Episode 2.1: Into the Woods

Happy full moon, witches! And welcome to season two!

That’s right. Our whole coven is back to discuss the 2014 film adaptation of the Sondheim musical Into the Woods. The perfect way to kick off a month with a blue moon!

The first full moon in March is called the Sap Moon or Worm Moon. Other names include the Moon of Winds, the Death Moon, the Chaste Moon, the Fish Moon, the Sleepy Moon, and the Big Famine Moon.

CW: sexual assault, #MeToo, Larry Nassar, Johnny Depp, infidelity, infertility. See the listening guide below for which sections to skip.

Our theme song is “Moon and Spruce” by Sarah Littledrum.

Here’s a listening guide for the episode. (For a description of our segments, go here.)

Introduction (0:00 – 3:15)

Which Craft? (3:30 – 17:10)

  • Adaptation: differences between the stage version and screen version
  • Circular narrative and the four central characters
  • Effect of using and changing familiar stories (and returning to the darker roots of fairy tales)
  • Meryl Streep’s performance
  • Conveying theme through lighting, music, and special effects
  • The baker and his wife as everyman characters

“Are You a Bald Head or a Queer Nose?”: Representation + Bodies (17:40 – 1:05:45)

  • The baker and toxic masculinity/ social pressures (+ the importance of having a supportive community in order to change cycles of abuse/ destructive behaviors/ demands of cisheteronormativity)
  • So many dead mothers (separation of child and parent as central theme)
  • Women in diverse stages of life–but no women of color 😦
  • Sexual violence: Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, Larry Nassar, #MeToo, empowering victims of assault (31:14 – 40:26)
  • Jack’s sexual awakening and the princes’ focus on sexual conquest (40:26 – 42:45)
  • The baker’s wife: punishing women for infidelity (43:20 – 49:46) 
  • The witch’s body: can beauty and power co-exist? + healing from assault (49:52 – 55:35)
  • Infertility as a curse (55:41 – 59:49)
  • Blindness, disability, and magical princess tears

“Round about the Treguna”: Nature + Spirituality (1:06:06 – 1:22:46)

  • The woods as a psychological, transformative space/ journey
  • Getting what you wish for/ the magic of normalcy
  • Liminal spaces, bridging life and death
  • The spell and its ingredients (transmuted by the cow)
  • The witch’s garden and magic beans

Final Spells (1:23:13 – 1:28:20)

  • Typecast Lucy Punch and other versions of Cinderella
  • Other movies/ plays with similar musical themes
  • Learning from and improving on our parents’ example

Related Links

Liz Gilbert on The School of Greatness

Blooper Reel (1:29:16 – 1:30:06)

A sort-of photo of the four of us, together again:

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 7.33.15 PM

Claire and Jenny’s tablet-laptop contraption:


Katie’s blue hair:



Episode 8: Season Finale

Happy full moon, witches! December’s supermoon (kicking off a supermoon trilogy!) is in Gemini and is known in various cultures as the Cold Moon or the Long Night Moon.

Other names for December’s moon include the Bitter Moon (Chinese), Oak Moon (English), Snow Moon (Cherokee), Peach Moon (Choctaw), and Twelfth Moon (Dakotah Sioux).

We have reached our eighth episode (a very fortuitous number!) and the end of our first season. In this special episode, we reflect back on the texts we’ve discussed and the witches who have inspired us.

Our theme song is “Moon and Spruce” by Sarah Littledrum.

Listen to hear our answers to the following questions:

“Which witch…”

  • Inspired you to learn something new or to improve your craft?
  • Helped you to see other people in a new light or to better understand your own position in society?
  • Changed the way you think of your body or the human body in general?
  • Taught you something about the natural world or encouraged you to heal and/or connect with your environment?
  • Encouraged you to create art or foster a spiritual practice?
  • Made you laugh?

“What was your favorite/ most magical moment from doing the podcast?”

“Which witch wins the ‘Witch of the Year’ Award?”

You can find and listen to all of our previous episodes here.

If you have comments, feedback, and/or suggestions for Season 2, please do let us know! Thanks again for listening, and we will see you on a forthcoming full moon in 2018!

Episode 7: The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Happy full moon! November’s moon (the most magical!) is in Taurus and known in the pagan tradition as the Tree Moon.

Here are some of the other names for the November moon: Dark Moon (Celtic), White Moon (Chinese), Snow Moon (English), Beaver Moon (Algonquin), Trading Moon (Cherokee), Sassafras Moon (Choctaw), Moon When Horns Are Broken Off (Dakotah Sioux), and Frost Moon (other Native American peoples). In the southern hemisphere it’s called the Corn Moon, Milk Moon, Flower Moon, and Hare Moon. Read more about November’s moon here.

In this episode we discuss Newbery medal winner The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

Our theme song is “Moon and Spruce” by Sarah Littledrum.

Here’s a listening guide for the episode. (For a description of our segments, go here.)

Introduction (0:00 – 3:33)

NB: We skipped our formal discussion of craft this time, but our observations about Barnhill’s writing are scattered throughout the episode.

“Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?” (3:38 – 12:15)

  • Complex, nuanced depictions of female characters (most of the characters are women!)
  • There actually is a good witch and a bad witch in this book! Ignatia vs. Xan
  • The Sisters of the Star (female police force) vs. the Elders (male governing body)
  • Two primary characters, Ethyne and Antain, step away from the established institutions in order to enact change
  • The Elders’ authority is undermined by women’s friendship
  • We end with a brief discussion of race

“Bald Heads and Queer Noses” (12:18 – 46:29)

  • Adara’s “madness” and her magic
  • Antain’s scarred face (bodies as text!)
  • Luna’s neurodivergence, dyslexia, and changing body (and how it intersects with her magic)
  • Love beyond physical appearance
  • Systemic problems in U.S. maternity care
  • Hunger as a motivating force

Related Links

“Braids, Cornrows, Dreadlocs, & many more and why it’s not ‘just hair’: A thread”

“When ‘Fatal’ Foetal Abnormalities Are Not So Fatal”

October was Dyslexia Awareness Month. Here are some ideas about how to improve our educational system for dyslexic children.

“Round About the Cauldron Go” (46:30 – 1:06:15)

  • Centrality of nature: the bog, volcano, forest, magical full moon!
  • Importance of birds
  • “Good” characters are aligned with nature and “bad” characters work against it
  • (Magical) significance of trees, wood, and paper as instruments of creation/ art
  • Stories and memory

“Treguna, Mekoides, Trecorum, Satis, Dee” (1:06:17 – 1:34:13)

  • Sorrow and self-care in the digital age
  • The importance of art and hope
  • More than one way to be an activist
  • Luna’s visions and the love that binds families (of all stripes) together

Related Links

“Mob Shaming: The Pillory at the Center of the Global Village”

“‘Our minds can be hijacked’: The tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia”

Irresistible : The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping us Hooked by Adam Alter

Reclaiming the idea of the maiden in the tower: A Tumblr post by star*anise

Secret Feminist Agenda episodes 1.11, 1.12, and  1.13 (about mental health, sickness, rest, and activism)

Final Spells (1:34:17 – 1:41:05)

  • The necessity of change
  • Luna’s father
  • The things that can be accomplished when women work together


On December 3, we’ll end the year with a special episode reflecting on our first season. See you on the next full moon!

Episode 6: Hocus Pocus

Happy harvest moon! In this episode, we dance all night to the classic Halloween flick Hocus Pocus (1993).

Our theme song is “Moon and Spruce” by Sarah Littledrum.

Here’s a listening guide for the episode. (For a description of our segments, go here.)

Introduction (0:00 – 3:10)

Which Craft? (3:15 – 15:06)

  • Our nostalgia for the 1990s
  • Characteristics of 90s movies: likable anti-heroes, high-stakes comedy, frame story
  • CGI and practical effects
  • Faux 17th-century accents, time travel, and funny anachronisms
  • Comedic subversion of horror tropes
  • Parallels to other stories/ films

“Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?” (15:13 – 29:20)

  • Lots of awesome, dynamic female characters and only one (or two?) male protagonists
  • Max’s non-toxic performance of masculinity (especially after the girls teach him to be better)
  • Sibling relationship as the main focus; trio of heroes working as a team
  • Max’s transitions as a character
  • Portrayals of sexuality: Max as virgin/ ingénue, girls are more knowledgeable/ comfortable in their bodies, Sarah’s relationship with her sexuality
  • Portrayal of the children’s parents

“Bald Heads and Queer Noses” (29:25 – 48:30)

  • The witches’ bodies as the source for the film’s plot/ conflict and their feelings about their physical appearance
  • Significance of Billy the Zombie (man silenced by a woman, no blame assigned to Sarah for Billy’s infidelity)
  • Male characters lose their clothes (or they get torn) while the girls’ clothing remains intact and functional
  • Bodies as text: the spell book made from human skin (with an eye, possibly sentient);  marking your identity on your body or through your clothing
  • Mary’s sense of smell

Related Links

“What if We Cultivated Our Ugliness? or: The Monstrous Beauty of Medusa”

“‘Toddler Grandma Style,’ The Fashion Approach That Will Set You Free”

“Round About the Cauldron Go” (48:35 – 1:14:42)

  • Importance of the New England setting (maple leaves and fall)
  • Origins of Halloween and the intersection with Salem and colonialism
  • Binx the cat
  • The witches’ relationship with nature (plus speculation about the witches’ origins, their mother, and their relationship to immortal figures like Hecate and the devil)
  • Discussion of symbols and how the meaning of signs is dependent on context
  • The film’s portrayal of the afterlife and the soul
  • The witches’ psychosomatic pain
  • Clash of belief systems: science and technology  vs. magic and nature
  • Max’s witchcraft and Alison’s witchcraft
  • The preservation of the Sanderson house as a museum

Related Links

History of Halloween

Final Spells ( 1:14:46 – 1:20:00)

  • The title of the film
  • The witches’ adaptability

Episode 5: Outlander

Happy full moon! In this episode, we dive into Outlander by Diana Gabaldon–and a little bit into the television adaptation as well.

Content warning: rape, sexual assault, domestic abuse, torture, homophobia

Our theme song is “Moon and Spruce” by Sarah Littledrum.

Here’s a listening guide for the episode. (For a description of our segments, go here.)

Introduction (0:00 – 2:40)

Which Craft? (3:03 – 18:01)

  • First impressions
  • Genre expectations and subversions
  • Gabaldon’s process
  • Writing dialect
  • The book’s structure (plus some musings about time travel)
  • Foreshadowing and parallel moments

Related Links

Romance: Genre Expectations and Fantasy Fulfillment (Writing Excuses podcast)

About the Romance Genre (Romance Writers of America)–this is a better definition than the one Katie provides in the episode

Scottish Accents in Outlander (YouTube video)

“Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?” (18:06 – 41:45)

  • Traditional gender roles and departures
  • Jamie’s performance of masculinity vs. Arthur, Dougal, and other Scotsmen
  • Domestic abuse
  • Consent in marriage
  • The changing concept of race

Related Links

Scottish People React to Outlander (YouTube video)

Women in Early Modern Scotland

What is Whiteness? (New York Times)

Marble Statues and Whitewashing History (Vice)

“Bald Heads and Queer Noses” (41:49 – 1:08:51)

  • Jamie’s rape and the text’s treatment of homosexuality
  • Disability and adaptability (Colum, Hugh, Ian, etc.)
  • Jamie’s scars and his relationship to his body
  • Physical manifestations of emotional trauma (the body as text!)
  • Jamie’s hand (and Claire’s)

Related Links

Twitter Thread about Male Violence

What Do We Mean When We Say “Toxic Masculinity”?

“Treguna, Makoidees, Trecorum, Satis, Dee!” (1:08:55 – 1:19:55)

  • Defining witchcraft
  • Druids and Mrs. Graham
  • Claire as witch
  • Geillis as witch
  • Different types of knowledge (vs. superstitions)

“Round About the Cauldron Go” (1:19:58 – 1:34:30)

  • Claire’s role as healer and her connection to nature
  • Jamie’s connection to nature
  • Jamie’s healing process and rebirth

Related Links

Native Healing and the Medicine Wheel (Native Voices)

Final Spells (1:34-34 – 1:36:43)

  • The Loch Ness Monster!?!?

Blooper Reel (1:37:41 – 1:38:00)

Our next episode will be about Hocus Pocus (1993 film). See you on October 5! (Don’t light the black flame candle!)

Minisode 1: Salem Witch Museum

Today, to celebrate the new moon and solar eclipse, we’re bringing you a very special minisode about Claire’s visit to the Salem Witch Museum. We also share some thoughts about modern witch hunts (in the forms of racism and xenophobia, especially) and how to foster greater understanding in the face of difference. We at Witches in Britches condemn white supremacy and bigotry in all forms and encourage you to take a stand against intolerance and hate wherever it is found in your communities.

Our theme song is “Moon and Spruce” by Sarah Littledrum.

Related Links

Salem Witch Museum

Tituba and Your Fear of Witches

Stuff You Should Know: Is a Head Transplant Really a Thing?

Stuff You Should Know: What is Collective Hysteria?

Stuff You Should Know: How Witchcraft Works

Resources for Combatting White Supremacy

NPR: A Reformed White Nationalist Speaks Out on Charlottesville

Life After Hate

Ijemoa Oluo: So You Want to Fight White Supremacy

Katherine Fisher: Facebook Post

Secret Feminist Agenda (Hannah McGregor): Taking Up Space and Feeling Safe Again

Katie’s Blog Post: Don’t Be Complicit

Solar Eclipse Fun

NPR: Rituals to Sprinkle A Little Magic Into Your Eclipse Experience

Stuff to Blow Your Mind: Gazing Into the Eclipse

Our next episode, about Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, will air September 6. See you then!

Episode 4: Equal Rites

Happy full moon–and lunar eclipse! For our fourth episode, we’re throwing it back to a classic: Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett.

Our theme song is “Moon and Spruce” by Sarah Littledrum.

Here’s a listening guide for the episode. (For a description of our segments, go here.)

Introduction (0:00 – 3:20)

Which Craft? (3:20 – 29:35)

“Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?” (29:35 – 47:46)

  • Reading magic through gender identity
  • Reading magic as socially assigned labor

Related Links

Traditional Gender Hierarchy*

Male as Norm

Gender Master List: A Glossary of Gender Identities

“Bald Heads and Queer Noses” (47:47 – 1:00:15)

  • Decoding bodies through visual cues, especially clothing (#robegate)
  • Racebending and the benefits and drawbacks of foregoing racial signals

“Round About the Cauldron Go” (1:00:15 – 1:18:00)

  • Connection between magic and the natural world (bees!)
  • Real world magic (headology and the power of will)
  • More bees!

Final Spells (1:18:10 – 1:24:00)

Blooper Reel (1:25:00 – 1:26:50)

*Relevant quote from source above: “Women have traditionally been associated with the senses in Western culture, and in particular, with the ‘lower’ senses. Women are the forbidden taste, the mysterious smell, the dangerous touch. Men, by contrast, have been associated with reason, as opposed to the senses, or else with sight and hearing as the most ‘rational’ of the senses” (Constance Classen, The Color of Angels: Cosmology, Gender, and the Aesthetic Imagination, 1-2).

Next month (Sep. 6) we’ll be discussing Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. See you then!