My Nana had a mole at the base of her throat. It was quite a decent sized one, so curiosity took over and I reached out to touch it one day.  I asked her what it was and fretted about whether she would be alright.  I mean, could it kill her?

But, Nana told me not to worry.

‘Aye, it’s jist ma witches mark, hen,’ she said. ‘Ah’m a witch. Ma granny wis a witch, an yer probably wan yersel.’  


Photograph by bosela at

My inability to cross running water without a good public tantrum seemed to be proof of this, or at least that’s what Nana said.  The Mither agreed, jokingly. Only, I was small then and I didn’t know about sarcasm.  I only knew I wanted to go to school at Miss Cackle’s posh academy because I too had untied laces, long messy hair, and the inability to get things right. I also wanted a cat and I knew any broomstick of mine would probably become worse for wear too. So, I was quite happy to find out that I came from a long line of witches.

After that, I felt something was missing because I didn’t have my own spell book.  So,  I took out all my felt tipped pens and designed a spell book on the front cover of a family bible.  The stars and the wiggly ‘magic’ lines looked great.  And, I wrote ‘SPELLS’ in capital letters just so everyone would know the book had a new purpose.

Flash forward a few years, and I’d fallen for scrumpy jack cider and the good ladies, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Og.

Today, I have a new favourite book to read about witches and Scottish witch lore  – F. Marian McNeill’s ‘The Silver Bough: Vol. 1 Scottish Folk-lore and Folk-Belief‘.  It’s the perfect thing to while away a few hours on a drizzly Saturday afternoon.