When deciding what to write about this week, I was torn between a comic and this movie… and then the universe sent me a sign: a gif of one of the Hex Girls, free of context or even any tags, on my Tumblr dash. I’m not one to turn down the universe, so here we are. This is one of the few Scooby-Doomoviesclose to my heart that I haven’t reviewed for this column yet, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an enjoyable watch.
Another day, another subpar YA novel. After the disaster that was Three Dark Crowns, I told myself, “Luce, don’t get sucked in by another excellent premise, it will only disappoint you,” and I should have listened to myself. I picked up a new book called The Hawkweed Prophecy based on its premise: two girls, one magical and one not, were switched at birth and have to find their way in the world. The author, Irena Brignull, seemed particularly accomplished as well: as a screenwriter, she worked on The Boxtrolls and the movie adaptation of The Little Prince, and she’s worked on many other projects as a script editor for the BBC. Yet somehow, there turned out to be very little to recommend about her first novel.
Minor spoilers and trigger warning for some discussion of abortion after the jump.
Welcome back, dear reader. You might be thinking, “That last The Witch post was so long; this guy has more to say?!” I do, in fact. While I tried to walk the reader through the muddled plot of the film in that post, this one will be a more personal, philosophical response to the film. I fear most people will leave the film simply saying to themselves, “That wasn’t scary enough!” and then shrug and forget about it; however, I also think there will be a sizeable portion who will lose sleep trying to ask themselves, “What does it all mean?!” I certainly fall into the second camp, and it is with particular urgency I ask myself that question. As one of the people in the world seeking to claim a connection on some level with the word “witch”, it is important to me to try to decipher as much as I possibly can, to pick the film to the bone for every last scrap of meaning, since the word “witch” is being flashed before the public imagination. It’s important to me to ask what it means that the film goes with the late medieval and early modern conception that witchcraft and Satanism are one and the same. Heck, the film was even endorsed by the Satanic Temple. Is the devil truly inextricably linked to witchcraft? Are witches damned, and if so what does that mean? Let’s take a look.
It’s been years since I last read a Roald Dahl book, but when the time came to pick a throwback topic for this week, I found myself drawn to that bit of my bookshelves. And with the official start of Fall just past, it seemed only right to get in the spoopy spirit and revisit The Witches.
I went to the theater to see Mad Max: Fury Road this past weekend, and surprisingly enough, I actually got to the theater in time for the trailers. (I have a bad habit of arriving at the latest possible second and missing all the trailers, which sucks for me, because I love trailers.) However, this time, almost all the trailers before the movie were horror trailers, so I spent a lot of time covering my eyes and wondering if I would have to spend the entire pre-movie with my eyes shut. Fortunately, right before Mad Max started, there was one non-horror trailer. Here it is right now.
Well, as Sleepy Hollow has been getting consistently worse these past few weeks, with only the occasional good episode shoved in with a myriad of bad ones, I had no hopes that “Awakening” would have any redeeming qualities. Even worse, I didn’t care. I literally only watched this episode because I’m the person scheduled to review it. So, was it any good?
Well, yes, actually, it was. “Awakening” had a lot of moments in it that I was happy to see. Unfortunately, it also had a lot of bad moments, too, that had me rolling me eyes. I’m also beginning to question if there’s a single part of American history that Ichabod Crane hasn’t shaped. Did you know he’s the one who cracked the Liberty Bell?
Today I bring you a fun, mysterious, exciting, and spooky web series that is definitely worth your time. MisSpelledis about five young women who all discover one day that they have magical powers and are witches. Though the girls don’t always get along, and certainly don’t always see eye to eye, they begin working together to use their witchy powers. Especially when one of the girls, Gladys, accidentally kills her boyfriend, Ian, when she loses control of her powers. Together the girls—Nina, Emma, Quinn, and Stella—try to help Gladys bring Ian back to life, but with some disastrous consequences.
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. Continue reading →
I have already discussed magic a little bit in my post on magic and Christian objects. To give a little bit of a refresher, the Bible condemns witchcraft and any other sort of magic, from talking to the dead to seeing the future. But like many things in the Bible, this rule is contradictory to other things in the Bible and other practices in both Jewish and Christian traditions.
For example, most churches will say, even today, that seeing the future or talking to the dead could make you a prophet. If it’s a gift that you have no control over, it would make sense that your creator blessed you with it. On top of this, there are certain practices that seem to rely on magic. Ancient Jews used to put magical amulets near the beds of their babies to ward off the demon Lilith, who was said to kill children. In the Acts of the Apostles, there is a passage that introduces Simon the Magician, who wowed the people with his magical abilities. However, when the Apostles showed up, everyone converted to Christianity, even Simon. In this passage, Simon is never condemned for using magic; what he is condemned for is offering the Apostles money in order to gain the same gifts granted to the Apostles by God. Peter condemns Simon for thinking he can buy God’s gifts and urges him to repent, but he is never condemned for using magic specifically.
Despite these contradictions and varied ideas about magic, the Bible still condemns all magic and witchcraft, which causes tension between Christianity and Wicca to this day. That’s reflected in our pop culture.
Since everyone in my neck of the woods has been enjoying relatively warm weather, I thought I would discuss a novel set in wintry Wales. I was hesitant at first to review this book because I found it in the teen section. Teen novels are not everyone’s cup of tea. However, I try my best not to discriminate against books based solely on their intended audience. Not every teen novel is stupid and more than a few have a good story to tell. They will often even have interesting heroines and heroes. Paula Brackston‘s The Winter Witch is a pretty cool novel. I’m always up for a book about magic, but what I got was far more than another book about a teenage witch who finds love. I don’t think it’s a stretch to call The Winter Witch a fantastic piece of fantasy fiction, and the protagonist Morgana a well-written and interesting character. Continue reading →