Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week is a Halloween freebie, and I’m choosing to focus on books and movies about witches.
America is gearing up for Halloween, one of my favorite holidays, and many of my Wiccan friends are getting ready to celebrate Samhain. As many of you probably already know, there are very little similarities between those who are Wiccan, and the stereotypical ways that witches are often portrayed in books, television and movies. They may be downright funny, and sometimes a cult classic, but often Hollywood portrays a witch in one of three ways:
- An evil hag.
- Sexy evil.
- Suck the life out of children evil (can anyone say Hocus Pocus).
When witches appear in supernatural or fantasy fiction alongside vampires, werewolves, and other fantastical creatures, it may be easy to forget that unlike the other characters in the story that are purely fictional, so many real women have suffered over the centuries under the label of witchcraft. And to this day, loads of stereotypes abound in regards to those who follow pagan religions, especially Wicca.
“What a culture has to say about witchcraft, whether in jest or in earnest, has a lot to do with its views of sexuality and power, and especially with the apportioning of powers between the sexes. The witches were burned not because they were pitied but because they were feared.” ~ Margaret Atwood, in her review of John Updike’s The Witches of Eastwick.
None of this is to say it is wrong to enjoy books and movies about witches! As you will see in the list below, books and movies involving witchcraft is one of my favorite sub-genres. I do, however, believe it is wise to read critically, with an awareness of when a story is pulling out all the stops on witchy stereotypes and turning a witch into a caricature.
Top Five Books with a Witchcraft Theme
Books based on historical fiction and witch trials:
- The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
- The Witch of Cologne – by Tobsha Learner
Books based on supernatural or fantasy elements
- Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1) by Deborah Harkness
- Wicked: The Life and Times of The Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
- The Witching Hour (Mayfair Witches series) by Anne Rice
Top Five TV/Movies with Witchy Elements
- Just Add Magic – Reminds me of Sabrina, the Teenaged Witch. An Amazon original series, this is currently M’s favorite TV show.
- Charmed – I loved this series when I was younger!
- Hocus Pocus – a completely ridiculous, yet hilarious cult classic, that pulls out all the tropes on witchy caricatures.
- Practical Magic – so much better than I thought it would be when I watched for the first time. Of course, Nicole Kidman can do no wrong in my eyes.
- The Craft – another cult classic I adore.
You’re so right about witches being stereotyped by Hollywood. And how about the costumes they come up with now? They’re not the same costumes they had when I was younger. Everything is sexy something or other, like you can’t go as a normal witch or nurse without being sexy. I’m planning to watch Hocus Pocus on Halloween. I’ve been watching scary movies and shows all month. Last week was Freddie. I love Halloween! 🙂
I tried to find a pirate costume this year for a Pirate-themed Scholastic book fair at my daughter’s school this week, and almost everything was…ahem…not exactly appropriate to wear at an elementary school! I do like some sexy costumes, and I have liked to wear them occasionally in the past at adults-only parties, but sometimes it definitely feels as if that is the only available option. Although a non-sexy nurse costume is relatively easy (and comfy, too)…scrubs!
I’m not surprised. Why can’t a pirate just be a normal pirate? 😂 There’s probably even a sexy Freddy costume out there. I’ve also worn them in the past, but sometimes you just want a normal public appropriate costume.
I love books that portray witches in the positive. when I was younger my favorite was The Secret Circle by LJ Smith. (Same author that did Vampire Diaries.) I loved that she got the basics right, with the stones, candles, and the use of the elements.
So do I! I have never heard of The Secret Circle, I’ll have to look it up. Sounds good!
I know what you mean about the witch stereotypes! I love the way that the Vampire Diaries portrays them. Almost everyone is sexy on the CW, but they can be evil or good or in the middle and just trying to look out for each other. Mostly I just love the way they are “meant to keep the balance” and how spells filter into the main story line. I love that show. Not the books they were based on, but the show. Have you seen it?
I haven’t watched The Vampire Diaries. Maybe someday! I have gone through a phase that has lasted a few years of being utterly worn-out on the vampire genre. I blame Twilight!
I understand! I’m just a sucker for them. l always give them a chance and this is my favorite so far. Its in the last season so it’ll be totally bingeable next year.
I love The Craft. A cult classic indeed.
One of my best friends is a pagan and yeah, stereotypes have nothing to do with the real thing. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy reading/watching them though. I tried to read The Witching Hour on audio once, but couldn’t connect with the narrator. It may also be the gothic writing style. I tend to prefer a lighter speech.
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It’s sooo true that often stereotypes and fears about witches are connected to stereotypes/fears of women. There’s a book that you may find interesting called The Devil in the Shape of a Woman that explores how gender roles were very closely connected to witch hunts in colonial New England. I haven’t read the whole thing but what I did read was really interesting and I definitely want to read the whole book.
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I’ve read that one, albeit years ago!
The Craft is AWESOME! It also made my list! 😀 I can’t believe I haven’t watched it yet this year! Great Top Ten 😀 My Top Ten Tuesday!
Great list. I love Charmed, Hocus Pocus and The Craft. In fact, I’m not wondering how the heck I left The Craft off of my own list, ha ha.I’ll have to check out the other movies/tv shows/books on your list as they look interesting.
OMG, I haven’t seen/read any of these! I’ve only watched a couple of episodes of Charmed and it spooked me so bad. 😂
Love your spin on this TTT – what a great list!
Sexy Halloween costumes . . . ug. It’s too cold for that around here. Everybody has to be sexy under their winter coats. 🙂
I need to read The Witches of Blackbird Pond. It’s won a ton of awards, so I don’t know why I haven’t gotten to it yet.
Oh I loved the Witch of Blackbird Pond growing up!! It was definitely one of my top favourite reads. EEEP. Some of my favourite witchy books now are The Graces and the Half Bad series!😍
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