The depiction of witches in U.S. mainstream media has varied greatly over the years. Some witches are presented as haggard and conventionally unattractive women draped in black, stirring concoctions in ominous pots. Others fit into the classic childhood fantasy image of a witch with green skin, pointy hats, and flying broomsticks. And then there are the attractive, mysterious witches who blend perfectly into society while secretly wielding their dark powers against enemies. Though these images are all vastly different, there is one thread that tends to bind many of them together: a prominent focus on the White experience.
From the late 1960s to the mid-70s, occult and witchcraft records became an unlikely phenomenon in the UK and USA. These spoken word LPs included narrations of rituals and spells by witches and covens, usually accompanied by bizarre, early electronic esoteric music. Some were relatively obscure private press releases – just look at The Art of Witchcraft by Babetta, AKA ‘Babetta the Sexy Witch’, and Ian Richardson and Barbara Holdridge’s Malleus Maleficarum, which were both released in 1974 and which today fetch hundreds of pounds online – but what’s odder is that major labels were often the ones putting these records out. It wasn’t unusual to find albums like Alex and Maxine Sanders’ A Witch is Born or Louise Huebner’s Seduction Through Witchcraft arriving through Capitol Records, A&M, or Warner Bros – but why did these occult oddities exist in the first place?
WELLNESS EDITOR EMILIA ORTIZ SPEAKS TO PEOPLE IN THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY ABOUT HOW THEY NAVIGATE THEIR SPIRITUAL FAITH
Dazed Beauty Wellness Editor Emilia Ortiz is the no bullshit, Brooklyn-based bruja, spiritual advisor, creative, mental health advocate, motivational speaker, empath, fairy Godmother you’ve been waiting for. Passed down to Emilia through the generations of her Puerto Rican lineage, Brujeria encompasses various indigenous forms of spirituality and witchcraft practices used by Latin American, Caribbean, and African peoples. Harnessing her spiritual gift, Emilia decided to turn her attention to mental health guidance – something she felt she never had access to growing up – and set up her own self care platform, Sprititual Mami.
Christmas lore usually comes in the shape of a jolly red-suited man winding a sleigh through the starry night sky with his trusty band of reindeer. There are, however, some holiday figures who are much more ominous—chief among them the belly-slitting, child-abducting, half-woman, half-demon Alpine monster known as Perchta.
According to old Austro-German legend, Perchta is a malevolent pagan goddess who stalks the snowy landscape by night during the Twelve Days of Christmas. Like Italy’s Christmas witch, La Befana, she is also associated with the Feast of the Epiphany on 6 January. Perchta’s aim is simple and chilling: to ensure local customs are upheld under the pain of death. In bygone times, this meant no weaving during the holidays, unless you dared to incur Perchta’s wrath—and what a wrath she had.
In The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) is torn between the witch and the mortal world, as certain expectations have been placed on her teen shoulders. Dating a human is not the done thing, but this is 2018 and Sabrina wants to have a choice in the way she lives her life. First love is intoxicating, particularly if there is also a forbidden factor. This is far from the first complicated romance between a person in possession of magical abilities and someone that has none.
Witch stories are often tied to teenage girls like Sabrina as a metaphor for puberty — but the movies and television show discussed below center on women in adulthood experiencing another kind of transition. Instead of learning how to use their powers, marriage and settling down threaten the abilities they possess. A commitment to a mortal comes with some major sacrifices in mid-20th-century rom-coms I Married a Witch and Bell, Book and Candle, which mirror the expectations placed on married women at this time.