The Crones Will Take Back the Night

Spell 1

Snail trail of petroleum
Islands of clarity from wrapped vegetables
Those toothy-quacks hunt in packs
They set alight the disdainful sanctimony
Of the far right
So, charge the goblet of change
Filled with hornwort and dragon’s blood
The crones will take back the night:
A coven of fluttering black cloaks
Sits wait at every suburban corner.

The female sorcerer’s contemporary motivation is to heal the wounds of the earth: a series of bloodletting cuts across the obscene skin of the terra surface to ease the pressure of composting tech waste and plastic mountains. A sorcerer’s spell can transform, awaken, anaesthetise, curse, bless and execrate from the outside. But could a spell have the force to make change in environmental politics, and consequently legislation? Could it stop the granting of permission to Adani to start their mine … along with 60 years of free water and five years of no royalty payments? The devilish character who has possessed the minds of those in power is named by Isabelle Stengers as ‘capitalism’. [1] The sorcerers, the shamans, the lawless, the quacks and the charlatans each have the energy to exorcise the demon spirit of powerful industry carelessness, from the outside.

[1] Isabelle Stengers & Philippe Pignarre, Capitalist Sorcery: Breaking the Spell, Andrew Goffey (trans.), Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2011, p. 43.



Albrecht Durer
Witch Riding a Goat Backwards, 1501–02
11.7 x 7.2 cm
Collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington

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Dr Prudence Gibson is a Post Doctoral Research Fellow at UNSW Art and Design whose research includes plant art, eco-aesthetics and related philosophy. Her books include Covert Plants, Punctum 2018, The Plant Contract, Brill Rodopi 2018, Aesthetics After Finitude, Re.Press 2016, Janet Laurence: The Pharmacy of Plants, NSWPress 2015 and The Rapture of Death, Boccalatte Books 2010.

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