In Terry Pratchet’s Discworld universe, he has five books that focus on Tiffany Aching, a trainee witch.

She has a mix of non-magical and magical powers.

Non-magical powers:

  • First Sight
  • Second, Third, and Fourth Thoughts

Her magical powers are:

  • An unnamed ability to connect to the land
  • Borrowing - kind of like astral projection
  • Taking something into her (e.g., heat) and channeling it away without harming herself
  • Hearing spill words (words almost spoken)

I was trying to describe what type of witch she was but got stuck because her skills are a mix of witch types and doctor/medical skills with a bit of scholar thrown in.

Calling her a Discworld witch, to someone who isn’t familiar with the books, doesn’t encompass everything.

So what kind of witch is she?

  • 3
    All of these are skills that other witches in the books (notably Granny Weatherwax) are capable of doing. Are they not simply "witches"?
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 22:13
  • Granny Aching was Hag O' the Hills so you could use that if you need a specific title for her.
    – L.T.Smash
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 22:32
  • 1
    Granny Weatherwax once did a chiropractic manipulation on a farmer who hurt his back, so all of this is standard witch stuff.
    – DavidW
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 4:14
  • @DavidW - Indeed. She also 'borrows' regularly and channelled away the heat from a red hot poker (albeit it hurt... later) plus umpteen occasions where she uses headology to advise her flock
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 6:47
  • 1
    She's also good with cheese.
    – TRiG
    Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 20:36

1 Answer 1


The witches of Discworld are very similar to the European tradition of Cunning Folk. Cunning Folk were seen as practitioners of "low magic" who largely focused on solving everyday, practical problems for the people that lived in their community, much like a shaman or wise woman. Their work typically involved healing the sick, locating lost objects or people, opposing evil witches, and assisting with relationship problems. The specific powers that Tiffany displays are not things that Cunning Folk were specifically know for, but the role she plays in the community of helper and practical problem-solver is very consistent with the concept.

  • 5
    I think this is a good answer. I don't remember which book but there is an explanation of witches knowing that one should not put an outhouse next to the well but people are kinda dumb so you tell them the outhouse will attract goblins.
    – L.T.Smash
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 22:40
  • 5
    I agree. Discworld witches basically know lots of folk remedies, but since there is actual magic (and a lot of it is driven by the power of belief) the metaphors and analogies are also occasionally the real thing.
    – ConMan
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 1:53
  • 5
    @L.T.Smash There's another one where someone with a back problem is told to sleep on a wooden board. He asks if it's "so the knots in his back will go into the wood". The witch in question (Granny Weatherwax, I think) nods along, and then makes a mental note that it's just the sort of mystical mumbo-jumbo that would be useful for persuading people to sleep on a firmer bed in the future. Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 8:53
  • 1
    @ConMan - Indeed. Tiffany's imaginary hat actually keeps off the rain ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 11:01

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