Historic Witches – William Shakespeare

Bards are one of the more rare of the witch Talents on Perfect Coven Earth, although everyone knows of their existence and influence on the craft of witchery.  As one of the few Talents able to create workings that can be used by witches of any Talent, Bards are one of the Talents of which most witches are at least aware.  And everyone knows that Bards work their witchery through music and song.  This is common knowledge.

Common knowledge is not always right.

This is one of those cases.

Bards do not necessarily do witchery through music and song.  Bards do witchery through PERFORMING.  While music is the most common type of performance for Bards, it is far from the only one.

One of the most famous witches in PCE history was a Bard, but not a musician.  This Bard did his workings through the plays he wrote and performed.  His plays remain popular to this day, something about the workings he crafted into them binding them to the human psyche as well as to Western culture.


Born in April of 1564, the fact that William Shakespeare was a witch took no one by surprise.  His mother, Mary, was an Earth witch from a family in which that Talent ran strong and true.  Her father was a very wealthy farmer, and it was well-known that his prosperity came from judicious and skillful use of his witchery to produce the best goods any farm in the area could be expected to put forth.  What surprised and perplexed his family was when his witchery manifest as something other than an Earth Talent.

Growing up in a large family – eight children plus the parents – William lived in a small town roughly 100 miles from London.  He was exposed almost constantly to the agrarian lifestyle of his mother’s relatives, but had virtually no exposure to formal education, art, or entertainment.  When it was found that the boy could devise clever wordplay and influence events, his mother and other family members grew puzzled at the unexpected display of this witchery Talent.  Stratford-on-Avon, the town in which William Shakespeare grew up, was home to many Earth and Water witches, but almost none of any other Talent.  William’s unusual gift made him known to the people of the town by the nickname that would go down in history:  The Bard of Avon.

Not ones to discourage a child – a rare trait at that time in history – William’s parents did what they could to help him learn to use his witchery, though their knowledge of witchery was of little use to the boy, being entirely of that Earth workings.  His greatest teacher in witchery appeared a few years after his Talent manifest.  It was his familiar, a crow by the name of “Upstart”.  This crow could speak, according to William, though no one else ever even once heard the bird utter a single sound other than the typical caw and cry of its species.  Unlike most familiars, there was no obvious physical trait that marked the crow as anything out of the ordinary.

Shakespeare’s sudden rise to part-owner of The Chamberlain’s Men, one of the most prestigious acting troupes in England, part him to popular attention.  His writing of many of their plays – and his acting in small roles in said plays – brought him even more acclaim.  When King James ascended to the throne of England, he commissioned the troupe as his favored players, changing their name to “The King’s Men” as a sign of royal favor.  This gave Shakespeare the royal patronage necessary for advancing his career.

Witchery?  How did this man use his Bardic Talent?  His plays.  He took part in each of his plays, at least in the first performances.  He devised the plays themselves as intricate Bardic workings.  Their purpose was to influence the minds and hearts of his audiences.  The words of almost every line were carefully chosen to carry William’s Bardic witchery deep into the consciousness of anyone watching the plays.  The end goal of these workings was to bring William Shakespeare to greater fame.

Clearly, it worked.

Through a mechanism unknown to other Bards, perhaps simply a facet of Shakespeare’s personal Talent, the witchery aspect of his work has remained.  Each performance of a Shakespearean play revitalizes the original working, tying the audience to the play, touching the hearts of those who watch the play, and keeping the work and identity of William Shakespeare alive.

Sid says:  Ah…The Bard; a man of mystery, of unparalleled talent…of witchery that lasts through the ages. I have a deep and abiding love of Shakespeare, and I have to wonder if, perhaps, James isn’t right about the power imbued in his words….

I also wonder about the famed Dark Lady sonnets, and how Master Shakespeare might have done a Bardic working through them, perhaps a love working that turned out badly (as they are wont to do – read Cursebreaker’s Dance for more on that topic)!

Mickie says:    I like the different interpretation of Bardic Witchery.  It’s true that a Bard, in the traditional sense, was a poet, and heavily vested in the oral tradition.   It’s a modern invention that makes a Bard music oriented.  Great job by James to make us all think outside the box.


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