.
She is, quite simply, magic, powerful and strange.
And she is at home in Carterhaugh.
For us, real magic – gritty, sink-your-teeth-into-it, beautiful magic – is in story, is in art, is in folklore. It’s in an ancient charm for protection against storms, and in the crafting of a poem that captures that power. It’s in the garden you keep, in the silver on your fingers, in the fairy tales and legends you still remember, and tell again and again, because you need to. Witches know this, and they dance through your garden and through your tales, telling you with their footsteps and songs what you need to know.
But how do we learn to hear them, understand them, or even become them? How do we find enchantment? How do we find our way to the margins of story and back again to the center of our (everyday) (magical) lives?
Seeking the Witch: Traditional Tales and Everyday Magic will open the gates to a community of like-minded, passionate dreamers and creators. The lectures and discussions will provide both inspiration and direction for the storytelling process, while our weekly quests will help you produce a collection of stories through poetry and photographs, spoken word and videos. And, of course, you’ll learn to talk about fairy tales, legends, and folklore like a pro!
Please note: this class is about folklore, scholarship, art, and everyday magic. It is not about witchcraft as a practice or religion. This is not a course on Wicca or pagan magick. While we respect those kinds of courses, and this class is certainly complementary or even adjacent to such, this course is academic and creative rather than strictly religious.
At its heart, this course is about enchantment and connection. For us, enchantment exists at the crossroads of knowledge and wonder – it’s a deep dive into the folklore of the witch in all its multiplicities, and the imagination and courage to see it reflected and refracted onto your own life story.
Each week of this course, we will discuss a different aspect of the witch – a different way that she relates to the world and the people around her. For example, on Week 1, we’ll discuss the witch as a mother figure, fiercely protective and intensely loving. Other weeks will feature witch as monster, witch as lover, witch as teacher, and more! Each aspect is only one piece of the puzzle that is the witch, one part of her complex, multi-faceted identity. We’ll delve into traditional fairy tales, legends, and other folk narratives from around the world that support the weekly theme. We’ll talk about the witches imagined by the Brothers Grimm, ancient Greek sorceresses, British wise women, generous Italian gift-givers, and hungry Indian magic wielders. In addition to these traditional tales, we’ll discuss some of our favorite contemporary short stories, poetry, songs, and more that also engage with witch-aspect of the week. Then, we’ll get personal. We’ll talk about what these stories mean to us, how they’ve shaped our perceptions of ourselves, and how they influenced the things we create – and we’ll invite you to do the same!
Seeking the Witch course content will be conducted through video lectures that will be accessible on the dates listed below. You do not need to be present when a lesson is posted – you can watch it at your convenience! Full payment must be complete by the time registration closes on April 30th at midnight. In addition to 6 video lectures, there will be several surprises throughout the course, including more content, live recordings, and more! Every week, we’ll post prompts for discussion and creative projects in our private FaceBook group, where our community gathers to share their thoughts and their works in progress. We’ll also hold three Witching Hours in our FaceBook group, where we’ll be available to answer questions and chat with you live!
What You Will Get:
- Video content for each lesson from Sara and Brittany (at least 45 minutes of material!) These will be pre-recorded and released each Wednesday of the course.
- A ‘Further Reading’ PDF.
- A PDF “grimoire page” summary of each lesson evoking pages torn from an old spell book (click here for more information about these!)
- All supplementary reading for each lesson (in PDF or link form.)
- Access to our private Facebook group for the course, where you can interact with fellow students, ask questions, share fun things, and generally get to know Sara, Brittany, and each other. You guys are our people and we want to get to know you! We will post discussion questions and other fun stuff here as well!
- A Creative Quest to go with each lesson, which you can post in the group to get personal feedback on from both your teachers and your fellow fairy-tale loving classmates (if desired.)
- Personal feedback on one completed final project (if desired.)
- A special course completion certificate upon submission of your final project
- A welcome letter and various course e-mails
- A few surprises, including guest lectures, live videos, and more!
Plus ALL of the downloadable material will be yours to keep for personal use!
The course will culminate in a final project that will grow out of your weekly challenges. We, and your classmates, will be here to talk you through your storytelling process, and we can’t wait to see what you create!
How much does it cost?:
This course is currently in progress and unavailable to purchase! Please check out our non-interactive courses here instead and sign up for our newsletter to be informed when new live courses start!
Is this graded? How much work will this be?:
We recommend setting aside 2-3 hours each week to view the lectures, do the readings, and participate in the Facebook discussion group. For this course, we recommend at least an additional hour to complete the creative assignments as well. This of course can vary wildly from person to person – we’ve had some students read our entire recommended reading list and comment extensively in discussion, while others opted out of the Facebook discussion altogether and skimmed the reading. Both extremes enjoyed the course!
While the final project will not be required, we encourage you to complete it! Carterhaugh is at its best when you take the knowledge you’ve gained over the course and transmute it into something that is your own.
Again, personal feedback on completed final assignments is available upon request – and even if you don’t want feedback, we would love to see what how you transformed the material and hear about what inspires you!
Please see our tentative course schedule below!
Lesson 1 – Introduction + Witch as Mother
Posted May 1st (Walpurgisnacht)
(But don’t worry if you’re signing up late, you’ll be able to catch up easily!)
Lesson 2 – Witch as Monster
Posted May 8th
Lesson 3 – Witch as Helper
Posted May 15th
Lesson 4 – Witch as Lover
Posted May 22nd
Lesson 5 – Witch as Teacher
Posted May 29th
Lesson 6 – Witch as Princess
Posted June 5th
Please note that these are simply the dates that materials will be e-mailed and posted in the private Facebook group! You will be able to download everything and watch whenever is most convenient to you. The download links will remain active for a year, and we will let you know before removing anything from our database!
Every course, we like to have a few guest lecturers join us for an extra dash of magic! For “Seeking the Witch,” we’ve strived to find a diverse group of people that hold the word “witch” sacred in a variety of ways. Watch this space, as we hope to annouce more guest lecturers soon!
Jeana Jorgensen studied folklore at the University of California, Berkeley, and went on to earn her PhD in folklore from Indiana University. She researches gender and sexuality in fairy tales and fairy-tale retellings, folk narrative more generally, body art, dance, sex education, and feminist/queer theory. While most of her time goes to teaching college courses and publishing research on the above, she has recently returned to writing fiction and poetry. Her poetry has appeared at Strange Horizons, Liminality, Wyrd & Wyse, Glittership, Stone Telling, Enchanted Conversation, and Mirror Dance. She blogs at Patheos and is constantly on Twitter.
In both her creative and academic work, she focuses on and draws inspiration from lesser-known figures and themes from narrative folklore, including that of the witch. Her poem “The Witch’s House” was nominated for the 2018 Rhysling Award, and her short dystopian story about reproductive rights, “The book you find when you really can’t afford to get pregnant,” won the Spider Road Press Feminist Flash Fiction Award of 2018. In what spare time she has, she teaches and performs dance, knits, and pursues wild yeast baking.
Curious, but not quite ready to enroll? Get a taste of our magic! Click here to join our Facebook discussion group and meet some of your potential classmates and/or here to join our newsletter and receive a free guide to our favorite fairy-tale resources on the Internet!
At Carterhaugh, we craft our courses to be both academically rigorous and open to enchantment. We take folklore seriously – hell, we got PhDs in it, which is not dissimilar to surviving almost a decade of impossible tasks. (Carry water in this sieve! Sort a huge pile of lentils in one night! Kill a monster that can be killed by no man! Write a dissertation!) We built Carterhaugh to bring the study of folklore beyond the ivory tower (across the moat but still on the estate), and we’ve flung open the doors to the curious seekers and creators who feel stories quickening in their fingertips and behind their eyelashes. You’ll be learning from two highly trained folklorists, literary scholars, creative writers, and embarrassingly enthusiastic readers. As your teachers and guides, we will help you recognize and navigate the briars of misinformation – they are encroaching, well-camouflaged, and absolutely everywhere in the magical realm of the Internet – and all the different ways to evaluate a story’s “truth.”
We, Dr. Sara Cleto and Dr. Brittany Warman, both earned our PhDs in English and Folklore at The Ohio State University. We specialize in folk narrative – folk tales, myths, and legends – and fairy tales, especially the creepy ones, are our passion. We have published academic articles and reviews in Marvels & Tales: The Journal of Fairy-Tale Studies, Supernatural Studies, Humanities, Gramarye: The Journal of the Sussex Center for Folklore, Fairy Tales, and Fantasy, the book Channeling Wonder: Fairy Tales on Television, the encyclopedia Folktales and Fairy Tales: Traditions and Texts from Around the World, and many more. Sara’s dissertation explores how folklore creates and shapes discourses of disability in nineteenth-century British literature – for example, she explores how the character of Watho the witch in George MacDonald’s literary fairy tale “The Day Boy and the Night Girl” intersects with and complicates the late Victorian “mad” scientist trope. Brittany’s dissertation argues that there is an understudied link between folklore and Gothic literature that reveals a great deal about the “dark” side of fairy tales and fairy legends we always seem to “return to” in contemporary retellings.
We love teaching – we get to geek out about the weirdest, most wonderful stories, and we get to watch our students create their own magic with what they learn. We want our classes to reflect the joy we get out of the strange and delightful world of folklore, so expect apropos gifs, ridiculous illustrations, and/or terrible puns in our lectures. We’re also best friends, so we will occasionally make horrible faces at each other, make fun of each other, and laugh like drunken pixies… and we want you to join us!
In addition to academic writing, we are also creative writers who draw on folkloric material in our work. You can read some of our published material at journals like Uncanny Magazine, Faerie Magazine, Mythic Delirium, Goblin Fruit, Stone Telling, Apex Magazine, Liminality Magazine, and many others. Collectively, we’ve been nominated six times for the Rhysling Award, including two of our 2017 collaborations, “Waking” at Liminality Magazine and “An Announcement” at Uncanny Magazine.
Sometimes, we also make folklore-inspired jewelry or crowns studded with birds or stews made from twelve different kinds of vegetables. Our natural habitats include second-hand bookstores, airplanes, and really divey karaoke bars where we sing like sirens or harpies, depending on the season.