Your browser does not support script
TWV Presents...



Words from Young Pagans

[Show all]


Views: 2,974,841


Week of: April 7th. 2013 ...

Wicca: Why All The Negativity?


Week of: September 30th. 2012 ...

A Teen Perspective on Wicca


Week of: February 26th. 2012 ...

Being A Teenage Pagan


Week of: August 21st. 2011 ...

Calling All Lost Angels


Week of: July 17th. 2011 ...

Those Gut Feelings and Instincts


Week of: July 10th. 2011 ...

Telling Your Parents


Week of: March 21st. 2010 ...

Acceptance In Our Community


Week of: January 3rd. 2010 ...

Finding Wicca


Week of: August 9th. 2009 ...

Practicing While Still A Teenager


Week of: April 19th. 2009 ...

Teen Covens: Pros and Cons


Week of: March 1st. 2009 ...

Teen Covens: Pros and Cons


Week of: February 8th. 2009 ...

Neo-Pagan: Combining the Past and the Present


Week of: January 4th. 2009 ...

Religion By Default - Is It Fair?


Week of: October 26th. 2008 ...

Wicca for Teens Lacking in Money, Time, and/or Privacy


Week of: August 4th. 2008 ...

How Did I Enter Into The Craft?


Week of: May 4th. 2008 ...

Love, Pride, and Silence


Week of: November 6th. 2006 ...

Which Witch of a Witch Am I?


Week of: January 8th. 2006 ...

The Divine Self - The Nature Of God In Unity and Duality


Week of: August 7th. 2005 ...

Teenaged Witches And Pagans


Week of: October 10th. 2004 ...

The Craft: Reflections of an Obscured Path


Week of: September 1st. 2001 ...

Pagans and Abortion: A Happy Balance


Week of: March 12th. 2000 ...

Witches and the Media: What a Long Strange Trip It's Been and Will Continue to Be...


Week of: October 11th. 1999 ...

To Hex or not to Hex?


Week of: August 22nd. 1999 ...

Energy Raising, Magick and Timing: A Primer for Invoking, Focusing & Manifesting


Week of: July 28th. 1997 ...

Enviromental Activism


NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.












Article Specs

Article ID: 2724

VoxAcct: 3

Section: teen

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 5,341

Times Read: 8,795

Witches and the Media: What a Long Strange Trip It's Been and Will Continue to Be...

Author: Peg Aloi [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: March 12th. 2000
Times Viewed: 8,795

This is a topic near and dear to my heart! When I first became friends with Fritz and Wren they were just beginning their activities on the pagan web as the founders of the internet presence of The Witches' League for Public Awareness. For reasons too numerous to mention here, they later founded their own non-profit organization, The Witches' Voice. The rest, to put it mildly, is history. Being asked to join their efforts has had a profound effect on my life-not only because of their friendship but because this work has allowed me to watch the changing shape of the pagan community and its relationship with the rest of the world.

My own involvement came about because of my work as a freelance reviewer and film critic. At that time, witches were just beginning to become the darlings of Hollywood, beginning with The Craft. In recent years witches have made their way onto primetime shows (Charmed, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and selected episodes of shows like The X-Files, Millennium and Judging Amy) and many popular films (Practical Magic, Sleepy Hollow and the much-hyped and way-scary, in my opinion, Blair Witch Project). And television's love affair with witchcraft goes beyond the fictional, to news shows and documentaries like 48 Hours, 20/20, Paradise Lost and various specials on The Discovery Channel.

Because, for better or worse, television has replaced reading and other modes of learning in this country, it would be difficult for many of us to sort out which of our dearly-held political beliefs or social opinions were not first introduced to us by hearing them on television. For those of us who regularly read news papers and news magazines, the same can be said, although reading allows ideas to enter our brains in a way that is vastly different from the sensory stimulation of television. Newspapers, due to falling sales and subscriptions, have also changed their look and feel to mimic their biggest competitors: tabloids, television and the Internet. They have become more visual, more likely to feature short quotations and sound bytes, and, unfortunately, more likely to sensationalize news stories, and more likely to rely on conjecture, opinion or recycled "research" than on actual facts.

As an example, there was recently a news story about a teacher who was suspended because she gave the book Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham, to one of her students. In one news story I read, the reporter quoted the parents of the student involved as saying the book contained "satanic rites" and passages about "daggers for sacrifice, " as well as pentagrams, spells, etc. Now, those of us who have read this book or who are familiar with the author's other works know there is no mention whatsoever of satanism or "sacrifice" with daggers! But did this reporter bother to even look at the book in question? Did she bother to interview someone who was familiar with the book, or to contact the publishers? No; she merely quoted the parents, whose objection to this book were based on their own ignorance, fear and prejudice. To be fair, this same reporter, in a later article, included more information about what the actually contained, as opposed to what these parents said it contained, and provided some quotations from people who did not think this book was harmful or even inappropriate. The issue to me seems to be that there is an objection to introducing students to paganism; but interestingly the school authorities involved are attempting to turn this into a "separation of church and state" issue... I wonder if this would have been the case if the book in question had been the Bible, or the Torah...

My point here is, journalists these days are not simply interested in getting the facts. They are also under pressure to attract readers. All things being equal, a story about a teacher trying to seduce a student into devil worship is gonna sell a lot more papers than a teacher providing a book to a student who requests it, only to have that student give the book to another student, whose parents object to its content. I personally feel it is inappropriate for the teacher to have given the book to a student. I have taught at the college level for years and some of my students have asked me about learning more about paganism (whether because they saw my pentacle and asked about it, or they took a class in Witchcraft in Film and Literature and wanted to know more about "real" witches). But even though I put some of my books on reserve for them in the campus library, lending them books for personal use is probably inappropriate while they are still in my class. And a college-age student is not subject to the same sorts of protections under the law as someone under the age of consent-not to mention the difference in environment of a college campus versus a public school. (This is a whole other essay which I probably should write some time soon!)

We have all read articles and seen news stories on TV that focused on the sensational over the actual. We have all seen movies and shows that thought the way to portray witches was with over-the-top special effects and demon possession and bathtubs full of blood. We are hurt by this, because we know that our religion, in all its forms and colors, as practiced by a hugely, wonderfully diverse community, is a gentle, loving, life-affirming path, a path with thousands of years of history and mythology and lore behind it. It is not easy living with this cognitive dissonance: knowing that what witches really do would probably be pretty dull to those who want to portray us as power-hungry, seductive (or scary), dagger-wielding devil worshippers who drink blood from baby skulls and have wild naked orgies at the full moon and cause crops to fail and make men impotent and women infertile and whose sole purpose is to dominate people with our black magic... um... sorry, I got carried away there for a moment.

Know this: truth will always prevail. And it is becoming increasingly common that the media presents both sides of the story, or does some actual research about modern witches before printing (or filming) their story. If we take the time to acquaint ourselves with their most frequent misunderstandings of errors, we are better equipped to take a stand against inaccurate portrayals.

But also know this: old archetypes die hard. The evil witch, the old hag with warts and wild hair and a hackle-raising cackle... or the good witch, the sweet, wise old healer who lives in the woods with her cats and her herb cupboard... or the seductress, in flowing black clothes and with sparkling violet eyes, who lures men to their demise with magic... or the manipulative warlock, who preys on fear and creates a glamour with his occult jewelry and booming voice and piercing stare... or the goddess-worshipping child of nature, who chants and sings and dances to raise energy and heal the planet... or the weekend warrior who drums and howls in the woods, reaching back to his roots to find the wild man within... all these stereotypes are alive and well, in the media and all around us... they form a tapestry of myth and imagery and there is a little bit of truth in each one...

Personally, I do not think it is worthwhile to get angry at a fictional portrayal which is pure fantasy. Some of even wear pointy black hats and warts at Hallowe'en parties to poke fun at this silly persona. But on Samhain, we take our rites very seriously. To be exposed to ridicule by the media on this sacred holiday is to us a form of blasphemy. And when the practices and beliefs of our religion are somehow jumbled in with popular urban legends (like the fictitious satanic ritual abuse scare), it is hard to know where to begin to sort it out for those who don't know the difference. Forget the old hag shoving Hansel and Gretel into the oven; it is far more damaging to see modern witches portrayed as people who dress in normal street clothes by day and sacrifice yuppie lawyers by night (well, actually I wouldn't mind seeing a movie like that ;~0!!!). Seriously, it is where fact and fiction mingle and become confusing, when elements of truth are compromised by stereotype, when sensationalism threatens to create panic, it is then and there we must be most vigilant.

If you are involved in pagan activism, and you try to correct stereotypes about modern witchcraft, be sure to remain reasonable on this point. Protesting the green hag on the broomstick is a waste of time; but making sure the public knows we don't proselytize or try to convert others to witchcraft, much less practice human sacrifice or worship Satan, is, sadly, something we all still need to worry about... at least in some parts of the world.

Talking to the media, or writing letters, can seem daunting. There are lots of great tips for doing this sort of work in our White Pages section. The most practical form of advice I can give is twofold:

  • First, know what you are talking about. Some journalists may ask questions that are confusing and feeling confident with the subject helps you deal with this. For example, learn how to explain the difference between witchcraft and Wicca. Remember to say you cannot speak for all witches because we are all individuals (reporters love to get a quote that applies to all witches but it's just not possible to do this). Learn about the actual history of modern witchcraft, and how to separate it from the widespread myths of modern witchcraft (the Burning Times, etc.) Find a comfortable way (for you) to describe what magic is. Know how to explain what the pentacle stands for. Learn how to explain the Law of Three in simple terms. And never be afraid to say "I don't know" or "I'm not sure I understand your question."

  • Secondly, know that not every journalist wants the facts. Some of them want fiction, or sensationalism, or dirt. If they try to steer you down that road (for example, asking about witches working skyclad, or sex magic, or love spells), don't get flustered. Explain every witch practices witchcraft differently based on their own tradition and their own individual personality; some work skyclad, others don't. But all witches, as far as most of us know, believe in the Law of Three, and that all acts of magic we perform must be carefully considered and done for the good of all. Another good response to an inappropriate question, "Could you be more specific about what you want to know about that?" or "What is it about that that interests you specifically?" Then the reporter either has to reveal their own ignorance about the topic and expose their motivation (i.e., sensationalist soundbyte), or they will manage to clarify the question both for you and for their audience, and thereby show there is more depth to these matters than often meets the eye.

In my experience, I have communicated with many journalists whom I respected for their willingness to learn as much as they could about what witches really do, and who were willing to correct misinformation. I have also met a whole range of disreputable hacks who have done everything from rudely cut me off on radio interviews and say "the only reason you're here is to answer my questions!" when I attempted to address something inaccurate that had been said earlier; to radio hosts who acted really interested in the historical and mythological implications of Samhain before the show began, only to go on the air and say "Well, here it is Hallowe'en and we're talking with A REAL, LIVE WITCH!!!"

It's getting better; it really is.

But the road is rough sometimes...


Peg Aloi
aka Albion Summerisle Morrison
Media Coordinator, The Witches' Voice




ABOUT...

Peg Aloi


Location: Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts




Other Articles: Peg Aloi has posted 99 additional articles- View them?

Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE




Email Peg Aloi... (No, I have NOT opted to receive Pagan Invites! Please do NOT send me anonymous invites to groups, sales and events.)

To send a private message to Peg Aloi ...



Pagan Essays
1996-2014





Pagan Web
8,000 Links





Pagan Groups
Local Covens etc.





Pagan/Witch
80,000 Profiles














Home - TWV Logos - Email US - Privacy
News and Information

Chapters: Pagan/Heathen Basics - Pagan BOOKS - Traditions, Paths & Religions - Popular Pagan Holidays - TV & Movies - Cats of the Craft - Festival Reviews - Festival Tips - White Pages (Resources) - Issues/Concerns - West Memphis 3 - Witch Hunts - Pagan Protection Tips - Healing Planet Earth

Your Voices: Adult Essays - Young Pagan Essays - Pagan Perspectives (On Hold) - WitchWars: Fire in the Craft - Gay Pagan - Pagan Parenting - Military - Pagan Passages

Pagan Music: Pagan Musicians - Bardic Circle at WitchVox - Free Music from TWV

Vox Central: About TWV - Wren: Words, Wrants and Wramblings - Guest Rants - Past Surveys - A Quest for Unity

Weekly Updates: Click HERE for an index of our weekly updates for the past 6 years

W.O.T.W. - World-Wide Networking

Your Town: A Link to YOUR Area Page (The largest listing of Witches, Pagans, Heathens and Wiccans on the Planet)

VoxLinks: The Pagan Web: 8,000 Listings

Your Witchvox Account: Log in Now - Create New Account - Request New Password - Log in Problems

Personal Listings: Pagan Clergy in Your Town - Adult Pagans - Young Pagans - Military Pagans

Events: Circles, Gatherings, Workshops & Festivals

Covens/Groups/Orgs: Local Groups Main Page

Other LOCAL Resources: Local Shops - Regional Sites - Local Notices - Global/National Notices - Local Skills & Services - Local Egroups - Political Freedom Fighters

Pagan Shopping: Online Shops Index - Original Crafters Sites - Auction Sites - Pagan Wholesalers - Pagan Local Shops



Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2014 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.

Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wren’s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witches’ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.

Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.

Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
Witches, Pagans
of The World




Search Articles
1996-2014










 Current Topic
 Editorial Guide


NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.

The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.

All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).