Last night, The Project, an Australian weeknight talk show television program, ran a fluff piece on Witchcraft.
Although it looks at Witchcraft from a religion perspective – saying that Witches “worship nature” and believe in gods and goddesses – it never respects it as a religion. The four-minute segment was superficial and silly and mainly focused on the same old spiels: “Believe it or not, Witchcraft is truly alive in Australia”; they don’t worship the Devil; Witches don’t really ride broomsticks, etc. Like many shows of this type, the focus is on spell-crafting to improve your life and it featured two Aussie BNPs who appear to make a living selling Witchcraft: Lucy Cavendish and Stacey Demarco. The segment also featured Nandi O’Pryden, who claims to be a fifth-generation Witch.
Like most mainstream looks at Paganism and Witchcraft, The Project features an academic and an opposing opinion. Dr. Alex Norman from Studies in Religion at Sydney University attempts to add legitimacy to the program by explaining that popular culture and shows like Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have helped spark greater interest in Witchcraft. Richard Saunders of Australian Skeptics asserts magick is like a unicorn and tells us the organization has a $100k prize for anyone who can prove a spell works.
The presence of Norman and Saunders is important because had this been a story about a major religion such as Christianity, no academic or opposing opinion would be included. In fact, the media doesn’t do stories on major religions unless there’s a story to tell. For example, the Pope’s visit is a story; sexual abuse in the Church is a story; Seventh Day Adventists allowing women into the clergy is a story. We never get just a look at Christianity, but that’s all we ever get with Witchcraft, and a shallow one at that.
Here’s what I’d like to see. No more fluff pieces. No more experts or opposing opinions. No more profiteering Witches or Witches to the stars or other similar nonsense. The whole country is watching so give them something real. Tell them how Christians oppose our festivals; tell them of our passing elders and how their traditions live on; tell them how their politicians both attempt to deny a woman’s right and defame our religions in one blow by claiming abortion is a “modern-day pagan human sacrifice”.
You can watch last night’s show of The Project on its website. The segment begins at 10:53.