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Circe: Guaranteed to Put You Through Some Changes

Circe is one of our favorite witches of mythology. What’s not to love? Daughter of Helios, god of the sun and possibly even daughter of Hecate, goddess of witchcraft, herself (we’ll get to Hecate later). Circe not only has a great name, but had that maddening penchant for turning her enemies into animals when they pissed her off.

Circe Invidiosa *oil on canvas *180.7 x 87.4 cm *1892

Circe Invidiosa (1892), by John William Waterhouse.

Circe’s star turn came within Homer’s Odyssey, where she lived in style within a mansion in a dense forest, surrounded by lions and wolves — hapless victims of her great magic. With her wand (or staff) and boundless knowledge of herbalism and potions, Circe was no one to be trifled with.

Inviting Odysseus’ crew to hang and enjoy a special feast she’d prepared for them, she turned them all into swine — Circe certainly blazed the trail of the “men are pigs” frame of mind. Odysseus was forced to rescue his men, with some rather timely help from Hermes, and even then, Circe was up to mischief, trying to use her charms to seduce Odysseus. She kept him occupied for a year, and shared her wisdom with Odysseus, giving him directions to Ithaca and the Underworld.

Some would take the more glam “enchantress” as the term to describe Circe. And she’s nothing if not enchanting. But, fundamentally, Circe’s a witch. And we love her for that. She is about as far from the stereotypical green-faced crone as a witch can get.

Circe has endured through antiquity to modernity as an iconic witch — free-thinking and -living, ineffable, powerful and spirited. She has served as an inspiration both in the arts and within pop culture.

DC Comics even conjured up Circe as a major adversary of Wonder Woman, herself, for what that’s worth, and even had a star turn on Justice League: Unlimited (“This Little Piggy”) when she turned Wonder Woman into a Wonder Pig, performed a Broadway-style show tune, and compelled Batman to croon as the price for turning Wonder Woman back to her old self again.

Wicked Circe Quotes

Circe will change you

Circe Offering Cup to Ulysses (1891), by John William Waterhouse.

“Some people are pigs; I make them look like pigs.”

“Son of Laertes and seed of Zeus, resourceful Odysseus, you shall no longer stay in my house when none of you wish to; but first there is another journey you must accomplish and reach the house of Hades and of revered Persephone, there to consult with the soul of Teiresias the Theban, the blind prophet, whose senses stay unshaken within him, to whom alone Persephone has granted intelligence even after death, but the rest of them are flittering shadows.”

“My cousins, the Sirens, said I couldn’t sing. They thought they were all that with their ‘charm the sailors’ routine. Well, I’m showing them tonight, aren’t I?”

For More Witches, Wicked and Otherwise

Can’t get enough of witches? Be sure to order our anthology, Wax & Wane: A Gathering of Witch Tales, for 30 spellbinding witch stories!