With feasts like Samhain and Day of the Dead, and with Thanksgiving fast approaching, November is a month in which thoughts often turn to family, both present and passed. Charmed, a show in which family was paramount, told the story of four sisters who were the latest and most powerful in a long line of witches. The show was often just as much, if not more, about the characters as sisters than as witches; yes, they cast spells together and fought demons together, but they also lived together, argued with each other, and remembered their lost loved ones together. What made this last point less powerful than it could have been was the confusing and inconsistent nature of the afterlife as seen on the show.
A few weeks ago, Lady Geek Girl wrote a nice article describing the precarious position of witches in current pop culture media. Witches only finally started to reach some level of acceptance (still a work in progress, that’s for sure) largely thanks to the enormous expansion of the religion of Wicca in the past fifty years or so. This led to a curious occurrence: witches weren’t just in fairytales and fantasy books anymore; they were bookstore clerks and nurses and teachers too. It opened the doors for the possibility for modern people to reclaim and identify with the word “witch”. We can see other seemingly outdated or maligned words being used by contemporary folk, from druid to heathen to shaman (though words like sorceress and wizard seem to be lagging in popularity), but I would argue none to quite the degree of “witch”. So while I believe that Wicca was a large—I would say the primary, in fact—reason for the modern reclaiming of this word, I think it is inappropriate to treat “Wiccan” as a monolithic synonym for “witch”. There are simply too many witches out there who are not Wiccan.