Good Witch, Bad Witch – Gillian Kemp – July BBBR

Good Witch, Bad Witch: Sweet Spells and Dark Charms
Gilliam Kemp
Bulfinch, 2002
64 pages + 52 cards

The first thing that drew me into this set is the artwork. Bright colors, beautifully painted, with whimsical images of witches, both “good” and “bad”. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any notation of who are artist was. Still, the artwork is a lovely illustration of the text.

This set is…well…it’s best summed up as “cute”. There’s a very playful air to the way Kemp writes about her good and bad witches, 26 of each. The Good Witches include the Stardust Witch, who “makes dreams come true” (22), the Fire Witch who “makes temperatures rise” (32) and the South Witch, who “predicts a happy phase when the sun will shine for you” (36). The Bad Witches, on the other hand, features such characters as the Warty Witch, who “speaks to you in a vein of honesty, ‘warts and all'” (46), the Wickedest Witch who “reveals that jealousy may create havoc” (49) and the Venomous Witch who is “as poisonous as an adder’s fang” (55). The various roles of each of the witches in this divinatory pack deal primarily with everyday concerns such as love and good living. Along with descriptions of the “personality” of each witch, the general attributes and forecasts that each card suggests are explained. Each entry is completed with a brief spell that fits the theme of the card that comes up.

Some may look askance at some of the spells; for example, there are several that are dedicated to ruining someone else’s relationship or getting revenge on others. These hearken back to historical witchcraft, in which the spells for love and healing were joined by the equally common spells for revenge and sickness–in modern practices of witchcraft (particularly Wicca) the latter aren’t spoken of as much in an attempt to improve P.R. for paganism as a whole. While most witches choose not to implement such spells, the fact that they exist shouldn’t be denied. It all comes down to personal ethics.

I think my only complaint is that it is pretty lightweight. The descriptions are quite brief, and I would have enjoyed reading about how Kemp actually created the deck–a story is always a nice addition. Still, for being a little gift-box divination set, it’s pretty darned good.

For all its cute factor, this is a very usable deck. Kemp did a great job of designing some sample layouts to be used with this deck, and they serve a very functional purpose. If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary that keeps even the “bad” witches light-hearted, this is a fun deck to work–or play–with.

Four pawprints out of five.

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1 Comment

  1. July 12, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Sounds neat! I’ve started a small collection of divinatory decks, mostly Tarot but not all. Some I have because they’re useful, some because they’re pretty or cute or fun. If I find this in the bargain bin, I may pick it up.

    You make a good point about the “bad” spells. Just because I choose not to use them does not mean that I can ignore the fact of their existence, or force anybody else not to use them. In fact, I believe that in order to be better prepared to defend against them (a rare need, but one that I have run into) one must understand the mechanism behind them, which is precisely the attitude taken in Dion Fortune’s Psychic Self-Defense.


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