Scorpio Season starts October 23-24…
which means Halloween is around the corner!
Our love of October is punctuated by films that have emphasized the very culture in which Halloween thrives: monsters, mystery and, above all, magic. Witches, of course, take the cake for our favorite Season-adjacent archetype. Ranging from horror to comedy (or a combo of both), screen representations as both heroine and hellfire reveal varied societal perspectives on the witch… or even just about women in general.
In horrid cliches, a 1956 TIME article claimed “witch types or ‘loathsome women’ can be found just about anywhere in modern life”, implying the term “witch” itself was interchangeable with an “evil” or “difficult” woman. Women who simply stood up for themselves were witches. The piece goes on to say that witches hate men and hate having sex with them, so sapphic sarcastics were definitely seen as witches. Any woman who simply did not have an insane zest for feminine social expectations or took the trash out of her life, through necessity or desire, could be slapped with the label. Her actual connection to magic and healing mattered not. However, one aspect of the article’s sexist “witch” cliches of rang true:
“In the eyes of Jungian psychologists, to many of whom the whole world of demons, myth and fable is every bit as vivid as it is to poets and children, believe that certain kinds of myths are repeated over and over again in all eras and societies, thus furnishing clues to the universal unconscious, just as an individual’s dreams may give clues to his individual unconscious.”TIME, 1956
Witch representations run as wide and deep as the centuries of forlorn folklore before it. Many beloved silver screen “witchy” characters relish in “nasty” depictions regardless of the ‘50s-‘70s rebrands as a crafty Hollywood housewives (Bewitched or Bell, Book and Candle) or the sexy temptress B-movie crossover. The ’90s embraced a revival of the trope, boiling over with stereotypes yet beloved enough to receive recent remake treatment. Hocus Pocus has a cute 2022 sequel focusing on sisterhood; the generational witchy Addams Family is in constant refresh, the latest Wednesday series debuting near Thanksgiving; The Witches was remade with Octavia Spencer as the beloved grandma, set in the Southeast. Each storyline still maintains the common thread of witches being a threat to men and children, but with some updates, including the idea of “good” witches.
The ‘90s also presented a different brand of TV and movie witch, differing from generations before. Dabbling with real life Wicca references and always fighting the horrors of human violence in whatever storyline, the ’90s Teen and 20-something Witch was meant to be relatable instead of cartoonish. Packaged as feminist-friendly with grungy glamour and empowerment in focus, the coming-of-age commonalities mixed with magick to present a narrative of discovering newfound powers and the responsibilities that come with it.
As themes of the shadow side resurface from the depths when discussing Scorpio, what is hidden becomes emphasized as a story in itself.
Nostalgic TV and film of this era inevitably includes the young witch. Teen cult classics like The Craft fable limits in power, control and codependency, amongst cigarettes and black nail polish, glares and spells (and received a 2020 reboot). The once candy-colored sitcom of Sabrina the Teenage Witch became a very different Satan versus Lillith re-imagining, mixing high school with the occult, maneuvering around positions of power and outsmarting death. And though not teen, but in a newly post-parental young adulthood, Charmed is undeniably of the witch vs. monster trope. Even Practical Magic pulls from this playbook: though the Alice Hoffman novel itself was different from the plot, the free-spirited versus responsible sister in the face of domestic violence and motherhood spoke to audiences of its time. No matter the vibe, the same themes follow throughout: magic and an aim to control one’s destiny, protect what is precious, with much to learn along the way.