Witchcraft In Hollywood It is said by many that Hollywood is persuasive. People see something on television or in a motion picture and believe that what is shown is, in reality, true. Misconceptions will occur, and unless people are shown evidence against the delusions, it will be taken as fact. In the past, many groups have been poorly represented onscreen. Organizations such as the Mafia, the government, the military, spies, gods, monsters, and others are just a small example of those prejudiced. Since the misconceptions have occurred, much of the truth has come through for those mentioned.
However, one topic that is repeatedly misrepresented in Hollywood is the practice of the Craft, more commonly known as witchcraft or Wicca according to Jeffrey Mann (personal communication, April 14, 1999). Witchcraft has been shown onscreen as evil, black magick, rather than a faith, and most people see spells cast by wiggling the nose or pointing a finger to be valid of the witchcraft fable (1997, Bewitched online). Is witchcraft a true, spiritual religion, and if so, are people willing to tolerate it? Many are uninformed of the religious aspect of the Craft, and those that are, believe it to be false or wrong according to Jeffrey Mann (personal communication, April 14, 1999). In todays society, religious tolerance of different groups of people or cultures is extremely important. By understanding and accepting the differences of real versus imaginary using witchcraft as the prime example, people will be able to see these groups as part of actual society and not just a fictitious, magickal portrayal in entertainment such as Bewitched, Charmed, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and The Craft. Hollywoods portrayal of witchcraft in movies and shows is invalid.
Now on reruns, the television show, Bewitched, was once very popular. Samantha and Tabitha are shown casting spells nearly every other minute of the half-hour (1997, Bewitched online). The show brought forth a revival of the knowledge of witchcraft. In history, before Christianity, Paganism was a primary religion in Europe. Witchcraft is a form of Paganism, just as Wicca, Shamanism, and others are.
When the Christian religion was being formed, many Pagan beliefs were still used (1998, A witches overview of Wicca online). The Pagan tradition of Yule, the winter solstice holiday, was to bring a live tree into the house and decorate it with food, balls, and a star on top to protect the household from the evil spirits (Adler, 1997). In the past century, a man named Gerald Gardener came forth with his ancestors religious practice that has been passed down generation after generation called Paganism. He began bringing forth the Wiccan movement to modern witches according to Jeffrey Mann (personal communication, April 14, 1999). Bewitched was made in the midst of the sort of coming out of all that was practiced. Romanticizing witchcraft started with Bewitched, and from then on, a new fetish of shows and movies had begun.
The Warner Brothers Network recently aired a new hour-long show featuring three sisters who have just discovered their witchy powers (see attached graphic one of Charmed sisters). They are referred to as the Charmed Ones, which are the most powerful of a long line of good witches. Their mission is to protect the innocent against all evil (1999, Charmed online). The show features many distinct realities of witchcraft. The show refers to the Book of Shadows, which is a book of memoirs, spells, thoughts, and goals, which must be handwritten and personal to that witch (1998, A witches overview of Wicca). The three sisters use this book for casting spells against evil, which is the basis for entertainment on the show. Freezing time, traveling to the past or future, and evaporating monsters are just some of the sisters outlandish powers (1999, Charmed online). Religion has no part in the hour that the sisters are fighting the darkness.
Witchcraft, in reality, has no natural witches as implied in Charmed. Having power is a belief that comes from within your soul, not from genetics (Valiente, 1998). The power of spells to witches is like the power of prayers to Christians. If Charmed was based on three Christian sisters, the show would be primarily about how they pray and have immediate and obvious results according to Jenn Vinson (personal communication, April 13, 1999). Clearly, both concepts are not accurate. Praying in all religions has results personal to that worshipper, just as casting a spell is to a witch (1998, A witches overview of Wicca online).
It is implied that spells are the most important part of witchcraft, which is false. Casting a spell is not necessary to be a witch; many witches are solitary and chose to practice without the use of spells (1999, Pagan Organization of MIT). Although Charmed uses many of witches tools for spells, and practice, its accuracy is severely skewed in the portrayal of the religion of Wicca, or witchcraft. Sabrina the Teenage Witch is a childrens show aired by ABC on Friday nights hotspot. A high school student, named Sabrina, uses her magick to cause more blunders than not. Although sophomoric, the show does not focus on evil, darkness, or the devil.
Sabrina must keep her practice a secret; neither her boyfriend nor her best friend knows the truth (1998, A review..of the show Sabrina). Keeping her Craft a secret is the entertainment along with turning the school bully, Libby, into frogs and other animals. In reality, many that practice Wicca are secretive (Valiente, 1998). It is not because of shame, but rather that others do not understand. Nothing is meant to be harmful, however, many unforgiving people in this world condemn for a religion they know little about (Valiente, 1998). For example, it is said that witches worship the devil.
This is not only ridiculous, but also wrong (Adler, 1997). Witches believe that God is everything and everywhere, just not merely a distinct entity. All Gods and Goddesses are one God, and by calling him a different name than other religious followers do will neither make him angry or damning. Witchcraft is moral and ethical, which nearly all religions are based upon (1998, A witches overview of Wicca). Sabrina is a good student, niece, and friend who chooses a different spiritual path to follow (1998, A review..of the show Sabrina). Although Sabrina the Teenage Witch is cute and humorous, religion has little if no part in the show, unlike some more adult portrayals.
The focus of evil in the motion picture, The Craft of Columbia Pictures, is the leading misconception of the film (Fleming, 1996). By far the most accurate in the portrayal of the Wiccan religion, the movie follows the beliefs of four high school girls that have discovered the Craft according to Jenn Vinson (personal interview, April 13, 1999). Using all religious tools such as the pentacle (see attached graphic two of the witches protection symbolizing earth, air, fire, water, and spirit) in their practice, the girls focus on practicing the nature religion. Experimenting with spells, reading materials, and keeping personal Book of Shadows, The Craft keeps reality in check. The four girls attend a Christian school, while not so secretly believing something else, which occurs with many young witches.
Until Nancy, one of the witches turns evil, and Sarah, another witch, discovers her natural power, the movie is almost a perfect example of witchcraft (Fleming, 1996). By focusing on one of the girls in the circle being evil, the truth of witchcraft is altered. Darkness is the focus of the second half of the movie, scaring viewers to believe that this evil occurs in all witches. Murder and evil spells are focused upon leading the watcher to be frightful of the Craft and condemning of the religion. All religions have followers that give it a bad name.
Some Christians can be found starting cults, clans, and general mayhem. Of course, these bad apples are not the true followers of the religion. The Crafts evil character, Nancy, can be thought of as one psycho in a good religion which is, like The Clan, a very small proportion of the believers. Questioning the true meaning of Wicca Clearly, the religion of Wicca is extraordinarily twisted as portrayed in Hollywood. After seeing a movie, is a typical reaction what is witchcraft (see attached graphic three)? Or do people accept what they are shown? What can be done about this problem? There is one solution: education.
Teaching people that witchcraft is not fictitious or evil will bring forth an influx of understanding according to Jeff Mann (personal communication, April 14, 1999). Some churches teach that Wicca is a devil religion that should only be regarded a cult. Realizing that religious tolerance and religious belief are two separate entities will alleviate the problem of a taboo denomination. Many believe that by viewing witchcraft as a religion, they are condoning the practice. Therefore, people look upon it as little more than magick and will never consider witchcraft to be of any God in fear of their own practices sins (Adler, 1997). If Hollywood released a film about a true follower of Wicca and not a romanticized version, would it sell? That is one way to have an audience understand the true meaning of witchcraft without the witchy power jargon to spice it up.
Being educated about religions not only makes us more tolerant, understanding, and open, it also awakens us to other cultures, countries, and ethnicitys philosophies. Unless the masses are educated that witchcraft is indeed a spiritual religion, the misconceptions will continue (Adler, 1997). Loving and/or Accepting Witches There are many different religions in this world. America itself is a melting pot of ethnicity and diversity. What other country could so readily accept assorted beliefs than the home of the free? Religious persecution, emotional or physical, will be a past phenomenon. First, all people must be considered a part of societys whole.
When all members of each religion can see the other as equal, all men shall then, and only then, be created equally. When viewing a movie or show, it is necessary to understand that the magick portrayed is imaginary. Think about it: black pointy hats, black cats, and brooms are symbols of the myth of witchcraft, just as clouds and fire are representations of Christianity in movies. Understanding that distinction will lead to understanding witchcraft as a true religion and not a fanciful fable. Tolerating Without Condemning Witchcraft People in this world are fast to judge.
Because the entertainment industry portrays witchcraft in a spell casting, dark, evil way that is what people are likely to believe witchcraft is. It is not some made-up magick, but rather a faith that has been stretched to fascinate people (1999, Pagan Organization of MIT). It is not make-believe, but a real and true religion. “Paganism is an affirmation of the beauty and sacredness of life on this earth, and of our unity with it” (1999, Pagan Organization of MIT). By understanding and accepting that one religion will look to Mecca, while another prays to God, and another worships Buddha, society will be tolerant and more open minded.
Hollywood glamorizes, and people are fast to trust it. Through witchcraft, it can easily be seen that people are quick to believe Hollywood is.