Hey Pagan Fans- both the Fall TV Season, and Fall Movie Schedules are upon us, affording an annually unique opportunity to re-access the Paganism of the Zeitgeist: as revealed through Popular Entertainment. The Faerey-Tale aspect of popular preoccupation continues, as the Faerey-Tale-inspired TV show Grimm begins its second season; never mind last spring/ summer’s dueling Snow White movies, or Disney-Pixar’s Brave (which attracted so much attention as a modern animated-Faerey-Tale, complete with Comic Witch and all). Never mind such clear Supernatural (meaning, “Beyond the Natural”) interest (sometimes involving Witches) as indicated by last summer’s Dark Shadows, ParaNorman, and the upcoming Hotel Transylvania-
What is really interesting, is the storyline that I call “young people- often females- empowering themselves through Witchcraft-related Magicke.” This is a storyline that began with The Craft in 1996: intended as a Teen Witch-Shock flick, it incorporated just enough Wicca into its storyline (indicating enough of a cultural-presence felt by Wicca in the mid-90s, for The Craft to address it in its presentation) to influence viewers. (Personal story, which I love: I have a friend in his early ’20s, who admits to being turned on to Wicca as a teen by The Craft. ”Sure, I know it’s The Craft,” he says, sheepishly. “But that scene where they invoked the Gods in that meadow- that really spoke to me.” The thing is, my friend starting collecting books on Wicca- which his mom discovered. Looking them over, my friend’s mom began to become interested in Wicca- which killed Wicca for my friend for some time after. As he explains it: “I was like, Damn it, Mom! Wicca was supposed to be MY thing!!” Having gotten over this, my friend is now pursuing a Young Adult’s study of the NYC Pagan Scene. What I find interesting is, that it is The Craft that my friend credits with turning on both him [directly], but also [indirectly] his mom, to modern Witchcraft).
The Craft surely played a part in such subsequent TV portrayals as found in Sabrina the Teen-Age Witch and Charmed. Maybe not directly related, is the kind-of concurrent Godzilla-Mega Cultural Phenom of the Harry Potter series (both the books, and then the 2000s’ movies). A British cultural juggernaut originally, that went on to reach volcanic global-impact: Harry Potter reinforces the “Young Adult Finding Her/ Himself through Witchcraft and Magicke-related Empowerment” theme noted prior in American movies and television.
As intended, surely, last season’s The Secret Circle, which was derived from a series of Young Adult novels and covered extensively here at the Juggler- until Scott kind-of threw in the towel on the series, wondering finally if the TV-viewing segment of the American Pagan populace should not be protesting the show (perhaps not as a surprise, The Secret Circle is not reappearing this year for a second season). Yet Scott- so always on-the-ball with this sort of thing- has announced the production of a British show Switch, called the “New” or perhaps “British” Charmed. (Think “the Spice Girls practice the Craft”; humor aside, this would seem to provide a unique opportunity- beyond Harry Potter- for Yanks Pagans to become better-acquainted with the Brits take on, and interpretation of, modern Magickal-Useage in Fictional Story-lines.)
However- what I hope is here readily apparent as a persuasive demonstration of Up-to-the-Moment interest in a certain fictional exploration of “Young People, Magick-Use, and Witchcraft,” might be considered in contrast against what could be understood as the equally-compelling Zeitgeist-fascination with Demonic Story-telling. Consider the recently-released The Possession, which covers the ordeals suffered when a young girl purchases a curious “antique box” at a yard sale- unwittingly loosening (betcha you didn’t see this coming) a “malicious, ancient spirit,” with much subsequent Possessing and Exorcising to come. Perhaps compare this with such other recent “Demonic Possession”-related films as 2007′s Paranormal Activity; 2010′s The Last Exorcism; and 2011′s The Rite, to determine if you also perceive a certain Zeitgeist-related anxiety going on here, perhaps relating to lingering cultural misgivings over what we have been culturally indoctrinated by now to believe, accept, and expect (“brainwashed” might be another word): that the merest interest in, and pursuit and support of, Neo-Pagan Witchcraft has the potential and power to let loose the Demons and Hordes of Hell. (A really kind-of medieval superstition, if you think about it, but apparently also a really-current sort of subconscious fret, namely: is modern Magick-Use actually OK, or am I, and are we all, facing “End-of-Times” Tribulations for our implicit turning from the God of the Bible, in endorsing what Western Culture has been culturally conditioned to believe is Sinful Transgression enough to warrent the hastening of the Apocalypse).
The sowing of further confusion can perhaps be discerned in one of TV’s newest shows 666 Park Avenue- a show that has started a street-level Manhattan advertising-campaign (if you are in Manhattan, and are curious as to what the most “up-to-date” things are, on the scene: check out street-advertising). Here we have a tony, upscale address in “The Drake,” a mysterious old building where the Young and Beautiful converge, leading lives of glamor and fortune- until the suspicion begins to dawn that all this excitement and wonder is paid for with the Price of one’s Soul, and the fearful thought develops that this collection of the New York Happening-Crowd lives in the “dark embrace of supernatural forces” (think Melrose Place meets Rosemary’s Baby). The obviousness of the address “666,” combined with the circular stairs swirling downwards- down as deep as the pits of Hell, perhaps- should be enough to clue the viewer as to the Faustian situation awaiting those who check into the swanky environs of 666 Park Avenue: perhaps never to check out again- at least, not with their Immortal Souls intact!!
It seems to me that there are two competing impulses to be located within the Subconscious Group-Mind: one would be a daring desire to believe in Magickal Practice as a means towards personal and universal growth; the other is a fearful alarm that perhaps the medieval Bogey-men and Ghost-stories are right, and traffic in the Magickal Arts imperils one’s Salvation. I hope that, as a Neo-Pagan Witch, it is clear on which side of the board I hope the coin falls. (That would be on the Magickal Repairing of Humanity side, by the way, by the Re-Adopting of the Ancient Pagan/ Magickal Mindset of Mortals.)