No, no, no- it’s NOT the Nicolas Cage Season of the Witch: it’s a GOOD movie (about Witches, that is, real-life Witches, that is, us) called Season of the Witch. I so just found this on Hulu.com (got finished watching it like two hours ago) and wanted immediately to inform any and all Juggler readers: please, please avail yourselves NOW (cause I don’t know how long this may be up on Hulu.com) of this unique opportunity to check out this REALLY INTERESTING Indie/Art-House (early 70s) movie, that strictly speaking, is a movie ABOUT the severe Female Malaise afflicting the Women of America at the close of the 60s (this movie was filmed in 1971). The interesting thing is that this film’s solution to the Female Malaise- the frustration of being, the confinement of personal scope, the pressures upon conformity- the solution to all of this is (no seriously, wait for it): Witchcraft.
Yup- you read that right. Here in this film (by George A. Romero, director of Night of the Living Dead), is a woman, going through the motions of life during that really self-conscious Glam Period of the late 60s/ early 70s (the actress is a striking woman, and looks fabulous when they have her all Glammed out, as they frequently do): her daughter is growing up, her marriage has gone stale, she is frustrated by the routine of her stultifying domestic life- and what is the solution to all this angst and pent-up frustration? Witchcraft, recognizable as what we call “Wicca” today (a Juggler reader informed us earlier that, actually, back in the 60s/ early 70s, “Witchcraft” was the term to present This Stuff; “Wicca” actually came a bit later)- Witchcraft is the answer to her problems; the outlet for her unique energies- Witchcraft, such as we recognize as presented by Gardner and the Sanders and the Farrars: early 70s Witchcraft (what we call Wicca), perhaps portrayed on film for the first time.
The early 70s’ vibe throughout is so authentic; watching this can really “clue you in” on what the “scene of the times” was like. The period’s confrontations between the Youth Culture (wanting to break off the chains of Middle Class Morality, man, and bust loose with grass and feeling vibes and getting it on and feeling good) and the way-more conventional Establishment mind-set and attitudes are very well set-up, as is the existential crisis afflicting the film’s heroine. The times’ fascination with ESP, with the open and explored Consciousness- with Witchcraft- is very well established; in numerous ways, the film very effectively presents an obsession of the times, a belief that there is “something out there, that we can’t explain.”
We are first introduced to Witchcraft in the form of a local woman, who is a “Witch- honest to God- the whole Bell, Book, and Candle thing. It’s like a religion; they have meetings and ceremonies; they’re out dancing in circles (How’s the moon tonight?)” It’s interesting that the movie references not only Bell, Book, and Candle, but also Rosemary’s Baby as well.
So the lady goes to visit this woman for a Tarot reading and the woman explains being a Witch. “It is a Religion, really. My mother was a Witch, and my father belonged.” She reminisces, “When I was a child, I would be taught recipes and incantations- and SWORN to secrecy- but nowadays, when anything goes-” She notes that “now” (1971) “you can go into a bookstore and pick up a paperback primer on Witchcraft; there are mail-order houses that provide the tools of the trade.”
So as so many of us have done- the bored housewife in question, frustrated by the sense that her life is passing by in dull and unremarkable fashion, gets herself to an occult store; buys a supply of tools and a book titled To Be A Witch: A Primer; sets up an altar and dedicates her utensils- and spends the rest of the movie identifying herself as a Witch.
It’s a really awesome movie, way ahead of its time in addressing the strangulation of the pre-Female Empowerment era; a fascinating cinematic look into super-early 70s culture; and a REALLY early and very positive look at Witchcraft [Wicca] in 70s America. Please check it out as soon as you are possibly able.