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23 January 2010 @ 10:00 pm

So. There seems to be a somewhat common meme (is that the right word?) with aunts being magical. Anyone have a clue where this comes from? Am I making it up? Samantha had lots of magical aunts. The aunts in Practical Magic are there to take care of (most of) the stuff. Sabrina (some versions at least) has two magical aunts. Charmed, maybe? maybe not. Books - Wise Child & Juniper; Witch Child (haven't read it, actually); something with a kid named Mary Smith perhaps by Joan Aiken? A housemate says the Puppetmaster is another (haven't read that, either) ... etc.

Who am I missing?

A different housemate suggests that maybe the magical aunt thing started with the realm of Roman superstition. Does this sound right?

Anyone have any ideas?
Tessa: dorky coollightwalker on January 24th, 2010 10:01 pm (UTC)
Good spotting, I hadn't thought of that before. It seems somewhat akin to the principal in kids adventure books (stretching back at least through E. Nesbit and used all over Calvin and Hobbes) that the grownups have to be far away before the magic happens, and therefor the most interesting people are always orphans, or the children currently being sent somewhere for their health, or the ones sent to stay with relatives while the family finances/school holidays/mother's latest confinement/world war gets sorted out.

In tv I'd call the aunt thing a trope more than a meme. I just looked for it on www.tvtropes.com (my current favorite wiki on which I can lose entire evenings). I'm surprised that the Magical Aunt isn't already included on the site. As it is, the role seems to be some combination of their definitions of the Sink Or Swim Mentor, Hot Mom, Older and Wiser, or one aspect of the Hecate Sisters.
neblazni on January 24th, 2010 10:18 pm (UTC)
Apparently it's a pretty common type in folk & wondertales from around the world -- I know it's pretty common in Russian folklore. Last year I read an article suggesting that it had to do with the position within the family of the aunt as a sort of inverted mother figure - sort of like the stepmother figure but without usurping the bloodline. If I can track down the name/author of the article, I'll send it your way.
flarenutflarenut on January 25th, 2010 02:22 am (UTC)
That makes sense. It has to be a woman because women are simultaneously nonthreatening (ahem) and magic, but it can't be the mother because that would interfere with the Family Drama, whichever version it might be (orphan, wicked parents, poor parents, conflict with parents, blah blah blah) so aunt it is. And usually (ime) it's either a childless aunt or one whose own child-rearing is all done and gone. Which preserves the non-threatening, mostly.

Sometimes, though, it's a widow or a spinster, but the female non-reproducing vaguely family thing remains.
eapiveapiv on February 1st, 2010 08:29 am (UTC)
I don't have any ideas about the magical aunts (though I have noticed the archetype as well), but, since livejournal is wonderful about reminding me of these things, happy pre-emptive birthday!
betonicabetonica on February 3rd, 2010 01:56 am (UTC)
Hey, thanks! I'd forgotten my birthday was listed anywhere online (on facebook, I've put my father's birthday, I think including the 1920 - heh).

Apropos of nothing (again), Adam and Trevor were delighted that you'll be back in August, though they say it's not soon enough.