Witch Docs #HowRealWitchesDo

Y’all know I love a good witchy movie. There’s nothing like watching Practical magic in my pjs with my witch friends and having midnight margaritas, I tell you what. But sometimes Hollywood witches flying on brooms and vacuums, or walking on water just doesn’t scratch my witchy itch. I love cheesy witch stereotypes, but sometimes I want to see REAL witches. I want to see real magick, and learn the real history of witchcraft while being totally entertained. Luckily magick, witchcraft, and spirituality will always be interesting and there are a bunch of amazing documentaries and docu-series’ online – many even totally free.

Timeline of Witch History

Witches: A Century of Murder

“Historian Suzannah Lipscomb investigates the witch hunts that plagued Britain in the 17th century, examining common myths about their origin.”

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This is the doc that got me started this summer. This documentary covers the witch hunts and executions that took place in England well before it happened here. A lot of people think Salem was the most notorious, or worst, witch hunt in our history, but Salem was nothing compared to the thousands who were killed in Europe. The presenter, Suzannah Lipscomb is fantastic, and shows real emotion when visiting sites and sharing particularly grisly stories. The film covers a hundred years, and each segment of time is re-enacted by some awesome actors and in between Suzannah visits still-standing sites of some of the stories. It’s 2 parts and I went in not expecting to love it, but I gobbled up both parts and immediately went online to find more documentaries about witches.
Where to Watch: Netflix | YouTube

 

The Pendle Witch Child

“Presented by Simon Armitage – poet, playwright and novelist – this film is peppered with his revealing insights into the characters’ emotional turmoil and cutting-edge use of animation, bringing this courtroom drama to life. Four hundred years on, the trial’s issues resonate as much as ever – when should we believe our children, and just how powerful can the fear of evil be?”
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In the first documentary, they touch on a particular story that took place during the century of murder featuring a young girl, Janet Device, condemning her entire family to die. It seems to be produced by the same company, but features a different narrator who is still great and these amazingly creepy animations throughout. Not only is this one about witch hunts and their absurdity, but also about a “beggar child” and how far she’d go to change her life. Was Janet evil? Possessed? Pious? Or just fed up?
Where to Watch: YouTube
Britain’s Wicca Man
“Britain’s Wicca Man tells the extraordinary story of Britain’s fastest-growing religious group – Wicca – and of its creator, an eccentric Englishman called Gerald Gardner.”
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This one is presented by none other than Ronald Hutton – the foremost researcher into modern pagan religion. Honestly, you can find stacks of books, tons of documentary and podcast experiences featuring Ronald, and they’re all pretty great. This film still takes place in Europe but moves forward a few hundred years to the turn of the 20th century. It tells the life and times of Gerald Gardner, the creator of modern Wicca and the influence his religion had on Britain and modern witches! The film kind of downplayed the role of women in early Wicca to sort of… sidekicks when I know that wasn’t how shit went down. BUT STILL. Gardner’s story is very interesting and mystical and a bit inspiring. I don’t even know where I’d be without Wicca, so thanks, dude!
Where to Watch: YouTube

Modern Broads

Ok so I know I’m obsessed with broadly and their witchcraft coverage and astrology. Like, Obsessed. It’s become one of my first sources for witchcraft, and Annabel Gat is an amazing astrologer. On facebook they regularly post these mini-docs that are 5 or so minutes long… but it turns out those are clips from full half hour videos they post to youtube. The quality is amazing, the interviewers are thoughtful and ask incredible questions, and straight up they GET witch aesthetic. They’re gorgeous docs.
Casting Curses and Love Spells with the Most powerful Witches in Romania
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I must have watched the story of Mihaela Minca and her gorgeous witch daughters a hundred times. Mihaela is exactly how you imagine a Romanian witch to be, and her power and dedication to magick honestly come spilling out of the screen. She performs rituals and spells for clients and customers, and allows a broadly journalist to visit her at home and during work. You find out how witchcraft and witch business is flourishing in the old country, and how involved the process of becoming a witch is in Romania. It’s something you’re born into, and have to be married in to. It’s in the bloodline.
Where to Watch: YouTube

 

An Arranged Marriage Ceremony with Romania’s Teen Witches

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Broadly have Covered Mihaela and her witch clan a few times, including a written interview about some time she spent in America, and her thoughts on American witchcraft, and the arranged marriage of her son to another full-blooded witch from a prominent family (that is related to the Mincas). I’ll admit, arranged marriage with a virgin bride and much of the ethics of Romani weddings are not my style, but seeing how witchcraft grows and is practiced around the world is amazing, and these kids are super interesting. Also, if you every watched “My Big Fat Gy**y Wedding” you will not be disappointed in the opulence.
Where to watch: YouTube

Stonehenge Stoners & Worshipping Wizards: 12 Hours at the World’s Biggest Pagan Party

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This one features modern pagans and Wiccans during the summer solstice at Stonehenge. The doc does a good job at differentiating between those that are there for religious purposes, and those who just want to party. You get up close and personal with some classic druids and get a look at how they genuinely celebrated the sun and the summer solstice – even among drunken frat parties.
Where to Watch: YouTube

Meet the Vodou Priestess Summoning Healing Spirits in Post-Earthquake Haiti

“Broadly travels to Haiti in search of healing with Manbo Katy, a Vodou priestess who summons the spirits to help heal her community. Katy comforts all those who orbit in her sphere, feeding their stomachs and their souls with a combination of financial support and traditional Vodou healing practices.”

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This woman is incredible. Not only does this doc give you an awesome and authentic view in Haitian voodoo, but Katy is inspirational. She uses her ancestral magic to heal her community, along with real-life action. She’s dedicated her life to helping her people recover from the earthquake in 2010, and the doc is as much about Haiti and it’s spirit as it is about her.

 

Where to Watch: YouTube

Psychics and Satanists

No One Dies in Lily Dale
“No One Dies In Lily Dale visits the little Victorian-style village of Lily Dale, New York, which is home to the world’s largest community of mediums, who claim to be able to communicate with the dead.”
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Lily Dale, New York is a small Hamlet of about 275 people – and they’re all mediums, physics, and spiritualists. Seriously! This small community that’s dedicated to furthering the religion of spiritualism has existed since the late 1800s and every year they get more than 20,000 visitors looking for psychic readings, to communicate with the dead, and to advance their own spiritualist work. The documentary gives you the history of Lily Dale, and you get to visit sacred sites and private homes of some of the psychics and mediums. I loved it. I loved it because though most of it was very legit, the odd psychic was not – one guy is particular has got to be the worst psychic I’ve ever seen. There was also a very religious (Christian) skeptic who came to Lily Dale looking for answers. Death touches everyone! It’s made by HBO so the quality is great and there are very few slow or boring parts.
Where to Watch: CraveTV ($) | YouTube ($) | YouTube (Free)
The Head of the Satanic Temple (UK) Explains Satanism
“VICE asks the Head of the Satanic Temple in the UK the all important questions. Do they drink blood? Do they sacrifice babies? Can they connect people to the Illuminati? Is it all just a sex cult?”
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This quick mini-doc from Vice gives you a peak into modern Satanism in the UK and dispels some fo the myths about it.
Where to Watch: YouTube
The Satanic Temple’s Fight to Protect your Abortion Rights
“Amidst rising violence and an onslaught of clinic closures, the Satanic Temple is fighting to protect women’s right to safe and legal abortion. We followed Satanic activists from across the country to find why.”
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This one doesn’t feature satanic witchcraft, but it does feature Jex Blackmore – witch and head of the Satanic Temple of Detroit. (Who I think is just the coolest) It also goes into why the Satanic Temple cares about abortion, and touches on the tenets of modern Satanism.
Where to Watch: YouTube

 

Are You an Empath?

“In an age of unrest, narcissism and social media anxiety, VICE journalist, Hannah Ewens enters the superhuman world of empaths. In science circles, the concept of empaths is dismissed as paranormal, but as we all struggle to fill the void, new age therapies are booming.”

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I really liked this short doc by Vice (who owns Broadly, of course) about a particular type of psychic – empaths. Hannah approaches the idea of being an empath with an open-mind and sits with a few different types asking questions and genuinely taking part. I thought the question of whether or not “empathy” is really a psychic power or a symbol of how we as a society are so disconnected from our emotions and each other to be really thought-provoking.
I’m not going to lie though, my favourite part came near the end when she talks about finding spoken word absolutely unbearable because she’s a dick, because I hardcore relate. I HATE IT TOO.
Where to Watch: YouTube

The Witch’s Tools

A lot of the documentaries I found talked about ancient witch’s tools, but very few covered the ones we still use. SO IF YOU MAKE DOCUMENTARIES GET ON THIS.

Netflix Explained, Ep. 14: Astrology
“Do zodiac signs prescribe your fate? Or do horoscopes’ accuracy lie in the placebo effect? Take a look at the science, history and lure of astrology. “
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This series by Vox and Netflix, Explained, is awesome. It’s so well done and covers so many interesting topics like weed, the race and gender wage gaps, orgasms, and the history of tattoos! This episode on Astrology covered everything from history, to “how it works”, and featured awesome modern astrologers like Chani Nichols and Jessica Lanyadoo! It never conflates it with science and is very respectful to those who believe in astrology.
Where to Watch: Netflix ($)
Crystal Visions
“Crystals and gemstones have fascinated and accompanied mankind since recorded history and stories go even further back to the times of Atlantis. In this documentary, 6 experts share their knowledge and unique perspective about the oldest inhabitants of the earth. “
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This doc covers the history of crystal healing and some of the genuine science about crystals and how they grow. Multiple experts explain how crystals “work” in a spiritual context and how people use them. It explores why, even in our hyper-rational society, people still seek answers from crystals. This documentary was well done, but most of it is in German with English dubbing and narration, and some parts were slow, but in general, it was really informative and gorgeous to watch.
Where to Watch: YouTube
Strictly Supernatural: Tarot
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I’ll be frank when I saw “TAROT DOCUMENTARY NARRATED BY CHRISTOPHER LEE” I clicked play instantly. Though it was made in 1997 and it shows, I loved it. LOVED IT. I mean, Christopher Lee’s voice is incredible, but the film covered the history of tarot and how little we know about it, spent good amount of time talking about Pamela Coleman Smith and her art, and went through all of the cards in the Major Arcana. There were re-enactments and kind of cheesy graphics and it was all very mystical. I loved it.
Where to Watch: YouTube
Of course, none of these documentaries will give me exactly what I need, which is basically just WITCHES, SLUTS, FEMINISTS: THE FILM but they’ve definitely given me a lot to think about, and got my mind on some real witchcraft in the season of the hokey cartoon witch. This isn’t all that’s out there and if you take a quick look around YouTube you’ll find another 100 about witches and the occult that’ll satisfy any witchy itch.

Let me know what you end up watching! Got a favourite witch doc?

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3 thoughts on “Witch Docs #HowRealWitchesDo

  1. Thank you for sharing this list! As an aspiring videojournalist and lover of most things Broadly/Vice, I am pleased to see half of my absolute favorite videos on this list. I do have to say, though, that “Stonehenge Stoners & Worshipping Wizards”, from a journalistic standpoint, is one of the weaker stories that Broadly has done. As a fellow reporter, there are questions that I desperately wish she had asked instead trying to create a narrative early-on around conflict between partiers and pagans. There were so many interesting, colorful people there that would’ve given killer interviews if she had decided to look a little deeper (but I’m being overly-critical, since it’s a part of my job haha).

    Highly, highly recommend all the other Vice/Broadly videos, though, as those reporters do an absolutely phenomenal building their stories and presenting honestly and openly.

    I’m a huge documentary nerd (considering that’s literally what I’m doing for a living!) and look forward to watching the ones I haven’t seen on your list! So again, thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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