|“||We have served Him for a thousand years. And we are the ones who prepared the ground. Now, even if it is Von Marburg who raises our Dark Lord, we will claim our reward.||”|
— One of the hags claims their reward
The Widdershins are the last and oldest witches of the Essex hive who live under the woods of Salem, precisely in a stronghold created under the roots of an ancient tree. The Widdershins are regarded as the highest authorities among the Essex witches to rely upon in times of crisis. They sacrificed themselves in order to ensure the power for Mary Sibley to kill the Devil's human host.
Decrepit in the appearance, these witches are the last survivors of the Essex witches who moved from the Old World to America in search of a new home. Men and women alike are dressed in rags and covered with sores and blisters, they have filthy hair and empty eyes, like those of the corpses. They speak backward and perhaps are called Widdershins for this very reason.
According to the Countess Von Marburg, the Essex witches and, by extension, their elders, are "savage and twig-worshipping barbarians." This statement finds an explanation in her preconceived views of witches, judging the less sophisticated hives of the lower ranks as worthless even though there is no real supporting evidence as proved by Mary Sibley and all of her magical achievements.
Main Article: Essex Stronghold
The stronghold of the Essex hive is set in an underground cave, whose entrance is sealed by a magical shield that opens only at the presence to those who are worthy to worship at the foot of the Old Ones. The passage is concealed by two trees tied together by vines and twigs that move magically when the words of power are spoken by those who ask to appear before the Widdershins. From Mary Sibley's speech, it is clear that the Stronghold is a sacred place and no one is allowed to go to that place, not even the Samhain. As the Countess is extremely curious to know the secrets of this stronghold from Tituba, it is possible that this place hides some magical artifact or the Essex witches are aware of useful secrets to the old German witch.
Throughout the Salem series
|“||You would abandon me after all I've done, all I 've sacrificed while we are at war?||”|
John Sibley mentioned the Widdershins as those who have guarded him in the seven years of his life that he was kept apart from his mother, Mary. (Cry Havoc) According to the child, these terrible witches didn't allow him to have toys and by the drawings made by the child, it is perceivable that they have made him participate to Sabbaths and other murderous rituals. (Wages of Sin)
Mary Sibley, violating her oath, went to the Essex Hive's Stronghold to seek advice on how to destroy the Von Marburg witches, but the Widdershins were reluctant to help her because of the boundless power possessed by the Countess Von Marburg and her progeny, the Baron Sebastian. They were also confident that the Countess would have spared them if they stepped aside during the rise of the Devil and the consummation of the Ritum Magni.(Midnight Never Come)
After the Devil was incarnated, an emissary of the Widdershins went to the woods with other witches from all over the world to pay homage to the Dark Lord. While the witches knelt down, this "Good Mother" demanded the right reward for completing the Grand Rite. (After the Fall) The Dark Lord killed her savagely as a warning, making the even fewer surviving Widdershins left in the Stronghold willing to line up with Mary Sibley against the Devil. (The Heart Is A Devil)
- John Sibley: So many toys. I wouldn't forget them if they were mine.
- Anne Hale: I'm sure you had as many when you were that small.
- John Sibley: They didn't let me have toys.
- Anne Hale: "They"?
- John Sibley: The Widdershins. The Old Ones in the tree where we hid.
- Anne Hale: But surely, your mother gave...
- John Sibley: My mother wasn't allowed there.
- — Midnight Never Come
- Anne Hale: Mary Sibley would say she attempted just that to wield her magic for justice...
- Countess Von Marburg: She is not one of us. She is a mere upstart pretender the frontwoman for a gaggle of twig-worshipping barbarians. You are descended from true kings and queens.
- — Midnight Never Come
- Mary Sibley: I will not stand by and let it all just happen. I will do anything to stop it, even violate my Essex oath. Hear me, Old Ones. I swear I will not let you ignore me. I will cross the Forbidden Threshold. I am coming to see you. Fail me and we are all doomed.
- — Midnight Never Come
- Hag: (speaking backward) How dare you cross our threshold, Mary Sibley?
- Mary Sibley: I am no longer Mary Sibley. I'm just Mary. But I am still the Samhain of the Essex until one of you foul wretches takes my head.
- Hag: (to Mary, speaking backward) You will be the very ruins of us.
- Hag#2: (speaking backward) You are spelled by the Von Marburgs. You cannot escape them.
- Mary Sibley: And yet, for a brief moment, I have.
- Hag: You will lead them here. It was too risky! You would destroy the very last of the Essex!
- Mary Sibley: Too risky?! This is our only hope.
- Hag#2: (speaking backward) This Stronghold is our only hope.
- Mary Sibley: No! No, if you would if you would only emerge and rally behind me, then we could defeat Marburg or die honorably trying.
- Hag: (speaking backward) There is no honor in a fruitless death. The battle is already lost.
- Hag#2: (speaking backward) Tituba speaks on our behalf to the Von Marburgs. She has promised us that if we remain hidden, we will be spared.
- Mary Sibley: Do not believe Tituba's promises. Whatever she says, the Countess will not spare you.
- Hag: (speaking backwards) Perhaps not. But we have served Him for a thousand years. And we are the ones who prepared the ground. Now, even if it is Marburg who raises our Dark Lord we will claim our reward.
- Mary Sibley: You would abandon me after all I have done, all I have sacrificed while we are at war?
- Hag#2: (speaking backwards) Some wars cannot be won. Only survived.
- — Midnight Never Come
- Widdershins is a term that means "counterclockwise" or more generally, "in the opposite sense of the usual". The practice of moving in the opposite direction to the sun is considered unlucky in many cultures, and it's associated with forms of malevolent magic.
- To have access to the Stronghold, the postulant (ie. Mary Sibley) must complete a counterclockwise turn while reciting the spell.
- The Hags maybe were emissaries sent by the Widdershins to discuss what to do with the witches in town, since they look similar to each other in appearance and way of speaking and the Stronghold is a forbidden place even to the Salem witches.
- Despite hiding in the Stronghold as mice, the Widdershins had a high regard of themselves and claimed the reward they deserved for having contributed to the Ritum Magni and worshipped the Devil for centuries.
- According to the words of one of the hags, they have served the Devil for thousand years.
- In Cry Havoc, Mary Sibley asked explanations to her son John about the identity of Widdershins, as if she were unaware of them. However, in Midnight Never Come, Mary has walked to the Essex stronghold showing to be well aware of the customs and ceremonies of these ancient witches and that she had previous experience with them.