Sometimes, witches are depicted as the opposite; sexy young women, capable of luring a man to his death. And occasionally, you come across a witch that’s a mixture of both. Allow me to introduce Vixana, the witch of Vixen Tor.
Where is Vixen Tor, Anyway?
Head into the centre of Dartmoor, somewhere between Princetown and Tavistock, and you’ll find a particularly unusual formation of stones. There are plenty of tors in the area, but this one is stranger than most, because it looks uncannily like a woman’s head – hence it’s more modern name, ‘Sphinx tor’.
It’s been an important site for thousands of years. In the Bronze ages, humans created tombs in its shadow; however, it’s not their ghosts that are said to haunt the area. That dubious honour goes to Vixana, the witch who was believed to live deep within the stone tor itself.
Vixana the Vicious?
In appearance, Vixana was rumoured to be deeply hideous, with only two front teeth, a hooked nose (no surprise there), wrinkled, dry skin, and lank, matted hair. She was also said to be taller than many men, which didn’t help matters in terms of her fright-factor.
Enough people believed in her to give the tor a wide berth for most of the time. However, that wasn’t always possible. Dartmoor is famous for its sudden, thick mists – and some folk said that it was Vixana herself who was responsible for them; eerie fogs that made travellers lose their path and stumble too close to her lair.
The Witch’s Revenge
The burning question is… just what did Vixana do with her victims? Nothing pleasant, I can assure you! Her first trick was to lure them into one of the area’s many deep, syrupy bogs – then watch, cackling with glee, as they slowly sunk beneath the mud.
Bad enough, you might think. But according to legend, this witch had another nasty act to inflict on the poor traveller before they died. Just as their hands were flailing about in the air, desperately reaching for anything to help them before they sank forever, the witch would leap beside them and snap off their fingers, one by one. Then, to add insult to injury, she’d raise each one to her lips and suck it dry, just as the traveller disappeared entirely into the ooze.
What a way to go, eh?
Visiting Vixen Tor
These days, you’re not allowed to get too close to Vixen tor, as the person whose land it’s on has forbidden access (though why, no-one is quite sure). However, you can hang over the fence and see it – and it’s well worth the visit.
Just make sure no mists approach when you’re there…