Reading Maguire: Wicked, The Birth Of A Witch

This chapter is where we learn that the Clock seems to have an agenda of its own. The scenes it shows of Frex and Melena not only aren’t true (although I can’t help but think that the treasure imagery isn’t a symbol of hidden actual treasure, but that Melena is herself Frex’s real treasure), but fail to come true. At the same time, the reaction of the crowd serves to set other events in motion.

Frex’s marginal power as local minister is completely and utterly gone. It doesn’t matter that anyone coming to his house and pillaging isn’t going to find any gems. He now knows that only one member of the community was willing to save him from a bad end, and he has no clue which members of his congregation might have been one of the hooded men who attacked him.

And Melena has to take cover while in labor. [TW – woman in danger during childbirth, threatened infanticide]

Oddly enough, helping Melena give birth does change the opinion of the women helping her a bit, once they see that she is just another woman – even after they see a few mementos of her life before Frex in the house.

They even help her to safety once the Clock riles the crowd.

There’s a mythological/religious aside to be made here. Melena’s helpers are identified as a maiden, a fishwife, and a crone. These lifestages/roles (maiden, mother, crone) are traditionally the three faces of the Greek goddess Hectate, who was strongly associated with witchcraft, and my understanding is that they serve as similar divisions of a woman’s life in some forms of modern Wicca. (I will admit that I am only vaguely familiar with Wicca and the older religious traditions that inform its modern beliefs and traditions, so if I’ve gotten this wrong please correct me.)

And then the baby shows up – green and failing to cry. Melena is completely drugged out of her wits. The three women decide that killing the child is “the kindest course of action”. Luckily for the child, she has already grown a set of sharper-than-usual teeth and is capable of defending herself.

In the end, the same Clock that set the night in motion provides shelter for mother and daughter once the three women leave.


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