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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 19,976,837  

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Question of the Week: 11 - 10/16/2000

Hollywood Hype

Hollywood Hype through movies such as "The Craft" and now the "Blair Witch" movies, and television shows such as "Charmed", "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer". "Freakylinks" and "Sabrina, The Teenage Witch," have all contributed to the rise of public interest in the Pagan paths and especially Witchcraft. If someone came to YOU after seeing "The Craft", "Charmed" or "Blair Witch," etc., what do YOU want them to know about real Witchcraft and Paganism? What would YOU-or do YOU- tell these folks?

 Reponses:   There are 74 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

Starting A Little Off Topic But Related. A Recent Issue Of The... Oct 18th. at 4:55:12 pm EDT

Andraste Moonshadow (New York, New York US) Age: 35

Starting a little off topic but related. A recent issue of the Catwoman comic featured a police detective who was a witch. Not a zap pow TV or movie witch, or even a super hero witch, just a regular real life witch, a little plump, who used tarot for leads in a case and had to put up with stupid comments from her new partner. The media is moving slow and only at the edges right now but there are signs of hope.

What we need next is a Wiccan character in a mainstream TV show, like a Wiccan doctor on ER, or a Wiccan cop on NYPD Blue. Both shows could do with something a bit different and they seem to have explored issues of race and sexuality to death. Why not tackle religion and at the same time show that Witches are people to.

There's plenty of scope for tension between characters since even an established "nice" one could be ignorant and prejudiced against the new guy or gal and only learn over time that they've got it all wrong. If you make a character racist they just look like a pig. Make them anti-witch and they won't look so bad, at least not until they and the audience learn to understand and respect the beliefs of said witch. Actually this could really work from a dramatic point of view. Once the main characters have come to accept their Wiccan co-worker you could have pressure from outside, a rabid local minister discovers that there's a witch about and tries to get them fired.

I need to find me the email addresses of some TV producers ;o)

This Publicity Is Truly A Mixed Exposes "mainstream" Americans And... Oct 18th. at 9:01:12 pm EDT

Maureen O'Danu (Independence, Missouri US) Age: 34 - Email

This publicity is truly a mixed exposes "mainstream" Americans and others to pagan, but very often the portrayals are missing something, or just plain wrong. I am my message. I am a good friend, good family member, good neighbor, and good citizen. I follow the rede.

I Would Be Sure To Tell These People That Paganism Is A... Oct 19th. at 5:18:16 am EDT

Laughing Tiger (Tuscaloosa, Alabama US) Age: 25 - Email

I would be sure to tell these people that paganism is a religion, not just a hobby. That it is not something you pick up on the weekend, when you are bored.

I have had people ask about love spells "Like on 'The Craft' ya know?" I tell them that spells like that are wrong. To cause someone to love you through magik is against their free will, and destined to end in ruin.

Usually I will tell them a little about paganism, and if they are still interested, I suggest a book or two, and offer them any help I can. Some people become disinterested when they find out its not like it is in the movies or T.V. shows....sorry folks "Sabrina: the teenage witch" is a cute show but it doesn't happen like that.
Love Light and Laughter

The First Thing I'd Tell Them Is Not To Believe Everything They... Oct 19th. at 1:22:28 pm EDT

Xkalaber (- -, Maine US) Age: 41 - Email

The first thing i'd tell them is not to believe everything they see or hear on television. Also, male witches are not warlocks, they are witches. I'd have to ask them what specifically is it that they want to know and take it from there. Although shows like Charmed do provide valid information about witches, they get more wrong than they get right.

I Try To Explain The Differences Between The Fictional Witches (like Sabrina... Oct 19th. at 1:28:36 pm EDT

Shayla (Phoenix, Arizona US) Age: 34 - Email

I try to explain the differences between the fictional witches (like Sabrina or Samantha), and the spiritual belief of Wicca. I must admit, I enjoy shows like Charmed and Sabrina, not only because they portray witches in a positive light, but because they show women in a positive ligbht. Sabrina's aunts are a scientist and a musician. The Charmed ladies are professionals (except for the youngest, who is a student.) Both shows also try to teach the idea of using power responsibly (which is not a witch thing, but a human thing.)

Better Than It Being Hidden, As Far As I'm Concerned. Telling Them... Oct 19th. at 6:59:18 pm EDT

Andi (Fairfax, Virginia US) Age: 24

Better than it being hidden, as far as I'm concerned. Telling them nothing is more damaging than anything you could tell them, because then they think you're hiding something sinister and go off and tell their friends that Witches are evil. They've gotta be, after all. What else would they have to hide? The answer is that we don't have anything to hide. So don't shy from the question.

My one reservation with movies/TV of this type is that cinematics and the needs of a presentation often distort the reality of the situation. (Okay, so it just about always does.) I find that the really damaging shows are ones that claim to be "true stories" and then get mauled by those who wish to demean Pagans and Paganism in the name of whatever deity (be it God, Allah, money) they care to worship. The most important thing to remember is that a lot of what goes on IS cinematics.

There are two important points to make clear to an individual who asks this question:

1) While many of the things portrayed are certainly possible and in many case do even happen, this doesn't mean that they should think that's all we do or all we believe. I once had someone ask me on an IRC channel if I could make pencils fly. Someone else in the channel came up with a witty but pointed answer: "Sure, but then I'd have to get up and go get it." Yes, the human mind is capable of such things. This doesn't mean that all or even most Pagans do this sort of thing.

2) The other important thing to make people understand is that we are human beings just like everyone else. We come from all walks of life. We go to work every day. We cook dinner. We raise families. We trip on our own doorsteps. I simply happen to do it in harmony with the Great Wheel and the rise and fall of the seasons, and I pay homage to my gods and goddesses instead of a single God.

Once the collective understands that Witches are people just like anyone else (I hesitate to use the term normal), I think we will be well on our way to getting the message out and correctiong misinformation and stopping further misinformation and nonsense from spreading.

I Would Explain Generally About Everything And Leave It At That. If... Oct 19th. at 7:09:19 pm EDT

Nancy Spungen (Toronto, Ontario CA) Age: 18 - Email

I would explain generally about everything and leave it at that. If someone I know is really interested and is looking up stuff and researching then (depending on the person) I'd go into further detail...

Personally, I See B:tvs As Probably The Most Positive Portrayals Of... Oct 20th. at 1:45:13 am EDT

Lem (Delta, British Columbia CA) Age: 15 - Email

Personally, I see B:tVS as probably the most positive portrayals of wicca around today. Joss Whedon (the director of the show) and Alyson Hannigan (actress who plays Willow) both do a very good job at showing that wicca is a very positive thing and that witches are just ordinary people in tune with the magickal emanations of the universe. It's not perfect, but nothing's perfect.

Overall, if someone came to me asking about wicca after seeing one of the multitude of shows or movies portraying it (which is unlikely cause I'm only half-out of that dusty ol' broom-closet), I'd ask them if they were interested in wicca as a religion and not just as a fad or power trip. Then if they wanted to research it as a religion, I;d explain the basics, and if they're interested, I'd just lend em Cunningham's Guide for a Solitary Practitioner. Pretty simple.

But whatever... just bored outta my skull.... thought I'd write some stuff...

I Think The First Thing I Would Do Is Dash Everything I... Oct 20th. at 2:57:27 pm EDT

Ace Draevin (Beaver Dam, Wisconsin US) Age: 21 - Email

I think the first thing I would do is dash everything I know to be false to start them over on a clean slate. If they are still interested, I would begin to show them the truth about witchcraft, answering any questions they might have, and also pointing out as many sources of reference that I can think of.

Hollywood Is Making ÒwitchcraftÓ A Household Word. It Is Making The Unspeakable... Oct 20th. at 3:34:55 pm EDT

Ardriana Cahill (Las Vegas, Nevada US) Age: 50 - Email

Hollywood is making ÒwitchcraftÓ a household word. It is making the unspeakable, speakable. We abolish ignorance through understanding. Dialog works for racism, sexism, homophobia, and a hoard of other social ignorance. Why shouldnÕt Hollywood provoke it for us, even if it fails sometimes? When someone asks me if a witchcraft movie/TV program is true, the first thing I say is that Hollywood is a business. Our community includes are the most eclectic, diverse group of believers and practitioners on the planet. Hollywood getting it right? It that your ÒWiccan rightÓ or my ÒPagan rightÓ? When asked, I reinforce the movieÕs philosophical points that it mostly got right:

 Witches of Eastwich: Look what they can to, these are human beings.
 The Craft: Power is lost to the unethical. There is no white or black magick.
 Practical Magic: There is no devil in the Craft. One can not dabble.

My questioners come in two flavors: those who want to know about Òthe powerÓ of witchcraft and those who want to know Òthe beliefs.Ó To the first I say, those who seek power will never have it. To the second, I give a brief FAQ response. If they ask for more, I answer more.

With respect to all (myself included) who are sometimes offended at the disrespect Hollywood gives our religion (as one who has taken my share of prejudice for my beliefs), I quote my mother:

ÒItÕs still increasing awareness. The more we are asked to explain our beliefs, the more likely we will not have a cross burned on our front lawns.Ó circa 1962

She did in fact, have a cross burned on her front lawn when she was 9 years old because her mother was a witch.
I practice my family tradition and have studied comparative religions, philosophy and literature for over 36years. One of the things I have learned is that the call of the spirit comes from many directions. Some can still hear a clear quiet call through all the commercial and misleading Hollywood BS. Past the want of a love spell. Past the need to be a fantasy role player. Past witchcraft as the fad de jour. One may begin oneÕs path away from ignorance and fear of us with a small question about whether there is such a thing as a warlock.

Ours is a romantic religion. ItÕs seductive, joyous and intriguing on the surface. (Disciplined, ethical and a life long learning commitment at its depths.) If all one sees is the seductive and fear of it, if all one sees is the romantic and not the hard work, if all one seeks (or fears) is the heat without the light, they will get it wrong. WeÕve had 2, 000 years of bad press. By comparison, Hollywood could do much worse! And for those people who find their truths only in movie theaters, without witchcraft movies, they would probably find their ignorance somewhere else.

First Thing I Tell Them Is That If They Want Glamorous Special... Oct 20th. at 3:39:14 pm EDT

athenaprime (Cincinnati, Ohio US) Age: 27 - Email

First thing I tell them is that if they want glamorous special effects that the University Film School is ten miles down the road and easily findable once you reach campus! :) If they stick around after that, I tell them that real Witchcraft and Paganism are a lot quieter than Hollyweird makes them out to be, and that at the core they are mystery and experiential faiths of extensive individual self-examination. The path begins inside and isn't something you do at parties, to impress people, or to rebel against your parents.

I would tell them that Hollywood misses the mark by a wide stretch when it comes to the religious aspects of Witchcraft and Paganism, and that they must understand that being a Witch or Pagan is centered in and defined by their beliefs. I would send them off with a list of books and websites as long as their arm, and from areas as diverse as history and anthropology, to psychology and geology, along with the instructions to walk barefoot in dewy grass, stand outside on a freezing midnight to watch the full moon, smell the tinge of cold on an autumn afternoon, and listen to the crickets on a hot, humid summer night. Look for a smile in a strangers eyes. That's magick.

It Is A Blessing That More And More People Are Becoming Familiar... Oct 20th. at 11:29:03 pm EDT

starr (Anytown, New Jersey US) Age: 24 - Email

It is a blessing that more and more people are becoming familiar with the craft. Introduction is the first step, educating yourself is the next. Those with an open mind can see through the exaggeration of the media.
Emulating these shows, however, will not make you a witch.

The knowledge that can be acquired is limitless. Each day you will discover a new part of yourself, a new understanding of the world around you, like seeing for the first time. With this knowledge you will help others see that it is a sacred gift that will balance and heal.

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