Witches in Popular Culture with Maya Rook – Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast
Listen in Your Favorite App
Welcome back cultural historian Maya Rook. October is a great opportunity to discuss the portrayals of witches in pop culture, witchcraft and magic. Enjoy this fun and reflective episode as we consider the witch in pop culture over time, how she is rooted in Greek Mythology, and her stereotypes and tropes. How are her powers centered within the domestic sphere? Where did we get our image of the good witch? Of the bad witch? What does the future hold for the pop culture witch? Why are men wizards and women witches?
[00:00:10] Josh Hutchinson: Hello, and welcome to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. I'm Josh Hutchinson. [00:00:16] Sarah Jack: And I'm Sarah Jack. Today, we're excited to share a conversation we had with historian and friend of the show, Maya Rook, about portrayals of the witch in popular culture. [00:00:26] Josh Hutchinson: We had a great time talking with Maya about how the witch has been depicted over the generations. [00:00:32] Sarah Jack: From classical Greeks to modern Americans, people have both loved and reviled witch characters. [00:00:38] Josh Hutchinson: Witches can be good or bad, or increasingly a little of both. [00:00:43] Sarah Jack: What lessons can be learned from Sabrina the Teenage Witch and her fellow pop culture witches? [00:00:49] Josh Hutchinson: And what does the future hold for popular representations of the witch? [00:00:54] Sarah Jack: Welcome back, Maya Rook, cultural historian, educator, and host of Illusory Time and Salem Oracle. Maya is vibrant, creative, playful, humorous, delightful, informative, and you will appreciate the perspectives she brings to this topic today. Let's start talking a little bit about our favorite pop culture witches. Maya, do you have a favorite pop culture witch? [00:01:16] Maya Rook: I do have a favorite, and it is Sabrina the Teenage Witch, specifically the show with Melissa Joan Hart that started airing in 1996. So she always just comes up for me. I love so many pop culture witches, but I was at like the prime age when that was released, and I just was fascinated by the show. I loved it. I watched it until I grew out of it. But I've returned to it as an adult, and I think that it really keeps up, holds up, and I really love that one. [00:01:45] Josh Hutchinson: I like that one a lot, too. Yeah, Sabrina and I like Hermione. It's a pop culture witch. There's some others we're thinking about, like Mary Poppins isn't always considered a witch, but she's very magical. And Bedknobs and Broomsticks, that witch is really good. Those are a few that I like. [00:02:09] Sarah Jack: I love Morgana from the TV series Merlin. I love her transformation over the series. Unfortunately, it's from good to bad, but I don't know if that is unfortunate. It's a real, real important thread through the story, but I have enjoyed that character. [00:02:27] Josh Hutchinson: Who else do you think of when you think pop culture witch? Who are the most iconic? [00:02:34] Maya Rook: That is such a challenging question, because there are so many pop culture witches, and I think, and depending on who you ask, they're going to have that one person or group of people come into their minds, but I think of even just like the Weird Sisters from Macbeth. You have the three witches around the bubbling cauldron that is such an iconic image that continues to impact us to this day, and then we see different iterations even from that. We have the Sanderson sisters and Hocus Pocus, which I think a lot of people would say, iconic witches right there in pop culture. We also have The Wizard of Oz, and I think that within that, the creation of Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West are both incredibly iconic. Samantha Stevens in Bewitched, for so many people that's their witch that they think of. Of course for me, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and then you have other teen witches as well, so thinking about The Craft, we get into kind of a little more dark witchcraft there. We have the sisters that show up in Practical Magic, and there's Charmed, the television show. You already mentioned Hermione from Harry Potter, right? The Witches of Eastwick is another big one. I don't know, I feel like I could just name witches forever, but those were the top, I think, ten that showed up for me when I thought iconic pop culture witch. [00:03:55] Josh Hutchinson: We talk about Hermione being an iconic witch. Why don't we talk about Harry Potter as being an iconic witch? Is it because the label is wizard for him? [00:04:08] Maya Rook: Yeah, I think so, right? Because he's a he, because he's a male and is referred to as a wizard so much, I think that he doesn't really pop up into people's minds when we think iconic witch. Although we have witches in pop culture or, in the past, where men would be considered witches, for the most part it's associated with women. So I think that's really where our minds are still going to go to this day is we're going to look for the female character that's associated with magic. And in that case, we have Hermione, who is amazing. [00:04:40] Josh Hutchinson: So there's still like a strong demarcation between here's a wizard and here's a witch and they're not the same thing. [00:04:49] Maya Rook: Yeah, I think so. I was thinking about that, and we have different representations of wizards, but a lot of the times when I think when we hear the word wizard, what comes to mind often is like an older, white, male wizard with a long beard and the like pointy hat, maybe it has stars on it. A lot of times they're associated more with good magic, and I think when we have witches, we tend to imagine women. And now we have a lot more representations of good witches and bad witches, but I think the sort of stereotype that's left over really from the European witch trials and the witch hunting texts is that it's more negative. They're associated with harmful magic, darker magic. And I think that we're still impacted by that to this day. [00:05:39] Sarah Jack: Do you think the portrayal of witches in pop culture instill fear, or do you think it takes away fear? [00:05:49] Maya Rook: Both. And I think it really depends on what era we're looking at. So if we trace the trajectory of pop culture witches, we see this shift happening. I mentioned the European witch trials, the witch hunting texts, the images of witches that are created during that time. We're talking hundreds of years where this is really taking ahold of people's imaginations. And it's, it is very negative. And that, at that point in time is very much going to instill fear. And as the two of you and many of your listeners know very well, it instills fear to the point of persecution and execution, right? So the popular image of the witch ends up having this huge impact on people's everyday lives, on society as a whole, that is very fearful and negative. You go through time, obviously, to get away from the witch trials within Europe and America. We have fairy tales and folk tales of witches, also often very negative. Hansel and Gretel, don't wander off into the woods, because the witch might get you and try to lure you in with their magic and eat you and all that good stuff. But I really think that this shift happens that splits with The Wizard of Oz. When we get that good witch, Glinda the Good Witch, which, she's not instilling fear for most people, I would hope, right? She is this benevolent witch who's there to help Dorothy. And then you have the Wicked Witch of the West, who is really, in a lot of ways, left over from those negative stereotypes, and that's the one that you fear. So depending on sort of which of those two witches you trace, you can either get that fear, or you can get something that actually could help release fear. As we get into the 20th century, we have people like Samantha Stevens from Bewitched, we have good teen witches like Sabrina, other fun kind of pop culture witches, as well, and all of those might be seen actually as a form of empowerment or play or this ability to have a good time with magic and be able to manipulate and control your world from a place of goodness rather than from a place that's pulling from a darker magic. [00:07:58] Josh Hutchinson: How do you think the portrayal of witches in pop culture affects our understanding of practicing witches? [00:08:06] Maya Rook: Yes, I think that there's a couple layers there, because the portrayal of witches in pop culture can be for a lot of people your entryway, what sparks your interest. And especially, I think the younger you are, because. And I think that's, you see this, you're fascinated by it. It's oh, this witch can wiggle their finger and then make everything change around them, or they can manipulate their environment. They can have a little more control over their relationships, even their own well being. So it's very enticing. So I think that it could actually draw people to want to explore what is witchcraft and what is magic and what is my own magic. But then I think that the other aspect of it is because that portrayal, it almost is so fantastical and it's external. You see when Sabrina the Teenage Witch, she waves her finger and then sparks will fly out of it and something will happen. But that's not going to happen in our real day to day lives. Real witchcraft, real magic, in a lot of ways, is very ordinary, and it doesn't have such a big, flashy show, and it can take a lot of work to tap into and trust in yourself. So I think that it doesn't always show us the reality that if you want to practice magic, there's going to have to be a lot of inner exploration, and that some things might just actually be ordinary and boring, but you are tapping into your own power. [00:09:32] Sarah Jack: I was thinking how some of the challenges or a lot of the challenges that they show Sabrina facing are actual challenges that other girls, boys are facing at that age. And so as you referred to looking into yourself and for your solutions. Hopefully, that those kind of examples can push people to see that in the ordinary there is solutions, that you do have power and strength from your own gifts, as well as your witchcraft interests. [00:10:06] Maya Rook: Sabrina makes so many mistakes as she's navigating, learning her magic, and I think that's really great, because any teenager, any person coming of age, any human being is gonna make mistakes, they're gonna screw up, but they're able to do it in a way that's very comical. It's set up in that format for a sitcom. Or there's always a lesson that's learned from it, and I think you get this glimpse also that it doesn't actually matter how much magical powers you might have, that there's still going to be opportunities to learn, to grow, and that sometimes the magic is not what's going to be what will save you. It has to be your ability to like talk and communicate with people or share what's going on or ask for help or whatever it is. So all of that is intertwined into those episodes as she's navigating her world. [00:10:56] Josh Hutchinson: What are some other lessons that we can learn from Sabrina and other witches? [00:11:03] Maya Rook: I think that one of the biggest lessons we can pull from observing witches and the portrayal of witchcraft in pop culture is that there's more than meets the eye in our day to day lives. I think that it's a reminder that there is something that's like powerful and magical that can be beneath the surface, that you can have that idea of peeling back of the veil and there's another layer, there's another experience to the world around us or to people's abilities. So a lot of times in pop culture, we have the witches who are very clearly witches, and they have the pointy black hat and they're supposed to look like haggard and just very obvious. They're around the cauldron. They're witches. But then we have the witches that look really ordinary. They look like everyday people. And I think that a lesson there is this reminder that when we encounter people, we meet somebody, we don't actually know what's beneath it. We don't know who they are. And there could be, and a lot of times there is, this like immense insight, wisdom, power that's beneath them. And it could be something that they're hiding from the world. Because a lot of times these witches that we've mentioned, they're out and about in their day to day life, and they're not revealing to anybody the powers that they have. So yeah, I think that's what stands out to me the most as a larger lesson of like, there's more than meets the eye. [00:12:24] Sarah Jack: The powers that we find in pop culture, where do they come from or where do they get their power? [00:12:31] Maya Rook: Yeah, so I think that the power of flight is one that we definitely see, again, rooted back in the witch hunting texts that are coming out during the European witch trials. So we're talking about things that are starting really in the 1400s, and we start to hear messages about that witches can fly in the night. We see images coming out of like woodcuts and paintings, where we see witches on broomsticks, or they're flying through the air in some way. So I think that when we see that today or throughout the 20th and 21st century, the image of the witch on the broom flying through the air, all of it can really be, I believe, rooted back to that moment in time. And I don't know. I think that it's probably a very enticing power to think about. If you could have the power to do anything, the idea that you could levitate and that you could fly in the air and that you could have that kind of control over something that other people can't and have that ability to fly around. I feel like a lot of people would take advantage of that if they could. [00:13:39] Josh Hutchinson: I'd definitely be up there all the time, no hiding it, just look what I can do. [00:13:45] Maya Rook: Yeah, I have the ability to lucid dream, and oftentimes, when I do tap into a lucid dream, one of the first things I start doing is flying, because why wouldn't I? Like, What else am I going to do? Okay, well, it is it's really fun. Something I will say that I love about, again, because I know we're going to keep coming to bring this back to Sabrina the Teenage Witch, vacuum cleaners. So they update it in the show when she's introduced to flying, she assumes it's going to be on brooms, but they actually use vacuum cleaners, and it's this really just quirky, fun, modern touch of why would we use an old-fashioned broom when we could use the modern vacuum cleaner to fly around in the air? And just one of those like silly moments that they put into the show. [00:14:28] Josh Hutchinson: It evoked also Hocus Pocus 2, where they use a Swiffer and some Roombas. [00:14:36] Maya Rook: Yes, I forgot about that. [00:14:38] Josh Hutchinson: So yet another upgrade to keep up with the technology. But it's still rooted in that domestic sphere, which women were limited to during the witch hunting era in Europe and North America. [00:14:59] Maya Rook: I think that's a great point, and I think that we do see a lot of that sort of domestication of the witch happening, as well, and some of the, if we're you know, want to still look at some of their powers, this connection there but following Glinda the Good Witch, I see that as this good witch lineage in the 20th century. And then all the witches that tend to be good witches are usually somehow associated somewhere in the household. So we have Samantha and Bewitched, and she's navigating okay, suburban housewife, and being a witch, what's the line between that? And then we have Sabrina, again, living in the suburbs, like a lot of her life takes place in the house with her aunts. They're in this domestic sphere, the vacuums, as we mentioned before, the flying on brooms. I think that we also see, again, tracing back to the European witch trials, some of the things associated with witches take place in that world. I'm thinking of the Malleus Maleficarum, and this one story that's told in there about, there's some fear around midwives, and they're talking about how if a witch who is a midwife helps a woman give birth, they might pretend like the baby is dead so that they can take it away, or they might bring it, describing bringing it into the kitchen, holding it up by the fire, and offering it up to the devil. And that is all the domestic sphere, that's all the women's world, what they're associated with. And it's being almost inverted in some way. Instead of the power of being by the hearth and the fire as this place to create life, it's then being associated with this darkness, right? So they are inverting their relationship with domesticity. And also some of the crimes they were associated with, infertility, miscarriages, the killing and the eating of babies, as well as even things like crops failing, livestock falling ill, all of that kind of has to do with instead of creating life and helping it to flourish, making it diminish. So those are some of the more negative aspects associated with it. But I feel like that idea of rooting things in the domestic world we see continued throughout that whole trace of pop culture witches. [00:17:11] Josh Hutchinson: And I was thinking the the Malleus was basically the pop culture of its day, so that's another pop culture portrayal of witches. Unfortunately, it's a very devastating one with real consequences. [00:17:29] Maya Rook: I'll say one more thing about the powers of witches that we see, because the ones that I've mentioned so far, really, I think we see strongly in the European witch trials, but in the Western world, we can go back even further, and I do see some aspects of magic and witchcraft rooted in Greek mythology that we still see today. So Hecate comes to mind, and Hecate was the goddess of nocturnal sorcery and crossroads and threshold boundaries, those kind of areas in between. And she was able to go between the mortal and the divine spheres. So she could go between the underworld and the earth. And even It's kind of funny that I see Sabrina going between those two worlds as well, right? Because she's half witch and she's half mortal, so she's straddling that line. And then Hecate was also associated with certain herbs, which of course we see to this day, the idea of like witches and witchcraft being able to have an herbal magic and be able to make potions and things like that. And then Hecate's daughter, Circe, had the ability to transform humans into animals. So most famously, probably in The Odyssey she transforms the men into swine. And you usually have a magic wand or a staff that was associated with that power. And so I think we still see echoes of that that come through the witch trials all the way up to the present day. [00:18:51] Sarah Jack: The shape changing's one of my favorite portrayals of witchcraft. It's, sometimes it's very light hearted and fun, sometimes it's very deceitful and there's trickery. But yeah, I really enjoy the shape shifting. I don't shape shift. Yet. [00:19:11] Josh Hutchinson: Working on it, though [00:19:12] Maya Rook: Keep trying! [00:19:13] Josh Hutchinson: Practice makes perfect. [00:19:16] Sarah Jack: Alrighty. [00:19:16] Josh Hutchinson: I'm glad you brought up the Greeks because when we think pop culture witch, of course we often think in today's terms of who's a 20th, 21st century witch, but witches have been in pop culture ever since there was basically writing, stories being told. [00:19:40] Maya Rook: Yeah, absolutely. I think that it's important to remember that humans all over the world have long believed in magic, right? It doesn't matter what culture you're in, what society, there's usually some notion that There's a magic in the world, there's an ability to manipulate the world around you, and that certain people hold that power and that ability. So the name for what that is can change over time and, depending on the culture, but there's usually somebody that you can make a parallel as being a witch. [00:20:12] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. We had Owen Davies on recently talking about The Art of the Grimoire, and there's grimoires back from 3000 BC, 4000 BCE. So witches have been in literature for thousands and thousands of years, and it's really interesting to watch this metamorphosis over time. You talked about how Hecate and Circe and then up to the Malleus, where the witch in European culture is this very malevolent figure, to now We have good witches and bad witches, but where do you think the witch is going in the future in pop culture? [00:21:00] Maya Rook: That's really fascinating to think about. I don't think that we will tire of witches in pop culture, especially considering, as you just said, 3,000 years, 3000 BCE, I think you said, we have evidence of witches in pop culture, right? So they're not going to go anywhere. I think that we'll continue to navigate that and keep the witch, the person who has that ability to manipulate the world around them through that power. It'll continue. How will it change? I think that more and more people are publicly Considering themselves witches and sharing what their connection is with magic and witchcraft in more public spheres. There's people talk about witchtok, witches on TikTok who share what they're doing, and, of course, across all social media, you have similar things happening. I think that's going to end up influencing the future of witches and pop culture. In some ways, it might become a little bit more normal, so we might start seeing films that are just otherwise just regular, a comedy or a drama, the story has nothing to do with witchcraft, but maybe there'll be a character in it who's just oh they're a witch. It's just normal. It's part of who is in our society, who's in our culture. And it might start being portrayed maybe even in a more positive light, maybe like a little more fun, a little more playful, perhaps more stuff for children but yeah, it's hard to tell. People will never tire, though, of the evil witch. I am such a big fan of horror films, and I feel like, there's no way that you could have a lot of horror films out there. They need that dark character. [00:22:44] Josh Hutchinson: For sure. But I liked what you said about normalizing portrayals of witchcraft and modern which practices just to see, they're just your neighbor. They're whoever regular people in your family and like practicing any other faith. [00:23:04] Maya Rook: With the witchtok and the Instagram witches and stuff, I think it's fascinating to watch, and at the same time, it makes me also a little bit nervous of a watering down that could happen, or just doing it for the show of it, and I think that any spiritual practice in a lot of ways is more, a lot of the meaning is coming from your personal connection to it. That doesn't mean it's going to be lost if you share it with other people in a public setting, but I think people have to be careful about that too, because, if you're just doing something because you're like I have to create content and I've created this following and I'm going to do it, then what's your motivation behind are you is your intention really there to do this spell, to do whatever it is, or are you just trying to get likes and followers? Maybe that's not what you think you're doing, but that's how it ends up unraveling for yourself. And so I think it's probably important for people to remember, if they go into that world, to check themselves and make sure they're really coming from a place of this is my spirituality, this is my practice and really considering what it is that they're showing the world. [00:24:09] Josh Hutchinson: Instead of just making it flashy, putting in all the trappings of excitement, what is the actual practice that means something to you as a person, as a creator? That's a good point, too. [00:24:27] Sarah Jack: I was really curious who your favorite horror film witch character is. [00:24:32] Maya Rook: I really love The Witch that came out in, what was that, 2015 or so? I just find that a fascinating film. I was so excited when it came out. I had done so much research on the Puritans of the Mass Bay Colony, obviously the Salem Witch Trials, and I went to that movie and I felt like I was being really brought into 17th century New England. I felt like I was really there with that family, even the way that they spoke to each other. It was the way that it looked, the dynamic, all of it just felt so real and captivating to me and then to watch the main character and her storyline unfold, and this potential, this fear around magic, this fear around the devil, and her sort of luring that comes into it, and then by the end, spoiler alert, for anybody who hasn't seen The Witch, pause this, go watch it, come back. But to see her kind of give in to that power in the end is this really beautiful, incredible moment. And I just absolutely loved it. I've watched that movie several times now and I feel like it just doesn't get old to, to watch that unraveling. [00:25:45] Sarah Jack: It's so crazy that you just said unravel because I was literally going to say the film is showing like the unraveling of the mother, of the faith, they were just really striving. They were there, spoiler alert, in the woods because of their strong, stubborn beliefs and they wanted to have things the way they wanted it. But then that's unraveling for them and then she's like blooming into this character. It's so intense. [00:26:20] Josh Hutchinson: Thomasin is another person who doesn't feature a lot in conversations when I was looking around the internet, who are the top pop culture witches. She doesn't feature there, but that's cited as a top witch movie. So it's interesting that she's not thought of in that light. [00:26:43] Maya Rook: Yeah, she in some ways doesn't have, you have to really get to the end of her story to see her as a witch when she's levitating in the air at the end. And I think that it doesn't have that same flashiness as when we think of like the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus, right? But it's still really powerful and it's interesting. Yeah, she doesn't usually, Thomas and we're like, oh yeah, Thomasin the witch. It's like we think of her as a character and we think of the movie, which is called The Witch, but at the same time, it's like yeah, she doesn't stand out. But I think it's absolutely one of the best portrayals of witches and witchcraft that we have in popular culture and specifically, as you asked about in horror films, I think it's pretty high up there. [00:27:24] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, another thing Sarah and I were talking about the other day. In The Witch, there is the older woman in the woods that's tempting her so that person is more or less the villain of the feature, other than uh, Black Phillip, depending on your opinion about him. But is it always an older figure targeting a younger figure when it comes to the villains? [00:27:57] Maya Rook: That's a great question. My instinct is, yeah, it seems like it usually is somebody who's older. I think, I also feel like in cases where it seems like it's somebody who's younger, that it always ends up that they are actually older, the skin comes off and it's revealed they are actually much older, and they're just manipulating the way they look, so yeah, I think you might be onto something there, that it's typically an older witch villain, whatever, that is bringing and luring in the younger into their world. [00:28:31] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, we're thinking even, you go back to the fairy tales, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, it's an older person stealing youth, either they want to eat the youth or they went to somehow capture it for themselves. And that seems to carry forward, Harry Potter's a school student and Voldemort. Oops, I said his name. He's obviously the older adult preying on children. So it seems like that Hansel and Gretel kind of role is still going on. [00:29:10] Maya Rook: Yeah, absolutely, I'd agree. I'll have to think on it, though, and see if I can come up with any examples, like, where there's a younger witch luring an older person. It might be out there, but it could take some time to find it. [00:29:23] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. Another thing we were curious about, and don't know if there's been research done into this, but how many of a witch's victims are female versus how many are male? We see a lot of older women going after younger women or girls. [00:29:42] Maya Rook: Yeah. When you ask that question, what it first makes me think of is that we see, I believe, a lot of times, with the older witch, it's and they're approaching a younger girl might be to actually lure them also into witchcraft, but when they're approaching men, a younger man, it's usually, there might be something sexual there. The older witch might be getting something out of it, pleasure for themselves, but then they discard the man or harm him in some way. So it seems almost a using and a violence against men and then like a bringing in, a manipulation and a bringing in of women into the world of witches and witchcraft. [00:30:23] Sarah Jack: That initiation. [00:30:25] Maya Rook: Initiation. Yeah, [00:30:26] Sarah Jack: Do you think there are any witches in pop culture that challenge traditional stereotypes? [00:30:31] Maya Rook: So when I do a lot of my work on pop culture witches, and I do usually culminate it with Sabrina the Teenage Witch I always see that household as really challenging some gender stereotypes and the way that a household is created, because there's really no men in that house, right? We have the two aunts, so we have this kind of alternative lifestyle. Neither of them are married. For a lot of the show, they're not even really in relationships, so they will be, but they're not like center stage. So we have the two sisters who are leading the household, and then they're raising their niece, right? Not even their child. So that's not a typical, standard house. And then the one male that you have in the household is a warlock who's, he has to live in the body of a cat for a hundred years because he tried to take over the world. So the man who's in the house has pretty much no power, always trying to get it, but he's dependent on everybody around him. So I think it really flips a lot of the what we think about in terms of gender and power in a typical domestic environment. I'm also thinking about which witches buck the stereotype of a witch, and at this point we just have so many different images of witches, I'm like I feel like our pop culture just holds a lot of different representations that it would be challenging now to think of one in this moment of time that would somehow be going against what's already been created. It's possible out there, but I think we'd have to almost go back and think about, okay, what was the stereotype in this moment of time, what shifted it? And to me, that always comes back to Glinda the Good Witch as being that pivotal moment where the change happens. [00:32:15] Sarah Jack: Is there a tie with Glinda's image and portrayal and fairies, fairy godmothers? [00:32:23] Maya Rook: I do think so, especially in the way that she is presented in the film. I think it really pulls on that image of the fairy godmother being more benevolent, caring, showing up in that moment to be of service and to help whoever the protagonist is, in this case, Dorothy. But it's really interesting, L. Frank Baum, when he wrote The Wizard of Oz, his mother-in-law was Matilda Joslyn Gage. And she was an early suffragist and feminist before people were even really talking about those things. And she was also an early researcher of the witch trials and one of the first people to say this was an attack on women. And so we're talking about somebody writing and researching and talking about this in the 1800s, late 1800s. She was also involved in spiritualism, so engaged in things like seances, and she was part of the Theosophical Society, so she was in touch with the world of magic, and she was very close with L. Frank Baum, so mother-in-law to L. Frank Baum, and it seems as though she had a pretty big influence on him. They talked about a lot of stuff, and a lot of people believe that she influenced his perception on witches and witchcraft, and that when he wrote The Wizard of Oz, because of that connection with Matilda Joslyn Gage, that he created this character that went against the stereotypes that were left over from the witch trials, and he had both of them included. So I think that she's this kind of more unknown person, but I think has incredibly impacted our understanding of witches today and especially from that portrayal of Glinda the Good Witch. [00:34:05] Josh Hutchinson: I'm so glad you brought that up. [00:34:07] Sarah Jack: Me too. I'm wondering, and I'm thinking, of course, from the film perspective, what's the significance to the wizard just being an ordinary man? [00:34:19] Maya Rook: Yeah, the wizard. And again, we talked about wizards before, right? They're like older, male, they're usually have, good magic and whatnot. And in this, yeah, he has no real, all his power is a facade and eventually has to admit that he's just manipulating people and almost doing little tricks to get people to believe that he's powerful, and people do, they do believe it, but it falls apart eventually, right? The man behind the curtain. And of course, in the story, that is this really important moment because it, for the characters, shines this light on they always had those qualities within them and so that power laid within. But yeah, it is interesting that you have this powerful male figure, but then turns out actually is just, just like an ordinary guy. [00:35:14] Sarah Jack: So then I have another question. You've got, courage is found, the brain, the heart. Those weren't just people. They were made up characters. I wonder what, why he went that direction with those who found their, the lion finding his courage, so maybe, I don't know. [00:35:34] Maya Rook: Yeah. I wonder... It could just be that it was like a kid's story, and he wanted to create a fantastical world in, they don't show this in the movie, but in the book, the Tin Man started off as a real person. So the Tin Man chopping wood cut off his foot and it gets replaced and it cuts off part of his leg as well, so eventually he becomes this Tin Man and I, it's a little bit fuzzy in my mind, but I think part of it is that he had been in love with a woman and by the time that it gets to the point of his heart being replaced, he can no longer have that love. So coming back and that very much could be representative of the time. We have industrialization, we have people who are working more and more in factories, and a stripping down of people's humanity, and so a reminder that people aren't tin men, they're not robots, they're not just there to do work, but they actually have a heart within them that we have to remember that. [00:36:29] Josh Hutchinson: What do you think are some common stereotypes of witches, some tropes that we see in pop culture? [00:36:39] Maya Rook: One that we've been coming back to is definitely that witches are typically seen as women. Think of a witch, depict a witch, a lot of times it is a woman, it's a female character, and I really do think in that case we can look at some of the statistics from the witch trials and see that when the witch trials began, about half the people accused were men, half the people accused were women, and then over that course of 400 or so years, by the end, 80 percent of the people who are accused and executed are women. So that shift, it takes some time, but by the end of it, I think it's really solidified that this belief that women are the ones who are associated with the magic, with the witchcraft, and the potential to be witches. So that's one of the largest. Other common tropes, I would say, spells and incantations oftentimes Creating potions, so that image of the cauldron will be associated, that's another common one. Potentially, you have the solitary witch, but a lot of times you do have the coven of witches as well. So usually, in that case, there'd be three witches who are doing their magic together, flying, especially broomsticks, trying to think of some other ones. That, the eating of children, we get that in Hocus Pocus, we get that in the European Witch Trials, and we get that as well in Roald Dahl's The Witches, so that's one of the main motivations is is it that they want to eat the children or they want to just kill them? They want to rid the world of children, that's what it is, and so they try to use their magic as a way to essentially they want to turn the children into mice, I believe. It's been a while since I read or watched that one, but this anti-child trope, I think, for the evil witch comes up a lot. Oh, and they have familiars. So that is another major trope for all witches, I think, good or bad is that they have a familiar. Originally, familiars were believed to be domesticated demons in the shape of an animal. So it could be a dog, it could be a cat, a snake, a frog, or something like that. And then a lot of times in the present day, familiars are seen, not so much as demons, but, as a companion that has a relationship with the witch and that maybe their sort of powers help one another. And that was a big shift in the Sabrina the Teenage Witch with Melissa Joan Hart, because Salem is there, so he's like the familiar in that case, the cat. And then in the new version, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, where things get a lot darker and more occult, more satanic, they bring back that idea of the domesticated demon. So she gets Salem. She gets a cat, but it is actually supposed to be a demon in the shape of a cat rather than, a friend, essentially. [00:39:27] Sarah Jack: I haven't had a chance to watch that. I was curious, do they, how does the Book of Shadows represent different in that series? Does it? [00:39:37] Maya Rook: I cannot... I can't remember. I did go back and watch the first couple episodes. It's been a while since I saw The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. So I'm not remembering. Really specifically what happens with the Book of Shadows. I will say one thing I know about the show is that, it's not the Book of Shadows, but they, it's like the devil's book that they have to sign. In Sabrina the Teenage Witch, in the 90s television show, their power is definitely not coming from Satan, it's coming from like an unknown source, but that's clearly a fairly good or neutral source that it's coming from, but then in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, for her to become a witch when she's 16, she does need to sign the devil's Book and give herself over to the dark lord. So they really hearken back to the image that was created during the Witch Trials, and I think that's a major difference between the two. [00:40:36] Sarah Jack: Oh yeah, I'm surprised there's any room in that book after all the witch trials and signing that was going on. [00:40:42] Maya Rook: Yeah, it's magical, right? So maybe just more pages just keep getting created. [00:40:47] Josh Hutchinson: think so. And they used a lot of different writing surfaces in the witch trial accounts of that. So they must have just pieced it together in a big three-ring binder or something. He's got a scrapbook, the devil's scrapbook. Anyways. [00:41:05] Sarah Jack: Is there anything else that you'd like to be sure to speak to you about this topic or Sabrina or any of it? [00:41:14] Maya Rook: I feel like as we consume pop culture, just remembering, it's to have fun with it, and then have a little bit of a discriminating eye and see what might be laying beneath the surface and what it can tell us about who we are as individuals and our society as a whole. And I'm very curious, since you asked that question about the future of witches and pop culture, how that's going to unfold, right? And what it's going to tell us about generations as they're growing and changing and as our society changes, as well. I think that our perception of witches will be an insight into it. [00:41:51] Sarah Jack: And now, for a minute with Mary. [00:41:54] Mary Bingham: We already know the Puritans look to counter magic for protection, the shoe in the wall, the horseshoe over the doorway. But what about a witch cake? And why bake this awful concoction and feed it to the dog? It seems evident that Tituba loved Betty Parris and Abigail Williams. She was so concerned for their well being, as she was probably horrified while witnessing seizure like symptoms the girls experienced. Not even a doctor could diagnose their illness, saying that the girls were "under an evil hand." Tituba decided to take matters into her own hands and called upon the help of the Parris family neighbor, Mary Sibley. They baked that cake, made out of some type of flour, most likely rye or barley meal, they mixed it with the girl's urine and ashes from the hearth, and they fed it to the dog. I once believed that the dog had somehow identified who was bewitching the girls, but was this actually the reason for the two women to bake the cake? The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology by Russell Hope Robbins states that if the witch cake is fed to the dog and the dog shakes, the afflictions, be they fevers or shivering fits, would be cured. So this makes me wonder, could Tituba have wanted to find out who was bewitching the girls? Did she think she was offering a cure for their symptoms? Or both? I will let the listener decide. Thank you. [00:43:32] Sarah Jack: Thank you, Mary. [00:43:35] Josh Hutchinson: Here's Sarah with End Witch Hunts News. [00:43:38] Sarah Jack: Thou Shalt Not Suffer podcast and End Witch Hunts collaborate on the Massachusetts Witch Hunt Justice Project and will work earnestly for all names to be cleared and for all lawmakers and global leaders to become better educated about witch hunts past and present. Lawmakers of any party can support legislation that has a real and resounding local and global impact. Other countries need to see us take a deliberate stand for alleged witches in our history with expressed concern for stopping alleged witchcraft violence today. Official state acknowledgement of the innocency of the 17th century accused and hanged witches from the American colonies resounds globally. Thank you, State of Connecticut, for officially apologizing to all your known witch trial victims. Thank you, Massachusetts, for beginning the work of exoneration by addressing the injustice against those convicted in the 1692 Salem Witch Trials. But, it's time to begin the work to acknowledge the injustice of those convicted in Boston between 1648 and 1688. Massachusetts, it's time to stand with Connecticut and include all those who suffered in your colony in an official apology. It's time to acknowledge the absolute innocence of all those accused of witchcraft and the injustices committed against them. [00:44:49] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you so much, Sarah. [00:44:51] Sarah Jack: You're welcome, Josh. [00:44:53] Josh Hutchinson: And thank you for listening to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. [00:44:57] Sarah Jack: Join us again next week. [00:45:00] Josh Hutchinson: Review and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. [00:45:04] Sarah Jack: Visit us at thoushaltnotsuffer.com. [00:45:07] Josh Hutchinson: Tell all your friends and family about the show. [00:45:11] Sarah Jack: Support our efforts to end witch hunts. Visit endwitchhunts.org to learn more about volunteering and donating. [00:45:19] Josh Hutchinson: Have a great today and a beautiful tomorrow.