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Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Nov. 17, 2002   This Page Viewed: 6,211,710  

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Times Viewed: 32,767

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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 


How Strange That This Question Would Come Up! Just Yesterday I Had... Oct 16th. at 7:24:34 am UTC

Maia BlackWolf (Milnesville, Pennsylvania US) Age: 32 - Email


How strange that this question would come up! Just yesterday I had taken a look at the "Blair Witch 2 - Book Of Shadows" Web site to see just how WE are being portrayed. I was, in fact, a bit relieved to find that the Web site did offer some valid background on the Craft.
Now, here comes the "However". As a Solitary Witch who has been practicing for seventeen years at this point, I question the "mainstreaming" of our religion. I was drawn to the Craft because of its "secretive", non-mainstream aura. I was a rebellious, artistic and most definitly different teenager. I could still be described in that way, although at thirty-two I'm a bit more subdued. So, while I can relate to the reasons many teens are being drawn to the Craft, I believe that much of this trend is nothing but a fad. At fifteen I was a very spiritual person and was sincerely seeking an alternative to the hypocritical, duplicitous Catholicism in which I had been raised.
I've had a few young people come to me and ask about WitchCraft. One of the first questions out of their mouths has invariably been about "the casting of spells". I've been asked about spells so many times that I've begun to doubt the sincerity of these questioners. Many teenagers feel as though they have very little control over their lives at a time when they are just discovering their own opinions and feeling strong urges for freedom. I connect this desire for personal control over their lives with this interest in spell casting.
I must confess that I was initially intrigued by the ability to control aspects of my life through spell casting. However, through study and meditation I soon found much more satisfaction with the more spiritual aspects of the Craft. Living in harmony with Nature and with respect for all Life, honouring the Goddess daily, celebrating the Full and New Moons and the Turning of the Wheel of the Year - these are now, for me, the most important part of WitchCraft. These are the things I would stress to anyone with an interest.
I feel that I must also say that I very much resent the "merchandising" of our religion by Hollywood. WitchCraft is being sensationalized in these films and television programs. When is the last time any of the mainstream religions have be used in this way? Since so much fantasy is being mingled with tiny threads of truth in these films and programs, WE are not being portrayed in the best light. I feel that in the end WE are still looked upon as a bunch of oddballs and eccentrics. What we need is complete TRUTH about our religion. Perhaps just a few characters here and there who happen to be Pagan. Characters who go on about their business like everyone else - celebrating their holidays, etc.
Personally, I rather enjoyed the mystery surrounding my religion. Because I feel that religion is a VERY private matter I don't appreciate this "outing" of my beliefs and practices. There is a saying that has been going through my mind as I've been typing this: "Familiarity breeds contempt".
Unless some reality is soon brought to bear regarding WitchCraft as portrayed by Hollywood, I don't see much good coming out this for us.


Okay, Let Me Start With Saying That I Haven't Seen "the Craft... Oct 16th. at 4:04:41 am UTC

Artemis Moonshadow (Kfar Saba Israel Middle East, Israel) Age: 15 - Email


Okay, let me start with saying that I haven't seen "the Craft" "Practical Magic" "Blair Witch" or any of those, so I can't say if they do the Pagan and Wiccan community WRONG.
I have seen Sabrina which is by the way one of the more tasteful teen comedys.
Charmed which I found tasteful but not the best show, you know Aaron spelling:-)
And buffy the vampire slayer which is the best show ever created on television, sorry getting carried away.
I think Sabrina is sort of like a parody on steryotypical Witchcraft, and that is how most people, well people that I know, see that show.
Charmed was done pretty well, but it's also a fantacy show that happens to have writers that did research about Wicca and Witchcraft, garnted they kind of messed a few things up, but they did use the correct words and symbols.
(when I learnt what the BOS was, I was really shocked they used it on the show).
Now Buffy is a complete teen cult show, it shows teen problems and "demons" with real demons and vampires.
The fact that they call Willow a Wicca just means that they wanted someone who can cast spells. And any way if you watched the show you'd see they show Paganism in a really great light. The fact that they add special effects to all the seplls and make the Witches powers more bombastic, that's just for ratings.
Read between the lines, those people have done a little if not sme research about the subject.

PS I by the way discovered Witchcraft on my own, i just really love the shows as well :-)
Blesses Be


First Off, I'll State That I've Never Seen "the Craft". Yep, A... Oct 16th. at 3:26:12 am UTC

Lisa/ChaosMoth (Mountain View, California US) Age: 16 - Email


First off, I'll state that I've never seen "The Craft".

Yep, a young newbieish Wiccan who's never seen that movie. I've seen "Practical Magic", though, and it sounds as if whoever scripted that movie had sat next to Silver Ravenwolf while the latter was babbling with a high fever. Ahem. Still, the content doesn't bother me as much as it might.

What bothers me?

Seeing something which is not by any measure similar to modern Wicca or neoPaganism represented as such. Throwing in a haphazard smattering of terminology pulled from a random volume (Practical Magic committed this offense.)

Seeing stories which mainly attempt to bludgeon viewers with the point that "Witchcraft is eEeEEvViLlL", whether they use trappings associated with the religion or not. (E.g. Jack Chick tracts. 'Watch out for Tolkien and C. S. Lewis; since they wrote fantasy books and are sold in occult stores, they must be worshippers of Lord Sam Hain!')

What does not bother me?

Seeing things that are not equivalent to Wicca represented as 'witchcraft'. The word isn't exclusively ours, and has become a catch-all. There are things which are public domain and should not offend anyone if dropped into a fireball-throwing fantasy, as long as the story isn't a ridiculous moral bludgeon.

I might add that the ridiculous moral bludgeons, when NOT mis-appropriating Wiccan terminology, only bother me by dint of awful writing, which seems to be a pre-requisite.

BB,
Lisa


As Someone Who Has Worked At An Enormously Popular Craft Store I... Oct 16th. at 1:49:19 am UTC

Jessi White (Brooklyn, New York US) Age: 19


As someone who has worked at an enormously popular Craft store I have had more than my fair share of what I like to call "Crafties" come in. You know the types--they've seen "The Craft" and now think they're witches. I think these Hollywood shows are a mixed blessing. I am one of the few Witches I know that loved The Craft. The Witch in the occult store I thought was an extremely positive character. Sure, it hyped up things a great deal, but the underlying message was quite good from a Wiccan perspective and seems to be something that both the film's critics and the "Crafties" seem to forget. Play with spiritual forces you don't understand, because it's "cool" or people will notice you, and you'll get burned. That's why I find it so ironically amusing that the film spawned so much "fanboy" interest in Witchcraft. About other movies/tv shows...I have a mixed opinion. On the one hand, people that would otherwise never hear of the Craft might see a film or tv show and have a genuine interest sparked in it and find a path that is right for them...on the other hand, well, you have the fanboys. Unfortunately the enormous number of teenage fanboys make it incredibly difficult for genuine Wiccan teenagers in the community. People tend to paint us all with the "Craftie" brush. The word "witch" has all sorts of connotations, and I think that anyone who chooses to embrace it needs to realize that. It can mean what we do, it can mean tribal "witch doctors" who do malevolent things, it can mean fantasy "Harry Potter" type stuff, etc. So that is not really a problem for me, an irritation maybe but one I've chosen to live with as a result of conciously embracing the word "Witch". The word "Wicca" on the other hand...I have serious problems with Hollywood co-opting it and twisting it into what they have in order to make cheap entertainment for a quick buck at the expense of a large group of people. Wicca is a religion, period. It is not about this Hollywood crap that's out there, and all that Hollywood accomplishes by using it and co-opting real symbols, phrases, etc. is further muddying up the waters for the genuine practicioners and seekers alike. I for one am sick and tired of explaining my pentacle is "not the symbol from Charmed/The Craft/whatever" but is in fact a symbol that dates back thousands of years in many cultures and I wear it as a symbol of my allegiance to the Greek Gods (Pythagoras used it extensively), among other things. I think the best response to Hollywood is not to call for boycotts and things like that, but to let them know our opinions (the First Amendment is a Good Thing), and to continue educating the public about who we really are and what we really do, so that they can see the Hollywood crap for what it really is: Hollywood crap. BB, Jessi


As An Aspiring Writer, I Understand The Need To Tell A Good... Oct 16th. at 1:16:06 am UTC

Tanais (Spokane, Washington US) Age: 19


As an aspiring writer, I understand the need to tell a good story in this day and age. Nobody in hollywood is really interested in writing the "Great American Novel, " it's more of a get rich quick scheme by making a script for a show or movie that makes about as much sense as a fish on a bicycle. I write for more then just cheap entertainment. And that's what some of these so called, "occult" tv shows are. Just cheap entertainment. I've watched a bunch of these shows and not one of them mentions in depth any type of spirituality or religious practices. If people want to get bent out of shape over Henry Potter books, let them. I've never been able to shoot lightning from my eyes or any other strange thing like that. I honestly don't know why people get upset about these types of shows. It's called fiction for a reason. So, what do I say to someone when they start questioning me about my beliefs? I tell them. I'm pretty blunt about my beliefs and not afraid to share. So, if they ask me to do something that is beyond my abilities, I say so. If these shows promote at least some tolerance by making witches the protagonist, then great because it seems to work if people are wanting to learn more after watching.


As Someone Who Works At A Public Library, I've Gotten My Fair... Oct 15th. at 10:21:49 pm UTC

Heather H (Martinsville, Indiana US) Age: 29


As someone who works at a public library, I've gotten my fair share of "I just saw "The Craft" and want to know about witchcraft" teens. I can always tell that when the movie's been on TV lately that I'll get an influx of requests. When I first started working at this library, we didn't have a lot of material. Let me rephrase that, we had one book, the "W" edition of "Man, Myth and Magic". I would show them the entry on Wicca/Witchcraft and then tell them that they could find more information in the nearby college town library. And most of the time if I showed them the entry which states that it's a religion and not "woo-woo make things move and levitate" like they see in the movies they'd look at me like I was nuts and leave. Lately, the teens and adults who come in looking for material on the subject seem to be more knowledgable about what paganism/wicca is. Luckily, due to Lynn's Pagan Book Drive and some quiet bullying on my part, our library has purchased more material and I can give these people access to much more information. In a way, mostly TV shows, like "Buffy" and "Charmed" give their viewers a basic starting point for what paganism and wicca are and make it obvious that the "magic powers" are an entertainment conceit that helps the plot along.
Mostly what I try to make very obvious to people asking for information about paganism/wicca is that it is a religion that honors Mother Earth.


Hi, All!; The Problem I See With Hype For Movies And Programs... Oct 15th. at 9:19:38 pm UTC

Tarostar (Toronto, Ontario CA) Age: 58 - Email


Hi, All!;

The problem I see with hype for movies and programs about Craft is not so much a movie company making a fictional story, as it is the self-appointed Pagan/Witch politicos demonstrating and writing letters protesting before a movie ever comes out.

Witches Of Eastwick was protested quite vociferously by those types in 88, so I went to see it just because "Witches" told me I shouldn't.

Since not one word of Wicca/Craft/Pagaism was mentioned in the movie, I wondered what all the protests were about. I began to think these Witches protesting must be on the payroll of the movie company to create controversy.

Later in the 90's an NBC program titled Craft was to be aired about a child abusing occult sect. (Satanic abuse scares were the fad then) So, the Pagan/Witch activist politicos wrote letters and protested and said they were assured by NBC the offensive thing would not air. They crowed their victory from every newsletter. NBC simply changed the name and aired it anyway. Some victory, eh?

If a movie, or a program is a work of fiction, I have no objection to how it is hyped.

If it is a deliberate biased documentary, that requires a protest.

Last Temptation Of Christ by Kazantzakis, a novel, was protested by xtian fundies sight unseen.

I crossed their picket lines just to say I did, as I will not be told what works of fiction, or even History, I may or may not see.

Blair Witch is horror drama and fiction. Protests would be silly and draw attention to it.

Evil old curmudgeons such as myself would go see it just because some politico says not to. BB Tarostar


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