Wicca and witchcraft in mainstream culture good or bad?

Open discussion about how our beliefs have been affected by popular culture.
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loona wynd
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Wicca and witchcraft in mainstream culture good or bad?

Post by loona wynd »

With shows like Buffy the Vampire slayer and Charmed the practices of Wicca and Witchcraft have found their way into the culture of the modern world. This in my view has been both a good thing and a bad thing for the craft. The amount of seekers that came into witchcraft an Wicca because of series like those mentioned and other references to modern media has widely increased the amount of witches out there and the desire for information on these practices. At the same time because the demand for information has become so high many websites and books may have been published and put out there with out a lot of detailed study and work.

Its been good in that shows like Charmed and Buffy have shown that witchcraft is not just the hexes and curses you saw in past lore, but that they have powerful positive magic that can be used to assist and help life in many ways and forms. Its also been good in that these shows have been able to bring a new generation of witches and pagans into the fold. Finding out that magic exists and that you can be a witch has given many a new purpose and direction in life. These shows have shown that we can in fact be in control of our lives through magic.

Its been bad in that you had seekers who were interested in it because of that which they saw in the shows and quickly found out its not what they thought it would be giving rise to a lot of the "fluff" that is out there. The seekers that got interested because of those shows are often disillusioned when the spells don't have instant results and that they find that there is actually a lot of work and study involved with being a witch. Often these seekers leave feeling lied to and mislead. After all for them and many if magic doesn't have instant results they wonder if its really magic.

So whats your take? Has the acceptance of Wicca and witchcraft in modern media done more harm or more good for the craft community? Why or why not?

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Re: Wicca and witchcraft in mainstream culture good or bad?

Post by Xiao Rong »

I absolutely think that having Wicca and witchcraft in the mainstream has been generally a good thing. First of all, I think having some visibility of non-Christian faiths is positive, even if popular representation of witchcraft is not always very accurate.

Second, I think that witches are a different kind of, well, archetype that isn't usually represented on TV, especially for women. When mostly what you see are princesses, damsels in distress, or superheroines in skimpy leotards, I think having a different kind of female representation can be very liberating. Even at their worst (evil old hags with warts and all), I think they still hold something of the powerful side of the Crone, which you don't often see in popular media otherwise. My opinion has always been that Witches are the Shadow of mainstream culture, and it's good to see them out in the light a little more!

As for the supposed rise of "fluff", I'm not really sure what you mean by that. I think you're right that the folks who come in looking for instant magic don't usually find it, and then quickly leave the path. But the people who don't wind up staying long don't usually produce much of anything, fluffy or otherwise.

I also generally don't like judging people as "fluffy" or whatever (except in one notable instance here -- THAT is fluffy!); everyone's walking a different path and I don't see much value in deriding others' paths as more or less valid.
~ Xiao Rong ~ 小蓉 ~ Little Lotus ~

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Re: Wicca and witchcraft in mainstream culture good or bad?

Post by BabyBear »

I have to agree that its been good, only because when done right in media it opens up peoples minds to pagan and wiccan paths. Or atleast help them to better understand them.

For example shows like Charmed back in in the 90s, to supernatural, the secret circle and new more reality based shows like Psychic Tia although rather media uped or special effects they still paint the craft in a more accurate light and get people wondering and looking up things for themselves. Same can be said about movies like Practical Magic and Good Witch.

What I mean in this respect is that for some one like me, who was never introduced to other religions besides Christianity, didn't even know other religions really other then in name and a few I know some facts about like Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and one or two more that they briefly covered in a four page an two paragraph long exert (mostly filled with pictures) from my history book in like 7th grade. Other then that you didnt know anything about other religions because where Im from there isnt any other religion of value. To me/us pagans wasnt even a word. Everyone who practiced anything other then Christianity were Atheist, Jewish or Muslim, the latter two where never even used you just new they existed somewhere. (Im not including learning Greek and Roman Mythology but you get the picture)
However through shows like Charmed and movies like Practical Magic you learned that the craft and "wiccans" were people who used herbs and crystals and who didnt harm others, who protected and belived in more then just what Christians believe.Same can be said about shows like Psychic Kids and The Long Island Medium. Due to shows like them I learned ways to deal with my abilities instead trying to ignoring them, that and the whole your not alone kinda thing helps a lot. They gave me tools to look stuff up and find out things. I would have never known about them otherwise.

I also think that it also helps that its become popular genera in youth books that helps also. With book series like Sweep and Balefire, that accurately describe coven practices, spells, crystal usage and even cover various paths in such a way that youth understand and are interested in at least studying it or getting to know more about it even with its added fiction makes me happy. It also helps that they are easily accessed even libraries like my home town where the library is one not so big square room.

Basically what im getting at is do to shows that provide some form of knowledge about wicca, abilities, paganism and other religions, although usually not 100% accurate, still give people at least some chance at finding out what they wouldn't have otherwise.

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Re: Wicca and witchcraft in mainstream culture good or bad?

Post by Holdasown »

My problem with most Wicca/witchcraft in media is that it's completely inaccurate. There is never a character who is in a show who happens to be a witch or practice paganism. And they make their powers outrageous.

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Re: Wicca and witchcraft in mainstream culture good or bad?

Post by loona wynd »

Holdasown wrote:My problem with most Wicca/witchcraft in media is that it's completely inaccurate. There is never a character who is in a show who happens to be a witch or practice paganism. And they make their powers outrageous.
I would disagree with that claim or at least partially disagree. I mean yes they exaggerate the powers of them in most of the series. That doesn't mean you don't see some real basis to the practices.

In the series Charmed there are several witches who do not have the powers of the Charmed ones, and practice a witchcraft practice that is often based in spirituality and natural powers. They do occasionally enhance the psychic abilities to be more dramatic, but the ritual you see in one episode are a pagan solstice ritual. Hell even the regular witches on the show claim that their powers are no where like the powers of the Charmed ones.

The spells cast in Charmed, while the results are dramatic, are based on real spell techniques. The potions they mix use the same ingredients that I would. The difference is that they do exaggerate the powers making them fantastic, but that is Hollywood for you. The effect shown is dramatic (which is what people want in fantasy shows) but the spell casting is based on real techniques.

So in regards of techniques and practice I would say that they have been accurate as far as Hollywood will ever go. Lets face it. No one would watch a series with spells and magic in it that didn't have spectacular special effects. Thats what the media expects for fantasy magic. The fact that they were using herbal ingredients and following modern spell techniques rather than the horror ingredients of the past. As far as showing how the results of spells actually manifest yes they are inaccurate.

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Re: Wicca and witchcraft in mainstream culture good or bad?

Post by BabyBear »

I have to agree with loona on this one Holdasown another example is, and i only say this cus im re-watching Charmed and watched this the other day, there was the Vday ep where Febie tells her friends the proper way to make a spell, or the Bane ep where they save that one witch and she starts cleansing their home and rearranging their herbs stuff. I mean its not all just special effects and over exaggeration, although her overly happiness was admittedly over the top. And how about the episodes where they go to wicca shops and get supplies and charms and crystals or the one where they have the witch killer and they show a women praying at her alter, the show dose have its realistic points.

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Re: Wicca and witchcraft in mainstream culture good or bad?

Post by Holdasown »

I never watched Buffy or Charmed.

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Re: Wicca and witchcraft in mainstream culture good or bad?

Post by BabyBear »

:surprisedwitch: holdasown girl you are missing some good stuff

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Re: Wicca and witchcraft in mainstream culture good or bad?

Post by loona wynd »

Holdasown wrote:I never watched Buffy or Charmed.
I didn't watch the series until many years after they had stopped making new episodes. I actually stayed away from the series for one of the reasons I mentioned. When those series were on TV, if you practiced witchcraft, was a teen, and liked those shows it was basically assumed you only practiced witchcraft because it was a part of those shows and you wanted to be like Willow or the Charmed ones so people didn't really take you seriously.

It was similar to if you claimed to practice witchcraft and enjoy the movie The Craft and wanted to start a coven with your four friends. Battles on who was what element would rage in teen covens and settings. There were occasionally friendships lost because of this. There were also a lot of one book High Priestesses made because of this view and practice.

At one point I was a part of four girls who were going to create a coven, but we couldn't agree on who would be what element so we huffed off and did our own solitary thing. It was very light based knowledge. Nothing was serious about it. We has each only read one book and had knowledge from the movie The Craft, Buffy, and Charmed (me the craft them everything else). So we wanted to work together and start a group. We also all were left out and the loners. So it seemed right to form a group together and be like the Girls in the Craft, though working it within the confined of the Rede (lots of mirror reflect spells were on our minds).

This was all because of the little witchcraft they had read about combined with what they saw in movies and on TV. When you have a practice like that there really isn't much depth to it. Essentially you are mimicking and trying to be the characters on the show or at least bring that fantasy into reality. This is part of what I mean by fluff. People are only interested on the surface or they never go below the surface stage of research. They have enough to have a very vague idea about the nature of spells and rituals and the meanings of the 8 sabbats, but no mystery experiences and no personal knowledge. They also are not willing to go beyond their first concepts and notions and remain willfully ignorant not always realizing how much more there is to witchcraft than that.

So yeah. Because of those associations I never watched Buffy or Charmed when they were the hot new series. It was really only 5 years ago that I started to watch the shows with any regularity, and now I can look at the spells and rituals and be like "huh. I wonder how that would work in real life?". I can see the fantasy but also the reality. I can appreciate the effort they put into making the witchcraft realistic while being able to acomplish their Hollywood fantasy.

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Re: Wicca and witchcraft in mainstream culture good or bad?

Post by loona wynd »

BabyBear wrote:I have to agree with loona on this one Holdasown another example is, and i only say this cus im re-watching Charmed and watched this the other day, there was the Vday ep where Febie tells her friends the proper way to make a spell, or the Bane ep where they save that one witch and she starts cleansing their home and rearranging their herbs stuff. I mean its not all just special effects and over exaggeration, although her overly happiness was admittedly over the top. And how about the episodes where they go to wicca shops and get supplies and charms and crystals or the one where they have the witch killer and they show a women praying at her alter, the show dose have its realistic points.
Giles ran a shop after the school was destroyed with graduation in season 4-6 I believe. It was a key meeting place for them, and often times you saw them giving advice about which ingredients could be used for what sort of charms and spells. One thing I loved was that if you looked very closely at the book shelves they have actual published Witchcraft Books on the shelves. I think I saw Cunningham in one shot and a few other well known authors at the time in the shelves. Also Pipers charge who is a witch has a book on Wicca and witchcraft that I owned up to my move in December. That book? Wiccan Beliefs and Practices by Gary Cantrell. Its a good book that covers both coven and solitary practice. That was the only book I could clearly remember seeing in the collection she had, but there were many books in that pile.

My point though is that they used a real book as a tool that a new witch might have. This adds to the realism in the shows by saying "Hey here is a real book". Some one could see those books on the shelves or in the drawer that they are shown in and do a Google search for them. Upon seeing that they are real books they can then get the book and read it starting them on the path to developing their own spirituality and witchcraft. Though the pitfalls I outlined in my last post could still happen here.

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