Book theme: HISstory is of directly affecting events. HERstory is of alteration without intrusion. What Florinda Donner learns from her many experiences and observations in the Venezuela town of Curmina is the "turning of the Wheel of Chance" which refers to a means of changing the outcome of a situation indirectly, without direct intrusion. It is the story of the anima in its effects -- of the female principle at work through yielding, accepting, shadowing over, until suddenly, seemingly without direct connection, a change takes place in what a person wants or decides to do. That's when the "Wheel of Chance" has turned. One has, in her teacher Mercedes Peralta's words, been linked to someone else or come under the "the witch's shadow."
The third person stories which punctuate Donner's first person narrative are the real gems of the book: the love story of "Negra Clara" and the polio-afflicted white boy. The story of the bar-owner who seduces the Swedish wife of the Dutch proprietor by dancing, devil mask in place, with the wife in her Santa Claus costume. The story of the changeling who threw his mother's only dress off the side of the cliff and she after it. Each story is unique and stand-alone and yet interwoven into the fabric of the Witch's Dream.
The Witch's Dream is Donner's second book after Shabono in which she lived in an Amazonian Indian village in truly primitive circumstances. The first book was purely anthropological-observative form (except that she conformed to local customs by necessity), whereas this book was in the form of a quest given her by Florinda Matus. Since Carlos Castaneda wrote the Foreword for this book, one must wonder if Ms. Matus is related to Carlos' Don Juan Matus. Florinda Matus is a female Don Juan and Florinda Donner, a female Carlos Castaneda.
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