This will be a short post, I hope, but it came bubbling up out of the recesses of my mind, demanding the act of writing. It is a point I have raised before “in semi-private/semi-public” conversations and it always really gets my goat.
Why We Must Tell Our Own Stories
There is a pitch of witch fever in the media, which never really seems to fully get sweated out of our culture, and once again we’re not truly on the forefront. This is a problem for the community: less because of possible misunderstandings or potential panic in the overculture, and more because we fail to claim the power to speak our own tales. We allow executives–and blessed be when they consult with a “real witch” here and there–to brake our stories into heroic archetypes, romantic triangles, and whatever other banal truths are allowed to filter into the mainstream. Whatever is safe about witchcraft and pagans.
Most pagans I know will not share my mistrust and exasperation on this topic. It’s just entertainment, they’ll say, Chill out! And yet, how many new witchlings will be drawn to the folx, just as Charmed and The Craft drew our generation? While many will never stay, learning they’ll never find the Hollywood glamour or finding the darker heart of magic, some will. I would even go as far as to claim that witches in popular, mainstream culture reach back to influence us in the subculture. The aesthetic of the drama lingers in our brains because who wouldn’t want to be a little bit like Fionna Goode (AHS: Coven) or Sally Owens (Practical Magic)?
The problem isn’t the programming, it is who tells the story authentically and fully. The problem is that the Mysteries cannot be revealed in a season’s plot arc, but that unwitting executives/directors/actors/writers/producers can certainly boil them down to meaningless platitudes that then echo on the tongues of real pagans.
It comes back to “defending” our cultural boundaries, as I argued in Part One of Finding Pagan Culture. There is no need to decry or shun alternate media, but there is something good to be said about seeing yourself on the screen, living out your life.
Instead, we believe it cannot be done–despite multiple and amazing online attempts to do so–that we do not possess the expertise or means to tell our stories. We diminish ourselves while the overculture is allowed to speak for us and make a profit while they’re at it. This is the commodification of witch/pagan culture, the drain of small businesses and community resources.
Until we create our own culture as consumable media, we cannot be said to have one. We are, instead, the exceptions to public perception of a stereotype, or worse, the fulfillment of well-meaning but subordinated archetypes.
If you comment, please post links to pagan-led creations–novels, webisodes, comics, art, etc.