The portrayal of witchcraft and magic in the popular media is more realistic today, and suggests a greater acceptance of these alternative religions.
That is the main conclusion of the fall issue of PanGaia, a Neopagan magazine. From the best-selling Harry Potter books to popular TV shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Xena, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, there has been a growing use of witchcraft, or wiccan themes in the arts and entertainment media. While Sabrina is more in the mold of the 1960s sitcom Bewitched, displaying little knowledge of actual wiccan practice and teachings, that is not the case with most of the other shows, writes Jennifer Ricard.
Charmed is the first TV show “dedicated to the concept of the `Good Witch,” as it empathetically portrays the struggles and secrecy of Wiccans, even while not getting their teachings right. Unlike the others, Buffy the Vampire Slayer“treats Wicca as a religion rather than a supernatural talent . . . presenting an image of the witch that is, for the most part, positive and beneficial to the Pagan community.”
Ricard expects the trend of positive portrayal of Wicca on television to increase as the pagan lifestyle gains acceptance. In the same issue of the magazine, it is noted that no similar trend is evident in films, which still use witches as a scare technique. And how do Wiccans view the Harry Potter phenomenon? While the magic is not very realistic, the books are praised for making “the Craft nonthreatening to boys.”
(PanGaia, P.O. Box 641, Point Arena, CA 95468-0641, www.pangaia.com)