A short history of wicked witchcraft and pop culture’s depiction of the archetype | The Triangle
Arts & Entertainment

A short history of wicked witchcraft and pop culture’s depiction of the archetype

As the cold January sun rose on 2019, apparently so did covens everywhere. Originally scapegoated and used as a vessel for all that is evil, witches were not too hot in the history books. However, witches have begun to take on more positive connotations. Instead of being referred to in the context of evil, witches are now accompanied by an image of sheer, unadulterated power. No longer is an accusation of being a witch a means of oppression, but rather a term of admiration. Finally, women are being embraced in all their “witchiness”, no longer called witches as a means for being forced onto the fringes of society. Now, in 2019, witches have again taken their place in history, this time amongst idols like Beyonce and Maggie Rogers.

Throughout history, the witch has been seen as an archetype for a very specific kind of power. While not all eras have been ready to fully accept this power, the self-proclaimed authority that comes with certain witch-like behavior has become something that people strive for. It makes sense that a manifestation of such levels of power and dominance has crept back into the clutches of pop culture. Exemplified throughout film, television and music, witches are officially having a moment again and honestly, it’s liberating.

A rising infatuation with witches can be directly seen in the popularity of fantasy and sci-fi based shows coming out everywhere. The recent emergence of the “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” reboot, Netflix’s “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” lends itself in a similar fashion. The show uses witchcraft as a direct translation for social power and control. It paints a picture of being able to control the world around you, but not in a particularly maniacal or manipulative way.

Especially with music of the 2010s, witch culture has made itself increasingly apparent. Some of the biggest femme musical figures have cited numerous witch references throughout their careers. When rumors began swirling around Beyonce in September of 2018 of alleged attempts at witchcraft, it was almost passed off as normal. The artist’s former drummer, Kimberly Thompson, filed a restraining order claiming that Beyonce practiced extreme witchcraft, even going so far as to say Beyonce murdered Thompson’s cat.

When the allegations surfaced, it felt as though no one questioned or thought about the sheer absurdity of serious incidents of witchcraft in the 21st century. Instead, just the simple fact that it was Beyonce made it somehow believable. This shouldn’t necessarily come as much of a shock, seeing as the level of Beyonce’s power and influence does make the idea that she could be an ethereal being, dare I say, sensical.

Scoping beyond pop culture icons using witchcraft with nearly malicious intent, the symbolism of witches is also being used in a more positive and empowering light. Maggie Rogers, a popular folk-pop artist, has coined herself as a “witchy feminist rock star.” For her recent “Heard it in a Past Life” tour, nearly all of her merch included allusions and homages to witchcraft. She looked to the timeless symbol of a witch to convey a sense of empowerment that is nothing short of magical.

With witches becoming symbols of feminism and liberation, pop culture once again lends itself to promote positive and healthy ideals and female power. With various icons manifesting their authority in the arts through witch-centric references and art direction, we are once again witnessing the worship of boldness. The rise of witch culture offers an opportunity for unabashed ferocity and dominance. It beckons to simply ask for a seat at the table, but to instead plop yourself in a chair that is rightfully yours. No longer will witches be burned at the stake; instead, they shall be worshipped on stage by crowds in adoration. Viva la witch!