Silver Screen Spellcraft: The Craft (1996)

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May 3rd, 2016 marked 20 years since the release of 90s teen witch classic, The Craft.

 If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I live-tweeted my whole re-watch experience. Of course I watch The Craft, like, once a month so it’s not too much of an event, but knowing tons of other 30 somethings across the globe were wishing they had way more black pleather in their wardrobe along with me was really special.

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For those who’s lives are seriously lacking in radness, The Craft follows the tale of Sarah who moves to a new town with her father and step mother and ends up making friends with three girls no-so-lovingly known as “The Bitches of Eastwick” – real practicing witches. Things start off well with the friends skipping class and shoplifting together, doing blood magick in the woods, having sexy sleepovers were they cuddle and watch Bewitched, and curse a racist. It’s like the ultimate 90s fairytale. Of course, a romance goes wrong, friends turn to frenemies out of jealousy and spite, and the wardrobe gets INSANELY good once someone sells their soul. It’s a classssssiiiiccc.

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It’s also interesting in that it talks about ACTUAL wicca and they visit a REAL magic shop with an insane candle budget. The film makers had a Wiccan consultant on set and Fairuza Balk ended up deciding that was her jam and getting initiated by this literal Wiccan priestess on the beach. The consultant made up a deity (No, Manon is NOT REAL) so she wouldn’t piss off anything or anyone, and the movie deals a lot with ethics like cursing and revenge. As a witch who started practicing around the time (and culture!) that this film was made, it’s interesting to see how legit it actually is.

That’s when I realized that most of my favourite witchy movies ARE my favourite because the magic in them is plausible. I mean, it’s sensationalized, but totally plausible. The Craft is especially great because I recognize some of the props and books and candles and tools used as being from current metaphysical distributors! I sell the exact crystal ball seen in the first scene in the stores I’ve worked at.

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 So I decided to do a regular feature where I review the magic used in some of my favourite witchy movies and tell you how you can do it in real life, or what kind of magic it is, and maybe how to avoid some movie level consequences.

So let’s start with the spell that starts the most magickal drama in the film – Sarah’s love spell against Chris Hooker, played by sexy-yet-creepy teen heart throb Skeet Ulrich. Sarah’s spell is almost unrecognizable as a spell, it’s so casual and uncomplicated. While all the girls are makin’ wishes Sarah throws down a picture of Chris on actual film because the times and says “I drink of my sisters and I ask for the ability to love myself more and be loved more by others. Especially Chris Hooker (takes a sip of wine) blessed be. ” and that’s it. No muss no fuss, right? WRONG OF COURSE. Over the course of the film Chris, who already was the world’s biggest asshole, gets more and more obsessed with Sarah and in less and less control of his actions. The film shows this by showing a rape-attempt/sexual assault on Sarah by Chris. Let’s be clear, with the way that dude treated women him becoming a rapist didn’t seem like it was too far from reality. The spell didn’t make him act totally out of character, it just made him extreme and made him less able to hold back his impulses. I still shed zero tears when he face-plants off a roof at Nancy’s magickal suggestion later. As I demonstrated during the recent Hexing of Brock Turner, I fully endorse cursing and hexing rapists. This does open the question of ethics in love spells, and addresses exactly what Sarah did wrong – she took away Chris’s consent. This was the magickal equivalent of spiking someone’s drink and flirting with them. She never gave Chris a choice. This is the main reason I almost never advocate love spells. If you are interested in a love spell though, there are lots of things you can do to avoid being a sleezy witch douche. You can direct your love spell at yourself, telling yourself to recognize how worthy you are of being loved, or to be more open minded when you meet new people. You can cast spells for people to see your inner beauty, or spells so to attract a general idea of a special person. Basically, not naming any names in a love spell is the best way to go. It’s better to cast spells that deal with the root problem of your single life. Do you work too much or stupid hours? Are too broke for dating? Are you a hermit? Have you been hurt in the past? Do you have trust issues? Work your shit out, girl.

This next spell is honestly my favourite in the movie. Thou shalt not suffer a racist ass white girl to run her mouth.

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This piece of human garbage is Laura Lizzie. Laura is a gross racist and likes to torment Rochelle, the only person of colour in this whole film. Laura is about to get what is coming to her and I love it. This bullying is really shown through the hair of the two girls. Rochelle who sports dope ass natural curls is constantly being teased about it by this girl with classic mean girl straight blond hair. When the girls are learning about glamour spells, Rochelle even asks to have her hair turned blond, which makes everyone sad. To get Laura to stop her torment of Rochelle the girls employ sympathetic magic, using a lock of her hair that Sarah snatched right out the bitch’s scalp in the scene above. What is sympathetic magic?

Sympathetic magic, also known as imitative magic, is a type of magic based on imitation or correspondence.” -Wikipedia

Thanks wikipedia! I literally would not have graduated college without you!
Sympathetic magic uses something representing or resembling the person to do magic on them. Common types of sympathetic magic are voodoo dolls or poppets, and candle magic using figure candles, any spell that uses a picture of the person or physical ephemera or varying degrees of ick. Sarah braids the stolen blond hair into Rochelle’s and tells her that if Laura leaves her alone then nothing will happen to her. Unfortunately Laura is the worst and doesn’t have plans to stop being so any time soon… and her hair starts to fall out. By the end of the film she’s wearing a terrible wig in her preferred shade of blond. She’s also sheepishly apologizing to Rochelle. I feel like you were supposed to think Rochelle went too far, but I personally don’t. Sue me. This is a curse, and if you’ve decided to curse somebody just make sure you do it right, like Sarah did. Collect something personal to the person, a photo works but I prefer something they actually touched or created. It’s best if it relates specifically to the conflict. From there you can put it into a doll with things like herbs, stones, and oils for banishing or clearing negativity, or you can get things like black salt or hot foot powder in there to make them leave you alone, you can put coffin nails through the photo or item to make them “dead to you”. You can carve their name and some sigils into a black candle (coffin nails are good for carving!) and burn the candle on top of the photo or item and when it’s done dump the whole sorry sack of sad straight into the trash and never look back. Rochelle’s one problem was looking back and regret. Make sure you’re right with the idea of cursing before you start, and then stay right with it.

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Once Nancy gets out of control, Sarah tries to use some wicca 101 silver ravenwolf magic to put her in her place. She wraps a photo of Nancy in white ribbon and chants “I bind you, Nancy, from doing harm; harm against other people, and harm against yourself.” This, naturally, backfires, because movie magick, but this is a real spell. Binding is a lot like a protection spell, but instead of giving yourself a protective shield of barrier, you’re affecting someone else’s actions. You could honestly do a binding just like Sarah did in the movie, though I’d switch to black ribbon and bury the thing in the ground after. The issue is that, again, this girl is taking away the consent of a person. A bad person, but a person none the less. Of course, do what you feel is best, but know this is a curse and that is something you have to be ok with. You could also use a photo of the person and sew their lips shut if they’re talkin shit, or just put their photo in a freezer bag, and fill it with water to “freeze” or stop them.

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Finally, invoking the spirit. This is the “big spell” in the film that takes place on the beach and really lets you know shit’s about to get WILD. Fun fact: this scene was riddled with weirdness. Although the wiccan consultant made up a fake deity and changed a bunch of details in this real life spell, they had a colony of bats visit the set, a storm pick up, and the water try and wash out their spell unexpectedly. They raised some legitimate energy.

So this spell was called Invoking the Spirit. The idea was that the girls would call on the (made up!) deity Manon to enter their sacred space and grant them magical gifts. Nancy says after “I can feel you in me” and this leads me to believe they also TRIED to literally call on this god to inhabit her body/mind and work through her. This of course works but Nancy is already an unstable sociopath and she snaps. This ritual was created by the wiccan consultant, but is based on a very real wiccan/pagan ritual called Drawing Down The Moon. A coven’s high priestess will go into a trance on the night of a full moon and communicate with the goddess, through the moon, and encourage the goddess to come into her body and speak through her. In wicca this is usually done under the supervision of an entire coven rather than alone since you’re entering an altered state of consciousness. That’s just not safe to do alone, and it goes a lot like the ritual in the movie… though without the weird jars of animals to represent the elements. That just seems extreme. The ritual begins by creating a sacred space, either that’s casting a circle or calling corners or smudgeing or whatever you do. From there it’s a fairly typical altar set up and there’s definitely some speaking. A lot of people use the charge of the goddess here and speak directly to the goddess or moon. From there it’s about getting in a trance state either through medication or chanting or mind altering substance, if that’s your bag. The coven members ask questions of the spirit or goddess, and record any wisdom that’s being passed on. Afterwards the high priestess or person invoking the spirit should ground and eat – do the ol cakes and ale because no one hates that – and the circle would be opened up. Most wiccan authors will have a detailed ritual for you to draw down the moon if you’re interested. I know for a fact both Raymond Buckland and Scott Cunningham touch on it in their books.

Like I said, the magic in this movie was so close to real life that it’s super easy to re-create and draw inspiration from. If someone tells you “90s silverscreen fashion wicca” isn’t a religion, now you can prove them wrong… and bind them from being rude.

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Is there a witchy movie or show you’d like me to tackle? Practical Magic is OBVIOUSLY already on my list guys.

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4 thoughts on “Silver Screen Spellcraft: The Craft (1996)

  1. You should tackle “Midnight Offerings” next. If you haven’t seen it, it’s surprisingly good for a made-for-TV movie from the ’70s. You can find the full movie on YouTube.

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