Page 7. " In fairy-tales, witches always wear silly black hats and black cloaks, and they ride on broomsticks "
Witch with pointed, hat, broom and cat (Famous Cat Merlin with Witch)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeWitch with pointed, hat, broom and cat (Famous Cat Merlin with Witch) - Credit: garlandcannon

A witch is someone who practises witchcraft. In The Witches, these are foul, frightening female creatures. In folklore, witches may be good or evil. Good witches are often referred to as white witches.

In Scandinavian folktales, witches are generally female, have prominent noses and keep cats. They fall into three categories:

1. The troll wife or trollkonor: they resemble their husbands, i.e. large, hairy, ugly and stupid, and are said to possess magical powers.

2. The ‘classic’ wise woman of the woods: she lives alone in the forest, practises magic and will reciprocate if one favours her with gifts.

3. The dangerous and evil witch: they live the lives of ordinary women by day and bewitch at night. They also have the power to shape-shift.

Odin og Völven
Public DomainOdin og Völven - Credit: Lorenz Frølich

Völvas of Norse mythology dabbled in sorcery, shamanism and prophecy. They were revered in myth and often wielded a magic wand or staff.

Witches have received more attention of late with stories like the Harry Potter series, where witches are the female counterparts of wizards. One of the most iconic representatives of evil witches has to be the evil-stepmother-turned-witch of Snow White fame. Television has also seen many witches recently, e.g. Eastwick and Bonnie in The Vampire Diaries.

 

 

Page 9. " a ghoul is always a male "
Ghouls
Creative Commons AttributionGhouls - Credit: Marxchivist / Tom

 Ghouls are undead, like vampires or zombies. They are commonly found in graveyards and consume human flesh.

The earliest known literary mention of the creatures comes in the popular Arabian tales, One Thousand and One Nights. The ghül of Arabian folklore is a ‘devilish type of jinn’.

Page 9. " So indeed is a barghest "
A ghostly Black Dog.
Public DomainA ghostly Black Dog. - Credit: Spettro84

The barghest is a terrifying black dog of English folklore. It is said to have large teeth and claws, glowing eyes and is often associated with the devil and death.

Other such dogs are Cerberus, guardian of Hades, and the Black Shuck.

Page 16. " They lived up on Holmenkollen "

 Holmenkollen is a neighbourhood in the city of Oslo, Norway.

It is best known as a recreational skiing area, with a renowned ski jump arena.

 

Holmenkollen
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeHolmenkollen - Credit: Olivier Bruchez

 

Holmenkollen ski jumping hill
GNU Free Documentation LicenseHolmenkollen ski jumping hill - Credit: Frank Härtelt

 

Page 22. " summer-holidaying with his family on the fjord "

 

The Hardangerfjord in the county of Hordaland, Norway.
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe Hardangerfjord in the county of Hordaland, Norway. - Credit: Aqwis

fjord is an inlet of the sea or a narrow bay that extends far inland between steep walls of rock. Fjords are generally believed to have been formed by glaciers carving their way through the coastline. As water levels rose, the grooves were filled. 

 

norway fjord
Creative Commons Attribution Norway fjord - Credit: mozzercork

 

Fjord in Norway 215 nor0077.JPG
Creative Commons AttributionFjord in Norway - Credit: eimoberg
Page 22. " He was a porpoise. "
A Harbour Porpoise at an aquarium.
GNU Free Documentation LicenseA Harbour Porpoise at an aquarium. - Credit: Malene Thyssen

 Porpoises are cetaceans, closely related to whales. They are similar to dolphins but are smaller with less pronounced beaks. They are generally bluish-black with white undersides and may grow between 1.2 to 2m long.

 

Dolfinarium
Creative Commons AttributionDolfinarium - Credit: stefanoost

 

Page 24. " how to recognise a witch when you see one "

Real witches disguise themselves extremely well. On the surface, they seem to be ordinary women… but if you know what signs to look for, you may be able to spot one.