Pop Culture Witches

There’s a of debate about the portrayal of witches and Paganism in popular culture.  Television shows and movies with witches tend to fall into two categories: fairly tale based (i.e. Harry Potter) and Pagan based.  Most of the material prior to the mid Eighties (think early Disney movies and Bewitched) pull from fairy tales.  While I love them, this post is geared more towards the more Pagan ones.  Most the discussion on these movies and shows is centered on the negative and harmful depictions the ones that propitiate negative stereotypes about the Witchcraft and the Path.  In my opinion, portions of The Craft and the television show Salem are two really good examples of “bad pop culture witches.”  While I will admit some of the rituals are spot on and Lirio the shopkeeper injects a bit of empowering morality into The Craft, the girls’ bullying actions off balance any good examples.  And Salem is just a hot mess right out of the Maleficus Maleficarum.

With that said, there are also some really good portrayals of witches in pop culture.  While the actual magic tends to get a little romanticized, what makes these ladies and gents so affirming to watch are their empowered sense of self as well as an accurate depiction of the Craft and its practitioners.  Here are my favorite examples:

  • Practical Magic: Admittedly a personal favorite. It shows the connection between self and magic.  Also, it presents a strong, supportive network of women coming together to create positive change.
  • Charmed: While it gets a little campy, especially in the later seasons, I think it does a nice job of balancing the dramatized magic with actual Pagan concepts.
  • True Blood: I was pleasantly surprised when they incorporated witchcraft into Season 4.  While Marnie does go off the deep end at one point, her and Jesus’s drive to help their community is so refreshing to watch.
  • The Good Witch: I’m pretty sure this is a Lifetime movie, but it is super cute.  Shows the virtues of being different.

These are just a few examples, and I hope to see more and more “good witches” in pop culture in the future.  Readers, notice any good or bad ones I’ve missed?

© Ariadne Woods

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3 thoughts on “Pop Culture Witches

  1. I have to admit, I kind of love The Craft. Problematic portrayals of witchcraft aside, I think it’s a great portrayal of the viper’s nest that high school can be. It might get lost in the camp, but my take away from that movie is about all the challenges girls face in high school (bullying, slut shaming, racism, etc.) Love looking critically at pop culture and really like this post 🙂

    1. I agree, The Craft is definitely a shitty depiction of Paganism, but is a fairly good representation of the darker parts of high school. And thanks, glad you like the post!

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