Modern Day Witches Reveal What Movies And TV Shows Get Wrong About Witchcraft

As with any religious affiliation or spiritual practice, witchcraft has its own rules and customs intended to foster a deeper relationship with oneself and others. Given the exoticness of what it means to be a witch, it's hardly surprising media falsehoods about witchcraft are rampant. Movies and television tend to get more wrong than right about witches, and this misrepresentation paints an inaccurate picture of a very real - and typically very peaceful - community.

There is no one single source, either a movie or television show, that is the main culprit behind how the entertainment industry misrepresents witches. It could be argued the media has gotten it wrong ever since The Wizard of Oz. The popular image of an evil, green-skinned, cackling witch - a la the Wicked Witch of the West - is offensive to witches and they work they do. How witches are portrayed in the media still largely depends on the Wicked Witch trope, and that's unfortunate. To set the record straight, below is a rundown of what movies and TV shows get wrong about witchcraft.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY)

  • Witches Don't Need To Be 'Chosen'

    Witches Don't Need To Be 'Chosen'
    Photo: American Horror Story: Coven / FX

    Moves and TV have run with the idea that witches are somehow preordained or "chosen." This fallacy says a witch's beliefs and powers are divine birthrights to be uncovered. But this is not how witchcraft is structured, and no one has a spiritual or cosmic advantage over anyone else on the path to becoming a witch. Everyone has spiritual abilities; witchcraft is about studying, understanding, and cultivating those abilities. No one "chooses" you to become a witch. As one expert puts it: "Witches are those people who have harnessed their innate spiritual abilities. They are the people who didn't give up hope on magic and pretend."

  • Not All Witches Worship Satan

    Not All Witches Worship Satan
    Photo: Rosemary's Baby / Paramount Pictures

    Rosemary's Baby is one of the best horror movies ever made, but it broadcast an enduring myth about witches into the popular consciousness. No, not all witches - in fact, relatively few - worship Satan. This means the vast majority of witches are not sitting around conjuring dark energies or doing the bidding of the Devil. They're certainly not stealing babies to satisfy Satan or poking out the eyes of said babies.

    Real witches "regard nature as charged with divinity," and they focus on the benevolence of their powers and capabilities. Besides, witchcraft predates the Devil of Christianity, so the two have no clear spiritual connection whatsoever.

  • Witches Aren't Evil And Hungry For Power

    Witches Aren't Evil And Hungry For Power
    Photo: The Witches / Warner Bros.

    If the witch-centric stories presented by the entertainment industry were accurate, then witches must be the most evil and power-hungry creatures in the history of the world. From The Wizard of Oz to The Witches, these characters invariably prey on children and are desperate to achieve some liberation from the ugliness and depravity of their lives. No real-life witches share this experience. Witchcraft isn't a game of spiritual one-upmanship or getting something over on someone else. And no real, sane witch would ever target children.

  • There's No 'Supreme' In Witchcraft

    There's No 'Supreme' In Witchcraft
    Photo: American Horror Story: Coven / FX

    American Horror Story: Coven got a lot right about witches, but the few things it did get wrong really missed the mark. One of its biggest transgressions was the idea there is a "Supreme" witch who lords over all the other witches of the world. AHS also trots out the age-old Hollywood storyline of brutal female rivalry and backstabbing as each witch tries to become the next Supreme. There are power structures in most covens, but not to the degree portrayed in AHS. "There's a high priestess and a high priest, not a supreme," explained one witch.

  • Witches Are Ethical

    "An it harm none, do as thou will," is a popular refrain in modern witchcraft. It comes from The Wiccan Rede, and it illustrates just how ethical and moral modern witches aim to be. Consider it The Golden Rule of witchcraft, or the witch's equivalent of karma. The witches you see in movies and on television are often committing the most unspeakably evil acts, but not many real witches would ever knowingly use their abilities for wrongdoing. Evil is dark energy, and dark energy has consequences. Witches understand that. Hollywood doesn't.

  • The Casting, Spells, And Rituals In 'The Craft' Are All Wrong

    The Casting, Spells, And Rituals In 'The Craft' Are All Wrong
    Photo: The Craft / Columbia Pictures

    Many modern witches point to The Craft as a watershed moment in contemporary witchery. It brought witchcraft to a whole new audience, and it was a formative influence on countless young witches. But like any Hollywood portrayal of witchcraft, it had its share of problems. Most problematic was the inaccuracy of the details: the casting, rituals, and spells used in the movie were performed incorrectly. Though these elements were based on actual rites and incantations, the movie's execution and presentation were clumsy. Still, most modern-day witches appreciate The Craft and its impact on popular culture.