218 – The History of Witches in American Film and Television with Heather Greene – Big Seance

Aug 14, 2022 | 0 comments


The history of witchcraft and witches in American film and television is truly fascinating and goes back to silent films! Patrick has a conversation with writer and journalist, Heather Greene, who wrote the amazing book, Lights, Camera, Witchcraft. Topics include The Craft (1996), the different incarnations of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Hocus Pocus (1993), Satanic Panic, Rosemary’s Baby (1968), the “Production Code”, the Wicked Witch of the West, boy witches, SCOTUS and the end of Roe v. Wade, and modern day witchcraft!


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In this episode:

Episode Teaser :00

Intro :46

Heather Greene is a freelance writer, journalist, and editor. She received a BA in film at Wesleyan University and an MA in film studies from Emory University. She also studied film and theater at Cornell University and the University of Paris. Heather has written for Religion News Service, Turner Classic Movies, The Wild Hunt, Circle Magazine, Patheos.com, and other outlets. She is a member of Circle Sanctuary, Covenant of the Goddess, and the Religion Newswriters Association.1:28

Book description for Lights, Camera, Witchcraft: A Critical History of Witches in American Film and Television2:18

Patrick did homework as he progressed through the book, and went down several rabbit holes! 3:58

Reclaiming the name. “The witch has been with us since recorded history.” 4:55

Three Sovereigns for Sarah (1985), Rose O’ Salem Town (1910), The Cavalier’s Dream (1898), The Witch (2015), and The Craft (1996)! 6:53

The Craft was a watershed film for teenagers and witchcraft in general! 7:55

For extra fun, watch the films as you progress through the book. 8:25

The different incarnations of Sabrina the Teenage Witch9:50

The main categories of witches in the history of film include the accused woman, the wild woman, the fantasy witch, and the “other”. Also discussed here are vamp witches (the wicked queen, Jennifer from 1942's I Married a Witch), the witch next door (Sabrina, Jillian from 1958's Bell, Book and Candle, Samantha, Morticia), the teenage witch (The Craft, Sabrina, CharmedTwitchesHarry Potter), satanic witches, and the clown witch (1993's Hocus Pocus). 12:03

Women’s power and Hollywood’s treatment of witches. 16:19

This episode of the Big Seance is brought to you by Jim Harold’s Campfire! Tune in for true and fascinating stories as told by ordinary people who’ve had extraordinary experiences. Find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to The Big Seance. 20:51

Satanic panic, Hocus Pocus (1993), and more on girl power films and TV. 23:08

Until Rosemary’s Baby (1968), the film industry’s Production Code took a lot of the fun and freedom out of witchcraft storylines. 25:18

In 1972, Raymond Buckland was probably the first to consult Hollywood on witchcraft in films. 29:38

Hollywood’s affect on modern witchcraft. 31:26

More on satanic panic and the controversy with Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch of the West from 1939’s The Wizard of Oz) on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and Sesame Street33:32

Boys can’t be witches, can they? 37:54

The Covenant (2009) 41:30

“The witch is always going to be the liminal figure that’s pushing the boundaries. She’s forever going to be an activist, so to speak. She’s always going to be someone who’s not at the center of society. So she’s going to push the boundaries.” 43:14

“How do you make a thousand witches with one SCOTUS decision?” Final thoughts from Heather Greene! 45:58

A special THANK YOU to Patreon supporters at the Super Paranerd and Parlor Guest level! 48:04

Outro 50:20


For more on Heather Greene


Lights, Camera, Witchcraft: A Critical History of Witches in American Film and Television (Amazon)


Big Seance Podcast - Libsyn Affiliate Code SEANCE


The Big Seance Podcast can be found right here, on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsPandoraSpotifyTuneIn RadioStitcherAmazon Music, and iHeart Radio. Please subscribe and share with a fellow paranerd! Do you have any comments or feedback? Please contact me at Patrick@BigSeance.com. Consider recording your voice feedback directly from your device on my SpeakPipe page! You can also call the show and leave feedback at (775) 583-5563 (or 7755-TELL-ME). I would love to include your voice feedback in a future show. The candles are already lit, so come on in and join the séance!