Tag Archives: films

The Trouble with Trending Tricksters

By Tess O’Teric

The trickster archetype – and more specifically the god Loki – has cropped up a bit recently in popular culture. But should we be careful in how we treat and portray trickster gods, until we understand their context in a belief system?

In Norse mythology, Loki, Loptr, or Hveðrungr is a god or jötunn (or both). Loki is the son of Fárbauti and Laufey, and the brother of Helblindi and Býleistr. By the jötunn Angrboða, Loki is the father of Hel, the wolf Fenrir, and the world serpent Jörmungandr. By his wife Sigyn, Loki is the father of Narfi and/or Nari. By the stallion Svaðilfari, Loki is the mother—giving birth in the form of a mare—to the eight-legged horse Sleipnir. In addition, Loki is referred to as the father of Váli in the Prose Edda.

Loki’s relation with the gods varies by source. Loki sometimes assists the gods and sometimes causes problems for them. Loki is a shape shifter and in separate incidents he appears in the form of a salmon, mare, seal, a fly, and possibly an elderly woman. Loki’s positive relations with the gods end with his role in engineering the death of the god Baldr. Loki is eventually bound by the gods with the entrails of one of his sons.
(from Wikipedia)

Simply put, Loki is a god of the Norse pantheon. Most would describe him as a trickster or chaos god, or as the god of mischief. This flawed, sexually ambiguous deity has experienced a renaissance of sorts in recent years, with the rise of popular films like Thor and The Avengers, which depict the Marvel versions of the Norse pantheon, and of television series such as History Channel’s Vikings, in which the mischievous Viking boat-builder Floki is considered to be descended from Loki himself.

In Thor and The Avengers, the Marvel version of Loki is masterfully portrayed by Tom Hiddleston. Loki is the big bad antagonist in the first Thor film and in The Avengers, and then a supporting protagonist in Thor: The Dark World. And while loving this particular portrayal or the actor who pulled it off is perfectly OK, dropping everything and becoming not only a Loki worshipper but a Lokean godspouse without doing any further research/reading into the matter really isn’t.

A god-spouse, as anyakless puts it, is usually defined as “someone who has a longterm/lifetime intimate relationship with a deity that seems to somehow mirror human marriage (although there can be striking and important differences). This is usually a role officially acknowledged by the deity and confirmed by other members of your community in various ways.”

Now. This, in itself? Fine. How others experience the divine is ultimately none of my – or anyone else’s – business, and the various Norse traditions treat human/deity marriages so differently from one another that it’s not really for anyone to say that it is “wrong”, per se. However while there are plenty of arguments for and against godspousery, I don’t really see any merit in throwing yourself into something like this without doing your homework. This is not an anti-Lokean rant: this is me feeling incredulous and somewhat concerned at what has become a very strange situation. That is, that Lokeanism is “trending” just now, and in turn the definition of a Lokean has changed, too.

In the well-known post, 4 Reasons why Heathens Hate Lokean – by a Lokean, American Heathen blogger Sacred Iceland pointed out that “…about 75% of self-proclaimed Lokeans are now also coincidentally his ‘god-spouse’.”

“…in most cases it has been very difficult for me to identify what the purpose of these unions are, outside of serving the spouse’s own ego and giving them full right to shamelessly indulge in their wet dreams about Tom Hiddl- er… I mean Loki. I don’t mean to discriminate against lonely young women by observing that most recent Loki spouses tend to be lonely young women, but really, I have to call a spade a spade; and it seems that their formula for becoming a Loki spouse was:

1. Saw the Thor movie.

2. Thought Loki was hot.

3. Read online that you can marry Loki and there’s a community of people that take it seriously.

4. Has “vision” where Loki tells them to marry them immediately afterwards

5. Marries Loki.

6. Makes a new Tumblr account in honor of the event.”
(From the Sacred Iceland blog)

 

Before anyone mentions it in the comments section, yep, there are plenty of witches in their thirties, forties and fifties out there now who started out as newbies who loved Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, The Craft or even Charmed. But for the most part, schlock like this was just an overly tacky springboard: these fangirls and fanboys, for the most part, went on to investigate, to read, to seek and to learn. This meant they could then make informed decisions about what path (if any) was right for them. I just hope that brand new Lokeans do the same. The Norse traditions are rich with stories and customs, and to limit your understanding of these to what you have seen in a few movies really is selling yourself short.

 

Further reading:

4 Reasons Heathens Hate Lokeans: by a Lokean – Sacred Iceland

4 Real Reasons Heathens Hate Lokeans: by a Lokean – Reading Heathenism

Ask a Godspouse – Fruit of Pain

Discernment for Godspouses – the Forest Door

Lokean Godspouses: Disbelief and Explanation – Myrkr’s Blog

We Can Learn A Lot from Things that Annoy Us, or what I figured out about the proliferation of Loki’s wives online – Sex, Gods and Rock Stars

 

 

 

 

 

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Ten films with pagan and witch themes

There are loads of them! But I will discuss 10 here that are worthy of a bit of attention. Firstly, I won’t mention the commonly popular witchy ones – ‘The Craft’ and ‘Practical Magic’ in this run-down. This list will comprise some rather obscure films that many of you may never have heard of due to their age. At the end of this post, I’ll list a few more that fit in the themes.

1. The Wicker Man, 1973

Yeah I know. Let’s get this one out of the way. But I can’t go past without mentioning it, coz really, it’s a masterpiece in my opinion. It’s perhaps one of the most famous pagan films out there and now has a cult following. People even tour the sites where it was filmed. A 30th anniversary DVD was released in 2003 into a lovely Director’s Cut – this year it’s 40. And still the best. The Nicholas Cage version of 2006 is not really worth watching, and I’ve not seen ‘The Wicker Tree’ yet, but not heard good things, however, I’ve known the story for years as I bought the novel Cowboys for Christ when it was released. Summerisle is idyllic, if you were a visiting pagan, you’d probably be very welcome (bringing in new blood and all), but if you were a Christian PC intent on forcing people to spit upon their own religion and beliefs, you might not see another day.

2. The Dark Secret of Harvest Home, 1978

The novel The Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon has elements of Summerisle within it. It is set in New England in a small isolated village called Cornwall Coombe, where a natural form of farming still occurs, and so do the festivals from the old country. The protagonist who moves with his family to Cornwall Coombe finds that the village has secrets and they are only known by the women, who appear to run the village, along with its matriarch Widow Fortune, played by the aged but fabulous Bette Davis. Outsiders are welcome, but only if they accept the villages ways, and if you are a villager, you aren’t exactly safe either – accept ‘the ways’ or be ostracized, be careful what you say and do. An interesting take on the Harvest Lord/Sacred King archetype as written in The Golden Bough by J.G Frazer. A brilliant production, however the VHS was edited heavily from close to 4 hours down to 2 hours. Yet to be remastered and released in full glory.

3. The Sorceress (Le Moine et la Sorciere), 1987, French

‘Sorceress’, or ‘The Monk and the Sorceress’, is a French film focusing upon a story from the Middle Ages. Dominican monk Etienne arrives in a small village looking for heretics in the area, because, as you know, the Church believe heretics to be absolutely everywhere. He finds a place where the local folk and their priest live with superstition and magic and accept the healing remedies and advice of the ‘forest woman.’ I thought this film would be terrible, watching the Church kill and destroy the only link to herb remedies and magic in the cunning woman, but I was pleasantly surprised, as a monk realises his own errors of his own life. Also notice the scene where he cannot for the life of him, carry a baby properly.

4. Eye of the Devil, 1966

A film by MGM, and assisted with the help from Alex Sanders himself, ‘Eye of the Devil’ is another take upon the Harvest Lord/Sacred King. Filmed at Hautefort in France (where ‘Ever After’ was also filmed), it stars Deborah Kerr, David Niven and Sharon Tate, the latter whom we know met a tragic end by the Manson Family in 1969. A prefect thriller in devilry, a brilliant film, you should all see it.

5. Apprentice to Murder, 1988

For all your pow-wow magical needs, watch this film. Apart from the bit about murder. Ignore that bit. Donald Sutherland plays a doctor obsessed with satanic influences upon the Pennsylvanian town, and performs folk rituals using hex magic. He influences a young boy to help him, create his hex symbols and educate him. It is based on a true tale.

6. Haxan: Witchcraft through the Ages, 1922

A nice old black and white silent film, showing what people believed what went on with witches and satanic worship in the old days. Really, it’s old religious drivel, and couldn’t be further from the truth. Still a great film – check out the awesome devilish tongue-work performed by its writer, Benjamin Christensen who plays the devil in it, and witches riding brooms over roof-tops in 1920s style special effects. Also a fantastic Black Mass performed half way through the film.

7. Bell, Book and Candle, 1959

Here’s a bit of Hollywood. James Stewart, Jack Lemmon and Kim Novak star in this romantic film about witches living in New York City. Several critics and witches out there don’t like the way Kim Novak as Gillian, a free-spirited woman, gives up her magical powers and stalwart, mysterious attitude, for love. Many witches cannot fathom it in our world. It was the late 50s and apparently that was all women wanted to eventually do – get married – or so the men thought. Still a delightful film, I love the beatnik bar ‘The Zodiac Club’ and Jack Lemmon playing the bongos, their Aunt Queenie, and Pyewacket the cross-eyed Siamese cat, Gillian’s familiar. I love how Queenie, Gillian and especially Nicky (Jack Lemmon) absolutely love magic and being witches. It’s clear they feel ‘above’ the rest of the human race.

8. The Moon Stallion, 1978 (6 part series)

While this is not exactly a film, but a television series like ‘The Dark Secret of Harvest Home,’ it goes for the length of a film, so could be viewed that way. Set in the Edwardian era, and exploring the Berkshire landscape of the Uffington White Horse, there is a very British Pagan sense to it all, with a mention of the Moon Goddess, Wayland the Smith, and the Wild Hunt. It’s a perfect blend of myth, magic and power, with Sarah Sutton playing the blind maiden, who respects the ‘old ways,’ probably thanks to her archaeologist father. Nice to see David Haig as the young magician, Todman (toadman) and a youthful Caroline Goodall too. Hail the Moon Goddess!

9. The Witches’ Bottle, 1975

You can always rely on Thames Television for supplying some excellent British spooky productions in a quality that can never be replicated. This short episode from season 1 of the Shadows series was written by none other than Stewart Farrar. Of course, there is a mention of Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General of the 1640s. And the spirit of a burned witch. Two teenagers do a pleasant bit of exorcism by casting circle to help out a deceased witch. All good spooky 1970s fun.

10. Robin of Sherwood, 1984-6

I can’t go past the final one without mentioning Robin of Sherwood. An incredibly pagan series, and if you are a lover of classic 60s, 70s and 80s style budget filming and music, then you’ll accept this one perfectly. There are three seasons and two Robin Hoods. A brilliant suitable soundtrack by Clannad, this series makes modern day British pagans proud, as Herne the Horned One is featured a lot, as Robin Hood, Son of Herne, helps people oppressed by the nobility. That’s just how Robin Hood works in general. The fact that he says ‘blessed be’ a lot makes any pagan girl giggle helplessly. That, and it does not seem to matter that Michael Praed and Jason Connery have mullets – they are too beautiful to be laughed at. Even men have agreed with this.

Of course, there a loads more films, television shows and animations out there that cover, or have snippets of the themes of paganism and magic. More often than not there is no mention of paganism, the old Gods, and witches in some stories, but they’ll mention magic, as it’s not such a bad word. Below, there are loads of productions with the themes, but there’ll be far more that I have not added – I can’t keep up, with all the CGI possibilities of today, there is so much more out there, and I’ll admit I have not added to the list in a while because of that fact. I’ll bet there are more productions I have missed on this list, some will be so obvious, I’ll be ashamed to not to have added it, but feel free to mention them in the comments, giving release date as well, so as people can Google them. Some films out there are just horrors, and don’t do the subjects justice.

Paganism and tradition

The Wicker Tree (2012)
A Walk in the Clouds (1995 – Keanu Reeves)
Dancing at Lughnasa (1998 – Meryl Streep)
Stara baśń: Kiedy słońce było bogiem – ‘An Ancient Tale: When the Sun was a God’ (2003 – subtitled)
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)
The Wicker Man (2006 – Nicholas Cage)
Chocolat (2002 – Juliette Binoche)
Children of the Stones (1976 – 7 parts)
Elidor (1995 – 6 parts – BBC series – by Alan Garner)
Earthfasts (1994 – 6 parts – by William Mayne)
Dinotopia The Movie (2002)
Dinotopia the Series (2003-4, 13 episodes)
Flight of the Dragons (1980 animation)

Magic, Witches & Wizards

Harry Potter (all seven films)
Practical Magic (1998)
The Craft (1996)
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
The Worst Witch (1985 – Fairuza Balk)
Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989 – anime)
The Witches (1990)
The Advocate (1991 – Colin Firth)
Hocus Pocus (1993)
The Mists Of Avalon (2000)
Howl’s Moving Castle (2005 – anime)
Snow White: A Tale of Terror (1996 – Sigourney Weaver)
Like Water for Chocolate (1993 – subtitled)
4 Rooms (1995, 4 parts to film, 1st part about witches)
Sleepy Hollow (2000)
Big Fish (2004)
Bewitched (1964 – 1972)
Catweazle (1970 – 1971, 2 seasons)
The Worst Witch series (1998 – 2002, 4 seasons)
Sabrina the Teenage Witch series (1996 – 2003)
Charmed (1999 – 2006, 9 seasons)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003, 8 seasons)
Angel (1999 – 2004, 4 seasons)
Wyrd Sisters (1997 – 6 part cartoon)
Guinevere Jones (2002)
Merlin (2008 – 2012, 5 seasons)
The Legend of the Seeker (2008 – 2010, 2 seasons)
The Witches and the Grinnygog (1983 – 6 parts)

Myth and Fairytales

Dragonslayer (1981)
Legend (1985)
Labyrinth (1986)
The Dark Crystal (1982)
Willow (1988)
Secret of Roan Inish (1995)
Princess Mononoke (1997 – anime)
Fairytale:  A true story (1997)
Apparition (1997)
The Owl Service (1969 – 70, 8 part)
Monkey (1978)
Jim Henson’s The Storyteller (1987 – 9 episodes)
Jim Henson’s The Storyteller (1997 Greek Myths – 4 episodes)
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006 – subtitled)
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008)

Ghosts and Hauntings

Watcher in the Woods (1980 – Bette Davis, Lynn-Holly Johnson)
Spirited Away (2003 – anime)
Moondial (1988, 6 part series – BBC1)
The Clifton House Mystery (1978, 6 episodes)

Thrillers and Divination

Appointment with Fear (1985 – Michele Little)
The Gift (2001)
Warlock (1991)
The Ninth Gate (2000)
Anchoress (1993 – Natalie Morse)

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by | April 3, 2013 · 5:11 pm