"if ever Lizzie so much as thinks of the Charivaris"

voodoo fetishes
Creative Commons Attributionvoodoo fetishes - Credit: Dominik Schwarz
Lizzie's brand of witchcraft appears to be purely her own, but draws on several traditions.  Throughout the novel she demonstrates power over time, over remote individuals, and over place; somehow her strengths are tied up with Ma Nelson's clock and with the contents of her own handbag, but she remains as much of an enigma as Fevvers in her own, subtler, manner.

Voodoo, practiced chiefly in Haiti, West Africa and Louisiana, uses talismans or fetishes to heal or harm people or groups, calling on natural phenomena, herbal remedies, and a belief that all of creation is divinely connected.  Lizzie is, of course, also an ardent feminist and women lie at the centre of Voodoo beliefs, with the oldest or most respected woman in a clan being named as Queen Mother in a continuous line.  Queen Mothers take the name of a respected ancestor and are responsible for leading prayer meetings, but also for practical needs such as organising and maintaining markets.

Other types of witchcraft, such as Wicca, similarly draw on the power of nature, of natural objects and substances, and on faith, life, death and ritual.  There is evidence of rituals associated with witchcraft dating back 30,000 years, and male and female witches were revered in early cultures as powerful shamans - just as Walser's friend in Siberia holds a powerful position among his own, primitive people.

Today, witchcraft lies outside mainstream beliefs in the western world, and exists in isolated pockets or in children's fiction.  However, individuals and groups continue to meet and practice witchcraft quietly, maintaining its links with nature and the power of the earth, sun and moon rather than wielding wands and broomsticks.  Lizzie's power appears to be of this type; whatever fetishes she carries in her handbag, are used for private necessity and inconspicuous revenge rather than for overt demonstrations of the supernatural.