Home Pastors Spells are Spells — The Occult in Popular Media

Spells are Spells — The Occult in Popular Media


Do you like your scary movies? Me, too. Every year, during the month of October, I pull out everything from Halloween to The Wolfman with almost as much fun as I pull out Elf and Scrooge during December.

But there is a difference between a classic horror movie and diving headlong experientially into the world of the occult. And these days, you need to be careful about what it is you watch. It may not be as innocent—or non-experiential—as you might think.


Because now producers of media content are seeking out occult consultants to bring the real world of the occult into the mix. Consider AMC’s Mayfair Witches, based on Anne Rice’s trilogy The Lives of the Mayfair Witches. Creator Esta Spalding wanted its portrayal of modern witchcraft to ring true, so she brought in a practicing witch to guide the writers and actors as to how witchcraft is actually performed.

They “let me know what they wanted to achieve magically,” the witch consultant said, “and I filled in the blanks…If there were herbs or a spell that they chanted in Latin, I provided it. It was so cool to actually see my work being executed on screen.”

As Heather Greene writes for the Religion News Service (RNS), the

most well publicized collaboration between consultant and filmmaker may be the 1996 cult classic “The Craft.” Wiccan high priestess Pat Devin was brought in during the scriptwriting process, adding authentic Wiccan ritual and language. Modern pagans noticed her influence, and the film is still one of the most popular in the community.”

Such use of “magic” is vastly different from what you find in, say, the writings of J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien, which belong more in the fantasy camp. There the magic used is mechanical, not blatantly occult. It’s nothing more than the magical powers of Superman. They are attempting to promote fantasy, not reality. There is no contact with a supernatural, demonic world in the classical form of the occult.

In truth, they are simply morality tales, and the magic is used as a metaphor for power. The overarching theme is the fight between good and evil, and that evil is real and must be resisted. In such fantasy worlds, wizards, witches and magical potions abound but in a fantasy framework where the author uses them to present good as good and evil as evil.

Even so, parents should make sure they help their children contrast the mechanical, fantasy magic in such books and subsequent film adaptions—and the fantasy magic in all fairy tales and children’s literature, from Snow White to Cinderella—with the real-life witchcraft the Bible condemns, which encourages involvement with supernatural evil.