Witches of East End is one of many current TV shows about supernatural phenomena. But unlike other shows that deal with otherworldly forces, Witches of East End—which is currently airing its second season on Lifetime—illustrates an important real-life history lesson: how one of society’s favorite ways to persecute women and justify violence against them has historically been to brand them as witches. The series reminds us how patriarchal cultures vilify women who are considered too capable or independent.
Whether they’re keeping busy as mistresses of all that is evil or simply threatening to get you and your little dog, too, bad witches in film have it rough. Hollywood’s villainous witches are often driven to cruelty by the sheer power they wield. More than that, they’re often portrayed as figures of irrational hysteria next to their cool male counterparts. But tired portyals of witches on-screen get a refreshing shock this summer: Disney’s new dark fantasy, Maleficent, succeeds in complicating the image of the bad witch.
At the American Horror Story panel that was part of August's Television Critics' Association press tour, the show's executive producer talked of a "feminist theme" pervading the third season of the show. After a first season in which women were terrorized, murdered, stalked, raped, impregnated with devil babies, tortured by a killer abortionist, and imprisoned for life in a haunted mansion; and a second in which they dealt with most of that plus nuns and aliens, yeah, sure, bring on the feminism.
Thinking about being a witch for Halloween? Consider forgoing the warts and pointy hat for a more historically accurate costume—like dressing up as Joan of Arc and Anne Boleyn.
Throughout the ages, women who transgressed societal norms have been named witches and faced punishments like imprisonment and death. Author and artist Lisa Graves tells their misunderstood stories in History’s Witches, a engaging 32-page book for kids released by Xist Publishing last month.
'Tis the season of the perennial teenage supernatural romance. New film Beautiful Creatures is a chicken-and-dumplings plate with a heapin' helping of that angst-filled young love so common to tween fantasy, spiced with Flannery O'Conner-flavored Southern Gothic and topped off with a healthy side of Civil War history and folklore.
To me, witches are the quintessential ecofeminists.
"Witch" is a word that was sullied by various groups of long ago, but it's been reclaimed by herbalists like me. Witches and the word "witch" have many meanings in many cultures, but for the purposes of this post, I will touch on just one context, one dark moment of history: The suppression of witches—or healers who were mainly women—in medieval Europe that went on for centuries, and the themes behind those witch hunts that still appear in society today.