Have you ever heard tell of an 'April Witch'?

Ages and ages ago, I read a Ray Bradbury story entitled “the April Witch” about a supernatural young girl (possibly a fairy) that possesses a young southern belle in order to experience “human love.” The April Witch forces the human girl to accept the invitation to a square dance from a boy that the human girl distinctly does not like.

At one point in the story, the human girl is not yet aware that an extra sentience has control of her, but realizes she is not in control of her own body. She off-handedly remarks that (paraphrasing) “an April Witch must have possessed me.” It always seemed to me that Bradbury expected the reader to be familiar with the concept of an April Witch, like it was a common bit of folklore like the tooth fairy, or the boogyman. But I’d never heard of it, and can’t recall anyone ever saying they’d heard of it either. Is this something that Bradbury dreamed up for this specific story, or is there any folklore being called an April Witch, like the Chupacabra or some such?

My educated guess is that it’s an oblique reference to Eostre.

It’s been a long time since I read Bradbury’s April Witch, and I don’t seem to have the book it was collected in on my shelf. (Or even remember which one it was.)

Anyway, I dimly recall that there are faint echoes of the story of Saint Cecilia in there. (Cecilia was an early Christian who was in an arranged marriage to a young man who still worshiped the Roman gods. She told him that she had to remain a virgin because she was promised to an angel. Oddly enough, he was cool with that and converted to Christianity, and they were both executed – but not before having all sorts of lovely visions and stuff.)

Maybe I read too much into that, but the story seemed like a sort of weird and vague inversion of the saint’s tale, with a woman who has no desire for a man being possessed by Cecilia, who wants to experience physical love.

More specifically about the “April Witch” and Eostre, the month we now call April was called Eostremonath by the pre-Christian Britons, supposedly after the goddess Eostre. Eostre is associated with fertility, the rites of spring, all that good stuff. No doubt Bradbury was aware of this, and he often used the theme of dark old gods influencing small-town folk in modern America.

As long as we are looking for lost Bradburys, I’ve been trying to remember a story, about working-class men drinking in pub in a small Irish villiage, when a bus pulls up, and a gay tour group gets out. The villagers look at the more flamboyant tour members, the expected remarks are made, and it looks like trouble is brewing.

However, one old curmudgeon observes that the two groups share a number of interests, including both drinking and singing, and he buys the tour leader a pint. So the two groups spend the day drinking, singing Irish ballads, and in general having a great time until bus pulls up, and the tour group departs, leaving the villagers with a lot to think about.

Does anyone remember the name of this story? Is it Bradbury?

Are you sure it wasn’t a Welsh village?

It reminds me of The Only Gay In The Village by Daffyd Hughes.

You know, when I read it as a youngling, I never understood this story at all. But it was in a wonderful anthology called, IIRC, “Young Witches and Warlocks”. I was just thinking about those stories the other day. I wonder if that’s still around here somewhere.