The witch queen Serafina Pekkala in flight.

The witch was a humanoid being with magical abilities. They inhabited multiple worlds.


Witches were humanoid beings but distinct from humans biologically and culturally. Like humans, witches had dæmons, which always settled in the form of birds. Witches aged much more slowly than humans, and were known to live for more than a thousand years. In Lyra's world, only female witches existed. In this world, witches bore the children of human men, who were witches if female and human if male.[1] There were other worlds in which there were male witches.[2]

Witches were able to feel cold, but it did not cause them harm. They were also able to feel tingling and silky sensations on their skin when exposed to starlight and moonlight respectively.[1]



Serafina & Kaisa

Serafina Pekkala flies with her branch of cloud pine.

Witches were capable of using branches of cloud pine to fly.


While true invisibility was impossible, witches were able to enter a fiercely-held modest state of mind which allowed them to go unnoticed. With the correct degree of intensity, a witch would be able to pass through a crowded room or walk beside a single person unnoticed.[3]

Weather controlEdit

Witches were able to control the weather to a degree. Serafina Pekkala and her clan were able to summon winds to speed Lee Scoresby's balloon on its way.


Witches were capable of performing healing magic. However, this type of spell proved ineffective against the wounds caused to Will Parry by Æsahættr.



Witch lands map

A map of the witch lands drawn by John Parry.

Witches did not have possessions, and their only means of exchange was mutual aid.[1]

Witches divided themselves into communities known as clans. Each clan had its own territory with definite but irregular borders which varied from season to season based on the growth of plants and the migration of animals.[4]

Clans formed alliances and enmities with each other. There was an ancient rivalry between the Tikshozero clan and the Mickojärvi clan.[4]

Known clansEdit


Witches took part in a coming-of-age ritual, wherein they travelled to a barren land in the North where their dæmons could not go, much like the land of the dead. The completion of this ritual allowed them to separate from their dæmons over long distances.[5]


Witches were known to worship at least one deity. Yambe-Akka was the witches' goddess of the dead.[1] Witches did not believe in the notion of a spirit.[6]

Notable witchesEdit


Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Northern Lights, Chapter 18
  2. The Subtle Knife, Chapter 13
  3. The Subtle Knife, Chapter 2
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Subtle Knife, appendix
  5. The Amber Spyglass, Chapter 36
  6. Northern Lights, Appendix

Races and Species