I have a friend who just recently found out I’m a Witch. Actually, it’s someone I work with via phone on a regular basis. We’ll call her V. Our conversation one night turned towards dreams and goals, as V was leaving her then-current department to do something meaningful to her. So, career moves was the thing that brought up my Witchyness.
V seemed rather surprised. And then she said, “Oh, you’re into real Witches. So you probably don’t care for fictional witches much, do you?”
I’m guessing that V’s experiences of the Pagan community must be of a certain type of Wiccan – those who balk at every little thing and take offense because it, ” … harms the perception of the Craft.”
Well … ya know … Witches have survived for centuries without having to be offended at every nook and cranny, every turn of the bend. We’ve come this far, and while it would be nice to have our paths accepted as “mainstream religion,” I honestly am not even sure I want that.
Why? Simply, as I’ve said so many times before, the Craft is not for everyone. It is not meant for the masses, nor should it be. Our goal is not a huge-and-growing congregation. One must be called to the Craft for it to be effective.
More than that, if Witchcraft were to turn into a “mainstream religion,” we would no longer be the safe space for outcasts. Witchcraft is the practice of the subversive, the rebel, the resistance. One cannot easily be both mainstream and the revolutionary dissident. It takes skill and the ability to – you guessed it – “keep silent,” at least for a time. (And right now, it’s getting to be about that time for us revolutionary dissidents to resist the shit we see coming. But that’s another post.)
But the point of this post, really, is about fictional Witches. I love fictional Witches! Just because I practice the Craft, both as a magical practice and a spiritual path, does not mean that I lack a sense of fun and excitement. Hell, you can see that in my previous post: Why I’m Not Pretentious About My Faith.
So, in honor of my friend V, and making career moves that lead to the fulfillment of dreams, here’s my list of favorite fictional Witches.
- The Sanderson sisters from the 1993 film Hocus Pocus. While I like all three Witches and find Kathy Najimy’s character hilarious, Winifred (played by Bette Midler) has to be my favorite of the three.
- The two aunts in the 1998 film Practical Magic are awesome, also. Dianne Wiest plays the practical-yet-whimsical Aunt Jet, but my favorite has to be Stockard Channing’s character, Aunt Frances.
- Of course I like all of the Witches from the 1996 film The Craft, but by far, my favorite character is Nancy Downs, played by Fairuza Balk.
- I think my favorite Witch movie of all time has to be The Witches of Eastwick, from 1987. All three characters – Alexandra Medford (Cher), Jane Spofford (Susan Sarandon), and Sukie Ridgemont (Michelle Pfeiffer) are played to perfection. Cher, of course, is my favorite.
- Let’s not forget Marnie Stonebrook, from the television series True Blood. She was in 12 episodes of season 4 and was played by Fiona Shaw. I found her a little whiny, but nonetheless, the character was played quite well.
- There is, most recently, the show Salem, of which I am a gigantic fan. It began airing in 2014. My two favorite characters here are Mary Sibley, played by Janet Montgomery, and Anne Hale, played by Tamzin Merchant.
- In 2016, Patti Lupone played Dr. Seward in 9 episodes of Penny Dreadful. But before that, in 2015, she played Joan Clayton. While she seemed to be depicted as a midwife and friend of Vanessa Ives (the main character, played by Eva Green), I like to think there was more to the story. In my mind, Joan was a mentor Witch of Vanessa. I would’ve liked to have explored that relationship more, but alas, the series did not focus on it. Also, in my mind, Dr. Seward, later in the series, was a reincarnation of Joan Clayton.
- And there’s American Horror Story, where, in the last season (Roanoake), Lady Gaga plays the ancient Witch who gave rise to the Butcher. And who can forget AHS: Coven, where there was an entire gaggle of Witches!? As much as I loved Jessica Lange (Fiona Goode) and Angela Bassett (Marie Laveau) in Coven, I don’t know that I can pick a favorite Witch from that season. Sarah Paulson will always be iconic as Cordelia Foxx, so she may be the one I’d have to pick.
I don’t think anyone in Hollywood is deliberately making films and shows to insult real Witches. And even if they are, who gives a rat’s ass? Just enjoy it. It’s entertainment. Why be so pretentious all the time? It’s just too stressful.