Does Witchcraft really need to be promoted?

Last night Network Ten’s The Project aired a piece about witchcraft.

I will endeavour to post a video of this piece online if it becomes available, but suffice to say it was fairly simplistic and stuck to the basics (no, witches don’t worship the devil; and no, they don’t ride around on broomsticks), and featured interviews with the likes of Stacey De Marco, Lucy Cavendish and others.

The piece was not particularly good or bad. While I have many issues with the idea of “Big Name Paganspreying on the naive, the stupid and the mentally ill and profiting from their pseudo-celebrity, not to mention the whole notion that witchcraft is for sale, happily there was no opportunity for any of the “personalities” involved to spruik their overpriced wares.

Rather, the witchcraft it discussed was a fairly homogenised, “mass consumption” PG-13 version of what many consider to be witchcraft, with a focus on oracle cards and spell casting. To Network Ten’s credit, the word “religion” was thrown around more than once, and there didn’t seem to be much glamorising of covens or suggestions that teen witches could turn their ex-boyfriend into a toad or any other nonsense.

The Project’s piece received a mixed response from the Australian Pagan community, but more importantly it brought into light the old argument of whether witchcraft should be “promoted” at all, in this way or in others.

A decade or more ago, I would have said that yes, we do need pieces like this: to debunk rumours of satanic rites, of pointy hats, baby eating and broomsticks.

But we are almost in the year 2014. If there are people out there who still believe all that stuff, I say we let them. They certainly don’t make up a majority of the population any more, and most of them are so set in their ways that a three minute fluff piece on a magazine-style news panel show probably isn’t going to change their minds anyway.

If mainstream media simply must report on witchcraft, then it would do us a lot less harm to do so a bit more impartially, without going in for all the stupid stereotype garbage or interviewing only a certain kind of witch from a certain part of the country… not to mention the dark, sinister music. But hey, it wouldn’t get the ratings they want from mainstream audiences!

The main purpose of pieces like this is to advertise witchcraft as being a come one, come all new-age religion, suitable for everybody into something a bit spooky. The danger here is that no, it isn’t, and to portray it as such just leads to more and more misinformed people spending their hard-earned money on ridiculously overpriced products and “workshops” to become even more misinformed…. Unfortunately, the most insidious and parasitic of our BNPs are always there with open arms to empty the wallets of the naive and vulnerable folk who foray into witchcraft.

I’m not saying that witchcraft should be an exclusive little club (or maybe I am, I haven’t decided yet). My point is that knowledge and spiritual growth are not commodities, and should not be touted as such. Generally if people genuinely want to find out about something, they will look into it for themselves in their own time, and make up their own minds.

Witchcraft does not need “promoting” in this day and age. My religion is not a trend, a fad, a hobby or a spectator sport. Is it really so bad that I just want to go about my spiritual business without it being televised?

– Galloway.

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8 Comments

Filed under Witchcraft

8 responses to “Does Witchcraft really need to be promoted?

  1. Peregrin

    Ah, Galloway LOVED the Australian Witches pic – best of these I’ve seen – thanks 🙂

    Now while I agree in general with all your points (who wouldn’t?) I want to point out a couple of things.

    While what we do is called ‘Witchcraft’, the problems you raise will continue. This is because the normative usage of this word is still one involving evil folk, curses and wot not. I am not saying we should all change the name of our Craft, as there are also many powerful connotations that go along with that name that can, if wisely used, empower us spiritually and magically.

    I am just pointing out the bleedin’ obvious; while kids are still being raised on stories with ‘evil’ witches (and they are) we will attract in our ranks a certain percentage of knobheads and outside our ranks, journalists looking for this sort of titillating story.

    There is MORE than plenty out there these days for anyone to find their way to the Craft. I mean, don’t get me started on the lack of resources when I was a lad… so I agree, we do not need promotion, and it’s best to ignore the whole sobbin’ lot of those who revel in such promotion. Thanks 🙂

  2. While I do fall into the category of people who promote witchcraft, I like to think that I keep it really low key (essentially, I am writing for those people already in the system, and promoting open rituals for a group that has been doing them for twenty plus years). Interestingly enough, my planned article for the monthly newsletter for the open ritual group is about whether or not, it is a bad thing to promote Wicca…we will see mid-Friday if it actually is or not (I tend to change topics before the deadline).

  3. darachamelangell

    I agree with my partner here – and have been inclined to ignore the promotion of the craft and paganism for a long time. It certainly is for the chosen ones, and by that I mean those who seek out the Craft . A lot out there don’t know much about it, but don’t care either, and don’t get involved or be judgemental, and then there are the people that watch the Project and still have no idea of what the Craft really is, even with a short introduction, and that was an introduction. They chose NOT to read about it.

    Some journalists I have come across are some of the dimmest idiots out there. A lot know more than they need to, they’re clearly well read. But I am certain all the ones who want to do pieces on witchcraft have no bloomin’ idea about the subject and get the weediest little BNP to speak to, because they have the fattest website out there to advertise themselves. Well-spoken, well-educated witches would be better interviewees, but none of them want to put themselves in that position. Who would want to! They’re far too smart to put themselves up to the ignorance of the media today. Maybe we should leave the nuffy BNP’s to run the media show. I’m just gonna live my life without that drama.

    • ‘Well-spoken, well-educated witches would be better interviewees, but none of them want to put themselves in that position. Who would want to! They’re far too smart to put themselves up to the ignorance of the media today.’

      Or be associated with the majority of the other people in the pagan scene these days. I consider it embarrassing if nothing else.

  4. des

    Wow. Great article Galloway but having just watched the piece (it’s on The Project’s homepage) my first and probably most meaningful response is:
    “Well, if I didn’t already think Stacey DeMarco was an insipid, self-serving, celebrity-seeking clacker-head, I most certainly would now.”

  5. Rowan

    Okay – I’ll stick my neck out here and say that as long as there are willing “professional Witches” out there, fluffy or or otherwise, you’ll get media interest. While the rest of us quietly go about our Craft business, most of which wouldn’t be deemed media-worthy. BTW, I’ve yet to hear of a ‘professional Catholic,’ or a ‘professional Buddhist.” Has anyone?

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