Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Heather Greene, author of the new Lights, Camera, Witchcraft.
I’m often asked when fiction filmmakers will produce a movie that depicts Pagans as we are. When will modern magic be represented on the silver screen without movie magic? My answer is always the same: “We aren’t that interesting.”
Dramatic encapsulations of reality are never, well, reality. The fiction storytelling pushes, pulls, edits, and spins the tale to make it compelling and captivating based on expectations. You want somebody to listen, or in this case, watch. This applies to depictions of cops and doctors as much as it does witches and warlocks.
With that said, modern American films and shows are far closer to reality than they ever were. Witches are no longer relegated to accused women in 17th century New England or fantasy crones tormenting young children. Today, we see witches in contemporary American suburbs, sharing spells that look something like we performed at the last Sabbat ritual.
This merger began in earnest in the early 1970s within the horror film. While satanic witches were evil, writers borrowed text from published books by Paul Huson and Gerald Gardner. However, it wasn’t until the 1990s, with The Craft (1996), that depictions of modern Witchcraft turned positive. Wicca was trending, as we say now, and modern Witches were often asked to be consultants.
That trend continues today across genres, including shows like Fort Salem: Motherland (2020- ). While modern Witches are not using their voice to throw the enemy across a field, the show does rely on the elements of modern Paganism and Witchcraft, including, for example, Goddess worship and folk magic.
Even when the represented spells are clearly fabricated and the black cat speaks English, these modern shows break narrative boundaries and challenge viewer expectations more than ever before. In that way they retain a strong modern Pagan spirit. And that alone truly is an honest marker of the modern Witch.
Our thanks to Heather for her guest post! For more from Heather Greene, read her article, “5 Misconceptions About Traditional Wicca.”