BY: Lauren Kate Nelson
Nicholas Cage is known for having a nasal voice and appearing in some really bad movies.
Coming up on the list of flops (potentially) is a film called Season of the Witch.
Sir Nic, a knight in shining armor of the 14th century, is transporting an evil, conniving witch suspected of being the source of the black plague to a monastery for delivery of justice.
It promises to be awful, but it also displays a recurrent theme in film, television and fiction: the mystery and devilish nature of witches.
But what do we really know about witches? From the green and warted complexion of Elphaba from The Wizard of Oz to the depraved sexuality and taunting seen in films like The Craft, witches are perpetually cast as the villain in our fairy tales, real and imagined. History is riddled with sage women who developed new manners of curing common ailments who were subsequently harassed and killed for their “satanic” tendencies. Is there any truth to the stereotype?
Beneath the Green Warts
In reality, the witches of times passed were likely not member to any organized religion, but strong and smart women whose discoveries were misunderstood and thus classified as the product of magic. Given that the women of these times, witches or not, were largely relegated to the home, misunderstanding and prejudice were the probable ingredients in a recipe for paranoia that resulted in the undue persecution of many an early female scientist.
Today, witchcraft is knowingly associated with religious practice. Called “Wicca,” the religion worships nature and all that has been created within it, assigning responsibility for its origins to the goddesses Venus and Demeter, and the god Loki. Derived from Roman, Greek and Norse mythology, these powers mirror the same abilities and strengths that Gods worshiped in mainstream society do today. They have a code of conduct associated with their beliefs, called The Wiccan Rede, which prohibits action by any witch that would cause harm to themselves or others.
Do witches pray? You bet they do. They may not bow their head on bended knee, but they do offer devotion to their higher powers through spells. Unlike our common visualization of spells as hocus pocus, magic wands and gobbledy gook, these real life spells are actually devotions asking for guidance, help or outright intervention from the divine. The Rede prohibits use of spells to manipulate, dominate or control, so don't get anything into your head about Voldemort just yet.
Let's recap briefly. Wiccans have Gods they pray to for guidance and help. They believe that no one should hurt anyone else or themselves. They believe that manipulation and deceit are wrong. Does that jive with what you always thought witchcraft was about? I didn't think so. In many ways, Wicca is no different from many other world religions today.
Wicca and Women
Well, almost. One key difference is the supreme belief in equality that exists within Wicca. It was founded by women. There's a ton of emphasis on the individual power of women. There are no arbitrary gender divisions in perceived abilities within the practice of the religion. This is a BIG difference between Wicca and most structured religions.
The Bible tells us in Leviticus that a woman on her period should be sequestered for a week. One of the blessings still said by Orthodox Jewish males says, “Thank you for not making me a woman.” Chapter 4, verse 34 of the Qu'ran is commonly translated to justify men beating their wives. Perhaps before we are so quick to judge another's faith, we should take a look at our own.
Regardless, here is yet another example of where prayer makes women stronger. Wiccan women, through their own method of prayer, are able to gain a sense of peace and oneness with the world around them. It doesn't matter what God you're praying to- for the Faithful Feminist, this strength is the goal.
Unfortunately for good old Nicholas Cage, he is not an actual witch. It would be pretty cool if he was. Who knows? Maybe his movies would do a little better with blessings from Venus, Demeter and Loki.
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Outside the open window the morning air is all awash with angels.