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 The Witches of Gulfport
JAG Episode of 4/25/00-CBS

Initial Thoughts from the community...
(edited for space and in no particular order)


I just read your "A Witchvox review by Wren Walker" in "The Wren's Nest". It was quite eloquent, as all of yours are, and intriguing. I don't generally watch "JAG", and don't know when this particular episode, " The Witches of Gulfport" will appear in South Africa, but you can bet I will be watching for it. What a relief to finally hear something positive for a change. Once again, thanks for bringing it to our attention. - Magick.



I watched this episode of Jag and at first I thought that they were going nowhere good with this topic, but as the show went on, I changed my mind. I was happy with the way that the ritual was depicted. I believe that the public was shown that Wicca is not an animal/baby sacrificing path but one of peace and being in touch with nature and one's inner self. It also showed that the religion, Wicca, itself was not on trial here, but the High Priest who really didn't belong in any position of authority as a High Priest of Wicca or any other religion for that matter! We see men in positions of authority all of the time, ministers and Catholic priests as well, who use their position to coerce women and children into sex acts against their will! So I do believe that the show did depict this correctly; the crime was commited by the man and not Wicca. - Luck O' Irish.



I thought they handled the subject pretty well. They didn't get heavy-handed with the subject and I'm glad they didn't go the usual routes of either condemning or praising a controversial subject. This way those of the Pagan variety don't offended with the usual hack-job, and those of the Christian variety don't get upset thinking that it was some sort of recruiting film. Sure, there were things that weren't quite right and there were things that were left out. The Rede would've been a nice thing to have been included. But all in all, the things they did include (ie. no sacrifice or devil worship) were welcome things to my ears.

As a vet, this subject is a sensitive one for me, and I thought they did a pretty decent job with the story. A person, no matter what their beliefs are, are capable of doing bad things. Of course, as a guy I couldn't help but wish that the HP hadn't been a rapist, but we can't have everything. Oh, and I too had a case of the "tingles" during various parts of the episode. - Dreamspring.



Well, they of course didn't represent us with complete accuracy as far as Wiccan theology goes, but it wasn't actually detrimental either to my surprise. --During the whole episode it was made clear that it was a person that committed a crime they were after and not the religion of Wicca, which I thought was good a good point for the show.

The really questionable stuff was the scene of the "coven" meeting where everyone was dressed in fire engine red robes made of what looked like a velveteen material. Most Wiccans can't afford robes that ornate, or make them themselves with material and symbols meaningful to them. It sort of made the connection to the Hollywood Satanists seen in so many movies.-- But all in all the episode wasn't bad but could have been a little better in the facts department. - Paul Whitebull.



I was actually totally unaware of this program; I was cable surfing last night, having nothing better to do with my time, and the opening scene of this episode caught my eye. Uh, oh.... so I ran and got a piece of paper to write down all the commercial sponsors, just in case I had to do some letter writing later. The plot did seem dubious at first, despite a remarkably accurate portrayal of wiccan ceremony, right down to quoting the charge of the Goddess. As the show progressed, however, I became more and more pleased. I think the writers and producers of the show were able to stike a good balance between honest and serious facts about our religion, and the inevitable (sometimes humorous, sometimes frightening) cross-section of, um, different, people who come out of the woodwork when witchcraft becomes a public issue. --Anyway, I was surprised and pleased by the way this episode played out, and I hope that the major networks will continue to show this increasingly serious treatment of witchcraft. - Nelli.



We should be so lucky as to have more shows show us not only as just normal people, but the hostility and bigotry many of us have had to face. I have no doubt that some people will be put off by the minor discrepancies in the rights, but it was never billed as a Wiccan documentary. Overall, I think they worked very hard to make it clear the average person has nothing to fear from the average Wiccan - they're just people. - Mark.



When it started with everyone getting skyclad, I was worried: with the exception of big festivals, I've never seen a naked pagan in 7 years of practicing.

I felt that the writers really made an attempt to show that Wicca is a religion (not just a bunch of freaks - the members of the coven looked pretty "normal") and that it was just one bad guy taking advantage of people.

It would have been nice if, at the end, the High Priestess had mentioned the Wiccan Rede. I watched the show last night, fully expecting to have to write a nasty letter this morning. And, in truth, I don't think that I could today. - Kyle.



I thought that the JAG episode involving the courts-martial of the Wiccan was a pretty fair portrayal. -- I've been a practicing Wiccan for over forty years, am a retired Army officer, and am in graduate school here at the University of Texas. The military was always extremely fair-minded regarding Wicca. In fact, with the exception of an occasional extreme Christian group, I've never encountered anyone who was less than fair-minded regarding witchcraft. Of course, I've never tried to shove it right in their faces either. - Tom.



I was rather surprised. From CBS's own blurbs, I was expecting much worse, but it really turned out to be a fairly decent show. They had a good, if somewhat simplistic presentation of Wiccan and the line after the trail ("...live in a world where they send spies into your bedroom.") was great. - Barbarian.



I feel that the way the writers presented the whole Wiccan faith was really handled well and truthfully. It steered clear of the "fuzzy bunnies and light" stuff, just as it cleared "evil, Satanic animal and human sacrifices" stuff.

Honestly, I was all ready to write a blistering tirade to the station management of my local CBS station. Rather, I think I'll be writing a letter of praise and thanks for giving what I perceived to be a very well-researched and considerate demonstration of Wiccan faith, and the troubles that we have in the "outside world." - Conchobar.



Like you, I heard about last night's episode of JAG through the electronic grapevine. I watched the show with an open mind and a watchful eye. I think the producers did a good job in portraying Wicca in a positive, and *gasp*, truthful light, somewhat. The Coven Circle was well done (I started to think this was more of a documentary), as was how the public view Wiccans (namely the diner scene). The producers also put forth many of the facts about Wicca and Wiccans, and even mentioned Fort Hood.

I did have mixed feelings about the second victim who wished not to testify.. I can understand her not wanting to harm the image of Wicca, but if Chief Petty Officer Merker raped her, than it's not a matter of religion but of criminal behavior. What I suspect, but was not even brought up, was that both victims were suffering the typical after effects of rape (feeling guilty, powerless, low self-esteem, not wishing to bring the matter public, etc.). What was of interest, albeit subtle, was the Three Fold Law at work; three witnesses testifying to CPO Merker's sexual advances. Whether that was intentional or not, it was a nice touch. Even better was the dressing down both Commander Rab and Lt. Colonel MacKenzie received from one of the female coven members (the High Priestess, I believe she was); just goes to show what goes around comes around.

There were few negative and/or questionable scenes that I would point out. First, there was a subtle implication that ALL Wiccans perform ceremonies skyclad, or at least no mention was made to the contrary. Second, during one of the rituals, CPO Merker is blessing the coven members, but moves around the circle widdershins; maybe it was an oversight, but it did strike me as odd since most of the time Wiccans move deosil. Third, the pyramid that was in Admiral Chegwidden's Office looks suspiciously like the pyramid on the back of the one dollar bill, which is a Masonic symbol; that raised an eyebrow as well. A couple of stereotypical remarks (broomstick, associating events with supernatural powers, etc.) were expected and delivered.

Overall, I have to give the show four out of five stars. Despite the few problems I had with the show, the producers, I felt, did a very good job at showing how Wiccans truly are. My only regret is that I didn't tape the show. - Eric Speas.



Concerning Wicca, this episode, aside from some lighthearted banter, was positive. One could see that, for the most part, they really did seem to have accessed some genuine knowledge. I would imagine the blurb on your page mentioning a Wiccan as a consultant is true. Thanks for the heads up! I never watch the show, and would've missed this had it not been for you! - Weaver


Click HERE for Wren's extensive Review of this episode.

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